November 5, 2004

by Reb Yudel
Business Week on America's coming decline

The Unbearable Costs of Empire (Business Week, July 29 2004)

The combination of unsustainable public debt and foreign debt is a deadly and explosive mix by itself. Rising real interest rates and a looming housing bubble bursting make it all the more dangerous. Financial markets will exert the necessary discipline if politicians refuse to do so, but either way the U.S. can't afford even the $486 billion a year that it's currently spending annually on the military and homeland security.

And even these spending levels are a lot less than would be necessary to maintain America's power in the world. Over the next decade or so, the Chinese economy will actually surpass the U.S. in size. America has 100,000 troops in East Asia. If the U.S. were to try to maintain its current dominance of the region -- something that will probably prove impossible -- it would boost our military spending even further.

The bottom line is that the American empire just isn't affordable. Within a decade or so, the U.S. will be forced to be much less preemptive and outward-looking and to engage in scaled-back foreign policy -- even if the foreign-policy Establishment never changes its views or ambitions.

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