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We are now back to the seventies

By Daniel Chang Contreras for RealClearWorld

When US President Joe Biden went to Cornwallis, England, to meet with the world leaders of the G7, he wanted to impress everyone that Trump’s rule was over. “America is back!” was the big, daring statement that Biden’s team put forward throughout the meeting.

Months later, as the US struggled to evacuate military and civilian personnel from Kabul in scenes reminiscent of the fall of Saigon, the president’s claim seemed all too true – but not in the way the president intended .

Biden may have tried to transform itself as a new FDR, but the current America looks much less like the 1940s and much more like the 1970s, both within and outside foreign policy.

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Americans in the 1970s began to feel the negative effects of the Keynesian economic system that had ruled the United States since the end of World War II, with high inflation and unemployment plaguing the country. We are sitting today with a similar inflation cycle, albeit under different circumstances. The pandemic forced millions out of their jobs, some temporarily, others permanently.

Although the unemployment rate is recovering from the worst of the pandemic (5.2% in August), it is still higher than before the pandemic, and the current shortage of labor is making it difficult to restore supply chains to normal. The Democrats’ current plan to push trillions of dollars into the economy is not helping.

Today, as in the 1970s, the social structure and national identity of the USA are called into question. During the 1970s, it was flag fire and a burgeoning counterculture movement that questioned the foundations of America itself.

Today, revisionist views of American history and negative perceptions that portray the U.S. as inherently racist have gained acceptance in the mainstream conversation.

In foreign affairs, the comparison between the present and the 70s is even greater. Both have a traumatic withdrawal from the longest wars in American history to date. The Saigon helicopters and the planes from Kabul are horrible illustrations of the current state of American power abroad.

Meanwhile, U.S. competitors are taking notes and making moves. In 1979, it was the Soviet Union that invaded Afghanistan despite US protests, and Iran assaulted the US Embassy in Tehran and kidnapped US diplomats for 444 days.

Today, it is the Chinese Communist Party that is spoiling the Taliban and conducting dangerous military maneuvers near Taiwan.

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Finally, in the 1970s, as in 2021, it was and is considered excusable to think that American decline is inevitable. But that was not true then, and it should not be true today. There are a few things politicians and thought leaders can do to get the state ship right. We did this in the 1980s by pursuing more economic orthodoxy and a muscular foreign policy. It worked then, so why not now?

Economically, the US can no longer afford to pledge its future than it already has. According to the CRFB, the federal government has already spent nearly $ 9.1 trillion on COVID-19-related expenses — that is, $ 27,726 per American.

Although many of these expenditures could have been justified at the height of the pandemic, reckless expenditures such as these could not continue sustainably. Spending an extra $ 3.5 billion will not help us in our dual battle against debt and rising inflation.

America’s foreign challenges will be focused on a simple fact: China is rising, and America must contain it. This challenge could be even more daunting than defeating the USSR, as China is expected to outperform the US economy in a few years. However, the Chinese model has its shortcomings and faces a looming situation demographics crisis.

To contain China, the US can do two things: we can reorient our traditional military alliances to the Indo-Pacific region, and we can rebuild our economic ties in the region.

The US has already taken some positive steps in the first direction. Like Trump before him, Biden revived the so-called “Quad” between the US, India, Japan and Australia, while also deepening the defense ties between America, Britain and Australia, although the latter point in a more graceful way with the French .

Both of these measures could be cornerstones to strengthen a united front against China Beijing is so upset.

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Ordinary defense alone, however, is not enough to offer a viable opposition to Chinese power. After all, China’s huge market remains its biggest geopolitical asset, with Beijing as a major enterprise trade partner in the region. This is why the US must either reconsider its decision to abandon the TPP or reconsider a new trade agreement with countries in the region.

The US market is smaller than that of China, but that does not mean we should do nothing as Beijing expands its political influence through its trade.

The succession of the Trump and Biden administrations may remind us of the presidencies of Nixon-Ford and Carter when the US experienced a historic series of defeats in domestic and foreign policy. However, if the historical analogy holds true, we are only a few years away from an American revival á la 1980s.

Let’s hope we can find our Reagan / Bush ticket.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

Daniel Chang Contreras is a political scientist and an economics graduate of the University of South Florida. From January to May 2020, he worked as a congressman at the House of Representatives for Gus Bilirakis, and for the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Studies, and as a contributor to El American, a digital media outlet. He writes on domestic and foreign affairs. The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

The opinions expressed by contributors and / or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Political Insider.

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