Surveying the International Landscape - Granite Grok

Surveying the International Landscape

Surveying the International Landscape

With a cursory surveying the international landscape it is readily discernible America’s position in the world is at best precarious. We burden ourselves with unsustainable debt which we has no plan to repay or reduce. Our trade position is precarious. Our partners are weak and our enemies many. We would do well to assess out strengths, alternatives and position. Thank you to Victor Davis Hanson for his perspectives on our world today.


Iran is battered by U.S.-led sanctions. It is experiencing domestic unrest. The Iranian government engages in serial lying, and its response to the epidemic was inept. It has now sent naval vessels into the Persian Gulf to harass U.S. warships. The Iranians concede they can easily be blown out of the water by the U.S. Navy.

Their larger intention is to goad America. They would like the U.S. to bog down in a Middle East standoff. They would distract us during the coronavirus panic, right before the November election. Baiting America is a dangerous strategy for Iran. However, it is running out of choices. Oil prices are crashing. Trade sanctions limit its partners.

China, Russia and North Korea

The costs of dealing with the virus add to Iran’s financial trouble placing it precariously close to bankruptcy as a country. Iran can hardly expect help from its usual patrons; China, Russia, and North Korea. China is now an international outlaw facing a severe recession. Russia is reeling from crashing oil prices. And North Korea faces restrictions on commerce and financial transactions. It is broke with leadership in doubt.

How all three autocracies dealt with the coronavirus is censored. It seems likely they face greater internal unrest and more poverty. We can expect all of them to become more provocative as the U.S. election approaches. Each hopes Trump will be gone in 2021. They must be hoping for a more malleable president who they can be bully.

United Nations, WHO

The United Nations has been mostly absent during the global pandemic. The two democracies that the U.N. treats the worst are Israel and Taiwan. Both have done very well during the crisis. They are coming out of the coronavirus in exactly the opposite way the U.N.’s pet China.

It would have been better for all if the World Health Organization (WHO) had been silent as well during the pandemic. Instead the U.N.’s duplicitous subsidiary parroted Chinese propaganda. It did its own part to delay the world’s response to the virus. The agency’s actions and inactions cost thousands of lives. It wound up destroying trillions of dollars of economic output.

The virus won’t face defeat by international health organizations or U.N.-support of transnational committees. Unilateral or bilateral scientific cooperation between Western countries will find vaccines and antidotes. Results will not come from unaccountable and subsidized international associations.

American debt

When the viral crisis began, the U.S. was facing a possible $1 trillion annual deficit. Trump is following in the Bush and Obama red ink legacy. The need to restore instant liquidity to the devastated U.S. economy will cause the budget deficit to hit historic levels. In 2020 alone the deficit will be more than $3 trillion without further actions this year.

Such a staggering sum may possibly be bearable in the short term only because of two conditions. Interest rates are near zero and a global recession strangling consumer spending. But… soon, very soon; the U.S. will have a rendezvous with a very tough payback.

That is absolutely true unless we accept thrifty Americans will never again receive interest on their savings PLUS inflation is extinct forever. Both of those propositions seem very low probabilities. The coronavirus may burn out, but an even scarier world is out there waiting for us. Surveying the international landscape we need to recognize our position at the top of the hierarchy is not assured.