The decline of the USA has started in the 70th. It has been a slow decline, says Wallerstein. The U.S. have the biggest army of the world but they can't use it. The military apparatus functions rather as an employer and generates a certain level of spending. It didn't work as a military apparatus but has an economic function. This specific dysfunctionality of the U.S. military is also recognized by the right in the USA. Today the old tone of isolationism is rearing his head again as a political possibility.
Immanuel Wallerstein, Senior Research Scholar at Yale University, USA. Co-Founder of the World-Systems Theory, President of the International Sociological Association from 1994-1998 and Author of numerous books
David Goessmann: Since the financial crises in 2007, 2008 many are talking about the decline of the USA as a superpower. On the other hand, the US is still spending as much money on its military as all the other states combined.
Immanuel Wallerstein: Yeah, but what can they do with it? You see - look - the US has been declining since 1970. It was a slow decline. George Bush came along and said; I’m gonna reverse this by my match of militarism, I’m gonna invade Iraq, I’m gonna get the Europeans to be terrified of the idea of pulling away from the US, I’m gonna intimidate Iran, and I’m gonna intimidate North Korea, and I’m gonna intimidate the Arab states and every… It’s going to be marvelous, while it turned out to be not marvelous at all. It was a catastrophe. It was a blow back in every possible way; the war went on for years and years and years and ended with a government which is not quite to be pro American at all. It merely increased the authority and power of the Iranians their presumed great enemies in Iraq, it didn’t intimidate the Europeans. The Iranians and North Koreans drew the lesson from this that they’ve got to speed up the process of nuclear armament, not slow it down and so forth. So from a slow decline we turn into a perceptible decline. The US has the strongest military in the world. Ten times anybody else, nobody could attack the US, it’s absolutely true and it has all this wonderful machinery and what can it do with it? You can’t bomb a country into submission. It’s impossible. You have to send in troops. We don’t have troops. The US does not have troops to send in. The reason they don’t have troops to send in is, the American people are all very happy to have military victories, they just don’t want to send in their sons to be troops, right? That’s just the Vietnam syndrome but it’s a very real thing in the United States. So, there is no troops to go in, and so the US can’t win in Iraq. They can’t win in Afghanistan. They will eventually pull out of both and they have this marvelous strongest army in the world which is not useable. That’s the real point about the army. You can look at it a different way. The function of the US military at this point is its mode of employing people, its mode of maintaining a certain degree of expenditure within the United States. It has those economic, internal economic functions, but it does not function as a military machine. It’s an unusable military machine. Although, it is true, it is the strongest military in the world, with the best planes, the best bombs, the best everything, no question about that. Nobody is going to invade the United States, that’s also very clear, so what? Nobody wants to invade the United States. It’s a non-issue, right? This is beginning to be recognized within the United States itself, alright? The sanctity of military expenditure is being questioned not only on the left but on the right as a financial expenditure et cetera and the O-tone of isolation is rearing its head again, as a serious political option within the United states today and that requires pulling back the troops, bit, by bit, by bit.