Be humble on the way up or you may pay on the way down
Billmon raises some interesting points in the debate about Howard Dean's "We won't always have the strongest military" comment. He brings up the point that America's foreign policy cannot become over-dependent on our ability to whip the ass of anyone who disagrees with us (which is a more crude way of saying what I think Dean was trying to say). But he also talks about efforts on the part of some European powers to encourage the adoption of the euro as a standard for international trade. I don't quite follow the economics of this argument, but billmon suggests that part of the reason the US can afford to rack up such huge trade deficits and build the military behemoth that we have is that the dollar is THE standard for international trade and this gives us an advantage over everyone else. I said previously that the Europeans were starting to discuss the idea of military alliances separate from the United States. But an-American (as opposed to anti-American) economic alliances may do us even more damage. Put another way, by the time my hypothetical America vs. Europe smackdown occurs, the American economy and the American military might not be the great beasts they are today. There's more than one way to undermine an empire.