21
Nov
2004

Can the Economy Survive the Attacks?

. . . such as Gulf War II, and, see below, Election 2004.

plion


September 16, 2001's L.A. Times had a characteristically surprising article by Kevin Phillips, a nominally Republican analyst-journalist who is neverheless independent and almost ideology-free. The entire article is compelling; the concluding paragraphs, below, are especially arresting.

September 16, 2001

COMMENTARY

Can the Economy Survive the Attacks?

by KEVIN PHILLIPS,

His most recent book [at that time] is "The Cousins Wars: Religion, Politics and the Triumph of Anglo-America"

Since the 1600s, each of America's three predecessors as leading world economic power found itself bled—economically, politically and militarily—by a new sort of war that forced it to fight on the wrong battlefields in precarious circumstances at too late a stage in the trajectory of its world leadership. Spain was crippled by the bloody and grotesque Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. The next power to rise up, the maritime empire of the Dutch, suffered a mortal economic and commercial wound in the quarter-century of war that wracked Europe from 1690 to 1713.

Great Britain paid the same price for World War I and II. Within only three decades of its peak economic and imperial splendors of 1910-14, the British empire of 1947, besides undergoing food and clothing rationing in peacetime, was forced to depend on financial loans and hand-outs from the United States. [This helps explain Blair's fawning on Clinton and Bush.--PL]

If terrorists in dingy conference rooms in Tripoli, Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran or Kabul have concluded that the United States cannot maintain its present economic strength through 10 to 15 years of terrorism, attrition, computer-hack attacks, eroding markets and oil and currency crises, they may be wrong—but they may also be correct. Even in 1991, the United States had to pass the hat among other coalition members to finance the Gulf War.

Moreover, just as Britain no longer possessed the cutting-edge technologies in metallurgy, chemicals, armaments production and electrical engineering to effectively fight the First World War—imports from the U.S., Sweden and elsewhere become crucial-—the United States is increasingly at risk in Internet and computer-age technologies. Recent reports have made it clear, for example, that as commercial relationships between Taiwan and mainland China accelerate, some of America's dependence on Taiwan for critical computer parts threatens to pass to China.

None of this is to say that the U.S. should not try to eliminate its terrorist attackers. To maintain domestic and international credibility, it has to. But the three-dimensional game of strategic chess now facing Washington is quite different from the ones American leaders have played before.


[Phillips stops short of asking how the Bush Jr.-fronted administration---determined as it is to resuscitate a more ruthless version of a retro Reagan-Bush Sr. world---will survive this nexorable future-without-precedents.]
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