US ripe for political revolution, unless painful drastic reforms made
The National Interest compares the US current state to that of the USSR just before its collapse and emphasizes that America will face the same fate if it continues down this path.
It is necessary for the United States to undergo heavy political and economic restructuring to regain its industrial power against the uprising of China, and it must recognize that its current form will not enable it to tackle the new world in the making, said the National Interest in a report published on Monday.
According to the news site, the US might be facing the same threat that led to the Soviet Union's collapse, which is the ability to differentiate between the need to change and actually implementing it.
“It’s obvious, comrades, that we all need to change. All of us,” said the last final leader of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev in a speech after he assumed power. This statement highlighted his efforts to implement perestroika - meaning reconstruction in Russian - and is a reference to the Soviet's efforts to carry out internal reforms to their political and economic system.
Read more: US must change attitude toward China before any talks: Diplomat
In a later address to the United Nations, Gorbachev said perestroika is an endeavor whereby the union was “restructuring itself in accordance with new tasks and fundamental changes in society as a whole.”
Gorbachev's plan failed as the USSR did not have the capacity to execute such radical reforms without collapsing.
Touching upon the similarities, the report recalled a recent speech by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the Brookings Institution on “Renewing American Economic Leadership."
Sullivan's remarks, as per the report, were a core shift in American strategic and economic thinking, an admission that the US policies and statements for decades have been wrong, and a recognition that an imminent and painful change is needed.
The news site asks here: Is Washington now down the same path to do the same mistake as Gorbachev?
Read more: ECB Chief says US dominance dwindling as world becomes 'multipolar'
'We were wrong'
The NSA's comments are not a reflection of his own views, but rather, an accumulation of events that led to the "outline" of Biden's "international economic doctrine."
The speech posed a challenge to the US decades-long economic doctrine of strong free-market policies, which assume that markets are always able to move capital effectively and in socially optimal manners and that “in the name of oversimplified market efficiency, entire supply chains of strategic goods—along with the industries and jobs that made them—moved overseas. And the postulate that deep trade liberalization would help America export goods, not jobs and capacity, was a promise made but not kept.”
Sullivan added during his speech, “Our industrial capacity—which is crucial to any country’s ability to continue to innovate—took a real hit,” which is a recognition of America's mistake in prioritizing the financial sector over “real economy” such as the production of material goods.
The security official also admitted that while the US predicted that market globalization could lead foreign countries to adopt Western political values, the assumption was very wrong.
“Economic integration didn’t stop China from expanding its military ambitions in the region, or stop Russia from invading its democratic neighbors,” he admitted. The China shock, in particular, was not anticipated or addressed.
Read more: China to become 'militarily superior' to US by 2049: Top US general
Two new challenges currently are on top of the issues facing the United States, Sullivan claimed: climate change and economic inequality - noting that the latter is partly an outcome of old economic policies that demand fundamental change and require new economic approaches, including the return of the industrial sector.
The report compared Sullivan's comments to those of former US President Donald Trump, calling them awfully familiar, recalling Trump's public condemnation of the "rape" of America and his calls for the return of manufacturing in the US.
American industrial strategy is the first step to invest at home, the news site added.
Sullivan claims that despite the lack of an announced industrial policy, the practice still exists - citing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as an example. The NSA's statements indicate growing awareness that a new economical approach is required, especially as the US and the world are undergoing economic shifts and are now against a new reality.
Past glories nostalgia
Confessing the existence of the problem is just the first step toward addressing it. Three massive obstacles are ahead of Washington that will hinder efforts to change, first of which is the title of the new economic policy: "New Washington Consensus."
The name, which is clearly a reference to Washington's same old policies, suggests that the officials have failed to part from the current model.
The report argues that this is an issue with Washington's policymakers; an inability to create and implement a new future vision for society without feeling nostalgic for past glories.
The notion immits a feeling that Western policymaking is intellectually drained and out of ideas.
The second obstacle, according to the news site, is the dishonest announced intentions regarding relations with Beijing.
The US is “competing with China on multiple dimensions, but we are not looking for confrontation or conflict. We’re looking to manage competition responsibly and seeking to work together with China where we can,” Sullivan said.
His stance, backed by Washington implicitly, can be summarized in a few words by Todd N. Tucker.
"We are not trying to constrain China's growth. Their development and that of others is good for the world and stability."
Since Biden took office, his actions contradicted the non-confrontational policy; from restricting domestic and foreign tech imports from China - by coercing allies and threatening them with sanctions - to announcing that the United States and its European allies must work to “slow down China’s rate of innovation.”
According to the rules of the geoeconomic competition game, the report brought up a remark made by Adam Tooze commenting on a statement made by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen while making a speech on the competition with China.
Read more: China is not afraid of competition with US says MoFA
"A strong and self-confident America has no reason to stand in the way of China’s economic and technological modernization except in every area that America’s national security establishment, the most gigantic in the world, defines as being of essential national interest. For this to be anything other than hypocrisy, you have to imagine that we live in a goldilocks world in which the technology, industrial capacity, and trade that are relevant to national security are incidental to economic and technological modernization more broadly speaking," he said.
The United States realizes that it has to introduce painful but crucial reforms to its political and economic structure in order to maintain a strong position in the global arena, which requires a decline to its unipolar world order, however, it still refuses the thought of a multipolar world.
This sentiment puts into question America's ability to actually adopt deep changes, which, in turn, raises doubts over the actual feasibility of its success in facing new world challenges.
The third obstacle - most importantly as per the report - is whether the US can realistically carry out the urgent changes that Washington has acknowledged, considering the current political, social, and economic circumstances.
According to the news site, there is now skepticism over the ability to implement reforms after the extreme structural economic impact of COVID, the Ukraine war, and how the US responded to these milestones.
America's position now is far weaker than it used to be, and a general atmosphere of disunity among its society has grown in the past three years.
Read more: US military dwindling in strength: WSJ
"The single most dangerous period for a political system is when it has ignored a looming crisis for years and decades, and then finally, backs snugly perched against a wall that cannot be moved, tries to apply wide-reaching reforms,” added the report, citing Swedish writer Malcom Kyeyune.
The current state of affairs is where political revolutions are most likely to happen, The National Interest concluded, citing examples such as the French Revolution, the fall of the Qing dynasty, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.