Peaking means coming down...
...and dreams don't manifest unless they are dreamt, so let's hope US domination of global power has peaked, eh? First though I'm going to knock out a lay inquiry into whether it already has.
The US is by far the single largest consumer of energy in the world, and 80% of US energy consumption relies on fossil fuels according to their own Department Of Energy report in 2000, petroleum making up by far the largest portion. Apart from the ever increasingly apparent environmental reasons why this isn't sustainable there's also the fact that global oil production is about to begin declining. This is heavy shit. If you divide the remaining global oil reserves by current consumption you find that there's theoretically enough for the next forty years, but the production rate from oil fields decreases as resources deplete. We're not about to run out of oil but production is going to decline as we begin the approach toward exhaustion. As we're about half way if not further through mineable supply right now, Peak Oil, the point at which it is no longer possible to increase oil production, is on us.
Because of our dependence on energy, increasing energy production is equally as vital for the sustenance of the global economy as the principle of growth. Peak Oil means investment collapse (e.g. pensions...) and recession, bigger and nastier than the one during the last oil crisis in 1975. It's by no means purely a US issue, but as they're the biggest consumer by an enormous margin aren't they likely to feel it most, especially on top of their ever-impending fiscal bankruptcy?
Maybe not. Maybe Bush's open and explicit encouragement of US industry to consume as much energy as possible (I read about this a couple of years ago) and the administration's implausible denial of climate change research isn't as paradoxical to the desperation of the US energy situation as it first seems. If the entire global economy is reliant on increased energy production and we're all heading for a crash very very soon, it makes sense not only to secure reserves for yourself (i.e. Iraq, second only to Iran as the biggest oil reserve on the planet) but to artificially increase consumption so as to take the lion's share of the remaining growth that oil can provide. By increasing demand beyond necessity the US prepare for the unavoidable oncoming crisis by monopolising on the fact that when it comes, the strongest economy will be the one that has generated the greatest wealth.
It's always seemed a bit deluded to think that the gargantuan US deficit constitutes anything particularly dangerous to its blatantly superior wealth anyway, but should the oncoming economic collapse in the rest of the world accelerate faster than in the US, then the US deficit is completely fucking meaningless. We may find the US in a position to honour its deficit quite easily, since the relative value of the dollar against other currencies will substantially increase and what economists still diplomatically describe as US borrowing will look much more like the mugging that it really is*.
So the US have the oil crisis all stitched up already, confident that they're driving a big enough vehicle to tackle a brick wall by accelerating. And when we're all desperately trying to source alternatives and shelling out vast sums per barrel for what will largely be American oil, no-one will be in a stronger position to fund research into renewable energy. For those of us who don't like empires, least of all global ones, there's a bleak future on the horizon and a nasty whirlwind of unrest before we get there. Is this trajectory written already?
Here is some of a speech given by a Republican congressman recently - "Our power, then, has the grave liability of rendering our theories about the world immune from failure. But by becoming deaf to easily discerned warning signs, we may ignore long-term costs that result from our actions and dismiss reverses that should lead to a re-examination of our goals and means ... There is no evidence that we or anyone can guide from afar revolutions we have set in motion. We can more easily destabilise friends and others, and give life to chaos and avowed enemies, than ensure outcomes in service of our interests and security.".
Fair enough, this guy is chairman of the House international relations committee so we shouldn't take his attitude as an indicator of an overall attack of conscience within the republican party. In fact if you read through what he says you won't find anything remotely indicative of honourable intention, only concerns about ensuring outcomes in service of their interests and security, and whether their current policy is effective. It did strike me as important though. It was important to me because I don't remember ever hearing anything said by an American Republican that would have inspired me as worthwhile engaging in argument. Empathising with american imperialists is difficult - there's simply never been an empire with such vast remotely operable power, ever, and the feeling of powerlessless that overwhelms the scruples of influential characters in previous omni-carnivorous empires surely can't compare with that which corrupts those at the helm of America. Extra-terrestrial invasion is the only security threat worth fearing, surely?
To be a member of the US proletariat and an unshakeable flag-waver by no means necessitates being in denial that a theoretical civilisational 'peak' is possible for your culture. This is important because as long as empathising with absolute corruption doesn't corrupt absolutely then maybe we have one viable weapon left. Since the Bush administration abandoned democracy to establish itself it's impossible to argue that there is honourable intention in their strategy to further the US empire. But since cultural influence is our means, if we can reconcile sound ethical judgment with what the US power axis represents to US imperialists we not only succeed in staying above the age-old inciteful ignorance margin of writing them off as evil opponents but perhaps find the key to bursting the bubble of their cultural infallibility. It's also worth doing because when the shit hits the fan it's going to fly all over the room and it's going to be wisest to stop feeling unjustly implicated in a bloodthirsty capitalist megasystem and have what's right and wrong about 'western' culture separated so we can make choices and influence our own culture more directly.
By this I don't mean to advocate sympathy for the devil for its own sake, I'm just trying to open the door for furthering our means. To manifest truly ethical power reform on a global scale means freeing the ideals of the passively oppressed from systemic certainty, and I don't think this is possible until we are sure to have freed ourselves. This means including American gall in our empathic spectrum, even if we are dreaming of a world without it.
And like I say, dreams don't come true unless they are dreamt.
* Since the IMF formed in 1945 the US has been spending vast figures in their globally valued currency that didn't otherwise exist - simply because the dollar spent on foreign soil was no longer at risk of returning home to cause deflation. Fixed by the IMF against the price of gold, the dollar is as valuable everywhere else as the US, so they have for a long time been in the exclusive position whereby making up extra currency you can't afford to have floating around floods everyone else's economy but not yours, providing you don't spend it at home. This is by no means a secret, the US deficit could also be described as an enormous amount of borrowing made possible as a result of global confidence in the strength of the US economy, but that's just a fluffy way of describing what is really the outcome of the single biggest confidence trick (I know of) in world history - the formation of the IMF and World Bank.
One thing that keeps enormous amounts of US dollars flying around safely outside of the US economy is that all oil traded on this planet is bought and sold in US dollars (exclusively, so I'm led to believe), no matter what country you are. The first and last person to attempt to alter their policy on this was Saddam Hussein. He began trading in Euros sometime before the final US-led Iraq invasion a couple of years ago.