On The Brink
The Credit Strategist - March 2023
The world sits at a tipping point where geopolitical and economic forces inch major powers dangerously close to direct military conflict. Already engaged in proxy wars, the risk of nuclear war is higher than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. There are many reasons for this but among them is the fact that all major powers are subject to unprecedented economic and social stresses from excessive debt burdens, aging demographics, natural resource limitations, and populist political ideologies. And the world faces these existential challenges with weak political leadership and uninformed and easily manipulated citizenries.
The decisions made with respect to Ukraine and Taiwan will affect generations to come. There is justifiable concern that our political leaders will repeat the mistakes that led them into the disasters in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University, argues in a new article in Foreign Affairs that our foreign failures are the result of belief by our foreign policy establishment in “the myth that what the world needs is more American military power.” And now, he fears, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revived the postwar tradition of American muscle flexing. The Afghan war, the longest in U.S. history, has all but vanished from memory, as has the disastrous war of choice that Washington launched 20 years ago in Iraq. Partly as a result, the country seems poised to continue making the same mistakes that led to those debacles, all justified by the ostensible obligations of global leadership.” (9) His obvious concern is that we will make the same mistake in Ukraine (and potentially Taiwan). Thus far his fears are unfounded with respect to Taiwan; President Biden has moved judiciously and effectively with European allies to support Ukraine, but the risk of escalation remains.