Back in the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev had a magic touch internationally. Traveling outside the Soviet Union, he often received the adulation that was so frequently lacking at home. When Gorbachev visited other Communist countries, crowds would turn out to welcome him as a savior.
The end of US hegemony? Possibly but one must make these predictions in the light of the coming climate change chaos and not as if it were all going to be business as usual. The end of US hegemony in what circumstances? If there is a catastrophic climate event whether a humongous storm beyond which humanity has never encountered before or a sudden collapse of the ice sheets and corresponding glacier slough into the sea raising sea levels along with a crushing tidal surge or some drought of depressing if not despairing intensity that forces tens of millions to migrate elsewhere (anywhere elsewhere, the end of US hegemony would be occurring in what future conditions? The only certainty is that the future will not be the way we expect when we make such predictions.
Aside from that, what if there is a major war in addition to the occupational forever wars we are now engaged in? Or the unthinkable of a nuclear exchange? What hegemony would continue business as usual after a nuclear episode?
In my opinion, Trump, the Republicans and the Democratic old guard, the conservatives and the oligarchy in general and their misguided supporters et al, ALL face the greatest external change possible short of nuclear destruction or biowarfare plagues. Climate change will completely change the playing field and rearrange historical trends and create new ones. Climate change can upend all boats. China hit with a massive drought that puts hundreds of millions of internal refugees in motion? Africa encounters Saharaization over most the continent with the lack of water forcing whole populations to move?
Hegemony? Americans by virtue of our rich portion of resources and physical room (land area) have always been insulted from catastrophic events that would sometimes result in the deaths of millions in other countries. But that was before climate change.
With climate change don’t expect history to follow along its normal trends. Everything is up for grabs in the future when everything in the past changes so drastically!
Wise words, Wereflea, as usual!
I’m not sure I’d hold up Gorbachev as a beacon of success. After all, he was the last leader of the Soviet Union. I’m not sure presiding over the destruction of your country is a marker of success for a national leader.
I saw Gorbachev speak once , and have read the translations of all of his books. He was immensely more popular internationally than he was in the Soviet Union because of his supposedly democratic ideas. The irony is that he was not really democratic in any meaningful way, he was a soviet style communism true believer, as was his wife. The tragedy of his life was that the system he tried to reform was destroyed in the process.
The end of US hegemony can only come about through the use of high yield nuclear weapons. Trump and the rest of the leaders of the Military Industrial Complex are not able to see past their belief that our mighty weapons have the mutually assured destructive power to scare other countries away from notions of attacking us. It’s the Junior High schoolyard dream of being the toughest bad ass on the yard that nobody would dare challenge.
But people’s egos don’t be like that. You can’t hold the championship title belt without inspiring within other people a feeling that they deserve it more than you do. There are always contenders for being the toughest country on the planet. That’s what’s up with the kid currently running North Korea. Analysts have written and said that all his saber rattling derive from not wanting the United States to have the power to scare them into submission. To keep from being In that position they have built up a nuclear weapons capability and, coupled with a talent for belligerent threat talk, are now convinced they don’t have to be the wimps of the world and cower in fear of American might. They now can have pride in the security provided by the belief that if they’re hit the can hit back and hurt by doing so.
The worst tactic of all is to have warplanes do flybys to try to show them that they’re boasting above their weight division. To expect them – especially when led by this punk kid – to “get it” that they can’t possibly come out on top of a nuclear exchange. They are buying into the old knight’s concept of “being carried out on their shield” because they put up a good fight and can die with pride, without a sniveling surrender.
US Trump driven psychology is very similar. This country has been the undisputed nuclear champion ever since the Soviet Union fell apart. The citizens of this nation state are in “how dare they?” mode. When they hear people advising them to see if the situation can be negotiated into a nonproliferating calm, this sounds wimpy to them. The people may feel that while they may be underpaid nobodies with more responsibilities than they can cope with, with bodies all aching and wracked with pain, that at least they’re part of the biggest baddest land on the planet and don’t have to be threatened by “pipsqueak little countries.”
I hope that having an experienced General as chief of staff will cause the White House to ease away from the need to prove that the US really is as tough and mighty as they to wish to believe they are and lets the longstanding inhibition against nuclear warmaking continue to stand.
You should be more honest with yourself (or more critical) of where you get your assumptions about how people feel. While a few might express the feelings you cited, the truth is that virtually no one dismisses the reality of nuclear destruction. You are ingesting media themes and the political positions the government fed to them rather than asking (objectively) for the opinion of people on the street. If you ask people should we allow ourselves to be pushed around by ‘pipsqueak little countries’ then you probably did get some responses similar to your citation. However, if you went and asked whether the existence of a nuclear capable ‘pipsqueak little country’ is anything to worry about, I am quite sure that all the same people would explain just how dangerous nuclear weapons are and that a country like NK having them is worrisome shit! You are projecting a media derived assumption of ‘how dare they’ etc but it isn’t real for the vast majority of people when it concerns nuclear weapons.
Secondly, I do not share your opinion of our rapidly militarizing White House! The rise of the ‘Generals’ to run things (due to Trump’s obvious incompetency) is a very troubling sign. While having well educated and knowledgeable people around Trump is most welcome considering, having the presence of the ‘military group mind’ to do the thinking produces military type thinking. It is actually there that you might find ( I stress the words might find ) that ‘how dare they’ attitude.
Here is an example of an inherent flaw in military thinking. The Imperial Japanese War Ministry felt that a sneak attack that destroyed the American fleet would so demoralize us that we would capitulate rather than continue the conflict. Instead they kicked the hornet’s nest and lost the war by starting it in such a manner.
Similarly, Bush/Cheney aka Rumsfeld and Powell believed that shock and awe would do much the same thing as the Japanese believed. Instead we destabilized the country and triggered a continuing destabilization of the Arab world that has resulted in a Forever War conflict that we seem unable to escape.
Both instances were the result of military thinking being applied to whole populations. Two armies may fight and one surrender but the fact is that usually that doesn’t end the war (not since the Middle Ages anyway). The reason is generally that people do not think like the military does. They certainly do not when it comes to the threat of a nuclear exchange!
Good points all. You may be totally or partially right. I write I hopes of provoking thought and I am pleased that I provoked considerable thought from at least you.