The term “sick man of Europe” was coined to describe the declining situation of the Ottoman Khilafah by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia in 1853. The Uthmani territories were being swallowed by rival world powers, increasingly falling under the financial control of the European powers and the Ottoman’s had lost territory in a series of disastrous wars. The Ottoman Khilafah, who for nearly three hundred years dominated the European geopolitical scene fell heavily into debt, came to be continuously manipulated by rival powers and fumbled in a state of gloom, anarchy and decline eventually losing all independence. Nicholas I of Russia described the Uthmani Khilafah as: ‘a sick man - a very sick man, a man who has fallen into a state of decrepitude, or a sick man … gravely ill.’
The Economic situation, political prowess, geopolitical maneuverability and independence were all seen as indicators which clearly the Ottoman’s had drastically lost over a period of 100 years and declined in. The current global financial crisis has all the hallmarks of the USA being the new ‘sick man’.
The US is drowning in a sea of debt which the credit crunch crisis has brought to the forefront. The US generated nearly $14 trillion in 2007, however the national debt - this is money the central and federal governments owe to the US public and the world through the bonds they have issued - stands at $10 trillion. The US citizenry have a huge appetite for imports and as a result consumer debt stands at $11.4 trillion. The debts of US companies amounts to $18.4 trillion. This makes the US indebted to the tune of $40 trillion - nearly 75% of what the world economy.
The US trade deficit continues to balloon, the amount the US imports compared to the amount it exports - in essence the money the US owes to the world is currently in excess of $1 trillion. The financial crisis which began in the US raises a pertinent question about the sustainability of such high levels of consumption and then how the debt that sustained such consumption will be funded.
Both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are costing the US $15 billion a month and with Afghanistan now virtually lost to the Taliban after nearly seven years of war and no signs of US victory in Iraq the US faces the very series problem of the continued printing of dollars no longer being a viable strategy.
US spending is not sustainable
The US like the Uthmani’s in the past now finds found itself in a precarious situation where foreign nations are actually funding it. The US budget is not sufficient for the nations consumption patterns as a result the US resorts to selling Bonds to the world which it will repay over a period of 10 - 30 years in the hope the US economy will by the time the Bonds mature have generated sufficient wealth to repay them. 66% of US debt is held by foreign entities, whilst 44% of this is held by China and Japan. China has accumulated over $1.2 trillion in dollar reserves due to this. Described as China’s “nuclear option” China could trigger a dollar crash if it decided the dollar was not worth holding and switched to Euros at a time when the US currency is no longer the stable currency it once was.
The US attempted to win both the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq through propping up initially unpopular governments. The failure to achieve any significant control in both nations has led to the US to throw money at elements within the Sunni faction as well as the bribes it already gives to elements of the Shi’ah establishment. With the US economy teetering on the brink of meltdown the continuity of such a policy of printing money in return for loyalty is questionable and would have huge implications for US future success in these nations.
The US is also facing numerous political challenges in regions of the world which only a decade ago it completely dominated. In the Middle East apart from needing the help of regional surrogates the Middle East is gradually shifting from being a uni-polar region in which the US enjoys uncontested hegemony to a multi-polar region. The US is facing more competition from China and Russia over access to Middle East oil. The US is now increasingly competing with India and Japan as well as the European Union for the lion’s share of the regions black gold.
The US is currently suffering from a severe fever, where the remedy continues to be more and more expensive intervention by the nation’s doctors who are unable to stem the panic spreading to all. The US has only $1.7 trillion in notes and coins in circulation where the money will come from to repay US debt in the years to come, alongside a falling dollar places the US in a situation where it is now reliant upon foreign nations to bail it out.
Domestically the US is drowning in a sea of misery FBI statistics highlighted in 2005 show that a crime was committed every 22 seconds, with a murder committed every 31 minutes, a rape every 5 minutes and a robbery every minute. US prowess in reality is a farce, in fact all the key geopolitical indicators show the US is faltering and on the verge of a severe fever and the cure seems to be in foreign hospitals.