Guilt By Association

“To honor the dead, we need to look inside ourselves, and inside the societies we live in. And only when we’ve found, and eradicated, those things that make both us, and our communities, ‘guilty by association’ -for lack of a better term-, will we have paid proper respect to those who lost their lives.” – Ilargi – The Automatic Earth

Well said Ilargi, and all of the rest that you have written in this post at The Automatic Earth.


It is not the terrorists that are responsible for the world’s tragedies of violence, mayhem and destruction.  They (ISIS and others) are merely symptoms of the problem.

It is us, everyone, who are to blame.

After all, who created ISIS (apart from the US of course, who were directly involved in that act and were largely responsible for arming them (whether through common stupidity or by design, I cannot say)), and also many other groups that oppose ‘Western’ ideals?  It was all of us, indirectly, through our lifestyles and our society based on greed and manipulation.  We need to look inward, not outward, for the answer.

No Lessons Learned

I struggled to arrive at a suitable title for this post.  Options considered were:

“US Pledges $30 Billion To Build Up Ukraine Military”   on top of the billions that it has already invested in setting up and bolstering its own puppet government there.  This, on the basis that Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, a bankrupt nation (can’t even pay its gas bill), yesterday vowed to spend exactly that amount for exactly that same purpose.  He hasn’t got that sort of money.  His country hasn’t got that sort of money.  So, it must be coming from his backers, the US.

“US Provides Arms To The Islamic State”  , by devious means and sleight of hand, of course.  First it gave the weapons to the Iraqi army, knowing full well that they would at the first opportunity, and in only slightly shop-soiled condition, be handed over to the first organised rebel force to show up on Iraq’s doorstep.  And since the most radical elements of the Syrian rebel forces, now known as the Islamic State, were the most likely contenders within easy reach (Al Quaeda can be pretty much dismissed as a cohesive force these days),  they were the willing participants in the huge US give-away.

“NATO Finds An Enemy  …And A Reason To Exist”   since it lost both of those causes with the collapse of the Soviet Union several decades ago.  NATO has been wandering in the wilderness of purposeless projects for so many years but now, thinking that it has something it can dig its teeth into, is rubbing its hands with glee at the thought and is once again making unfounded, aggressive and belligerent noises against Russia, the core element of its old foe.

“Kiev, Fountain Of All Lies”  based on the drivel that continues to pour out from that already discredited source, such as (these are not quotes, just summarisations) ‘Russia is shelling us from both sides of the border’, ‘Russia is amassing troops on our border’, ‘Russia has invaded us (with white trucks?)’, ‘Russia is reinforcing and arming the separatist rebels’.  None of which is supportable by anything remotely resembling a fact.

Taking all of these thoughts into account, No Lessons Learned, seems to be the most appropriate title I could come up with.

When is the US going to get tired of making bad foreign policy decisions?  Perhaps they don’t view them as bad.  Perhaps these acts actually support US foreign policy goals.

When is NATO going to realise that it has no enemy and, as Ron Paul has suggested, actually be disbanded?   Preferably before it antagonises someone, eg. Russia, into believing that they (NATO) are actually a real threat to peace and stability.

When is Kiev (current government, that is) going to realise that nobody, at least nobody who gives some thought to their pronouncements, finds them in any way credible?  When are they going to pay their gas bill?  When are they going to stop trying to annihilate their fellow countrymen in the East?

I can’t do justice to providing comprehensive answers to these questions, but Ilargi as usual makes a very good attempt at giving us some reasonable conclusions on at least some of them in one of his latest posts at The Automatic Earth, here.  It is worth reading, in my view.  As is his daily round-up and critique of news reportage.

The System Decides

I can always rely on Ilargi to provide me with a stimulating synopsis of the current state of the world, centred loosely around matters financial, in his almost daily blog posts at The Automatic Earth.

There is always a single word, phrase, sentence, or even paragraph in his writings that resonates with me to provide a ‘right on!’ moment of agreement.

Right On!

Today’s phrase was, and I quote, “The system decides”.  Read the relevant piece here.

We, you and I, now have no say in what occurs in the modern global civilisation of mankind.  It doesn’t matter one iota what we think of what takes place in the world.  Our opinions, our reactions, our protestations, even our acquiescence, are quite irrelevant to the unfolding of the events of the day.  We are merely components of the system, and not very important components at that.  We have no choice.  We gave that right away some time ago. 

I will let Ilargi explain those statements through these quotes:

“…today American policy is made in the headquarters of Big Oil, the military-industrial complex and Wall Street. All of whom stand to profit hugely from chaos and bloodshed in foreign countries, and won’t shy away, never have, from putting American boots on the ground if they feel that will boost their profits. Boots worn by kids who know the army is their only chance at ever getting a real education, but never make it back home.”

“This was inevitable from the moment money was allowed to enter US politics, and it inevitably got stronger over time, until it culminated in the recent Supreme Court decision that there should be no effective limits to how much influence the rich can purchase themselves in Washington.”

This is, of course, not just about America.  I would argue that the same thinking can be applied to whatever national government you may choose to think of.

Where is this going?  Ilargi continues:

“I wish I could say this is not going anywhere. It is going somewhere though. Just not anywhere you or I should want to go. But we have been pre-empted, what we think or feel no longer matters. The system decides, fully independent from what we as participants in this democracy are legally entitled to, and are supposed to do: guide our nations’ policies towards what we want, not what a handful of corporate interests want.”

“We lost that. We no longer have any influence on what (the government) decides, …or the next… It’s gone.”

I imagine you must have felt, as I have (even though I did not vote), that your government in action is not reflecting what you expected them to do.  Not charting the best course for your country.  Not making the type of decisions that you feel they should be making.  I feel sorry for you if you don’t feel that way.

Of course, recognition of this dis-empowerment of self-determination within the system is actually itself empowering to the enlightened individual, and with that recognition comes a vision that there can be, and is, life, to be had and grasped, outside of that system.  The system only holds sway over each one of us for as long as we acquiesce to being part of that system.  We can break free, and with each one of us that does that, the system becomes less powerful.  If enough of us do that then the system will gradually weaken and eventually collapse.

This is of course external to the fact that the system will at some stage soon, collapse anyway, because it cannot operate outside of the universal laws of physics, no matter how much zombie money it creates and throws at the problems it will face from being subject to operating within a finite world environment.

The system decides…for now…but the system will not always have that capacity.  The system will end.

Reasonable Doubt

Like many of my blog posts, I got the idea and inspiration for this one from another source.  This one came from reading a post on TAE by Ilargi, himself a Dutch national, and therefore touched by the MH17 incident: The Day God Looked Away.

What follows is a copy of something I just posted on my Facebook page.

Reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt should be a starting position on any news event. Reasonable doubt should be maintained until verifiable proof is offered.

It appears that is not a position that PM Tony Abbott and FM Julie Bishop even considered over the MH17 affair. Their latest edict “After the crime comes the cover-up” sums it up. What crime? What cover-up? It appears they may soon have large quantities of egg on their faces.

If there is a crime, then there is growing evidence that it is more likely to be a ‘False Flag’ operation on the part of the US and its puppet government in Kiev to mislead the world as to the true nature of this tragedy than it would be to assume that the DPR fighters are responsible. If there is a cover-up, then it is likely to be wholly down to those same ‘False Flag’ operators and their dirty tricks department, the CIA than to the DPR or their backers, the Russians.  The question is, who is being open about this and who is misleading?

You will not read or view any of what follows in the mainstream western media. Could that be the crime? Could that be the cover-up?

The US has pictures. Where are they? There was a US satellite over the area at the time but no pictures have been made public.  The Russians have pictures. They have revealed them fully, as reported here:

The separatist fighters of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR) shot MH17 down using a BUK missile system, is the story. There is no proof of this, but ample evidence against it being likely. The DPR militia has two captured BUK systems, both reported broken, and they have no training in their use anyway.

Who else could have done this? Ukraine has 60 Buk Missile systems with trained operators, and they moved several of them into Eastern Ukraine, within range, on the day of the tragedy, July 17. They also moved them out of that area next day. Russia has supplied aerial photographs to prove this. Also, why does Ukraine cover the conflict zone with anti-aircraft defences? DPR has no military aircraft.

Was it really a missile that brought the plane down? Could it have been a military aircraft? Ukraine has stated that it had no military aircraft available that day. Not true. The Russians have supplied Flight Control radar covering the lead-up to and disappearing of MH17. (see the link above) This shows a Ukrainian SU25 fighter jet approach MH17 at the time of its disappearance from radar and the fighter can be seen as remaining in the area afterwards. Is that proof? I can’t say. I am no expert. But it says to me ‘openness’ not ‘cover-up’.

If the separatists are innocent, why keep the crash area closed for so long? They provided limited access to the press and the closest thing to investigators on arrival, but the official Malaysian and Dutch investigating teams only arrived today, the same day as the UN Security Council resolution was issued, and the separatists have now moved out of the way, providing a cease fire zone as requested and free access to investigators. They have even taken great care of the bodies of victims and sent them on their way to Amsterdam. What more could have been expected? Again, those are not the actions of criminals or an attempt to cover up a crime. On the contrary.

Why is the West, or certain elements therein (most European governments, including the Dutch, are remaining quite calm and impartial about this), so intent on blaming the DPR, labelling them as criminals, rebels, evil, along with their mentors, the Russians? What would they (Western powers) have to gain? How far would they go to distort the truth? Well, if you need me to spell that out to you, then you have not been paying enough attention to world affairs and it is not worth my while to explain it to you. Just keep Tweeting and watching X-Factor or whatever your media drug of choice is.

I hope the truth of this affair eventually is revealed. If it is, and that is a big ‘IF’, I think most people will be surprised. It will be no surprise to me.

2014, The Year Everything Changes

“It’s The System, Stupid!” – US Ex-President, Bill Clinton

It is the system.  The system is corrupt and bears us (you and me) no good will.  The system must go.

Democracy is dead.  Overpowered, overcome and taken over by Corporate lobbyists, Corporate greed and Corporate money.

Well, actually, democracy is not quite dead but has been zombyfied by corporate interests.  They actually need it to retain at least a semblance of life in order to keep the people (you know the people I mean, it’s the same ones as in ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’, aka you and me) guessing at what is going on but never quite sure whether they need to be worried or get restless somehow.  So democracy keeps staggering along, looking more dead than alive, arms dragging, face a grotesque mask and grunting incoherently about nothing that matters. Oh yes, and (just to complete the picture) eating its own brains (metaphorically) whenever it can.

This can not be allowed to continue and 2014 is shaping up to be the year that ‘we, the people’ bring it to a head.

I wrote the above on 7 January having been fired up by reading the latest piece called Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future, from David Holmgren, co-founder of the permaculture phenomenon and someone whose work I greatly respect.

2014, The Year Everything Changes

…Well, it would have been, but the angst has diminished.

It is now 17 January and I have calmed down somewhat, in the intervening week or so.

I don’t know if it was the intention of the author to bring out the same sort of reaction I had, at least initially, in the mind of the concerned reader, but it worked.  I expect it will get more readers fired up one way or another.  But sufficiently motivated to do something radical?

If I may bluntly precis and paraphrase David’s paper in my own words, what it boils down to is this:

There is a problem with the way we, the world’s people and our societal organisations, are handling the operational conduct of our civilisation. 

The problem concerns the fact that we are impinging on the wellbeing of the planetary systems on which we rely for our existence, in ways that are going to blow up in our faces before too long.

There is a growing, though as yet low-level, awareness to those facts among the populace and its leaders but the concern is that this will never amount to a drive with sufficient impact to halt or change the current way of things.  At least in time to prevent what could be a particularly unpleasant outcome for all concerned. 

Perhaps we should take steps to avert such calamity by attempting to bring about an early end to the current system (which is going to crash all by itself anyway sooner or later) in order to minimise the damage that might be caused by letting things take the course of natural progression. 

Such an effect could be achieved by sufficient numbers of participants from the most advanced areas of society withdrawing their support from the system, thus starving it of funding to maintain credit supply and causing it to crash.  David provides what he thinks would be appropriate numbers to make that happen.

This proposal, or maybe it is just a line of thought intended to provoke discussion, has so far drawn attention from two other prominent names from the resilience arena in a three cornered kind of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ scenario.  With no attempt or wish to  attach any of those labels to any of these participants (they can’t be referred to as ‘combatants’ as they are all more or less friends), they are the very well credentialed Nicole Foss (aka Stoneleigh, of The Automatic Earth blogspot), Rob Hopkins, founder of The Transition Movement, and of course David Holmgren.

With David having metaphorically fired the first bullet, not generally aimed at anyone specifically, it didn’t take long for Nicole to reply with the first answering shot in her TAE article Crash on Demand? A Response to David Holmgren followed soon after by a blast from Rob delivered in his article Holmgren’s ‘Crash on Demand’: be careful what you wish for.

Now, this is not a battle royal, and I didn’t intend to make it sound like that.  It is just a (mostly) friendly discussion between folk who are pretty much on the same side and who share many thoughts and points of view.  Yet there are distinct differences between them in certain areas and each argues their position lucidly and politely.  It is all worth reading.

The Transitioner View

Without intending to be over-critical, I think Rob Hopkins position, which basically hinges around the idea that we need the current system to continue as long as possible in order to reach a general state of readiness that would be considered adequate to meet the future with some assurance of success (a not unworthy goal), is the least defensible but then his organisation The Transition Movement perhaps has the most to lose in this regard being fairly closely (as I see it, and this is purely a personal view) tied in to that same system (working from within).  Transitioners may well disagree with that.

The main thrust of Rob’s argument against ‘Crash on Demand’ lies in his view that what he envisages as a Post Growth Economy, David sees as an Economic Crash.  Admittedly the two concepts are quite incompatible.  Which is the most likely to be what we actually experience?  Well, for me the idea of any sort of economy that looks in any way similar to the current one, except that it operates on some clean, green, renewable energy supply but at the same time enables much the same sort of activity and social complexity as we have now, is totally out of the question.

As I see it, there is no substitute, none at all, for the fossil fuel based energy that has powered our civilisation and its technology for the last century or so, and there is no way that we will be able to support such a system.  There is no way also that a population anywhere near the current level will be supportable in the long term.  To raise expectations of such an existence is in my view reprehensible.  That is not to say that we could not have achieved at least the rudiments of such a society at some earlier stage, but we chose not to do so.  The time for that solution to our situation has long passed.

The Financial Economist View

On the whole, and having gotten over my initial flush of rebellious revolutionary arousal, I tend to stand more in the corner of this triangle (before it becomes even more polygonal), occupied by Nicole.

Nicole comes from a position of concern that alignment or even perceived alignment with a move to bring down the system pro-actively, could react negatively on the good name of permaculture and all permaculturists by association.  She suggests that such reaction would not assist permaculture to be the beneficial force that it could be in forming resilient post collapse communities.

Nicole also argues that the best way to deal with climate change is to stop talking about it.  To me this initially appeared to be an astonishing statement but the more I thought about it, her reasons for making this claim made sense.  There is currently great concern about climate change, rising overall global temperatures, increasing natural disasters and climate related upheavals, and that level of concern is rightly and entirely justified.  In the short term.  But as I have said elsewhere, while we may be making conditions on this planet uncomfortable for ourselves and likely to be unlivable for most of us, perhaps all of us, for many centuries and even millennia, The Earth will never become another Venus.  Difficult as it is in times of stress, we need to look always at the big picture, the long term, and if we do that, we will see that climatic cycles always have and likely always will prevail despite local, temporal perturbences.  We will, or rather The Earth will (we may well not be around to see it), eventually enter another periodic ice age.  Like it or not, and past cycles do indicate that one is due shortly (in geological timescales).

Climate change, in Nicole’s view, and I have to mostly agree with her reasoning, is only one potential driver of possible societal collapse.  It is not considered the primary driver although if those forces attempting to keep the struggling global economy staggering along for as long as they can, succeed in any meaningful way, then climate change will eventually and inevitably force a collapse situation.  However, other factors are likely to intervene before that happens.  The prime suspect for being the triggering event of collapse of our unworkable global society, according to Nicole, is financial system collapse. She, both at her current blogsite, The Automatic Earth, and previously at The Oil Drum, has been saying the same thing for a number of years now.  Nothing I have read elsewhere has convinced me that she may be incorrect.  In fact Nicole’s position is that the journey to collapse already started with what we identify as being the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, which she claims is still ongoing and actually only in its early stages.  I find no reason to disagree with that.

Still, it is just a guessing game and there are a number of contenders for what the initial trigger for collapse might be.  Hopefully they won’t all arrive at the same time but that scenario cannot be lightly dismissed.

So, What Does 2014 Hold For Us?

What?  You think I am some sort of soothsayer?  I have no crystal ball, no time machine, no other-worldly, outer-worldly or inner worldly access to future events.

I can however, use my intuition, my knowledge of history, science, humanity, my big picture view of things and my accumulated experience of the way the world works throughout a reasonably long life so far, to be convinced that sometime soon, for each of us and for all of us, things are going to change such that life in the way we have come to accept and know it, will be turned upside down and we will be thrust into situations where we will at best have only our own wits, knowledge and resources to rely on in order to make a go of it.

We may be given ample opportunity to prepare for this, giving us reasonable expectations of weathering the storm so to speak.  We may only be given short notice, enough to make emergency preparations and therefore limited chances for a happy outcome.  We may also be taken completely by surprise and have little or no prospects of making it through.  One thing is for sure, we can expect little assistance from those directions to which many of us now look for help.  Government, emergency services, volunteer services.  Such help will be non-existent, having gone down in the ruins of collapse, disintegrated or dissipated as those who render such services look to their own safety.  Alternatively, such friendly or benign services as we look to now may prove to be anything but that in the new circumstance, instead becoming openly hostile to those in need.

Those of us who have been keeping a watchful eye on how events transpire, will have been preparing as best we can for some years now.  However, even we should admit to ourselves, if no-one else, that we may not be as prepared as we may think we are in the event that certain unforseen scenarios emerge.

Do I think 2014 will be the year this will become a reality?  I have said elsewhere that I can’t see the current system going beyond 2020 and we are already seeing evidence of collapse all around us in increasing unrest, hardship, poverty, homelessness, violence, suicide, genocide, loss of respect (self, others, authority), decaying infrastructure, inability to repair damaged infrastructure, widening gap between haves and have-nots, government corruption, erosion of liberties, growing police state, etc.   I can say with some certainty that we are on a downward track through troubled times and the journey is not going to be a smooth one.  There may be places where the time track ends abruptly in a hole or at a precipice before continuing on its path and some parts of the descent may be steeper than others.  At other points we may see some temporary hope by being directed upwards for a while.  We also cannot expect that the track will follow the identical path in every nation around the globe but we are sufficiently economically connected in this age to know that we will all end up at the same point which is both an end point for our current civilisation and hopefully a reasonably happy start point for what comes after.  If there is to be an after.

2014 will therefore unfold as it will.  But you will at the very least be able to recognise that the system is further crumbling around us.  If, that is, you are looking for it and not burying your head in the sand, hoping it is all a bad dream or the ravings of a madman.

Where Has All The Money Gone? The QE Money, That Is.

US $2.2Trillion Post GFC Stimulus

That is a lot of money and most of it went straight to the US banks as Quantitive Easing stimulus.  Have the American people seen any of that stimulus money?  Have American businesses seen any of that stimulus money?  I doubt you could find any that could answer those questions in the affirmative.  So where did it go?

Well, thanks to this article (please read it afterwards) by Ilargi published yesterday on The Automatic Earth website, I now understand a little better what has occurred.

The article contains some very revealing graphs on the results of US govt QE policy over the last few years since the GFC and why the injection of over $2 Trillion into the economy of that nation has made little or no difference. Ilargi provides some insightful deliberations on these matters.

Most of the graphs accompanying the article are interesting in their own right and could be usefully considered at some length for their informative nature.  However, the purpose of my post is simply to show just what is revealed in answer to my initial question of where that money went.  At least, answered to my own satisfaction.

Just Where Did That Money Go, And Why?

Thanks to Illargi’s work and also to the graph provided in the first comment on the article, I now have a fair understanding as to just where that $2T has gone.

The short answer is: Nowhere.  At the very most it has only journeyed (electronically of course since it doesn’t actually or physically exist):

a)  from the Fed (US Federal Bank) to the coffers, sorry, I meant computers, of the US commercial banks

and then

b)  from those banks back to the Fed, in the form of banking reserves, as interest earning deposits.

From the following graph, used in the article, it can be seen that the Monetary Base (the sum of currency circulating in the public plus the commercial banks’ reserves with the central bank, the Fed) was tracking along nicely for many years until the GFC in 2008.  From that time it has jumped dramatically by several trillion dollars in a number of stepped leaps that coincide with the Fed’s QE releases of stimulus.

M2MonetaryBaseThe QE steps are more pronounced in the graph below, also extracted from the article, since it covers a much smaller period and in fact only goes as far as early 2012:

GoldAndUSMonetaryBaseSo, that answers where the ‘money’ went.  From the Fed, back to the Fed.  A fitting situation really since it, the money, never really existed in the first place. All of the ballyhoo about Helicopter Ben Bernanke running the government printing presses to get more dollars into the economy, was just that, ballyhoo.

There was no printing of money.  Just electronic signals running from the Fed’s computers to the banks computers and from the banks computers back to the Fed’s computers.

Maybe Helicopter Ben is not as dumb as he is made out to be.  Or maybe he (and others) are much more devious than anyone has given him/them credit for.

OK, the ‘where’ question has been taken care of.  What about the ‘why’ question?

For me, the explanation by Dave Fairtex (who he is I do not know, but he regularly comments on TAE and other financial websites) cannot be bettered, so I repeat it here in full, giving him the credit and also credit to The Automatic Earth blog.

“So BASE includes EXCRESNS – Excess reserves deposited at the Fed.

This is essentially cash deposited at the Fed in excess of the reserve requirements. Why do banks deposit anything at the Fed if they don’t have to? The Fed currently pays 0.25%. Currently, a one-year treasury bill pays 0.14%, and short-term bank repos pay about 0.09%. In other words, the Fed is giving Banks a good deal, so guess what – the banks take it.

People aren’t borrowing – enough anyway – so the banks need to make money in order to pay their depositors that 0.01% they get from their savings account. So, banks take deposits, pay 0.01%, and get 0.25% from the Fed. It won’t make them rich, but its better than nothing, that’s for sure.

Anyone – how much does your money market fund pay you? How much does your savings account pay you? If you could get 0.25% for ultimately safe deposits, would you take it? I sure would. The Fed is the bank that will never go under!

The Fed started paying for excess reserves in October 2008. Short term treasury bond yields plummeted at that moment as money fled to safe havens, and it was at that moment that excess reserves category took off.

To me EXCRESNS is the place where a big chunk of QE money goes to…well if not die, then sleep. If the Fed decided to stop paying 0.25%, the excess reserves would flee from there into somewhere else that provided yield. Perhaps the 1 year treasury yield would fall even further.

QE does construct a bubble in the bond market, by propping up bond prices, and then most of the cash goes to park at the Fed, back where it started from.”


It should be obvious even to ‘Blind Freddy’, to use an old Aussie colloquialism, that there is a very strong correlation between the EXCRESNS – Excess Reserves Deposited at the Fed (red line) in the above graph and the now obvious leaps in the Money Base (black line) following third quarter 2008 which represent the QE1, QE2 and QE3 stimulus payments to those same banks.

The commentary explanation from Dave Fairtex gives the reason for this process.  Not only do the ‘Too Big To Fail’ banks gain the security of the additional federal reserves that they now hold, courtesy of the Fed, but they are also gaining interest of 0.25% from the Fed on those deposits.  That may not sound very much gain, but interest on $2 Trillion is not a small amount and again it can clearly be seen that around $1.8T has been deposited with the Fed in the last five years but the Base has grown by around $2.4T.  Since the US economy has been at a standstill over this period, a lot of the extra Base Money can only have come from interest earned by the banks from the Fed.  Very nice work, if you can get it.  The banks are secured, even making some profit without doing anything.  Even the profit they are making is much more than they have to give out to their own depositors with interest rates so low.  And all this without the government having to print a single dollar.

So, What’s The Plan?

Meanwhile, as Ilargi points out, the money supply, the movement of actual currency floating in the economy, is rapidly declining.  The economy is going nowhere in spite of the current buoyancy of the equities market and being talked up by just about everyone.

Something has to give.

If the Federal Bank actually planned for what we are now seeing, what was their objective?  Did they mis-calculate how things would turn out?  Or is there some more devious plan afoot?

Whatever the case, it does not bode well for the future of the people of the United States and ultimately for much of the rest of the world.

I am, in my various writings, often warning of impending collapse of our social structures at some point in the future.  We are heading in the right direction for such events to ultimately overtake us and the US may well be a leader or instigator in triggering something of that nature.

My advice?  Always keep one eye firmly on that possibility.