I believe the biggest threat to global stability in the next decade is China. Either the American economy, political will and military capability will be strong enough to deter the threat, as with the USSR at height of the Cold War in 1975, or China will be emboldened to take aggressive military action in an effort to achieve its goal to dominate the world. The effective annexation of Hong Kong using so-called ‘emergency measures’ this week is a case in point. As such, the November 2020 American presidential elections will be critical to determine American, and therefore Western, strength. Sadly, typical of a nation in decline, the choices for leadership are far from ideal. There is no hero coming over the hill, as in the case of Ronald Regan.
On one hand we have Trump, a man firmly in the wealth creation camp. He is deeply anti-Chinese and an advocate for America’s military deterrence capability. I believe this is a position that will only harden in the months ahead. However, his leadership has been terrible at the best of times, corroding critical alliances America needs to contain China. On top of this, the pandemic has revealed him to be an unconstrained narcissist. From the start of his presidency, Trump linked his political fortunes to the economy and stock market. Resultantly, as we have been saying since late 2019, the big stock market fall will punish his re-election chances.
Trump’s wealth creation policies should be viewed as an anomaly within the context of the 5th Stage on the 5 Phase Life Cycle : Decline of an Empire. Rather, it was a reaction which came as a direct consequence of Obama’s wealth distribution policies. Put simply, these policies went too far, too fast. In cycle terms, Trump had one chance to make America great again, or at least bounce back for a time. Alas, he has blown it and made the situation worse than when he started. The consequence is that voters are not likely to reward him with a second term. Interestingly, although prone to some outrageous commentary such as the disinfectant recommendation, on some topics Trump has been spot on. This can be seen when examining his views on lockdown, something he called a cure that was worse than the disease. He was correct again on China’s duplicity when it withheld information that would have allowed the rest of the world to be better prepared to fight the pandemic. Trump’s main problem is that his narcissism undermines his credibility. Even when he is right, his truths do not resonate as they should.
On the other hand we have Joe Biden. He has just announced the biggest socialist policy in American history, embracing the democratic left that supported Bernie Sanders’ socialist policies. This places Biden firmly in the wealth distribution camp and even onwards towards socialism. This is entirely to be expected. A parallel to this would be Britain at the same stage of its Empire Cycle post-1945. The UK elected the Labour party over Churchill, a man who had just won the war.
Based on my Five Stages of Empire, the choice of wealth distribution versus wealth creation during the last stage of decline means Trump will almost inevitably lose to Biden in a landslide, exacerbated by the depression America now finds itself in. The worse the economic slump and the greater the demand for wealth creation policies. With the combined economic and Wuhan virus domestic disasters in his wake, Trump's only option is to fight his campaign on a foreign policy agenda by facing up to the threat of China’s hegemonic ambitions and holding them responsible for the pandemic and destruction to the economy. As a result, Trump will be politically incentivized to ramp up the Cold War with China to new heights. Biden may choose to respond with an apparently equally strong hand to try to negate Trump's advantage in this area. However, Biden was the VP of the Obama administration when American foreign policy was extremely weak and thus his credibility in this area is lacking. The reality is that Biden’s election will pave the way for even greater Chinese expansion as liberal politicians historically have always favoured appeasement over hard deterrence (in Britain Lloyd George and Chamberlin are perfect examples).
The Population of America which is in late-stage decline on the 5 Phase Life Cycle, will always favour domestic policies of self-interest over global policies that feel far less relevant to daily survival. Therefore, to win Trump will have to mobilise America against China in a battle for its very survival (which is the truth!). Only then, despite the inevitable contraction of the American economy and consequential hardship will Trump have any chance of winning the election ahead. The challenge Trump faces is that for the majority of Americans foreign policy concerns are just that; foreign. Shifting America’s focus to foreign issues from mounting domestic problems will be key in the years ahead.
Following the November 2020 elections the world will be faced with the inevitable contraction of America and an increasingly aggressive expansionist China. This volatile political landscape will drag us closer towards World War 3 by 2027. This will mean other democratic nations such as Britain, France, India, Japan and Australia will all have to significantly increase their alliance structures and defence spending to compensate for the power vacuum created by America's decline. This could, and should, lead to the creation of a new NATO-type alliance to contain China.