Saturday, January 23, 2010

Europe vs. the USA : A European Economic Model? — Crooked Timber on Manzi : BloggingHeads : Henry Farrell & Daniel Drezner discuss Cohen & DeLong

Is There an European Economic Model? - Crooked Timber comments on Manzi's article - referenced in our previous posting and at Blogging Heads Henry Farrell and Daniel Drezner discuss Stephen Cohen and Brad DeLong's The End of Influence (of the United States) .


Read the whole thing at Crooked Timber after you view the video above.

Our own take here is that each of these commentators presents some aspects of the truth, but seem in their analysis to bypass the major issue, which in our eyes is the power that is held - or not - by those wielding military power and/or controlling vital natural resources - or not - on our planet, a state of facts which has little to do with any economic system per se.

The demise of the United States economically has been in progress for 40 years, ever since U.S. oil production peaked in the year 1970. As we wrote in Oil & Gas Cartels and American Inertia on Energy Issues : Major Culprits for the Current Economic Situation in the World? :
"From the years 1948 to 1972, the price of oil remained steady at about $3 per barrel.

Although the use of oil as an instrument of political control in the world began organizationally with the formation of OPEC in 1960, the defining point was hit in 1970's when United States oil production started to drop as a percentage of world oil production.

The USA had put itself in the unenviable position of being reliant upon the oil cartels....

Oil has remained a political football since that period. As more and more oil had to be imported by the United States and as U.S. policies ran counter to the oil cartel countries, the price of oil has sky-rocketed, and this has been followed by comparable price increases in consumer goods that are produced using petroleum products or oil-based energy (just about everything). The current economic recession is just the logical end result of a price push policy by the oil cartels, which has led to prices for consumer goods such as homes that are far removed from the normal economic realities.

But not just the oil cartels, but also America itself is greatly to blame for the current economic situation. Nothing had been able in the last 40 years to move Americans to change their greatly exaggerated over-consumption of energy.
"
Although the American economy has declined (relatively to the rest of the world) over the last decades, U.S. military might remains intact - and stronger than ever. Indeed, the only undeniable ace in the hole that America has "economically" is the economic position which it enjoys as a result of its presumptive role as the world's greatest military power. That position is supported by generous foreign investment in the USA from all over the rest of the world - regardless of political or religious persuasion. What man of wisdom - with something to protect on this planet Earth - is truly against America?

Most of the "haves" on this planet - i.e. those who have something worth protecting - realize full well that without the presence of formidable US military might - which enables America to quasi function as the world's policeman - the world economic and political structure would be in great danger of falling to the chaos sought by the outlaws. That is not in the interest of anyone, except for the bandits. You show me a weak America and I will show you a world of the future which consists of war, slavery, religious superstition, famine and pestilence, nothing more.

We all can readily see that the philosophies of the religious fanatics or those of rogue or tyrannical nations take paths which lead us all into chains. America wields its influence because its political philosophy promises and promotes personal freedom - albeit with various degrees of success and not without serious mistakes. On the other hand, the alternative solutions are consistent in their promise of slavery - political, economic and religious subservience. All the rogue nations are evidence of that. That dichotomy is the key confrontation in the world today.

As far as actual "economies" are concerned, the "European" economy is not that different from the US economy in principle but would of course look somewhat different if Europeans had to rely on themselves fully for their own military protection, rather than having the United States always standing behind them. Europe has the luxury of having a strong "big brother". And without the United States and Europe, or even without the investment of Asian nations, individual nations such as the United Kingdom or Ireland would be in dire straits.

In our view, the idea that American inlfuence in the world is coming to an end is principally flawed. POWER yields influence by its very existence, though of course, this is tempered by the WILL to use that power - or not. America still has the military power - but how is it using it?

For the course of the future, one must follow with the greatest of interest how the - for now - fairly dove-like foreign policies of the Obama administration will fare over his four years as President. If Obama's more "hands-off" approach toward the world political situation is not accepted and honored by the rest of the world - and it appears that much of the world is NOT honoring Obama peace initiatives, especially the rogue nations and groupings, then the USA will have no choice but to return to a more iron-fisted foreign policy in the future - something which is well within its military might, should they so choose.

We therefore think that there will be a CONTINUATION OF INFLUENCE by the United States in the foreseeable future. There is no one to take America's place. Not Europe (it is too divisive yet, with eurosceptics being a good example of this weakness). Not China (look at the intrusions of Google to track down dissidents). Not Russia or the East (too preoccupied with their own considerable problems in rising out of their USSR past). Not the religious fanatics, rogue nations or groupings (they have nothing positive to offer mankind). Indeed, everyone in the "free world" can still be thankful that America - a free America - still exists, and DOES wield its influence, nothwithstanding its present economic dilemmas.

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