Vail Daily letter: Rise and fall of great powers |

Vail Daily letter: Rise and fall of great powers

History clearly reveals that without exception every great power to date has experienced a rise to lofty status, a plateau of domination of the known world, and then a subsequent decline in relative power. There is a lesson to be learned (though ignored by every great power thus far) about what it entails to achieve and then to hold on to great power status.

The key is having the wisdom to be able to keep in relative balance three critical factors: defense, consumption and investment.

Defense: The ability to hold on to what has been grabbed and protect what you have from other would-be grabbers.

Consumption: A healthy, growing and sustainable domestic economy.

Investment: The imperative of investing in education and non-military science and technology.

For too long the United States has committed far too great a percentage of our wealth to fund wars past, present and future. Today our economy is stagnant, some would say in decline, and across the board we have cut back on education at all levels (serious dumbing down) and have severely reduced investment in research and development of all kinds.

Politicians, columnists, talking heads and pundits of all stripes can rant, rave and place blame all they like. However, the inescapable truth is that we now find ourselves on the backside of a bell-shaped curve and in ghostly lockstep with every great power that has gone before us.

With global warming, peak oil and our collective unwillingness to face the harsh realities that stare us in the face, the next great power is likely to achieve a Pyrrhic victory at best.

Peter Bergh


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