History is offering the United States of America an interesting choice. The choice is between being a great power and a great nation.
This choice was best described by the great British scientist Sir Henry Tizard in 1947. As the British Empire collapsed, Tizard warned Britons that the United Kingdom faced a choice.
“We persist in regarding ourselves as a great power, capable of everything and only temporarily handicapped by economic difficulties,” Tizard said. “We are not a great power and never will be again. We are a great nation, but if we continue to behave like a great power, we shall soon cease to be a great nation.”
Great Power vs. Great Nation
To explain, a great power is a colossus that uses its military power to bully or defend other nations. The primary goals of a great power are to accumulate military glory, respect, and fear. Finally, a great power has the economic and technological resources to maintain a powerful military.
In contrast, a great nation is a country that tries to make itself the best nation possible. A great nation tries to live up to its ideals and make the best lives possible for its citizens. A great nation provides great schools, roads, housing, healthcare, and opportunities for its citizens.
For example, the government of a great nation tries to create prosperity for its citizens. In contrast, the government of a great power devotes all of its resources to maintaining its military or empire.
Wasting the Nation’s Resources
What Tizard warned the British people of was a government that would waste all the nation’s resources to maintain the British Empire and the UK’s status in the world. For example, spending all the British taxpayer’s money to maintain a powerful military just to keep up appearances.
Sadly, few Britons listened to Tizard’s warning. In the 74 years since Tizard’s statement, Britain has engaged in several meaningless and destructive imperialistic wars. In particular, the Suez Crisis and the Falklands War.
Similarly, Britain mindlessly followed the United States into the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq to demonstrate its great power status. Recently, Her Majesty’s Government spent $10.04 billion on two giant aircraft carriers that will serve as support units for the United States Navy.
The End of the United Kingdom
Yet the same government preaches austerity to ordinary Britons and cuts basic government services. Life gets grimmer for ordinary people as the government pursues imaginary glory.
The most dramatic example of Britain’s insane quest for Great Power status is Brexit. The British had a great deal with the European Union, most of the benefits of EU membership and access to European markets without the Euro. However, the British (mostly English) voters threw that good deal away for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fantasy of “Global Britain.”
In a few years, I predict a poorer Britain will beg the EU for membership. Whatever deal the EU offers Britain then will be far worse than the one voters threw away, and Her Majesty’s Government will accept it. For example, the EU could demand a prostrate and bankrupt UK abandon the Pound Sterling as the price for membership.
When it returns to the EU, Britain could comprise nothing but England and Wales, because Scotland and Northern Ireland could abandon the United Kingdom for the EU. Boris Johnson’s childish quest for glory could destroy the nation he claims to love.
America Learns Nothing
Meanwhile, America has learned nothing from its Mother Country’s sorry fate. Its government spends vast sums on armaments as poverty and misery among ordinary people grows.
In particular, US President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) signed a $777.7 billion annual military budget on 27 December 2021. Meanwhile, The Guardian Estimates almost 500,000 Americans lack indoor plumbing and over two million Americans lack running water, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance estimate.
Biden’s America shares the same sick priorities as Johnson’s United Kingdom. Consequently, I predict both countries could suffer a similar fate. America is already dependent on China for much of its industrial production, just as Britain is dependant on Europe for industrial production.
To conclude, America now faces the choice of a destructive pursuit for great power status or constructing a great nation. America could give its citizens the best schools, highways, transportation systems, colleges, social services, housing, communications, internet, and healthcare on Earth. Or we could have the best weapons.
Similarly, we could have many industries that provide high-job paying jobs for most Americans or industry that produces high profits for a few defense contractors.
Britain’s experience shows Tizard was right. No country can be a great nation while pursuing great power status. Instead, a country becomes a great power after it becomes a great nation. For instance, the United States became a Great Power after becoming the world’s largest economy.
If America keeps pursuing great power status while neglecting the country, the United States shall join the United Kingdom as a third-rate power.