•   Monday, 26 Sep, 2022
We are Living in an Increasingly Dangerous World

We are Living in an Increasingly Dangerous World…

Generic placeholder image

There is more to worry about in the world today than in any time in my memory. I remember the Cuban missile crisis. It was a very dangerous moment. The crisis was defused by secret diplomacy between the Soviet Union and the US, and the willingness of the US to accept a communist state in the Western Hemisphere and the openness of the Soviets to turn their ships back.

If a similar crisis arose now, is there a basis on which Russia and the US could even talk to one another to defuse it.

Ambiguity, the enemy of peace

Tensions between Russia and the US might be high right now but the US-China confrontation is more serious. It will be far more long lasting.

China has dramatically increased its military spending. Confronting China is almost the only thing on which Democrats and Republicans in the US can agree. The US is pledged to support Taiwan remaining politically separate from China, even though it is part of China, and the US is theoretically prepared to go to war to defend that position.

Reality is more complicated. The US position is ambiguous and so is the Chinese position.

Ambiguity is often the enemy of peace. World War I arose from ambiguity in the pledges that the powers had given to one another in the event of attack. If the pledges had been clearer, the risks might not have been taken.

Inflation, the enemy of peace too

Inflation, and an artificially induced recession  to cure it, are increasingly expected. Central banks will use higher interest rates as the main tool to fight inflation. The political effects of this could be very serious. Public opinion is unprepared for increased interest rates and the ensuing hardships will not be evenly spread. As the adage goes, inflation hits everybody, though not equally.

High interest rates are even more selective. They hit states who have overborrowed, such as Greece and Italy hardest. They also cause unemployment, which hits people with marginal jobs hardest. Those in secure employment with  savings or even low borrowings  are less affected. Inflation led to high interest rates in the 1980s, which led to political tensions. Such tensions are back.

Some posit the idea that we should tackle inflation by extra state spending. This can only be paid for either by increasing taxation now or by borrowing, which increases taxes for our children and grandchildren. This does not seem sensible to me. Yet everyone is advocating it.

Comment As:

Comment (0)