OPINION - Donovan Williams: An insecure United States is a threat to humanity

The current global crisis is all about the United States making certain that it retains its superpower position in the world by hook or by crook, says the writer.

The current global crisis is all about the United States making certain that it retains its superpower position in the world by hook or by crook, says the writer.

Published Apr 28, 2024


By Donovan Williams

State power has two main ingredients, military and economic power. There are ancillary ingredients, like cultural dominance, historical reputation, and social prejudices. They all hang on military and economic power.

Today, we seem to be witnessing a global conflict, militarily fought in more than one arena, with surreptitious conflict happening in economic zones. We have an election coming up on May 29 and are expected to make rational choices amid this chaos.

On May 29, 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay ascended the peak of Mount Everest. We learnt about a ‘Sherpa’ through this remarkable human feat. Although similar to a shepherd, a Sherpa is very different. The Sherpa guides a party of mountaineers not like they are ignorant sheep — they travel the path together. The Sherpa knows that the path is not always the same, through local knowledge understands the terrain and weather better than most, and is able to determine possible risks and the best path, or even when to accept a strategic retreat.

So allow me, the Sherpa, to help you better understand the root of the current crises.

The insecure superpower

Let’s understand that everything happening on the global stage is because the United States (US) is absolutely fearful that it could lose its hegemonic power in the world. Its military and economic dominance is being threatened. Europe, the historic ally of the US, has also been steadily losing economic strength and influence.

The first threat to the US’ global hegemonic power is China. As the world economy undergoes massive changes, it is the Chinese with the US who are leading the world. The best example is electric vehicle (EV) technology. There are just two major countries competing in this market, the United States, with Tesla, and China, with Build Your Dreams (BYD). Although the US government, with its corporate welfare policies, essentially paid for the research and development of Tesla’s EV technology, the private company owns it.

Similarly the technology developed by BYD was also produced through government largesse, the significant difference is that all Chinese companies benefit. Tesla EV’s are not cheap. Currently a number of Chinese EVs are entering the British and European markets, all with competitive EV technology and luxury just like Tesla, but at a fraction of the cost. Historical European car manufacturers like Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Renault, and so forth will not be able to compete. They will talk a good game, but unless the US gives them this technology, they are in massive trouble.

What is happening in the EV market is replicated in a number of other fields in the gig economy. The Chinese are relentless in their focus to become the leading supplier of everything.

Some bright spark in the Pentagon decided to engage in sabre rattling the Chinese by threatening to engage in Taiwan. The Americans sent warships into the area. This reawakened China’s military programme, and since then China has been rapidly rebuilding its entire military, as well as its missiles, bombs, tanks, drones, artillery and so forth.

Theatres of contestation

In their hubris, although revealing their revulsion for China, the US accelerated its plans in the Ukraine by creating conditions for conflict between Russia and the Ukraine, placing European countries under pressure. All they succeeded in doing is bringing Russia and China closer together. West African countries have openly defied and rebelled against French domination, ushering in the French Winter, an inevitable colonial comeuppance. Russia and China have stepped into the breach.

BRICS had ostensibly positioned itself as a trading bloc, not a political and military alliance. The overreach by the US in Ukraine and Taiwan accelerated BRICS countries, especially Russia and China, to also align militarily and politically. Saudi Arabia and Iran have recently joined the BRICS group of countries.

The US is fighting for its continued centrality in the world. Its interests are under threat in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South and Central America. It has to create a global crisis that puts Russia and China under pressure. The US regards Israel as its main agent in the Middle East, and therefore support for Israeli genocide in Gaza is not just within its historical and racist context, but because it cannot afford to lose Israeli dominance in the region.

This is partly why we now have a deliberate expansion to push Iran into the war, as well as draw out Saudi Arabian support, despite its membership of BRICS, by targeting Yemen. Thus, when Iran responded to Israel bombing its consular building in Damascus, it was Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia who assisted Israel to bring down the Iranian drones and missiles. Iran is not as isolated as it was ten years ago, its trade with China and Russia has increased massively - trade that is not in US dollars because of sanctions.

South Africa, a global Sherpa?

The South African government, despite the looming elections, has done really well, and should be commended. It read this situation far quicker than most. And it has positioned itself in an enviable position of looking like it is above this fray. There are still more arenas of conflict that may be exposed. Venezuela or possibly Nicaragua are obvious areas.

We must not get lost in the complexity, we need Sherpas in our lives today to help us make sense of what is happening. But know this: the current global crisis is all about the United States making certain that it retains its superpower position in the world by hook or by crook.

* Donovan E. Williams is a social commentator. @TheSherpaZA on X (formerly Twitter)

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.