In Napoleon’s famous dictum, ‘an army marches on its stomach’. Maybe, but it keeps marching on its bank balance. Britain would have had to surrender in 1939 had not the US provided the finance for it to continue in the war. A country can fight only to the duration of its economic capabilities.
Poor countries like Russia and Vietnam may have been able to outlast far richer enemies in Germany and the US, but only because their objectives were limited. Namely, making the cost of sustaining the invasion of their lands too high for the invaders. But a foreign war, beloved of the neocons in the US, requires vast financial resources.
The US not only does not have these resources, it's choking in debt. The capacity of the US to wage war is now entirely dependent on the Chinese, and to a lesser extent the Sovereign Funds of the oil-rich Arab states. It’s really shockingly simple.
The Chinese have the ultimate weapon in the trillions of US dollar-denominated reserves they hold. If they were to flood the markets with these, the value of the dollar would collapse. The capacity of the US to then buy oil would be drastically curtailed, and with it the running of its industries, airlines and much of its infrastructure. Add to this the fact that, due to globalization and the avarice of US corporations, there has been a catastrophic reduction in US manufacturing capabilities, especially of the high-tech variety. Most of this is imported at present, but a collapsed dollar would make this prohibitively expensive.
Sure, were China to do this it would cause them considerable damage as well, not least in that their main market would be blitzed, and their reserves would show a corresponding diminution in value. But this brings me to a wise aphorism attributed to Vietnam’s General Giap: ‘victory comes, not to whoever can inflict the most pain, but to whoever can endure the most’.
No US politician presiding over such a rapid and catastrophic collapse in living standards would survive long, irrespective of how much the media would beat the war drums ( as they did with the Iraq adventure). Correspondingly, the Chinese are well used to suffering, have a command economy/society, and haven't that much to lose compared to Americans.
This is not so say that China, still less the Arabs, would take such a measure lightly. However, it would far less painful than a military conflict, especially between nuclear powers. Nonetheless, the fact remains that China has the capacity to strangle American military might. Or just like the US does today, it can quietly exert and ramp up pressure by reducing its uptake of US debt, and/or selling an increasing amount of their dollar-denominated assets.
This is the legace of the Bush regime - the castration of American power. Yet it hardly merits a mention in the MSM..