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Obama Shows His War-Mongering Side

Obama aims to create a neat, high-tech image of war, and act like everything is in control.

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At the same time, the Chinese, with the hottest economy on the planet, have a housing bubble, which may already be  bursting. (Americans should have at least a few  passing memories of just what kinds of troubles a popped housing bubble can bring.)  And for all we know, the U.S. economy, despite recent headlines about growing consumer confidence and an unemployment rate dropping to 8.5%, may be on life support.

As for the rest of the world, it looks questionable as well.  The powerhouse  Indian economy, like the  Brazilian one, is slowing down.  Whatever the glories of the Arab Spring, the Middle East is now in tumult and shows no signs of righting itself economically or politically any time soon.  And don’t forget the Obama administration’s attempt to ratchet up sanctions on Iranian oil.  If things go wrong, that might end up  sending energy prices right through the roof and  blowing back on the global economy in painful ways.  With the major economies of the globe balancing on a pin, the possibility of a spike in those prices thanks to any future U.S./Iran/Israeli crisis should be terrifying.

The globalization types of the 1990s used to sing hymns to the way this planet was morphing into a single economic creature.  It’s worth keeping in mind that it remains so in bad times.  This year could, of course, be another bumble-through year of protest and tumult, or it could be something much worse.   And don’t think that I -- a non-economist of the first order -- am alone in such fears.  The new head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has been traveling the planet recently making Jeremiah sound like an optimist, suggesting that we could, in fact,  be at the edge of another global Great Depression.

But know this: you can buy drones till they're coming out your ears and they won’t help keep Greece afloat for an extra second.  Expand special operations forces to your heart’s content and you still can’t send them into those failing European banks.  Take over cyberspace or outer space and you won’t prevent a Chinese housing bubble from bursting.  None of the crucial problems on this planet are, in fact, amenable to military solutions, not even by a country willing to pour its treasure into previously unheard of military and  national securityexpenditures.

Over the years, “the perfect storm” came to be a perfectly overused cliché, which is why you don’t see it much any more.  But it might be worth dusting off and keeping in reserve this year and next -- just in case.  After all, when any situation destabilizes, all bets are off, including for a president having his mission accomplished moment.  (Just ask John McCain  what happenedto his 2008 presidential bid when the economy suddenly began to melt down.)

In such a situation, the sort of military-first policy the president has made his own couldn’t be more useless.  Maybe it’s time to take out a little insurance.  Just not with AIG. 

[Note:  A deep bow to Nick Turse, as ever, for all his help.  And another to the indispensable, Juan Cole’s invaluable  Informed Comment website, and Paul Woodward’s always intriguing website  The War in Context for being there and up to the second when I need them most.]