What we Know
On July 25th 2023, the world’s largest economy and most feared military power is the United States, but will this world order last forever? After all, the ebbs and flows of the human story are ceaseless. Empires rise and fall and history is filled with countless examples of rich societies that are no longer in existence or aren’t relevant and the question is whether or not the current Breton Woods system is not only the past and present, but also the future?
Ask me in 1999 and I would tell you that the United States faces no material threats and is free to flourish and spread its values to every corner of the earth, in theory. The growing consensus in the 1990’s was that America is invincible and anyone that conjured up different ideas was deemed unrealistic and crazy.
Back track to the mid-1970’s, though, American dominance wasn’t even a thing. The Vietnam war was a complete failure, the Soviets were expanding and the U.S. economy dealt with hyperinflation.
Predicting the mighty Soviet Union would lose a costly war in Afghanistan and fall behind militarily, so much so that they’d surrender and fall apart in the early 1990’s, would have been called the most unlikely of scenarios.
History is filled with instances of wild outcomes and out-of-left-field strategies and this is why Warren Buffett famously said that predicting is impossible, especially when it comes to the future.
Just 110 years ago, the British was the undisputed kings of the world with their mighty fleet and colonial empire, along with the French and the Germans, but those countries decided to spend four costly years fighting each other in the traditional manner of the past; with soldiers, in an attempt to occupy each other’s lands, a type of conflict we see less and less of.
What changed the American hegemony and its economic expansion and its complete dominance are the events of 9/11, which rearranged foreign policy in a war against terror or the Muslim world.
Tell anyone in 1998 that by 2003, the U.S. army would be waging multiple wars in the Middle East and you’d be deemed a lunatic.
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This world does not behave predictably and the Long Peace in Europe, which birthed the European Union, among other continental events, is no different.
Who could have known that Great Britian would elect to opt-out or that Russia would invade Ukraine with a military operation that would last this long?
His advisors and all war tacticians of the west were, pretty much, agreed the invasion would take days, or several weeks, to complete and a new government would be installed.
NATO was deemed weak; Germany was thought to capitulate to Putin’s demands because of his energetic leverage over them and the pacifist country was Putin’s bet, but again, history took a drastic turn to the right and now Germany is militarizing at the fastest pace in history.
What is Russia’s next big move, then?
I don’t know, but what this history lesson has taught us is that it would be completely unforeseen.
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