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Over the past 500 years, European countries-Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and, briefly, Germany-have been able to plunder most of the planet by projecting their naval power abroad. Since a significant portion of the world's population lives along the coast, and most of it trades over water, armed ships that suddenly arrived out of nowhere were able to put the local population at their mercy.

Armadas could plunder, impose tribute, punish the disobedient, and then use this plunder and tribute to build more ships, expanding the scale of their maritime empires. This has allowed a small region with few natural resources and few natural advantages beyond extreme belligerence and bloodthirstiness, as well as a host of infectious diseases that have dominated the globe for half a century.

The ultimate heir to this imperial naval project is the United States, which, with the new addition of an air force and with its large aircraft carrier and vast network of military bases around the planet, is supposedly capable of imposing Pax Americana throughout the world. Or rather, it was able to do so in the short period between the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of Russia and China as new world powers and their development of new anti-ship missiles and anti-aircraft technologies. But now this imperial project is coming to an end.

Before the collapse of the USSR, the US military generally did not dare to directly threaten those countries to which the USSR extended its protection. However, by using its naval power to dominate the maritime corridors carrying crude oil and insisting that oil be traded in US dollars, it could live beyond its borders, issuing debt instruments in dollars and forcing countries around the world to invest in them. He imported whatever he wanted, using borrowed money, exporting inflation, expropriating the savings of people all over the world. In the process, the US has accumulated absolutely staggering levels of public debt-except for what was previously seen in both absolute and relative terms. When this debt bomb finally explodes, it will spread the economic catastrophe far beyond the borders of the United States. And it will explode,

New missile technology has made the sea empire cheap to defeat. Previously, to fight a naval battle, you had to have ships that surpassed the enemy's forces in speed and artillery. The Spanish armada was sunk by the British armada. More recently, this meant that only those countries whose industries could match the United States could ever dream of being able to counter it militarily. But now that's changed: Russia's new missiles can be launched from thousands of kilometers away, they're unstoppable, and it only takes one to sink a destroyer and only two to sink an aircraft carrier. Now the American armada can be sunk without your own armada. The relative size of the U.S. and Russian economies or defense budgets doesn't matter:

Equally significant is the development of new Russian air defense capabilities: S-300 and S-400 systems, which can significantly delay the country's airspace. Where these systems are deployed, for example, in Syria, US forces are forced to remain outside their capabilities. As its naval and air superiority rapidly evaporates, all the US can retreat militarily is the use of a large expeditionary force — an option that is politically unpalatable and has proved ineffective in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also the nuclear option, and while the US nuclear arsenal is unlikely to be neutralized anytime soon, nuclear weapons are only useful as deterrents. Their special value lies in preventing the escalation of war beyond a certain point, but this point lies beyond the elimination of the global military and air dominance of the United States. Nuclear weapons are far worse than useless in escalating aggressive behavior against a nuclear adversary; invariably, this would be a suicidal move. What the US is now facing is essentially a financial problem of outstanding debt and a failed wealth pump, and it should be staggeringly obvious that disabling nuclear explosions anywhere in the world would not solve the empire's problems.

Events that signal huge, epochal changes in the world often turn out to be insignificant when viewed in isolation. Crossing the Julius Caesar Rubicon was just one river crossing; the meeting of Soviet and American troops and the brotherhood on the Elbe was, relatively speaking, a secondary event — nowhere was the scale of the siege of Leningrad, the Battle of Stalingrad, or the fall of Berlin. Nevertheless, they signaled a tectonic shift in the historical landscape. And perhaps we just witnessed something similar with the recent touching tiny battle in Eastern Ghouta in Syria, where the US used a clever chemical explosion as a pretext to launch an equivalent attack on some airfields and buildings in Syria. The US Foreign Office wanted to show that it still matters and has a role to play,

Of course, all this is terrible news for the US military and foreign policy agencies, as well as for many US congressmen in areas where military contractors or military bases operate. Obviously, this is also bad news for defense contractors, for personnel on military bases, and for many others. This is also simply terrible news economically, since defense spending is the only effective means of economic stimulus, which is the policy of the US government. If you remember that Obama's "workers with a shovel" did nothing to prevent a sharp decline in the labor force participation rate, which is a euphemism for the inverse of the real unemployment rate. There's also a great plan to throw a lot of money at Elon Musk's SpaceX (while continuing to buy vital rocket engines from the Russians, who are currently discussing blocking their exports to the US in response to more US sanctions). In short, take away the protective stimulus, and the US economy will produce a loud sound, accompanied by a gradually decreasing hissing noise.

Needless to say, everyone involved will do their best to deny or hide the fact that American foreign policy and defense institutions are now neutralized for as long as possible. My prediction is that America's naval and air empire will not fail because it will be defeated militarily and will not be dismantled after the news goes down as it is useless; instead, it will be forced to scale back its operations due to lack of funds. There might still be a few loud bangs before he gives up, but mostly what we'll hear is a lot of whimpering. So went the USSR; so did the United States.

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