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It’s the Geography, Stupid

The US has an array of assets- both geographical and cultural/political- in place that make it almost uniquely advantaged. Geopolitics, like real estate, is mostly location, location, location and the US has the most advantageous location on the globe.

What other large developed country has the broad array of natural resources, the incredible unirrigated natural breadbasket that is the American Midwest, spans an entire continent with dozens of ports on two oceans and five huge freshwater lakes, has no realistic political rivals either military or economic that aren’t across an ocean, has essentially only two neighboring countries neither of which threaten it in any significant way? Add to these blessings of geography a generally excellent First World infrastructure, the finest post secondary educational system on Earth, a imperfect but functional democratic political system, a system of laws and regulations remarkably free of corruption- at least comparatively speaking, a vibrant and dominant cultural patrimony, a language spoken world-wide, the list goes on and on.

The Chinese miracle by contrast is mostly driven by sheer population scale, a hybrid command economy in a one party state- a formula for crippling systemic corruption if ever there was one- and lots and lots of cheap, cheap labor. China is of course blessed with their own bounty of natural resources but also 1.3 billion mouths to feed and rising expectations unlikely to be met. China’s neighborhood is also politically/militarily far more fraught with peril than the US’, with serious potential rivals Russia and India bordering and strained relations with many smaller but powerful neighbors. There is also the time bomb of a rigidly authoritarian regime stifling cultural growth and unlikely to be capable of dynamic adaptation to the inevitable next dip in the Chinese economic cycle.

Given all its enormous advantages the US will have to seriously, seriously mismanage themselves to not be one of the premier economic and cultural powers of the world for decades and perhaps even centuries to come. It obviously isn’t an inevitability but I think it will take incompetence of historic proportions for the US to fail. What other large country is poised so advantageously to succeed looking ahead?

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Raymond Davis

Raymond Davis