"The real cause I consider to be the one which was formally most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable." Thucydides
Two and one half thousand years ago Thucydides attributed the ultimate cause of war between the two superpowers of his day to the ongoing shift in relative power away from Sparta (Lacedaemon), towards rival Athens and its Delian League. The temptation on the part of the declining power, Sparta, to strike out against its rival, Athens, while the power balance allowed this to be done with hope of success, proved irresistible.
Early 21st century America's elite leadership believe that an analogous situation exists with respect to the rise of China.
America's elite leadership is clearly following naked realist principles in attempting to deal with this situation. Realism is an international relations doctrine which holds that since the world exists in a state of permanent anarchy, (i.e. no one is in charge--the highest level to which human beings are organized, subject to binding authority is the nation-state) states should focus on maximizing their power (the capacity to make another do something they would not otherwise have done). Realists believe this power should be used to advance state interests without any recourse whatsoever to morality, fairness, or justice: Might makes right.
America is no longer a democratic republic. It is an oligarchy. In a preprint of their forthcoming article based upon detailed statistical analysis of 1,779 policy issues, entitled "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,"(2) Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page write:
"The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence"
American politicians may reign, but they no longer rule. They are essentially rubber stamps for elite interests. Because these interests vary among elites, it is possible for politicians to represent certain elite interests, and not others. President Obama, for example, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, as is Hillary Clinton and most of the Democratic Party's leadership. Republicans currently are leased to, among many corporate masters, the fossil fuel industry.
When ALL of the elite factions' interests coincide, the US government, American military, and economic might spring into action to serve those common elite interests. The mass media, which in the US is consolidated into a single digit number of corporate owners (SIX to be precise), with some, such as General Electric, also being war profiteers, instantly launches into action to justify whatever needs justifying, to demonize whoever requires demonizing. (3)
The actual interests, wants, needs and fears of the non-elite 99.99 percent of the population, as Gilens and Page have observed, simply do not figure in. Unless of course they could be manipulated to advance the propaganda campaign justifying whatever action is underway at the time. The US deep state--the unaccountable government Eisenhower warned about--exists to further Wall Street and corporate interests. This is the early 21st century version of America.
America's global empire based upon the Dollar, and control over the planet's financial system is presently under mounting attack. Maintaining, even strengthening, this system of global financial hegemony is the SOLE issue of concern for our amoral illegitimate ruling class and their bought-and-paid-for politician puppets. EVERYTHING significant going on across the planet now revolves around the pursuit of that goal, or opposition to it.
However, things get even more complicated because America's global empire is ultimately based upon fossil fuels--mostly petroleum--and control over them. Financial analyst Gail Tvberg has noted that when the increase in oil supply due to fracking in the US is subtracted from total world crude oil production the following result is obtained.
Source: Gail Tvberg, our Finite World (4)
World crude oil production has been FLAT for 10 years! This is in spite of the seemingly endless blizzard of propaganda directly from Obama, from the corporate media, from corporate controlled "think thanks," to the contrary.
Oil production has plateaued for a decade, while population, and therefore demand, has continued to increase. The economy has continued to grow by the expedient of corporations' decreasing the wages of workers.
We are NOT entering into an age of oil abundance, rather, we are on a plateau of production. What comes next is relentless decline.
How this relates to the interests of Wall Street and the multi-national corporations, is straightforward: The costs of oil have been increasing in tandem with the decline in the NET energy available from it. Oil half a century ago had an energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) of about 100 to 1. That is, one barrel equivalent of energy would produce 100 of oil. Now, this is only about 10:1 and declining fast. For the much hyped oil sands and the "tight" oil within them, net EROEI may be LESS than 2:1! (5) Canadian tar sands oil has an EROEI of about 5:1. (6)