Vince answered a question at the French sector of Quora.
My translation of the question and my answer are as follows.
Q: WHAT DOES RUSSIA LACK IN ALL CRITERIA TO BE AS POWERFUL AS THE AMERICANS?
A: We Western people have a peculiar way to evaluate the “strength” of nations. I refer primarily to economic and military strength.
In economic terms, let us consider an example of “power” as calculated by the West.
A man has an income of $200,000 per year and owns a home worth $1 million, a Ferrari worth $380,000, a Lamborghini worth $300,000 and a yacht worth $2 million.
In order to acquire these luxuries, he leveraged his total worth to get loans in a total amount of $400,000. In other words, his loan payments per year amount to twice his total yearly income. His accountant has warned him that he will not be able to continue paying these loans, but he has connections with the local mafia and has taken out loans for the required $400,000. He believes that he will be able to continue paying these debts by refinancing every 6 months. His loan payments now exceed his income but he has been successful in obtaining new loans regularly.
Now since his income plus the worth of his yachts and cars is equal to almost $ one million, many people would look at his lifestyle would say he is well off. But is he rich?
The problem is, eventually, the bank will repossess his home and his luxuries because he is playing a dangerous game with his money.
That is in fact the situation with the US. It has a debt of $23 trillion and keeps spending more and more every year. However, the total GDP of the US in 2019 was about $20 trillion, less than the payments due on its debt. To pay the debt, in the past, the US sold Treasury bonds. However, the US is finding less and less investors to pay the interest on the debt because the investors who used to buy the bonds – such as Saudi Arabia, China and Japan – understand that the US has no plan to pay this debt and they no longer trust this country. China and Japan recently sold off a significant amount of its US Treasuries, and Russia has sold off almost all of its Treasuries. Saudi Arabia at one time owned over $1 trillion in US Treasuries but now has less than half that amount. Consequently, the central bank (the Federal Reserve) is obliged to print money that is not backed by real assets or manufactured goods and use this unbacked currency to buy its own debt. If the US were a person, he would be considered bankrupt. In fact, he would be charged and convicted of counterfeiting. The US is therefore considered to be insolvent. In fact, last July Trump was considering devaluing the US dollar. (He has since abandoned the idea). He said he could do this as a countermeasure to the Chinese weakening their yuan, but some economists think that such a measure would have been taken for the purpose of making it easier to pay down the US sovereign debt.
By contrast, Russia has almost no sovereign debt and the small amount of debt that it owes is less than its total reserves in precious metals and foreign reserve currencies. In other words, Russia is considered to be solvent while the US is insolvent. Further, considering that economists recognize industry and agriculture as the most important components of a national economy, note that 37% of, Russia’s economy is constituted of industry plus agriculture, while only 20% of the US economy is constituted of industry plus agriculture. Unfortunately, the current administration considers shale oil and gas as the pillars sustaining economic growth, but energy extracted from shale is not profitable and many shale oil companies are going bankrupt (https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Shale-Bankruptcies-Are-On-The-Rise.html). By contrast, Russia has started up 2 oil pipelines to Europe, ie, Power of Siberia to China, and the Turk Stream to Turkey and southern Europe, and another third pipeline, Nord Stream 2, headed for Germany, is due to start soon. These pipelines will enable Russia to substantially boost its annual revenues.
Despite this, Western journalists, economists and politicians insist that the US has a “stronger” economy than Russia. I wrote about this previously at Quora: https://fr.quora.com/Que@st-ce-qui-vous-rend-fier-fi%C3%A8re-d%C3%AAtre-Russe/answer/Vince-Dhimos (in English: https://www.quora.com/Is-Russia-stronger-than-the-US/answer/Vince-Dhimos).
Now let us consider military power.
It is true that the US has more military aircraft than Russia. However, Russia has many more tanks than the US, and Russia’s dvantage is that since the US has trained its military primarily for offensive missions, for example, conducting military drills near the Russian border, its strategies focus on attacking Russia, not on the scenario of a Russian attack on the US or its allies. (BTW, this proves that the US and NATO are not sincere when they claim that the West is vulnerable to an attack by Russia and must prepare to “defend itself.” They clearly do not expect such an attack). I discussed on Quora the real reasons for the Western claims that Russia is a potential aggressor: https://fr.quora.com/Pourquoi-les-%C3%89tats-Unis-continuent-ils-dapporter-leur-soutien-militaire-%C3%A0-lEurope-alors-quils-ne-paient-pas-leur-juste-part-%C3%A0-lOTAN-ce-qui-entra%C3%AEne-des-d%C3%A9penses-suppl%C3%A9mentaires-pour-les/answer/Vince-Dhimos).
The problem with these NATO preparations is that an attack on Russia would depend on quickly transferring tanks and other weapons to the Russian border or to Russian territory. Russia has the advantage here because it does not have to transfer its weapons since they are already in place and could be used immediately in the event of an attack by the West.
If you want to learn which country or region has the military advantage in other relevant ways, the best source of such information is a serious and professional publication such as the National Interest, which has written (https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/can-navy-catch-russia-and-chinas-firepower-advantage-32312) an article entitled: “Can the Navy Catch Up To Russia and China's Firepower Advantage?”
This title itself indicates that the American military lags behind Russia and China and must catch up with these countries.
QUOTE from the above article:
“The U.S. Navy, so completely blinded by absolute faith in the supremacy of a single platform, failed to effectively field the premier offensive weapon of a new age of warfare.”
“...many of these noteworthy and foundational capabilities are finally arriving decades after the technologies were first proven, many close to half a century ago. Many of these most crucial weapons are already in the hands of great power competitors such as Russia and China who have had decades of opportunity to train and refine tactics with them.”
This shows that the US military knows it is not as advanced as China and Russia.
This is largely because Russia, for example, has hypersonic missiles that fly so fast that no air defence system an intercept them, and they can travel for long distances of several thousand kilometres and can therefore be launched far away from America or Western European countries, making all their weapons systems and military bases vulnerable.
Not only that, but Russia has “nuclear parity” with the US and if one of these countries attacks the other with nuclear bombs, then the other can completely destroy the attacking country and vice-versa. Therefore it is completely irrelevant which of the two countries had better weapons and this question is therefore irrelevant.
It does not matter which country has the most “power” because the concept of military “power” has lost its meaning.
Therefore, the sensible solution would be for both countries to sit down and negotiate. But the US knows that if it negotiated with Russia and considered it a friend, it would not be able to finance NATO and sell US-made weapons. And that is the main goal of the US and NATO, as I noted at Quora: https://fr.quora.com/Pourquoi-les-%C3%89tats-Unis-continuent-ils-dapporter-leur-soutien-militaire-%C3%A0-lEurope-alors-quils-ne-paient-pas-leur-juste-part-%C3%A0-lOTAN-ce-qui-entra%C3%AEne-des-d%C3%A9penses-suppl%C3%A9mentaires-pour-les/answer/Vince-Dhimos (in English: http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/news--analysis/eurexit-from-nato-needed).