Can the United States Avoid World War III?
No civilization lasts forever. The Etruscan civilization vanished. The Roman Empire collapsed. The Ancient Egyptians disappeared. But if no civilization lasts forever, in the global struggle for natural resources fueling our economies and feeding our peoples, which civilization might be first to fall? And which one shall outlive all others? The world we live in isn’t the Garden of Eden where all people can coexist in peaceful harmony for all eternity. That’s just a fantasy. The globalization of our struggle means human history has entered its endgame.
Indebted to the World
We all take for granted that we can use money to buy something we need. Money is a promise that sometime in the future I will be able to purchase something of value. But, knowing that the United States owes the rest of the world nearly 16 trillion dollars worth of debt, what might the United States be offering its creditors of value in exchange for that much money? There are few ways to answer that question. Inflating the dollar handily lowers the value of US debt, but when economists run out of such peaceful options, aggressive war may become inevitable.
Currently, the United States holds about 30% of the entire world’s government debt, making it the most indebted government on the planet. That debt now burdens each US citizen with at least $50,000 from the day they are born. If today all foreign creditors at once demanded the United States repay its debt, they could bankrupt the American people. Therefore, the United States government holds an obligation to its citizens to find ever new ways to convince foreign creditors to hold onto large reserves of USD currency — i.e. reserves they keep but do not spend.
So far, the US government has succeeded. Since World War II, the US dollar has been a so-called world reserve currency, which is a preferred currency other governments use to store their national wealth, like a personal savings account. Throughout recent history, there have been several world reserve currencies, which supersede each other in terms of importance about once every century. Today, there are several currencies competing for the dollar’s alpha status. In order of importance, they are the Euro, the British pound sterling, the Japanese yen, and, as of November 30, 2015, the Chinese yuan.
But why is the US dollar so popular internationally? It would be foolish to think people just really love the great American example, or that American democracy makes people drool as if the world fell in love with America. No, since even its worst enemies keep large reserves of USD, meaning they are forced to, we must accept that American power rests on some threat of physical violence.
After Europe’s decolonization of the Middle East, and after the US army emerging from World War II victoriously, the global balance of power shifted in favor of the United States. It was American military muscle power that finally ended the age of European dominance. With their superior army, the United States could control many of the world’s energy supply routes. As a result, the dollar replaced the British pound as world reserve currency.
To persuade foreign parties to hold large USD reserves, the United States can either offer them access or protection. Foreign creditors may receive access to US controlled trade routes or US military protection. Conversely, those who refuse to accept this ‘generous’ offer risk being cut off from global trade, or risk a US military ‘intervention’. Given the power of the US military, the logic of economics dictates that most nations simply choose to submit to American demands. For example, with the US providing NATO’s biggest army, Europeans wouldn’t dare dump their USD reserves. Their relatively weak and underfunded armies simply could not defend their own peoples.
Defending the Petrodollar
Next, during the Cold War, Americans successfully stared down the old Soviet Union. Even Russian President Putin today admits that the United States is the only real superpower left in the world. But after seizing power comes the struggle to maintain it. To stay on top, the United States needs to control humanity’s most important sources of energy — e.g. oil, gas and uranium — but this has forced the US army to stay involved in increasingly complex and costly wars, notably in the Middle East, a region holding one of the world’s largest known oil reserves.
It should be understood that undiscovered fossil fuel reserves might dramatically disrupt the balance of power in the world. In fact, it did. With the discovery of massive oil fields in Russia, for example, the Vankor oil and gas field, Russian has recently overtaken Saudi Arabia and the United States as the number one oil-producing country. The United States remains a superpower because it can use (the threat of) its military force to bully other parties into paying for oil in USD currency —commonly known as the petrodollar.
The power to rule the world, then, does not come from any perceived moral, cultural or technological strength, but from the brute ability to physically control the trade in natural resources, notably energy. The downside is that superpowers have to relentlessly maintain and continuously upgrade a massive army with military bases spread all around the world — outposts of the American empire. Without such a powerful military, an inheritance of winning World War II, there would not have been an America today.
In conclusion, the ability to price oil in dollars, and only in petrodollars, backed up by US military threat, is what effectively forces foreign parties to hold large reserves of USD currency. Without such dollar reserves, foreign nations would only cut themselves off from the oil trade that fuels their economies and feeds their peoples. To them, USD currency acts as a granary, an insurance that helps them survive through future drought. And that’s why in turn the United States can run massive trade deficits and survive a multi-trillion dollar debt.
But the story isn’t as straightforward. American dominance is under constant attack by foreign parties trying to escape or circumvent America’s stranglehold. All attempts to price oil currently traded in USD in any other currency will necessarily weaken the US economy. For example, if China could force the world to price oil — or whichever energy source becomes more important in the future — in Chinese yuan, all foreign nations would instantly want to dump their USD reserves, forcing Americans to either pay off their debt or file for bankruptcy.
In such a scenario, a debilitated US economy would no longer be able to enter new loans, and it would no longer be able to maintain its massive army. To cut expenses, Americans would have to shut down foreign military bases. They would have to give up their luxury lifestyles. With much of American industry already shipped to China and Mexico, America itself would risk becoming a Third World backwater.
On top of that, US debt is spiraling out of control. In 2000, US national debt counted around 5.6 trillion dollars. By 2016, that debt has more than tripled in only fifteen years time. That hyper-exponential debt growth makes it less attractive for foreign investors to hold US dollar reserves, for several reasons. Firstly, any sane person knows debt cannot keep on growing. At some point in time, debt has to be repaid. The faster US debt continues to grow, the less likely that debt will be repaid. Secondly, investors know that with growing debt USD interest rates will have to come down, making other currencies more attractive.
The Fates of Nations
At this point, it seems that the most powerful nation, the leader of the free world, has caught itself in a web of debt and an almost exponentially increasing dependency on the petrodollar. It is becoming a historical certainty that the US dollar eventually will be superseded by some other world reserve currency, perhaps the Chinese yuan, or some other currency, thereby bringing down the West as we know it.
Talk of an Amero — a North American currency tying together its hemisphere — may offer a temporary solution. Another might prefer the ‘Atlanto’, a currency bridging the more homogeneous regions of Europe and America, but such preference is irrelevant. In the years leading up to third world war, we expect to see more of such economic centralization. The European Union’s aggressive eastward expansion, likely to usurp Ukraine and Turkey, provides another example of a people’s attempt to survive economically. The move would bring in millions of new guest workers, sacrificing fresh blood to fuel Europe’s aging economies.
But while such expansionist and centralizing developments may postpone global war, they do not suspend it. In fact, they make global war more likely. That’s because there are physical limits to centralization. We will undoubtedly stop short of one world and accept the great divide between East and West, both struggling for global dominance. The most unlikely of allies may join in this all-or-nothing tournament. The United States’ dependence on oil likely forces them to align with the Arab World, perhaps even sacrificing Europe to Islam in exchange for Saudi oil.
On the other hand, Orthodox Russia, its former Soviet satellite states, and China will together form the second axis. Other civilizations — India, Africa, etc. — will choose a side depending on their interests. Such a third world war will be truly global. While WWII saw mostly European nations fighting each other to the death, WWIII will see entire civilizations fighting each other to extinction. But there is a reason to suggest that the United States will strike first.
In 1980, ecologist Paul Colinvaux spent a year of his life researching the Fates of Nations. Based on historical evidence, he concluded his research with three social laws that relate to aggressive war:
- All poverty is caused by the continued growth of population.
- Social oppression is an inevitable consequence of the continued rise in population.
- Aggressive war is caused by the continued growth of population in a relatively rich society.
When we apply Colinvaux’s three social laws to the current state of the world, we learn the following. Firstly, the poverty we see in the world, from the Third World to the lower classes of the West, is not a consequence of failing economies or politics, but of continued population growth. In fact, globalization itself was merely another attempt to cope with the world’s explosive population growth. The golden years when economies grew faster than populations lie behind us. Today, the demands of growing global populations have been greater than our economies could possibly meet. In other words, mankind’s untamable fertility has put us all on a path towards self-destruction.
Secondly, as richer Western societies with historically lower birth rates try to cope with an influx of poorer peoples migrating to their countries, Western nations have been forced to develop all sorts of social oppression to secure a future for its own people. The wealth that feeds a people quickly dilutes when populations explode. For example, since the Kennedy Immigration Act, the United States has added over 60 million new residents through immigration. Racism and discrimination are just two of many ways to oppress immigrants and their unwanted reproductive rates.
Thirdly, the West happens to be a relatively rich civilization. In case of global economic collapse, we have most fat to burn. Through our colonial heritage, Western nations together still control more natural resources than the rest of the world combined. The United States has the most powerful military force and seems more than willing to use it in order to protect its interests. And because of mass migration to the West, America, and Europe are now suffering an artificial population growth that will force them toward aggressive war.
It is not the case that Western nations are necessarily lead by “bad” people who “love” war. Apart from collective suicide — the leftist option— the West will likely see compelled to go to war with the world. Although they will blame the Russian, America will lead the first charge. The question, therefore, is not if there will be a global war, but when. It will come sooner than we think. In his essay on Wotan (Odin), German psychologist Carl Jung described the events leading up to World War II like a wind that began blowing throughout Europe:
“Armed with rucksack and lute, blond youths, and sometimes girls as well, were to be seen as restless wanderers on every road, … faithful votaries of the roving god [Odin]. Later, … the wandering role was taken over by thousands of unemployed, who were to be met with everywhere on their aimless journeys. By 1933, they wandered no longer, but marched in their hundreds of thousands.”
Have not youthful Americans and Europeans long been flocking to open air summer festivals? Have not hundreds of thousands of unemployed, homeless wanderers been looking for a purpose throughout the West? Have not nearly a million Americans attended Donald Trump’s rallies? Trump is the archetypal Wotan. Whether or not he wins the 2016 election (tomorrow), he has already unleashed a storm. Americans are ready to march.
By this I do not mean to compare present-day America to Nazi Germany, nor am I comparing Trump to Hitler. Rather, I mean to compare the conditions that predict aggressive war. In my view, Americans have an extraordinary opportunity. Under American leadership, the West has the potential to jump over its own shadow, to be the first civilization that avoided its own demise.