Red Storm Rising: The Next World War
In his cold war-turned-hot war novel Red Storm Rising (1986), the late Tom Clancy visualized a non-nuclear World War III erupting in the crowded continent of Europe. Nuclear warfare was not an option for any European country, big or small, capitalist or communist. Clancy made this point as plain as daylight when depicting how a doomsday-bound East Germany dared to hold the Kremlin's feet to the fire should Russia go nuclear. At this juncture, Russia was already alienating its Warsaw Pact satellites while nuclear-armed China was pressing on Siberia, with covert support of the United States. In order to survive and fight for another day, the Kremlin ironically resorted to the Reaganite Doctrine of MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction—and reached a nuclear-free understanding with everyone involved. Russia ended up barely surviving as a loser at the hands of US-led NATO.
Meanwhile, the way Clancy painted Russia in his 1986 novel was in sharp contrast to his pacifist contemporaries' perception of Soviet power.
In the long shadow of America's disastrous Vietnam war, the prevailing leftist intellectuals were trying hard to convince the world that the Soviet Union was on the rise whereas the United States was in decline. In 1980 Nobel Economist Paul A. Samuelson (1915-2009) predicted in his authoritative college textbook that the Soviet Union would overtake the United States sometime between 2002 and 2012. Well, the Soviet Union closed up shop on December 26, 1991.
Samuelson failed to understand that we're a nation of comeback kids. We may tumble and fall, but we always pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, roar back in the ninth inning, hit the ball out of the park and clinch the final victory. We love baseball for good reason, don't we? We are Americans, for love of the game. The late Nobel Economist Milton Friedman, a champion of freedom to choose, realized the underlying superior faith and strength of his baseball nation. He had history on his side.
True to individualism, Reaganite America managed to keep more and more wealth in the people. True to collectivism, Soviet Russia managed to keep more and more wealth out of the people. Thanks to their increasingly extractive system, the Soviet leaders were increasingly out of sync with their people.
Reading between Clancy's lines, you would come away with the impression that there's only one superpower, the United States.
Be that as it may, a lone superpower must not stand aloof from the rest of the world.