Economic Space and Big Picture National Security
by BruceMcF, Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 10:21:07 PM EDT
In the 1930's, there was an idea in common currency of "Economic Space". What collection of resources and markets were needed by the Big Powers to remain Big Powers -- and how secure were they in their Economic Space.
And in the 1930's, it became clearer and clearer that there were about three Economic Spaces that four Big Powers were trying to fit into -- The UK (as the previous number one economic power), the US (as the recently emerged number one economic power), Germany (as the resurgant Continental European power), and Japan (widely underestimated in its own right, but taken serious in terms of shorter supply lines to the eastern Pacific Basin).
Fitting four into three implied war, and war there was.
And that's what makes the Bush National Security agenda scary. It seems like the Bush agenda is for the US to have the whole world, and everyone else can have the rest. If there ever was a path to war, this is it.
Now, I have been nursing this idea for a long time -- since the 1980's, not long after returning from teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer in Grenada. And my conclusions are the same as ever.
Suppose, JUST suppose, that the US can get past the ideological knee jerk reactions that substituted for thought in the Cold War. Suppose it can genuinely work together with Latin America and Africa. It is possible to craft a cooperative "Economic Space".
There is one hurdle to get over, though. And that hurdle is Oil Addiction. As long as the US economy needs a growing amount of oil to support economic growth and population growth -- then there is no stopping the conflict ahead.
And that conflict will be with China. Now the US is the pre-eminent economic power of the past century and immediate present. And, at present growth rates (and correcting for the steeply discounted exchange rates in a developing economy with a still-underdeveloped financial system), China is the pre-eminent economy of the middle of the 21st century.
America taking serious steps to kick Oil Addiction helps in not one, but two ways. First it reduces the fight for oil. And second it develops the technological path for China to walk on. That is, there is nothing that will prevent a growing Chinese middle class from aspiring to an improving standard of living. However, with the right technology, the amount of oil required to deliver a particular standard of living can be substantially reduced.
These provide twin themes I will be looking at. First, the South Atlantic strategy -- how America can work with instead of against the development of our South Atlantic neighbors. Second, the fight against oil addiction, to prevent the next major global conflict being a World War with China in one coalition and the US in another.crossposted from OAC
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