Saturday, August 12, 2006

From the ashes of WW2

"From the ashes of WW2 rose Israel" is what Sharon said on TV somewhere recently.

I have been wondering for some time about what might be on our horizon. It is clear to me that we are going to face energy and related challenges. I also strongly suspect that there may be financial issues we need to face as well. In thinking about Iraq and what might be going on there, I wonder about the role of resources, and money. Half of our taxes go to the military, and pieces of the B1 bomber come from every state in the nation so that it never gets shut down. The free-market US allows no-bid contracts for Haliburton to cover the support and infrastructure in Iraq, a company that seems to have a history of almost a century of getting government contracts and then overrunning the bid many times over.

Well, what's one supposed to think after all?

The conservatives think future challenges are a result of radical Islam. I'm not sure if I buy that thesis, but I'm not willing to dismiss it out of hand either.

Both of these patterns are patterns that were set in the last go-round. The military-industrial complex was our (new) solution to the crisis of WW2. FDR's welfare-statism was its own response to the crisis of the great depression.

Haliburton, government contracts, bankrupt social security and medicare programs are all results of the patterns set in the war or postwar period.

Further, The US's transportation system and economic dominance since then are both results of access to tremendous amounts of cheap oil at home (until the early 70s) and later abroad. This creates a constellation of interlocking pieces all eminating from the postwar paradigm, and relying on that postwar paradigm.

So it is easy to see that in global chess, we need the oil. Our military needs it, our economy needs it, our indebted consumer needs it. Even if our military activites in the Middle East result in expensive oil in the short run, it positions us nicely for the future when Indian and Chinese demand, for their own economic growth, seriously challenges our own. If it gets too expensive, the whole thing slows down. If other nations bid up the price so that it seriously harms American consumers, then the whole economy slows down. If they get it and grow, perhaps our sole hegemon status is changed. What if the US economy is on a downward trajectory (outsourcing of both blue and white collar jobs, consumer demand and factories over there - not here, consumers indebted and unable to consume) for the next 40 or 50 years, while over there larger nations go through a period of growth similar to our 40s-60s? Then our position in the world will change no matter what. Period.

But Sharon's statement got me thinking. It is clear that Israel and everyone else out thatta-way doesn't necessarily get along. Clearly the middle east plays into the outlined scheme above - but how, and why?

"Out of the ashes of WW2." Of course. That's it. The conservatives may well be right too in worrying about culture clash and religious-national ties. Those guys are on the same timeline. They are dealing with a "problem" set up during WW2 - the creation of Israel. Everyone is trying to deal with it the only ways they know how, except since it isn't working they are trying harder and harder, and opinions are calcifying on both sides.

I don't know. I don't have answers, but I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions. What I am seeing though is that the left could be right about resources and military, the conservatives could be right about culture clash, and the libertarians could be right about debt and imperial statism all at the same time.

The only thing that does seem clear is that something is going on, and people are beginning to notice.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

People who are marginalised eventually become radicalised. Marginalised on the world stage Islam is radicalised? There again I am still waiting for the Australian Aboriginal peoples to rise up against the inequity of their situtation. Is it cultural or genetic that they don't - for example - blow up that icon of white domination, the Opera House, on the site of the first European settlement. Not that I am advocating it, I am just interested as to what drives people to violence where others forbear.

Have you seen the new work linking levels of monoamine oxidase with violent behaviour. http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1259045
Interesting that despite apparently being genetically predisposed to violence the Maori have been pretty forbearing also although they do better on a number of fronts than the Aboriginal people.

Since as I understand it Hezbollah arose out of the 1982 (do I have the date right?) Israeli - Lebanon conflict one wonders what will emerge from this latest conflict.