At the moment, we find ourselves in the middle of a turbulent phase of the global evolutionary cycle which commenced in the 1980ies and is projected to end by the middle of the XXI century. In the process, the US is clearly loosing its hyperpower status…
Estimates offered by experts from the Russian Academy of Science show that the current period of severe instabilities should end roughly in 2017-2019 with a crisis. The crisis will not be as deep as those of 2008-2009 or 2011-2012 and will mark the transition to an economy built on a novel technological basis. The economic revival will, in 2016-2020, likely entail serious shifts in the global power balance and serious military-political conflicts involving both the global heavyweights and the developing countries. The epicenters of the conflicts will supposedly be located in the Middle East and the post-Soviet Central Asia.
The century of the US global military-political dominance and economic primacy appears to be nearing completion. The US failed the unipolarity test and, bled by permanent Middle Eastern conflicts, currently lacks the resources retaining the global leadership would take.
Multipolarity implies a much fairer distribution of wealth across the world and a profound transformation of the international institutions such as the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, etc. At the moment the Washington consensus seems irreversibly dead and the global agenda should be topped by the task of building an economy with much lower uncertainty levels, tighter financial regulations, and greater justice in the allocation of revenues and economic benefits.
The centers of economic development are drifting from the West, which counts the industrial revolution among the main accomplishments on its record, to Asia. China and India should be preparing for an unprecedented economic race in the process against the backdrop of the wider competition between the economies employing the state capitalism and the traditional democracy models. China and India, the world's two top-populous countries, will define the directions and the pace of development in the future, but the main battle over global primacy is going to be played out between the US and China, with the choice of the XXI century post-industrial socioeconomic model and political system at stake.
The question arising in the context is how the US is going to react to the transition?
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It has to be taken into account that any US strategy proceeds from the assumption that loosing the global primacy is unacceptable to the country. The linkage between global leadership and the XXI century prosperity is an axiom for the US elites regardless of political details.
Mathematical modeling of the global geopolitical dynamics warrants the conclusion that a victorious large-scale war fought with conventional warfare is the US only option to reverse the fast meltdown of its unsurpassed geopolitical status.
It is an open secret that occasionally non-military methods of pushing rivals off the stage - as in the case of the collapse of the Soviet Union – also work, and the corresponding technologies are being permanently polished in the US. On the other hand, up to date countries like China or Iran evidently prove immune to external manipulation. If the current geopolitical dynamics persists, the global leadership change can be expected by 2025, and the only way the US can derail the process being to ignite a major war…
The country facing an imminent leadership loss has no option but to strike first, and this is what Washington has been doing over the past 15 years. The US specific tactic is to pick as a target not an alternative candidate for geopolitical primacy but countries engaging which appears affordable at the moment. Attacking Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the US sought to handle purely economic or relatively minor regional problems, but a bigger game would clearly require a more significant target. Military analysts hold that Iran plus Syria and the non-Arab Shia groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah face the greatest chances of getting hit in the name of a new global redistribution.
The redistribution is in fact underway. The Arab Spring spun off and managed by Washington created the appropriate conditions for a merger of the Muslim world within a single caliphate. The US plan is that this new formation will help the waning hyperpower maintain its grip on the world's key energy resources and safeguard its interests vis-a-vis Asia and Africa. No doubt, the challenge prompting the US to compose this new type of arrangement is the swelling might of China.
Getting rid of Iran and Syria which stand in the way of the US global dominance would be Washington's natural next step. Attempts to topple the Iranian regime by means of inciting civilian unrest in the country failed fabulously, and military analysts suspect that an intervention scenario akin to those implemented in dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan eventually awaits Iran. The plan has serious chances to materialize even though as of today even the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan presents the US with considerable problems.
The implementation of the Greater Middle East project - along with appreciable damage to the standing of Russia and China - would be the key prizes the US hopes to win by fighting a major war… The design became widely known in the US following the publication in the Armed Forces Journal of the notorious Peters map. The motivation which loomed behind the artifact was to muscle Russia and China out of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, to cut Russia off the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and to disconnect China from its most important energy suppliers.
The materialization of the Greater Middle East plan would ruin Russia's prospects for a peaceful and steady development as the unstable US-controlled South Caucasus would be sending shock waves across the North Caucasus. Since, obviously, the unrest would be detonated by the forces of Muslim fundamentalism, Russia's predominantly Muslim regions are sure to be affected.
The US is unable to sustain the Washington consensus any longer relying on economic and political instruments. China's Jemin Jibao painted the picture with utmost clarity when it wrote that the US grew into a global parasite which prints unlimited quantities of dollars, exports them to pay for its imports, and thus buys Americans lavish living standards by robbing the rest of the world. Russia's premier expressed a similar view during his November 17, 2011 China tour.
At the moment China is pressing hard to limit the sphere of the US dollar circulation. The share of the US currency in China's reserves is shrinking, and in April, 2011 the Chinese Central Bank announced a plan to completely opt out of the US dollar in international clearances. The blow to the US currency domination will not remain unanswered, obviously. Iran is similarly trying to reduce the dollar share in its transactions: an Iranian oil exchange opened in July, 2011, where only Euro and Iran's own currency are accepted. Iran and China are negotiating over the supply of Chinese products in return for Iran's oil, which, among other things, would make it possible to route trade around the sanctions imposed on Iran. The Iranian leader said his country's trade volume with China should reach $100b, and that would render the US plans to isolate Iran meaningless.
The US efforts to undermine stability in the Middle East may in part be attributable to the reckoning that the reconstruction of the region's devastated infrastructures would necessitate massive dollar infusions, the result being the revitalization of the US economy. In 2011, the US strategy aimed at preserving its global leadership started to translate into power-based policies as Washington considers depreciating the dollar holdings among the possible solutions to the crisis problem. A major war can actually serve the purpose. In its wake, the winner would be able to impose its own terms on the rest of the world as it did when the Bretton-Woods system came into being in 1944. For Washington, running the world takes being ready to fight a major war.
Can Iran, given the necessary backing, put an end to the US universal expansion? The question will be addressed in the next paper.