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A shifting of global power - the changing of the guard

By James Cumes - posted Thursday, 12 April 2007

In America’s Suicidal Statecraft I have told the story of more than 30 years of flawed economic and financial policies that have driven the United States into steep self-destructive decline - with a withering of its political and strategic power as well as its economic strength.

The flawed economic and financial policies have transformed the United States from the most productive economy and largest creditor in history, with high and rising living standards for its people, into the world’s largest debtor, with massive trade and budget deficits, its people and environment neglected, its foreign relations lacking vision or enlightenment. Public, corporate and household debt is immense.

Except for an ultra-rich few, living standards of the American people have stalled or fallen, their savings have turned negative and a crushing burden of household debt has turned the American dream into a nightmare of trying to survive. Phoney official statistics give a misleading picture of economic growth and employment, of inflation and production, of real investment and productivity, of wealth based on asset-price inflation and of income from sliding wages and welfare.


About 37 million people live in poverty. About 40 million have no health insurance. Speculation and a fast-buck culture have destroyed much of the great American heritage. United States industry has been drained away. Manufacture has been gutted - and its most skilled and highly paid jobs have been lost. Trade unions have lost their power. Democratic representation of the everyday American has largely disappeared.

The country’s armed forces, even excluding most of the huge costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, cost half a trillion dollars a year - more than all other major countries put together - and American capacity to maintain them constantly erodes.

At the same time, its policies have built up, at a speed and on a scale that is historically unprecedented, the economic strength and, with it, the political and strategic clout of its rivals in the superpower stakes.

In short, the world’s single superpower is well along the road to self-destruction. Unless the United States can change its policies quickly and fundamentally, the American hegemony will be over and a dangerous struggle will ensue to determine on whose shoulders the superpower mantle should now rest.

Those countries that have followed an economic and financial model contrary to the American - a model that emphasises real investment, enhanced productivity and higher production are the countries to which power will continue to flow.

In America’s Suicidal Statecraft I have described the problems that confront the United States and other countries which have followed the American economic and financial model. I have also proposed the lines along which, even at this late stage, we might find a way to establish an environment dedicated to stable, sustainable economic growth and peaceful global change.


One of many unfortunate features of United States policies over a period that can now be measured in decades is that so many other countries have, in more or less degree, followed the American economic and financial model.

Historically, the American record of achievement has been formidable, so much so that it is understandable that the United States should have great influence in determining the policies of other countries.

However, those countries - and especially those which regard themselves as close traditional allies of the United States - should be able to see when policies, even of their best friends, are going wrong and should have the courage to offer sober, well-based criticism.

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America's Suicidal Statecraft is available most readily through Amazon, at $26.99 a copy.

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About the Author

James Cumes is a former Australian ambassador and author of America's Suicidal Statecraft: The Self-Destruction of a Superpower (2006).

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