More Americans Fear Iran Than Soviet Russia


From the Atlantic:

According to the November 1985 poll, 76 percent of Americans viewed the Soviet Union as a “very serious” or “moderately serious” threat. Only 32 percent of respondents classified the Evil Empire as a “very serious” threat. This week, CNN released a poll asking the same question, this time about Iran and other hostile nations. It estimates that 81 percent of Americans believe Iran is a “very serious” or “moderately serious” threat, with 48 percent calling it “very serious.” 

The problem with that?

Iran — according to the CIA, the IAEA and Mossad — does not have any nuclear weapons.

In 1985, 39,000 Soviet nuclear warheads were pointed at the rest of the world, enough of them ready on push-button alert to destroy the United States near-instantaneously and many times over.

Certainly, Americans are free to be concerned about whatever they want. But let’s just say that a 39,000 warhead disparity — as well as the fact that the Soviet Union was one of the largest, most powerful militaries in world history, and one that successfully defeated Nazi Germany, while Iran’s last war with Iraq ended as a pathetic stalemate —  puts today’s reality into perspective.

UPDATE:

In the interests of inciting some fierce debate, here’s my back-of-an-envelope estimate of the top nation states that are a threat to America’s national interest:

  1. America
  2. China
  3. Russia
  4. Pakistan
  5. Iran
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America’s Eurasian Endgame

I have written before of the Chinese aim in this great international game:

I believe that the current world order suits China very much — their manufacturing exporters (and resource importers) get the stability of the mega-importing Americans spending mega-dollars on a military budget that maintains global stability. Global instability would mean everyone would pay more for imports, due to heightened insurance costs and other overheads. China also recognises that while America falters and struggles under the weight of its military burden, its lack of growth, and its deep debt concerns, Chinese military strength can grow at a much faster pace thanks to Chinese domestic growth, and a high domestic savings rate. They are happy that their dollar pile — China has over $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves — can still buy plenty, and they want its value to remain as stable as possible. But above all they want to gradually diversify out of those dollars and into productive assets.

So, if China is happy with the status quo, or at least where the status quo is going, what does America want out of all this?

America wants to keep the free lunch of oil and goods for dollars and treasuries that is so swiftly evaporating. Someday soon America will have to bring more to global trade than its role as global policeman, its universities and a humungous stack of freshly-printed dollars. While some may carp about the demand created by the American consumer, consumption is not production — consumption does not bring anything to the party except dollars, and the rest of the world already has plenty of those. Some day soon, when the dollar is no longer recognised as the universal reserve currency, America will have to face up to the fact that consumer goods and oil will cost more and more in dollars — and she will either have to choose to be poorer, or to manufacture more, and generate more energy at home.

A sensible American plan going forward would recognise this, and would be developing the means and the infrastructure to end America’s free lunch — specifically, through redeveloping American manufacturing capacity and supply chains, and scaling back America’s role as global policeman. Unfortunately, I see no such thing from government, and very little from private industry. America is clinging onto the old foreign policy doctrines — that if America is powerful enough, and if she can retain its role as global hegemon and world policeman, then she will always be free to consume a chunk of the rest of the world’s production and resources, because her currency will forever be the global reserve. But that simply isn’t true — Russia and China have already ditched the dollar for bilateral trade.

Sadly, America’s foreign policy is ever-more fixated on interventionism, and maintaining the petrodollar standard.

Essentially, American exceptionalism has created a blindness to reality. Humungous debts to hostile creditors often makes an empire fall. Resource and energy dependency often makes an empire fall. Yet America just continues spending ever greater amounts on her military, and just hopes for the best. Every President since Carter has promised to reduce American oil dependency, but there has been no substance to that.

So — absent any real progress on reducing dependency — America’s endgame seems to involve taking the Arab Spring to Tehran, Islamabad, Moscow and Beijing, and having the new middle classes of consumerist Americanised zombies take out uppity creditor regimes — and replace them with Facebook-friendly State Department-endorsed place men, and adhering more closely to edicts out of Washington.

That way, America’s free lunch can go on forever.