Can the US Adjust Sensibly to a Multipolar World?

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Yves here. Just a reminder: while the efforts of various countries to conduct trade outside the dollar system does vitiate using sanctions as a weapon (not that they were all that effective to begin with), dollar-based cross border transactions related to investments have long dwarfed the use of the dollar in trade. So escaping the US sanctions leash is not tantamount to dethroning the dollar. As we’ve said, that will take a long time.

But even more critical is the loss of the US status as “the indispensable nation” The fact that China has pried Saudi Arabia away from the US and has brokered a Saudi-Iran rapprochement is undeniable evidence of a major drop in US influence.

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, the authors of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, published by OR Books in November 2022. Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and the author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran 

Drawing by Jerzy Wasiukiewicz

In his 1987 book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, historian Paul Kennedy reassured Americans that the decline the United States was facing after a century of international dominance was “relative and not absolute, and is therefore perfectly natural; and that the only serious threat to the real interests of the United States can come from a failure to adjust sensibly to the newer world order.”

Since Kennedy wrote those words, we have seen the end of the Cold War, the peaceful emergence of China as a leading world power, and the rise of a formidable Global South. But the United States has indeed failed to “adjust sensibly to the newer world order,” using military force and coercion in flagrant violation of the UN Charter in a failed quest for longer lasting global hegemony.

Kennedy observed that military power follows economic power. Rising economic powers develop military power to consolidate and protect their expanding economic interests. But once a great power’s economic prowess is waning, the use of military force to try to prolong its day in the sun leads only to unwinnable conflicts, as European colonial powers quickly learned after the Second World War, and as Americans are learning today.

While US leaders have been losing wars and trying to cling to international power, a new multipolar world has been emerging. Despite the recent tragedy of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the agony of yet another endless war, the tectonic plates of history are shifting into new alignments that offer hope for the future of humanity. Here are several developments worth watching:

De-Dollarizing Global Trade

For decades, the US dollar was the undisputed king of global currencies. But China, Russia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and other nations are taking steps to conduct more trade in their own currencies, or in Chinese yuan.

Illegal, unilateral US sanctions against dozens of countries around the world have raised fears that holding large dollar reserves leaves countries vulnerable to US financial coercion. Many countries have already been gradually diversifying their foreign currency reserves, from 70% globally held in dollars in 1999 to 65% in 2016 to only 58% by 2022.

Since no other country has the benefit of the “ecosystem” that has developed around the dollar over the past century, diversification is a slow process, but the war in Ukraine has helped speed the transition. On April 17, 2023, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that US sanctions against Russia risk undermining the role of the dollar as the world’s global reserve currency.

And in a Fox News interview, right-wing Republican Senator Marco Rubio lamented that, within five years, the United States may no longer be able to use the dollar to bully other countries because “there will be so many countries transacting in currencies other than the dollar that we won’t have the ability to sanction them.”

BRICS’s GDP Leapfrogs G7’s

When calculated based on Purchasing Power Parity, the GDP of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is now higher than that of the G7 (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan). The BRICS countries, which account for over 40% of total world population, generate 31.5% of the world’s economic output, compared with 30.7% for the G7, and BRICS’s growing share of global output is expected to further outpace the G7’s in coming years.

Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China has invested some of its huge foreign exchange surplus in a new transport infrastructure across Eurasia to more quickly import raw materials and export manufactured goods, and to build growing trade relations with many countries.

Now the growth of the Global South will be boosted by the New Development Bank (NDB), also known as the BRICS Bank, under its new president Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil.

Rousseff helped to set up the BRICS Bank in 2015 as an alternative source of development funding, after the Western-led World Bank and IMF had trapped poor countries in recurring debt, austerity and privatization programs for decades. By contrast, the NDB is focused on eliminating poverty and building infrastructure to support “a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future for the planet.” The NDB is well-capitalized, with $100 billion to fund its projects, more than the World Bank’s current $82 billion portfolio.

Movement Towards “Strategic Autonomy” for Europe

On the surface, the Ukraine war has brought the United States and Europe geostrategically closer together than ever, but this may not be the case for long. After French President Macron’s recent visit to China, he told reporters on his plane that Europe should not let the United States drag it into war with China, that Europe is not a “vassal” of the United States, and that it must assert its “strategic autonomy” on the world stage. Cries of horror greeted Macron from both sides of the Atlantic when the interview was published.

But European Council President Charles Michel, the former prime minister of Belgium, quickly came to Macron’s side, insisting that the European Union cannot “blindly, systematically follow the position of the United States.” Michel confirmed in an interview that Macron’s views reflect a growing point of view among EU leaders, and that “quite a few really think like Emmanuel Macron.”

The Rise of Progressive Governments in Latin America

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, which has served as a cover for US domination of Latin America and the Caribbean. But nowadays, countries of the region are refusing to march in lockstep with US demands. The entire region rejects the US embargo on Cuba, and Biden’s exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from his 2022 Summit of the Americas persuaded many other leaders to stay away or only send junior officials, and largely doomed the gathering.

With the spectacular victories and popularity of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, Gustavo Petro in Colombia, and Ignacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, progressive governments now have tremendous clout. They are strengthening the regional body CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) as an alternative to the US-dominated Organization of American States.

To reduce reliance on the US dollar, South America’s two largest economies, Argentina and Brazil, have announced plans to create a common currency that could later be adopted by other members of Mercosur — South America’s major trade bloc. While US influence is waning, China’s is mushrooming, with trade increasing from $18 billion in 2002 to nearly $449 billion in 2021. China is now the top trading partner of Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay, and Brazil has raised the possibility of a free-trade deal between China and Mercosur.

Peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia

One of the false premises of US foreign policy is that regional rivalries in areas like the Middle East are set in stone, and the United States must therefore form alliances with so-called “moderate” (pro-Western) forces against more “radical” (independent) ones. This has served as a pretext for America to jump into bed with dictators like the Shah of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman and a succession of military governments in Egypt.

Now China, with help from Iraq, has achieved what the United States never even tried. Instead of driving Iran and Saudi Arabia to poison the whole region with wars fueled by bigotry and ethnic hatred, as the United States did, China and Iraq brought them together to restore diplomatic relations in the interest of peace and prosperity.

Healing this divide has raised hopes for lasting peace in several countries where the two rivals have been involved, including Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and as far away as West Africa. It also puts China on the map as a mediator on the world stage, with Chinese officials now offering to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, as well as between Israel and Palestine.

Saudi Arabia and Syria have restored diplomatic relations, and the Saudi and Syrian foreign ministers have visitedeach others’ capitals for the first time since Saudi Arabia and its Western allies backed al-Qaeda-linked groups to try to overthrow President Assad in 2011.

At a meeting in Jordan on May 1st, the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia agreed to help Syria restore its territorial integrity, and that Turkish and US occupying forces must leave. Syria may also be invited to an Arab League summit on May 19th, for the first time since 2011.

Chinese diplomacy to restore relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is credited with opening the door to these other diplomatic moves in the Middle East and the Arab world. Saudi Arabia helped evacuate Iranians from Sudan and, despite their past support for the military rulers who are destroying Sudan, the Saudis are helping to mediate peace talks, along with the UN, the Arab League, the African Union and other countries.

Multipolar diplomatic alternatives to US war-making

The proposal by President Lula of Brazil for a “peace club” of nations to help negotiate peace in Ukraine is an example of the new diplomacy emerging in the multipolar world. There is clearly a geostrategic element to these moves, to show the world that other nations can actually bring peace and prosperity to countries and regions where the United States has brought only war, chaos and instability.

While the United States rattles its saber around Taiwan and portrays China as a threat to the world, China and its friends are trying to show that they can provide a different kind of leadership. As a Global South country that has lifted its own people out of poverty, China offers its experience and partnership to help others do the same, a very different approach from the paternalistic and coercive neocolonial model of US and Western power that has kept so many countries trapped in poverty and debt for decades.

This is the fruition of the multipolar world that China and others have been calling for. China is responding astutely to what the world needs most, which is peace, and demonstrating practically how it can help. This will surely win China many friends, and make it more difficult for US politicians to sell their view of China as a threat.

Now that the “newer world order” that Paul Kennedy referred to is taking shape, economist Jeffrey Sachs has grave misgivings about the US ability to adjust. As he recently warned, “Unless US foreign policy is changed to recognize the need for a multipolar world, it will lead to more wars, and possibly to World War III.” With countries across the globe building new networks of trade, development and diplomacy, independent of Washington and Wall Street, the United States may well have no choice but to finally “adjust sensibly” to the new order.

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  1. manderson

    If the United States returned it’s political and societal culture just to the 1990s (say clinton era), the US could be remain an indispensible nation if it switched from militarism to diplomacy. In the 1990s we had culture and governance that had soft power. In other words, we too were an example. That is lost now. Our politicians disregard the critiques by China and the Global South of our mode of governance by calling it whataboutism. In reality these countries are arguing that we lost our soft power standing. We aren’t a model of anything, let alone democracy. You can’t argue or bomb your way back into the cool club, you have to govern and lead appropriately. So the foundational rot is here at home where we cannot have a political conversation on anything as a nation.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      manderson: See MFB’s comment below.

      I concur with MFB one hundred percent.

      1. manderson

        I’m saying that in the 1990s we had soft power largely because our pop culture and stable domestic politics. We were an example. Now we aren’t. My argument is that if we want to fit into a multi-polar world we need to actually do diplomacy (instead of shouting at countries), and that will weaken us further because our soft power is gone. If the US wants to be a powerful pole in the multi-polar world, it needs to fix its domestic society.

        MFB is talking about hard power, yes of course there was abuse of hard power in the 1990s too like any other period in US history…. completely separate issue from above.

        1. some guy

          We can’t fix our domestic society unless and until we defect from the International Free Trade Order and leave the Corporate Globalonial Plantation. Only then can we begin the several decades work of restoring a slower and smaller version of our unbalanced and largely destroyed thing-making and thing-doing economy in such a way as to give every workseeker work within that economy at a thriving good-living wage at the very least.

          And the only way businesses can pay a thriving wage to their workers is if they are able to charge a thriving-wage price to their domestic customers. And they can’t do that if anyone is allowed to import or source anything whatsoever from a lower wage and/or lower conditions foreign export-aggression platform.

          So . . . . no Free Trade Abolition? No trace of any fix of any kind whatsoever for our domestic society.

          Don’t believe me? That’s okay. Eventually American society under Free Trade will be so declined and so wreckaged that you will have to believe your own lying eyes.

    1. Acacia

      That is bad news, indeed, tho not so surprising. Following @manderson’s comment, above, it does seem like the ruling LDP in Japan has also totally given up on soft power, e.g. “Cool Japan”, or being a model for other countries, with a peace constitution, etc., and is now focused increasingly on a coming war in East Asia. For that, the current constitution is seen as an obstacle, not only Article 9, but many other sections that emphasize human rights, etc. The goal seems to be to reinstate the Meiji-era Constitution, following the restoration of the Emperor, with subjects, not citizens. It really doesn’t seem like a plan to take Japan into a multi-polar world, but rather a plan to double down on being a vassal state in the US imperium.

    2. BB

      Indeed! What will NATO opening an office in Japan do for the west. You need to come up with sensible thoughts

  2. The Rev Kev

    I’m going to have to say no as well. To do so, you would need a clean sweep of government of people like Blinken, Nuland, Sullivan, Kirby, Power, etc. and their Neocon views – but who would fight to the bitter end any thought of conceding power. But this would not be enough. The Neocon view has been institutionalized so that even if you got rid of the present lot, their replacements would hold near identical views as the system chooses people like that to advance. If you don’t share their views, then you get sidelined. This being the case, they are going to run things into a helluva mess and when it blows up in their faces, they will double down and say things like the country needs to invest trillions of dollars into the latest generations of weapons powered by the latest technology out of Silicon Valley. More aircraft carriers and 13th generation fighters or some such. In doing so, they will clamp down even more tighter on Constitutional freedoms so that they can protect their own freedom to act.

    1. NarrativeMassagerInc

      The best hope we have at this point is RFK Jr. From all the interviews and speeches I’ve read, he understands all of this better than anyone in government and is not a total outsider with no understanding of the problems within our bureaucracies and regulatory bodies. It was his uncle and father who first proposed the approach he is offering and their efforts were ended by extreme violence which, as I think we can (almost) all agree, was executed by the forebears of today’s neocons who did so with a few bullets. US “democracy” has been a downhill ride to total oligarchic control ever since, with presidents exerting influence only in the directions approved by the deep state.

      If the Dems manage to keep him out of the race, it will show once and for all the lie that is American democracy. That of course depends on the American people who, if they lie down for this and don’t take the opportunity for change RFK represents, will get the government we deserve. I do not like the idea of putting all our hopes on one person and without a groundswell of massive popular support RFK and his efforts will flounder before they get out of the gate. RFK has discussed how we can remove the corrupting influence of moneyed interests and reorient the state to work again for the people. He is calling on our better natures and across party lines to support his vision. Its a monumental task but it would be a supreme justice for the true heir to JFK and RFK to be the one to do it. Its now up to the American people to lose their foolish innocence and sidestep the flood of lies produced by the oligarchic mouthpiece we call the mainstream media and embrace this opportunity. It may not come again.

      I recommend this interview with RFK as an intro to his vision:

  3. MFB

    I accept a little nostalgia, but let’s not forget that the 1990s began with the U.S. needlessly invading Iraq to “kick the Vietnam syndrome” and prove that “what we say goes”, and ended with the U.S. needlessly invading Serbia to buttress NATO and frighten the Rooshians (see how well that ended) along with sponsoring terrorism in Sudan and actual genocide (millions of dead) in the Congo. To say “we need to go back to that era of peace, harmony and non-confrontational Kumbaya-chanting” is to deceive oneself, but you aren’t deceiving anybody else.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Don’t forget the sanctions against Iraq and the prepositioning of equipment. Regime change was the official position. Then Clinton was whole heartedly dedicated to destroying US industrial power while moving to wunder weapons and contractors to assist army operations.

      1. Cetra Ess

        And lets not forget that with the Serbia-Kosovo crisis Clinton created the precedent of a clique of countries ignoring international law against invading and attacking other countries without the sanction and sayso of the UN – which was created from the League of Nations precisely to prevent this from happening again.

        Taking what we know now of Hillary, which has only emerged since Bill was president, that she’s an extreme war hawk with a very particular hate-on for China and has been itching for decades to start a war with China, we definitely don’t want to return at any point to the Clinton days – under either her or her husband. What awful people they turned out to be, essentially neocons disguised as liberals.

        And lets not forget they voted against gay marriage at that critical juncture of history. They excuse it now by saying American society was not ready at the time, which just goes to show they don’t operate from an ethical framework.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I figure the problem with people like John McCain and Bill Clinton is they don’t have a volcano lair, so when you list how awful they are, they sound like cartoon villains, making it hard to believe their sins are real.

        2. s

          we cannot go back to even the monroe doctrine, which we should not, because of this, this is the guy who enshrined today into american law.

          this is the guy that supercharged regime change. anyone who starts out with bush jr. should re-examine their information.

          Syria Emerging Victorious

The anti-imperialist camp: splintered in thought

          By Thierry Meyssan

          An additional step has been taken with military preparations against Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador following Mexico, Colombia and British Guyana. The team responsible for co-ordinating these measures is from the former Office of Global Democracy Strategy.
          This was a unit established by President Bill Clinton, then continued by Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz. Mike Pompeo, the current director of the CIA, has confirmed that this unit exists. This has led to rumours in the press, followed up by President Trump, of a US military option.


          When Iraq Was Clinton’s War
          Chip Gibbons

          Bill Clinton’s “quiet war” on Iraq set the stage for George W. Bush’s bloody invasion.

          “And our understanding of the Clinton years is the worse for it. Omitting the decade leading up to the 2003 invasion distorts the roots of the war, which wasn’t just a product of post–9/11 hysteria or the creation of various Bush administration personalities.”

          “Clinton’s determined parrying underscores the fact that while Bush set the sanctions in motion, Clinton not only embraced them but used them as a tool of regime change. It is he who bears the lion’s share of responsibility for the death and suffering of countless Iraqis.”
          “Five years later, Clinton signed the “Iraq Liberation Act” into law, formalizing the US’s demand for regime change. The legislation, which also appropriated $97 million to fund Iraqi opposition groups, was followed up with yet more military action: Operation Desert Fox.”

          we now know yugoslavia and milosivic were found innocent: Bill’s deeds have lessons for Americans. Had we learned them, maybe no U.S. forces would be fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.

          By ben Avram MacJean
          Friday Oct 14, 2016 · 12:53 PM CDT


          cleaning up the mess that bill clinton created all over the world will take decades, let alone what he did to america.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    It is interesting in this posting to note Medea Benjamin’s evolution into a foreign-policy realist, with strong hints of how screwed up U.S. domestic policy is. It may be the influence of Davies or not.

    I recall a while back when Benjamin was making emotional references about her family’s origins in Ukraine and the obligatory “evil Putin” remarks. Those are gone.

    What the authors lay out in this post is the state of play in the world. It wouldn’t be hard for the U.S. of A. to be productive in this environment–some kind of peace in the Middle East can be achieved, for instance, or at least a significant détente between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey that allows smaller countries like Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and, yes, Palestine, to thrive.

    But power corrupts. The U.S. government is dominated by people only smart enough to do damage (the perfect example being so-called congress-critter Plaskett, a member of the elite in a “rotten borough”).

    And Zombie Hillary is still tottering around, with an endless desire for attention and skimmed payments, still demanding that Putin be overthrown to avenge her oh-so-convenient virtue and because he’s a man-spreader.

    And the U.S. elites are perfectly happy to take down others–all the better if others suffer. Here in Italy, the Partito Democratico is modelled after candy-ass U.S. Democrats. The Fratelli d’Italia are enacting a foam-at-the-mouth program straight out of the U.S. Republican Party. I suppose one might write, purtroppo, that the U S of A at least has won its war of attrition against the Italian Left.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Unless one is just an outrageous orientalist, it’s impossible to ignore the reaction of the world outside of the g7 and the Isle of mann. Even if you thought Putin was double Hitler, you can’t ignore the US is simply so decayed and wretched it can’t make a moral argument against double Hitler. Instead US lackeys are making fantastic arguments or barely concealing their racism and greed driving Western policies.

      Then there is the obvious problem which is of course Russia won’t tolerate NATO bases on their doorstep even Yeltsin. “America is back” is just a repackaging of MAGA for Team Blue.

    2. chris

      The elites and bureaucrats in the US fundamentally don’t care about the rest of the world, except for places to visit for pleasure or plunder for profit. Take the line that was constantly in the media from Fall ’22 until February ’23 regarding Ukraine: “this is an efficient and cheap way to reduce Russia’s capacity to threaten us.” That concept completely ignores the Ukrainians and Russians who are dying. It completely ignores the economic disaster this war has been for African countries and much of Europe. It’s like these psychopaths were discussing the best way to increase crop yields.

      Until these people stop considering the rest of the world as ants they can step on with impunity there will never be a way for the US to adapt to the changing world order. Our state sanctioned failures won’t even be recognized for a decade. How can we move past them to attain a rational diplomatic engagement with the world if we can’t be honest in our media and in DC? How can we help solve the problems we’ve caused if we don’t even admit we caused problems? Vicky Nuland is an easy monster to pick out from recent headlines but she is just one monster from the horde. Until we see them all being forced to accept that every military action the US has engaged in since 1990 has been a failure we will never realize a change in policy. We’ll just have more war.

      1. Kilgore Trout

        The mental gymnastics/ delusions/ outright lies needed to make the claim that Russia has any interest in threatening the US is astonishing. It turns reality on its head; the only nation that physically threatens any nation when in violation of our “Calvin Ball” rules-based order is the US. We see it it Ukraine as well; every crime Zelensky claims Russia is perpetrating is in fact being done by Ukraine. The Bucha killings and the Zaporizhia nuclear plant shelling are two examples. The downing of MH117 is another. And in the UK, there is the Skripal case.

  5. JW

    The answer is no.
    I agree with most comments made but would add that is not just the mad man/women in State with their anti Russian/China views. Its deeper, its civilisation conflict. The west ( ie the predominantly anglo-american) demand is your for us or against us. In everything. Which now includes, wokeness, net zero, financialisation.
    Most of the cultures of the RoW reject the first, think the second is mad, and look at China as example of a different success story.

    1. NoFreeWill

      Wokeness is not a thing that anyone in any position of real power in the US supports (see even Dems running on a fund the police platform, reparations/abolition completely sidelined, etc.), net zero neither, China’s green policy is far more extreme than most western countries, so this comment is misinformed at best.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    The question is whether the billionaires and their retinues will drop their claims that they are entitled to rule the entire planet. Currently, any nation that refuses to accede to billionaire and corporate demands is labeled “authoritarian” and marked for destruction. Is it possible for these oligarchs to allow their zone of control to shrink, perhaps back to the Five Eyes? Maybe, but that will be very bad news for us because the levels of control and exploitation will substantially increase if the big shots can no longer play in the rest of the world.

    1. Keith Newman

      @Henry Moon Pie, 6:11 am
      Not sure if this is exactly what you were referring to, but I think we mustn’t forget the true rulers of the US, the “billionaire class”: the CEOs of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, JPMorgan, the CEOs of Big Pharma, etc.
      Do they want to die in a nuclear war? Will they pick up the phone to tell “Biden” to stop?
      I guess we’ll find out.

      1. John k

        Yes, I would have thought the non-mic oligarchs would have pushed back by now. The only resistance I see so far is the military itself, clearly having a more realistic view, and maybe the recent leak. True, some republicans in congress are not on board, but I’m not seeing oligarch oppo. Odd to me, those NZ bunkers would get boring pretty quick… and the planes need to be big enough for pilot families.
        Plus no guarantee the plane gets off before the missiles arrive.

        1. hk

          That should apply even to MIC, too–MIC makes money when countries are fearful, not when they are destroyed, let alone if the countries in which they operate in are destroyed (along with themselves). They don’t want to risk a World War III beyond just “peaceful” fear mongering. That we are approaching a genuine risk of World War III means that the oligarchs lost control–even the MIC.

    2. NoFreeWill

      There are billionaires and oligarchs in Russia and China too, although the state at least has a bit of control over them in turn, whereas here they run the state entirely as puppets. Global capitalism is the problem, particular formations might be kinder and gentler (esp. China) or even semi-socialist, but that doesn’t mean the globe is headed in the right direction.

  7. H. Alexander Ivey

    Kennedy observed that military power follows economic power. Rising economic powers develop military power to consolidate and protect their expanding economic interests. 

    (Family blog edition) no!! Empires raise their military to protect and project their economic interest; self respecting countries do not. Rising economic powers develop a nuclear capability to keep the US and other Western countries out of the rising country’s countryside.

    1. TimD

      I agree, but it is also a bit of chicken and egg. As Britain industrialized it needed access to raw materials and markets. It already was a big trading nation so when countries were not cooperating with Britain, the military got involved. Much the same happened in the US, as countries thought they could get a better deal, or workers wanted a bigger share of the pie – this sort of interference in commerce was unacceptable and often meant the military was sent in to set things right.

      Japan was able to grow after WWII by using investment in another country and providing manufacturing goods that people in the country wanted. China is doing much the same thing now, except on a scale that is a quantum leap from what Japan did.

      A key point is having manufactured goods that other countries want/need. The US used to fill this role, but has offshored much of its manufacturing. Other countries can happily go to China for manufactures, on better terms and lower prices. This makes the US more dispensable, unless of course the country wants to buy weapons. Joe Biden wants to see the conflict as democracy vs autocracy – a more accurate description would be peace, development and consumer goods vs weapons and destruction.

  8. LY

    After decades of setting up banana republics around the world, the US turned itself into one. This hollowed out economic soft power. Meanwhile, the diplomatic core keeps being run by think-tank lightweights and war ministers.

    The “end of history” is undermined by neoliberalism at home and abroad, and neoconservatism’s consistent own-goals.

  9. HH

    When Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Walmart awaken to the fact that the neocon crazies are going to damage their businesses, they will quash that ideology. The plutocrats created the neocon cancer, and they will remove the malignancy when it threatens them.

    CIA director Avril Haines just testified that destroying Taiwan’s semiconductor industry would do $1 trillion in damage to the world economy. This should get the attention of the U.S. business community outside the defense sector. The non-defense corporations have ten times the lobbying resources of the arms makers. Sooner or later, they will shut down the neocons.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      IBM had an office in Kiev. I say had, because at the beginning of the war they had to evacuate all their employees to Turkey, IIRC. No idea if they sent them back, my guess is they were given the option to work remotely from Turkey until the war ends.

    2. digi_owl

      Or they will do as companies did during WW2, trade with the enemy via “neutral” parties (Russian oil from India anyone?). And then sue the US government for damages done to company holdings in axis nations afterwards.

  10. carolina concerned

    The US can adjust sensibly to a multipolar world if we can get there without destroying everything first. In the late 40s and early 50s the Marshall Plan helped to rebuild a potential economic competitor zone with great success. I know the motivation was not entirely selfless, of course not. But the results were positive. Before and during the Cold War, competition with the Soviet culture, a badly flawed system, had a strong positive and historic effect on world culture. The original ideology of Marxism supported and pushed the US to progressive responses in important areas including the civil rights movement, free speech movement, labor movement, and the anti-war movement that eliminated the draft. I would argue that biggest of all was support and encouragement for the women’s liberation movement that may be the most important development in modern times.

    1. NoFreeWill

      Besides the guaranteed jobs/housing, women voting in 1920, etc. and rapid industrial advances for their own citizens, ironically a larger share of the main benefits of the USSR seem to have accrued to those elsewhere in the world, in Western European countries forced to accept Social Democracy and those in colonial nations who the USSR sponsored in wars of liberation. The benefits in the US were numerous as well, and it’s obvious to correlate the end of the cold war with the end of many of these benefits worldwide. When there was an alternative, capitalists were forced to share a bit of the fruits of the workers stolen labor back to them, now that there isn’t they run rough-shod over us. China on the global stage does offer a gentler alternative, but not one that seems to be provoking a gentler response from the west, on the contrary we are doubling down on coups/violence since we can no longer (or don’t want to) offer goods and candy. The Marshall Plan itself was the outcome of the need to resist Soviet advances in Europe, arguably.

  11. tegnost

    pushed the US to progressive responses in important areas including the civil rights movement, free speech movement, labor movement, and the anti-war movement that eliminated the draft.

    civil rights has been reduced to an acronym, free speech is obviously a problem, we hate unions, and we’re pro war to advance corporate control of the globe over whom we have the burden tending the garden against the jungle.
    We’re not the good guys.

  12. carolina concerned

    What happened to the civil rights movement, free speech movement, labor movement, peace movement, and women’s rights movements after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conquest of the neoliberals. The only path forward is to address both political parties.

  13. Mikel

    The US establishment will be able to adjust to any order that prioritizes, first and always first, the needs of corporations and those that control them.

    1. NoFreeWill

      The reality is that capital is transnational and doesn’t care about the health of its nation state (see the US) except as it benefits them, and has increasingly migrated to places like China (or grown from home soil there), which is why they are thriving. International corporate rivalries do mean that states protect their “home” corporations, but even these are increasingly globalized. The multi-polar order is a function of these capital concentrations and flows being more evenly spread (BRICS share of GDP > G7 now). I wouldn’t be surprised if in 30 years (if civ hasn’t collapsed), to see subsidiaries of US corporations in China be the real or effective HQ of many companies, or certain corporate leaders entirely replaced by their Chinese competitors (if that hasn’t already happened).

  14. Kouros

    No. Look at this trajectory of sanctions:

    Figure 1 plots the evolution of the number of countries subject to trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States, or the European Union (EU). The figure is based on the Global Sanctions Database (GSDB), the most comprehensive data set on sanctions available to date. According to this series, 54 countries —27 percent of all countries —are currently subject to sanctions. By contrast, in the 1960s the number of sanctioned countries averaged around five, or only 4 percent of countries in existence at the time. In other words, one out of four countries
    today is subject to sanctions, as opposed to one in fifty six decades ago. Figure 2 considers the share of world GDP in countries under trade sanctions. Here we find slightly greater percentages, with 29 percent of the world economy currently impacted by trade sanctions — as opposed to
    around 4 percent in the early 1960s.

  15. flora

    an aside: in neoliberal world of western democratic govt we already have multi-polar world of sorts. Not govt vs govt power but govt vs enormous global corporations vs enormous private wealth in various Foundations power. The US govt seems to be losing. My 2 cents.

    1. Susan the other

      A Blade Runner world. One thing governments by some level of democracy have been able to do is create consent. Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent was a critical look at the end stages of democracy. I wonder what sort of new democracy will evolve if it is controlled by AI. And also how long an AI tyranny could last if people everywhere talk to each other. So far interaction between people has been unstoppable. Just look at this thread. Makes me a believer. Now all we need is something viable to believe in. Or agree on.

  16. tevhatch

    The USA seems incapable of sensibly managing domestic conflict between it’s oligarchy, the only thing they seem to agree on is fleecing the 99.99%, so what hope dealing with the world?

    I’m waiting to see when AI runs for office, because it surely will win.

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