The world is about to find out (in a terrible and tragic way) what happens when hierarchies collapse because leaders suddenly decline (or are unable) to continue enforcing them.
Translation: Over the next decade the US is going to “go John Galt” on the rest of the world, retreat to Galt’s Gulch (Fortress America), and watch as the rest of the world disintegrates into its pre-WWII rivalrous condition. The US can do this because China is not the threat that everyone thinks it is (its entirely dependent for its survival upon the US maintaining the present world order, and its destined for demographic collapse regardless), because Russia too is on the fast track to demographic oblivion, and because the US entirely dominates the Western Hemisphere (which has the best demographics in the world by far, and nearly all the food and energy resources it needs to be self-sustaining). And the US must do this because, with debt levels presently higher than after fighting World War II, the US can no longer afford to police the world.
We're, in clear terms, in a race
The US will pay a terrible (but likely mostly only economic) price for withdrawing from the world, especially if it doesn’t get more gold and bitcoin on its balance sheet quickly enough. (*Every* country should soon be racing to put bitcoin on its balance sheet since that will be it’s only hope of maintaining any significant sovereignty in coming decades).
But I don’t see the US reversing its decision to “go Galt” anytime soon enough to make a difference, but because it’s unwilling and incapable. As Peter Zeihan notes, globalist Presidential candidates have lost the last eight elections, and we didn’t even nominate one the last time around. Plus, to preserve its economic security and stability, the US must reverse its trade deficit fairly soon, and that requires reshoring industry, and that requires giving up the dollar’s reserve currency status (which is the source of so much of the US’s power to police).
In short, it appears that the US is simply done playing the world’s policeman, both for emotional and practical reasons.
That’s not problematic just because other countries are war-like, it’s problematic because the entire post-WWII economic system of most every country on earth was built upon the US-enforced international trade system.
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And this makes it harder for everyone
No other country is capable of enforcing the trade system in coming decades, yet there are less than ten countries in the world (the US and India being two of them) capable of being self-sustaining at anything near current population levels without either massive amounts trade or colonizing other countries. Of those, less than a handful (the US and India being 2 of them) are capable of defending their own borders and of exercising the international influence necessary to secure whatever external trade they may still need.
Yes, if nearly all of these countries played honest and fair and none defected from a new international trade accord, the world could settle on a new reserve asset and perhaps manage to continue the post-WWII trade-based system of worldwide resource allocation without the US continuing to police things. But given human nature, at least a few of them won’t play fair (see Russia’s latest move against Ukraine as an example), and it only takes a few defections to ensure that resource disputes will be once again (as before WWII) be settled as much or more by war and conquest as by trade.
No doubt these waring nations in the eastern hemisphere will try to draw the US into these disputes (as the Ukraine is doing now) in hopes of forcing America to resume its policing role. Some may even engage in false flag attacks against US interests in hopes of forcing the US to engage against their enemies (I wouldn’t put this past the Ukraine if things become desperate enough there). How all of that ultimately plays out remains to be seen, and the US will no doubt occasionally get involved here and there, but it will be much less willing to do so than in prior decades.
The US will suffer too during this transition from one economic age to the next, and in some cases quite a bit. Losing reserve currency status will ultimately benefit the US economy, but the economic transition may be brutal. Regardless, the US will be comparatively fine even during the transaction, and it will still dominate the world (though with a much looser grip) once the transition is over.
But much of the rest of the world, and especially the eastern hemisphere, won’t fair so well. Some countries, like China and Russia and Germany, will collapse for demographic reasons regardless, but a great many will collapse due to war, famine or conquest as international trade takes a step back.
The age of real colonialism will be back, at least in the eastern hemisphere.