Monday, November 1, 2010

David Broder --Blithering Idiot. (Word War Two Edition)

Every once in a while a member of the chattering class comes out and says something epically stupid. David Broder did such a thing on October 31, 2010. In a barley cogent, crayon-scrawled missive dumped on the pages of the Washington Post he reveled his total ignorance of the history of World War Two. ( ) Fellow blogger and epic genus Cujo 359 waded in on the subject here and we could let that be the final repost. We could, but we won’t. We absolutely have to use our BA in history to some effect or at least an affect.

Let us deal first with the overall history of “The Good War” and then drill down into the economics. In this way it will be pointed out just how wrong Mr. Broder got his talking points.

World War Two was not some perverse jobs program gifted by Hitler and the Nazis. It was a hegemonistic attempt by Hitler and the Nazi state that was a existential threat to the United States. For Soviet Russia it was a Hobbesian struggle against an opponent bent on the genocidal destruction of the Slavic people. Only a naval-gazing, myopic, insular, detached, and ignorant denizen of the Corporate Media could get the facts of World War Two so wrong. A small but well described window into the titanic struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia is provided by Dan Carlin in the “Ghosts of the Ostfront” series on Hard Core History. It was not even close to being fun and games on the Eastern Front gentle reader. ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The U.S. became “The Arsenal of Democracy” by historical accident. The U.S. joined the fray via FDR’s sub rosa efforts because that President understood what was at stake. Lend lease was no effort in charity to our good British friends. It was global policy writ large. The economic results of arming the U.K. were an after thought. This was even more so when the U.S. started supporting the war efforts of Soviet Russia. FDR was not thinking Maynard Keynes, he was channeling Clausewitz. The U.S. had idle capacity, and FDR repurposed it to resist the Nazi juggernaut.

Later on, when the U.S. was firing weapons in anger, the United States’ unique combination of geographical remoteness and industrial capacity made it the logistical nightmare that had the German High Command loosing much sleep. The Nazis were being slowly drowned in U.S. productive might. And unlike their British and Russian foes, there was no way for the Nazis to attack the source of all that material. Once the U.S. Navy and Air Force solved the tactical riddle of the U-boats, the Germans were all out of bright ideas. The U.S. was physically inviolate. Japan managed to seize a perfectly worthless ice box island off Alaska but that was the only “invasion” and “occupation” the U.S. suffered. Even the death and destruction meted out by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor was small potatoes compared to the death and destruction that the European combatants suffered. Whole areas of Europe, especially European Russia, were laid waste. (Note to Mr. Broder: having whole cities reduced to smoking ruins is generally bad for the larger national economy.)

It is only by concentrating myopically on the special circumstances of the United States that World War Two comes out as an economic plus. Pull back just a bit and look globally and the huge amounts of red ink, never mind red blood, spilled make the war a net negative.

Even if Mr. Broder is correct about the economic benefit “enjoyed” by World War Two, it does not translate to present economic realities. Case in point, look at the huge economic hole that our unpaid war of choice in Iraq has dug us. Ignoring all moral considerations and just looking at Iraq from the purely green-eyeshade perspective of a CPA, the mess on the Mesopotamia has been a bust. It is trillions of dollars poured down a rat hole with no end in sight. Oh, and it has done just wonders for our unemployment numbers and other economic fundamentals, hasn’t it? Our economy is just growing in leaps and bounds isn’t it?

But we do not need to look at the present situation in the Near East to prove Mr. Broder wrong. Post World War One, war and occupation is net loss no matter how you squint at the numbers. War stopped being a paying proposition at least as early as the Boar War if not before that. There are much better and healthier ways to jump-start an economy.

The nations that benefit from war are the ones that are peripheral to that war. That is the true lesson of both World War One and World War Two. If David Broder was not a member in good standing of the idiot elite, if he was not a divine of the hermetically sealed Oligarchy that actually runs the nation, if he was not one of the “right thinking” people who endlessly send each other mash notes and determine who the “cool” kids are, he might have a clue where empirical facts might actually lie. Instead he parrots the received wisdom of a throughly corrupt and incompetent ruling elite. He is their slobbering and devoted dog, begging for a pat on the head or a treat. Thing is, he just urinated and defecated on the carpet. What is even worse, the dog thinks he has done a marvelous thing. What an idiot.
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