Murphy's Law: The Defining of the West


July 25, 2023: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the term “Western Europe'' has come to mean all European countries west of Russia. This newly expanded western Europe saw enormous economic growth in the formerly Russian (Soviet) dominated states of what was once considered eastern Europe, not just because it was dominated by Russia, but because the east European economies and armed forces were controlled by the Soviets. After 1991 this control was gone and what was once East Europe integrated its economies with the rest of Europe to create a new economic superpower. By 2008 the new Europe had a combined economy worth $16.2 trillion versus $14.7 trillion for the United States. After that American economic growth accelerated at a faster pace than the new Europe so that by 2022 the U.S. economy was worth $25 trillion compared to $19.8 trillion for the European economies.

This sort of thing was nothing new. Over a century ago European nations were surprised to discover that the American economy was growing at a much faster rate than Europe’s and that disparity kept growing, helped by the self-inflicted setbacks caused by two World Wars that both began in Europe and didn’t end until the Americans got involved. After World War II (1939-45) the United States made an enormous and highly successful effort to help European nations rebuild their shattered economies. This played a major role in the combined European economies briefly overtaking the Americans for a few years after 2008. The Americans soon recovered the lead and the main reason for that was the United States was a single country and economy while in Europe the total economy was a combination of many countries.

Europe realized this was a problem many years earlier and after decades of effort created the economic EU (European Union) to give Europe more of a single market. This was a big help but the American economy was always a singular operation with a common language and political system. The member states of the EU, and their major companies, are unable to coordinate their economic decisions as effectively as the United States. The EU made European economies more prosperous and more cooperative with each other and for a while that put the combined EU economies ahead of the United States. That didn’t last because the economic unity found within the United States was still stronger than that of the EU.

The larger American economy depends on foreign trade with customers worldwide. The United States has no common borders with most of its trading partners and developed large armed forces, especially after World War II, to safeguard naval access with distant trading partners. This meant American military spending was the largest in the world. Most foreign trading partners were fine with that because the Americans were defending two-way trade routes.

Currently American military spending is about $800 billion a year compared to about $330 billion for all European nations. Since the end of World War II in 1945, the Americans have had the largest fleet and the best trained and equipped air and ground forces in the world. All the American forces are volunteers and they have regularly demonstrated their effectiveness in numerous small conflicts, some only requiring the use of air power. The American navy ensures that the ground and air forces can reach distant combat zones safely, along with a steady stream of supplies.

American allies in Europe, the Middle East and Far East benefit from this because they can always depend on the Americans to deliver aid when needed. This is one reason why most nations of the world consider themselves American allies or at least reliable trading partners. The Americans are not seeking to dominate foreign countries, but to keep the trade going, The Americans have learned that getting involved with distant wars is a losing proposition and try to avoid it as much as possible. Such involvement is often difficult to avoid, especially in Europe where American allies assume that they can always rely on American support. This is what is happening in Ukraine, where most of the foreign aid is coming from the United States. Being the largest economic and military power in the world makes these foreign efforts unavoidable.




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