Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA November 2013 Contents 4 DefenceReviewAsia | NOV 2013
The United States has once again narrowly avoided
economic disaster with a last minute deal to lift the
debt ceiling and end the Government shutdown.
And the deal really was a last minute one, with less
than a day to go before the Federal Government would
no longer have been able to pay its bills. However, the
developing crisis has further weakened the US -- which now
seems to be in a dangerous and debilitating place, with
radical Republicans threatening to wreck the economy in an
attempt to get their way.
Even though the US has stepped back from the brink,
all that has happened is that the problem has now been
shifted by a few months -- meaning that in February 2014
the situation might well be repeated. There is some hope in
Democrat ranks that the Republicans have been so badly
damaged in the eyes of the public that they will never again
resort to the brinkmanship we have just witnessed -- but
that hope might be forlorn.
The extremist Tea Party wing of the party seem hell bent
on getting their way to reduce spending and taxes that
they will use any available device to achieve their aims. This
group is usually classified as being ultra conservatives.
However, their beliefs and actions seem to have more in
common with 19th century anarchists and nihilists of the
extreme left. What the Tea Party seems to want is not a
conservative Government -- what they seem to want is no
Government at all.
When looked at from this perspective, their actions
make slightly more sense. The sad reality is that despite
the overall size and strength of the US economy, average
weekly earnings when adjusted for inflation have not been
raised in the last 40 years. This is not a misprint. The
very wealthy Americans are becoming richer, but the vast
majority of citizens have not seen any major improvement
in their circumstances for the last four decades. At the
same time, people have witnessed the rapacious financial
system receive not billions but trillions of dollars in Federal
Government support since the financial crisis of 2008
These trillions of dollars are taxpayer's dollars. To add
insult to injury, people have witnessed bankers, financial
planners, lawyers and accountants personally benefiting
from massive salaries and bonuses even as millions of
Americans lost their jobs. Given these facts it perhaps
should not come as a complete surprise that a group of
people are now saying: enough! It was clear during the
negotiations to lift the debt ceiling that Tea Party supporters
were quite prepared to smash the economy completely --
partly based on the view that only a small minority benefit
from a continuation of the status quo.
Of course the actions of the Tea Party in coming close
to wrecking the US economy would have had grave
repercussions for the rest of the globe -- but their viewpoint
is essentially a parochial one, focusing only on domestic
circumstances. If the US had defaulted on its debts the
consequences would have been unpredictable -- but they
would have been sever, widespread and long lasting. It is
not beyond the realms of possibility that a default would
have triggered a major recession in the US -- possibly even
a depression -- with knock on effects for the rest of the
Europe remains in the economic doldrums and is
expected to experience sluggish growth for the remainder
of this decade. The Asian region is presently doing
well, especially as there are encouraging signs that the
Japanese economy -- still the third largest in the world -- is
finally starting to move after two decades of stagnation.
However, the US economy being thrown into reverse would
undoubtedly have major negative consequences for both
Beijing and Tokyo.
A US depression would have sped up the timeline for
China to overhaul it as the world's largest economy. At the
moment China seems on track to overhaul the US in the
second half of the next decade. If the US had defaulted,
that cross over point in economic size might have been
brought forward by ten years.
With economic strength comes the ability to develop
and project military might. As things stand, even when
China overtakes the US it will need years beyond that to
develop military capabilities that even come close to those
available to Washington. The US has such a huge standing
investment in its military machine that it will take China a
very long time to come up with something comparable.
Things such as aircraft carriers -- of which the USN has 11
-- cannot be built overnight. With the STOVL variant of the
F-35 available to be deployed on amphibious ships it can
be said that the USN carrier fleet will double to 22.
Similar observations can be about nuclear submarines;
communications systems; satellite technology; combat
and cargo aircraft; nuclear missiles and bombers -- and so
on. China is investing heavily in all of these systems -- and
more. However, it will be a very long time indeed before this
buildup comes close to matching the decades of investment
already made by Washington.
The US remains a force for stability and good despite
occasional horrendous miscalculations -- the invasion of Iraq
springs to mind -- and it is to be hoped that the US military
remains the dominant force in the Asia Pacific region. It will
maintain this position well into the future -- unless the Tea
Party gets their way. Ù
UNITED STATES WEAKENS ITSELF
Quick Response (QR) codes allows readers with smart phones to unlock the web based content behind the code. To allow the content
to be accessed, the mobile must have a QR code reader installed. Many phones come with readers installed, but if not, one can be downloaded
for free, by texting 'rdr' to + 61 (0)429 112 756. A message will be sent back with a link to allow download of the software applicable to your
phone. For further detail on QR codes please go to: www.defencereviewasia.com/qr.codes.
Naval aviation in
the Asian region
Kym Bergmann / SINGAPORE
Links Archive DRA Sept-Oct 2013 DRA Dec13-Jan14 Navigation Previous Page Next Page