Flashpoints for War!

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by Kevin Barrett, The Unz Review:

I remember learning in school that the flashpoint for World War I was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Like most people, I never quite understood how the first-ever World War, involving over 30 nations and leading to almost 20 million deaths, resulted from a gratuitous murder by a handful of radical students. Apparently universities should keep a very close eye on student organizations!

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I later encountered the realist school of geopolitics, which argues that the Great War was a disaster waiting to happen. The actual cause of the war, according to realists, was not a random assassination, but the rise of German (and to a lesser extent Russian and American) economic and military power, which threatened the then-British-dominated world order.

Realists say this pattern is not uncommon. A number one power, alarmed at the rise of a number two challenger, allies itself with the number three power, but ultimately fails to maintain its position. The shifting power dynamics, in which the number one power no longer has the economic and military might to back up its top ranking, produces a major war, whose aftermath establishes the new international pecking order. In the case of the two World Wars, which were really one war with two major episodes, the thalassocratic British empire exhausted itself fighting Germany, allowing the US to seize the number one spot.

Today, the US empire is in a position not unlike Britain’s circa 1914. Having industrialized first, built a huge navy, and developed the necessary skills to “rule the waves” and colonize the wogs, the Brits had benefitted from a huge head start; but by 1914 the Germans, Russians, and Americans were catching up, and the Brits no longer had enough relative power to enforce unipolar world domination.

Likewise, 2024 America is still coasting on the fumes of its gigantic post-World War II head start on the rest of the world. The US emerged from World War II with roughly 50% of global GDP. In 1960 it was still 40%. But the decline since then has been steady. Today the US only controls 13% of global GDP. But it still imagines itself as the global Goliath it was in 1960—or maybe even bigger, since the Soviet ideological challenger has disappeared, and the grandiosely narcissistic neocons have seized the helm of the ship of state.

A major war that will reset power relations and take the US down several notches seems almost inevitable.* The question remains, where will the flashpoint be?

The neocons, in their infinite wisdom, have made it difficult to guess, having alienated so much of the world that the coming take-down-the-US World War could break out practically anywhere. Russia and its borderlands…China and its southern sea and/or its errant province of Taiwan…and now, with the genocide of Palestine making the Islamic world even angrier than Russia and China, the whole middle belt of Eurasia and North Africa is equally hostile territory.

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