That is my assessement of why the U.S. has embarked on a Long War as a solution to its problems, economic and political.After WWII this country was the only one left unscathed among all the powers;its plants and infrastructure remained intact while that of most of Europe and Japan were totally destroyed.Under those conditions, there was no one left to challenge our supremacy and smiles were the order of the day.
Initially, the threat to our supremacy was perceived to come from the Soviet Union.That was essentially a military threat.The threat from germany and Japan were not military and even the economic threats were so far into the future, no one paid any attention.
In this situation, it was possible to think that so long as the Soviet threat was “contained” ( in George Kennan’s memorable phrase),our supremacy could go on literally forever.That sort of reassurance allowed our auto industry to be the world leader what with jet fin styling, bumper to bumper chrome, super highways,drive-in movies and promise of back seat sex for all.The world had a long way to go and American hubris knew no bounds.
The first shock to this hubris came with the launch of the Sputnik but even that was handled with ease as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.Instead our bubble has been burst in the mundane world of everyday products like autos,appliances,electronics and other goods in which the world has found holes and is busy filling them to the dismay of our corporations.As one corporation after another finds itself losing market share,profitability and technological expertise, the effort needed to assert any kind of market supremacy becomes prohibitive.The exodus to foreign lands by itself will not stem this hemorrhage.
The world has learned how to profit from ideas and countries like India and China and Korea are breeding a population well versed in entrepreneurship and technology.They now see better opportunities to build businesses in their homeland and their governments are eager to see them come and invest their very considerable talents.This will pose a long term threat to the very standard of living that made the U.S. the envy of the world.
I think it is the realization that we cannot win this race against countries like India and China that is at the root of the wars initiated by Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. The world has long past the time when everyone was impressed with American economic and technological achievements.Now those kinds of achievements are increasingly coming from India, China, Korea and Japan.The plight of our auto and steel industry is a warning sign of what is yet to come.
When all is said and done, we are very good at war making and invested a great deal of time, capital and intellectual energy into that enterprise.Given our history of coveting other people’s resources, it was natural that we will wade into the war against Iraq which sits on top of one of the world’s largest known oil resource.Oil gives us a way to assert supremacy over others that any legitimate commerce would not simply because other countries have gotten better at them.It helps to have men at the helm like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld who think what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine too.