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« Cars of the Future? | Main | Fueling the Future »

November 14, 2007


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John B

My reaction? Simplification. For instance, I'd hardly call the US's current position to be 'unchallenged'. Were the US to go to full war footing versus a single foe, I agree it is more likely than not that it would 'win', however that is not the situation.

Our world today is different enough from the 'cold war' period that, while the US had and still has significant positional advantage in many ways, that advantage is decaying or being overcome by other actors on the world stage. How this works out is NOT clear, IMO.

I would suggest that there needs be a non-trivial expansion of the above concept to make it more valuable for thought - not just listing the leading forces of the times, also list their opponents and where the relative strengths and advantages stacked up.

One example might be in the cold war where it was primarily US v USSR, where the industry of the former was in conflict with the economic focus of the latter - IE, the US produced LOTS, and the USSR focused what it produced better than the US on what was perceived by its leadership as relevant projects.

I'd also suggest that this might make an interesting wager, for those who choose to gamble on their predictions...

-John B


The United states is easily unchallenged at the moment. It spends more money on its military than all other nations on the planet combined. There is not an army in the world that can go head to head with the US army. Where it falls short is where all conventional forces do, which is gorilla warfare. And as power becomes more and more decentralized, conventional warfare will become a thing of the past imo.

John A

The conventional take on US power is that it rose steadily for a long time, before expanding greatly after winning WW2 and then again after the Cold War. But that is probably not a very accurate way to look at it. The North and South for instance wielded armies in the Civil War unlike anything the world had ever seen. Over time technology greatly increased the ability of armies to project power, continuing to this day and into the future. US military success has been the realization of long-standing power.

I think the two biggest factors going forward are the further advance of technology and the decline in birth rates. Rich countries can hope technology advances productivity quickly enough to make up for an aging population. That is possible though not easy. "Developing" and poor countries are faced with the same problem but have no ability to cope. China will be a failed state- it's just a matter of when (though areas of China like Hong Kong could be prosperous independently). India is only slightly better off. Iran, most Arab states, other oil-dependent countries, etc., face complete collapse.

The results of that will be many and calamitous.

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