Until very recently, I believed that the major existential threat facing the world was growing resource scarcities – a category vast enough to encompass everything from climate change to shortages of critical commodities. However, it’s become increasingly apparent that the widening chasm between developed and developing nations poses a much greater long-term existential threat. In this article, I will explain some of the most vexing problems regarding this global dichotomy and why it’s imminently all-important for the world to work together before it’s too late.
This deepening global dichotomy shines a direct spotlight on the emerging developing world represented by the SE (southeastern part of the globe) verses the robustly developed world, mostly represented by the NW (northwestern part of the globe). Ultimately, I view this clash as a relatively long-term threat, but severe enough to require immediate attention. Cooperation between all major countries in the NW and SE is utterly imperative to avoid an unlivable planet for our progeny.
Collectively transitioning to a multipolar society is likely impossible when you have an entire country or group of people divorced ideologically from the rest of the world. Moreover, the wider the division and the longer these problems are allowed to fester, the greater the impact on present day society, making it increasingly challenging to find future resolve.
A resounding thought that echoes through my mind:
“The current situation is akin TO a higher power looking down on humanity and issuing some sort of edict to the effect that we have to prove we deserve the riches of nature and provide support for what sustains us… And in effect unites us all under the same umbrella.”
If humanity cannot figure out a way of harmonizing rather than participating in unabated wars, the likely result; another species on this planet goes extinct. In other words, if humanity chooses to remain divided rather than working together to solve global existential threats- then humans don’t deserve to exist on this planet.
The Major Point Of Inflection
Here is an extremely brief sketch of how humanity has succumbed to where we find ourselves today and why the current war in Ukraine has the potential to be that major point of inflection. The war in Ukraine may very well serve as the catalyst that either ignites mass worldwide destruction or results in the kind of peace consistent with worldwide cooperation.
The United States will surely play a critical role. I have pointed out in two of my most recent books that America lost its way when it became free to print money on demand. Prior to 1971, the United States was governed by the monetary rules set forth in Bretton Woods. The developed world was governed by a gold standard. Loosely speaking, this meant our growth in consumption had to be matched by increases in productivity. Unfortunately, the United States’ lengthy involvement in the Vietnam War, along with concurrent attempts to build a “great society” obliterated any semblance of monetary discipline that might have remained.
As a result, in 1971 the infamous gold standard was replaced by what many term the petrodollar. In reality, the petrodollar served as the world’s reserve currency. The most important implication- the United States could print and spend as much money as they wanted with limited monetary consequences.
Unfortunately, the epitome of a secular freedom set the stage for a total loss of monetary discipline and led to the destruction of spiritual values that had once made the United States such a formidable worldwide leader. America’s focus on productivity and creativity were replaced by a maniacal focus on money, which meant corporations’ focus ever more shifted to ‘get rich quick’ projects rather than long-term projects designed to increase productivity. A country originally founded on sacred beliefs in equality and liberty became an exclusive secular society in which the overarching goal was money. The consequences of which led generations of Americans to believe that monetary secularism could solve virtually every existential problem.
But the writing was already on the wall when the United States abruptly transitioned to the petrodollar in the early 1970’s. It was a bold wake-up call for anyone paying attention; heralding the harsh reality that America was no longer resource independent. Lucky for America’s sake- the petrodollar offered a savvy, short-term solution to solve this problem. With the petrodollar conveniently serving as the world’s reserve currency, the United States could simply print the money needed to buy whatever we lacked. And as a result, resource scarcities have remained a back burner issue until the beginning of this century.
The Emergence of Russia & China
Our victory in the Cold War led to our belief we had the right to spread our democracy worldwide. Countries such as Poland, Romania, and other eastern European states (previously members of the Soviet Union) successfully made the transition to democracies. In adapting democratic principles of free elections, the countries were helped along by grants from the United States.
One overt exception was Russia. According to Jeffrey Sachs, whose remit at the time was advising other countries on adopting democratic governance, Russia wanted to be a part of Europe and requested to become a NATO member as well. But when Sachs asked the United States for money to help Russia in this effort, he was flatly turned down. In hindsight, it becomes utterly clear that during the 1990’s, the U.S. viewed Russia as a future wellspring of resources. However, what is not clear is how the United States actually felt about democracy in Russia. Clearly, the United States felt that a weakened Russia would not stand as a single country but would break up into small countries, which inevitably would be easier to control and provide a massive source of resources when the time came.
The emergence of China and the developing world greatly intensified the global resource scarcity problem, while accelerating the need for the United States to find a paramount solution to lean in their favor. China not only represented competition for resources but also threatened the United States overall geopolitical dominance.
The Savagery Of Democratic Ideals
Taking into consideration the number of wars the U.S. has fought so far this century... Paints a profoundly cynical picture of America's desperate attempt to preserve hegemony.
The pursuit to secure the most important freedom the United States has in its possession– the freedom to spend and print infinite amounts of money– would be preserved. Most Americans have convinced themselves that the United States is still the same great democracy the Founding Fathers had once imagined, which collectively justified the senseless crusade for democratic ideals. But in reality, war after unabated war has cost the United States enormous amounts of money – estimates run as high as $10 trillion. Even more chilling is that some estimates put the number of innocent children killed in warfare since the mid 1990’s at roughly one million. This statistic rivals the estimated number of innocent Jewish children killed in the Holocaust, which is a number closer to 1.5 million.
Even as early as 1996 (after the first Iraq War) there were unmistakable signs the United States had lost its spiritual bearings. Secretary of State under Clinton, Madeleine Albright, interviewed by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes discussed whether the lives of half a million Iraqi children was a fair price to pay for potential democracy in Iraq. She said it was a tough call, but she would have to say the cost was worth it. This is an unconscionable sense of reasoning, which defies the essence of personal liberty and freedom that democracy so vehemently stands for.
Moreover, the democratic ideals of the United States (which Albright said was worth the countless lives lost of helpless children dying in the crossfire of war) continues to show signs of rot. Perhaps the most striking example of this decline comes from figures on life expectancy. Today life expectancy is no higher than it was in the mid-90’s. Indeed, American life expectancy is not only the lowest of all developed countries but also lower than a number of developing countries such as China. Indeed, the decline in American life expectancy is greater than what occurred in the years of WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic, which was much more virulent than the recent Covid pandemic.
Described so far is merely a synopsis of the savagery which the United States has justified, consequently mutilating the altruisms’ of America’s Founding Fathers. It’s also setting a grand stage for a major point of inflection that will either lead to global cooperation – or worst case scenario – Armageddon.