The Case That Wars Fuel U.S. Economic Booms
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1960-1970: The American economic boom, still riding off the momentum of the World War II wealth transfer, gradually begins to sputter as the decade wears on. This economic decline accelerates in tandem with:
1963-1975: America loses its first war ever in Vietnam. With its first imperial defeat, the American empire is in retreat. Once-compliant countries from Latin America to the Middle East assert themselves; Third World becomes increasingly either socialist or "non-aligned"; America plunders less and less of the world's wealth. This leads to:
1970s: Economic stagnation, decline in standard of living. This eventually leads to the election of an avowed American imperialist, Ronald Reagan, which is followed by:
1981-1989: American economy ramped up for Cold War against "Evil Empire." Reagan racks up massive debt and pours enormous state funds into "winning" the Cold War against the "evil empire." Militarizes the economy and the culture. Imperial decline halted. Latin America reabsorbed into soft American empire, while many Arab states also become more compliant, especially following the bombing of Libya. Fund war against Soviets in Afghanistan, letting them bleed, without any damage to American homeland. This leads to:
1980s: American economy begins to grow again, though still not as fast as in the 60s or 50s, the period after victory in World War II.
1989-1991: American victory in the "Cold War": the Communist empire collapses. American empire absorbs these new markets without firing a shot or suffering damage in the homefront, opening up massive new opportunities for wealth plunder. America's biggest economic competitor, Japan, essentially collapses. In 1991, America wins Gulf War 1, its first big war victory since Vietnam. American empire, without rivals, suddenly resurgent again. This leads to:
1990s: Economic boom, which accelerates towards the end of the decade, reaching levels of growth not seen since the 50s and 60s.
2001: Brief recession which many say will spell doom to America's booming economy. But then:
2001-2: America wins war against Afghanistan, leading to world recognizing for the first time that America is not only an empire, but a "hyperpower." Economy quickly turns around and begins to boom again, until:
2003-8: America loses only its second war in its history against Iraq. The victory in Afghanistan slowly unwinds and starts morphing into another defeat. That's two war losses in one decade. Which leads to:
2007-present: The new Great Depression.
So if you follow the Republican right-wing's own logic, the question isn't whether or not we should raise or lower taxes, or whether we should fund programs that teach kids about STDs. America's economic booms and busts have nothing to do with Adam Smith's three-pointed-hat Calvinist fantasies and everything to do with whether we win or lose wars, and, more importantly, if our competitors commit mass suicide in these wars, allowing us to ride in at the end, after our competitors have bankrupted and bled themselves to death, as we did in World Wars I and II, and again in the Cold War. The more we behave like sly jackals feeding on the steaming, nutrition-rich corpses of other peoples' collapsed empires, the stronger our economy, and the better we live (the more we can cut our taxes or increase our social spending or both, depending on the amount we've plundered). But if we start a war, fight it by ourselves, and lose -- as the idiots did in Iraq and in Vietnam and now in Afghanistan -- then prepare for the Big Decline. University of Chicago professor Robert Pape recently characterized America's imperial collapse as: "one of the largest relative declines in modern history. Indeed, in size, it is clearly surpassed by only one other great-power decline, the unexpected internal collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991."