“Ukraine is a wake-up call for what a post-American world would look like” declares the foreign affairs expert Walter Russell Mead in an article “Putin Did Americans a Favor” (http://online.wsj.com/articles/walter-russell-mead-putin-did-americans-a-favor-1401662270) in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
“For those willing to see, the signs of what a post-American world would look like are easy to discern. We can look at Bashar Assad’s murderous campaign in Syria to see how Iran thinks power should be used. To see what Saudi Arabia thinks about human rights and liberal values, follow events in Egypt and Pakistan. China would become more aggressive in a post American world, and the chances of Sino-Japanese conflict would increase. … In Europe, only power keeps or can keep Russia from rebuilding its old empire.”
“Those who think American decline is inevitable must face a tragic truth: The eclipse of American power will be a disaster for our economic interests, for the values we cherish and, in the end, for our security at home. What stability, peace and legality now exist in the international system are there because the U.S., with important help from allies and partners, made great sacrifices to build and secure them.”
America’s decline is not inevitable but neither is our continued success. As much as anything else, it depends on the strength of our economic system. We need to give much more attention to making our economy grow faster. This will create more jobs and better jobs and thereby boost national morale. It will bring in more tax revenue for paying our bills. In addition, projecting national power is very expensive. We can and should continue to insist that our defense budget be lean and efficient. But there is a limit as to how far we can go in this direction. Ultimately defense spending will have to increase as a percentage of GNP. This can only be accomplished with a robust economy.
As I have repeated many times in my blog posts, the best strategy for making the economy grow faster is to encourage more consumer spending by lowering individual tax rates and to encourage more entrepreneurial activity by reducing tax rates on small business. Such tax changes can easily be paid for by closing loopholes and shrinking tax deductions for the wealthy. But there has to be a political will to do this.
Can this be accomplished? I don’t know but our future as a free and prosperous nation depends on it!