In recent posts, I have written that I am optimistic about the future of the U.S., but I am also quite concerned about the effects of the high inflation we are now experiencing. In other words, we’re in overall good shape but there is going to be pain involved in getting inflation under control. But compare our own strengths with the weaknesses of our main adversaries.
- U.S. strengths. Our fundamental strength is a free and open society and a democratic form of government. A free society like ours will always have urgent problems to address. But our democratic form of government assures that the people will ultimately decide, with free and fair elections, how to resolve our differences and move forward. Another huge strength is the superiority of a free enterprise economy (see chart) which will always out-compete the socialist alternative. Yet another enormous strength is our good relations with the many other democracies around the world. Stable democracies work out their differences peacefully rather than through war.
- China’s weaknesses. China is basically a socialist country even though it has aspects of a free market. It is not really free because the government arbitrarily controls its tech sector as well as its overbuilt real estate market. And its zero-Covid policy is now creating huge economic problems at the same time as our own (democratic) decentralized response to Covid has pulled us out of the two-year pandemic. China also has a huge demographic problem (its working-age population is shrinking) because of its previous one-child-per-woman policy.
- Russia’s weaknesses. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has been a worldwide trouble maker for many years, and has now made the huge mistake of invading Ukraine. With the help of the U.S. and its European allies, Ukraine is defending itself heroically and even starting to repel the Russian forces. There is growing opposition to the Ukraine invasion and to Putin, himself, even within Russia. However the Ukrainian war plays out in the end, Russia has been diminished as a superpower.
- Iran’s weakness. Starting with a young woman’s arrest and death over a head scarf, Iranians are protesting in droves fueled by middle-class anger over the country’s collapsing economy. The mullahs running Iran are unwilling to enter a “longer and stronger” agreement with the U.S. to assure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. Iran is now suffering from severe economic sanctions imposed by the West.
- North Korea. North Korea is a threat to the U.S. because it has nuclear missiles. The best defense for the U.S. against North Korea is to keep improving our missile defense capabilities.
Conclusion. The United States has huge underlying strengths in the struggle for world supremacy against our main adversaries of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. We have a far superior economic and political system than our rivals. We also outclass them in military strength. We should be confident in our ability to remain the world’s leading power for many years to come. At the same time, we should never become complacent about our advantages and let our guard down. Especially right now, we must take very seriously our high rate of inflation, and exercise the necessary fiscal restraint needed to bring the inflation rate back down to the desired 2% level.
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