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The Plot against America

Osaka, Japan, Chinese Premier and US president 2019, CNBC

The title refers to the impossible plot by novelist Philip Roth that Charles Lindbergh, an airplane pilot with opinions, won the 1940 US presidential election and kept the US out of WW2. Lindbergh, a pocket fascist replete with 41 word speeches, totally lacking charisma did not win the US presidential election in 1940 Roosevelt won, does this sound familiar in 2020? Lindbergh's 1938 speech condemning the Jewish domination of the film industry excluded him from the 1940 Republican nomination for president

The decline of the American empire

In 1945 the United States generated 50% of world Gross Domestic Product. In 1990 it still had 20.6% of GDP while China had 3.86% GDP. In 2018 the United States had 15%, China 18.6%. The United States spent $5 trillion fighting unsuccessful wars in the Middle East a region in which the United States has no rational interest. Currently, US diplomacy worldwide has been reduced to sub-prime status.

'America no longer has an exemplary just and well ordered society.' Power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a tiny self serving elite. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., USA is more concerned with the number of zeros in his bank account than the plight of the bottom 50% of the population whose income has declined steadily over the last three decades.

Few Americans understand the Chinese. The United States no longer possesses the moral, military or economic authority to get its own way with everything. Both America and China are a real threat to planetary wide global warming.

The American empire will decline due to increasing debt liabilities in particular Social Security and Medicare, these being the real cause of the country's fiscal overstretch. There is a chronic mismatch between earlier Social Security legislation dating back to the New Deal and the changing demographics of American society. At least 70 million baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will collect Social Security benefits followed within 7 years to collect Medicare benefits. By the time of their retirement the US will double the size of their elderly population but increase by only 15% the number of tax paying workers able to pay for their benefits.

This shortfall amounts to $45 trillion, (Gokhal and Smetters, Fiscal and Generational Imbalances, FDR Cleveland, 2002) which is 4x the country's annual output. America is sustained by inward investment from Asian countries buying US government bonds which support the US dollar. China and America are interdependent with a possible US dollar devaluation devastating East Asian banks. If China suffers deflation by the vagaries of American economic policy the future of the US dollar as the world's favourite currency will cease to be assured.

Continued consuming on credit, reluctant to go to the front line, inclined to lose interest in protracted undertakings, if this reveals the US as a standing still giant, then this image can be worth examining. Today's transnational threats such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation and organised crime, to say nothing of disease pandemics (Covid-19), climate change and water shortages, place a premium on cooperation not competition between states.Imperial mortaly is inevitable with an apolar world a likely outcome.

Source; Has China Won? Kishore Mahbubani, Public Affairs, 2020

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