I wonder if economics is making war obsolete, at least for the larger countries. Waging war is just too damned expensive, even if your enemy lives in mud huts. If you're looking for the silver lining to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, here it is: They prove once and for all that the occupier doesn't come out ahead even by "winning."

It makes more sense to turn off the economic spigot to any country that starts to look threatening to its neighbor. Arguably, the United States is already in a war with Iran, but it takes the form of developing alternative fuels. When Iran can no longer find much of a market for its oil, it will have to start being a lot friendlier. The same goes for the United States. The next President of The United States (probably Obama) will be projecting a new humility thanks to a crippled economy.

North Korea has been defeated economically, for all practical purposes. So was the Soviet Union. Venezuela is getting less cocky as the price of oil plummets. China has become zero threat to the U.S. because of economic interests.

Terrorism is still the wild card. But the end of oil will put more of a dent in terrorism than any war could.

In the old days you could make a profit from a good war, thanks to pillaging and slavery. Those days have passed. Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

I think the age of big war has passed.
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +6
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Oct 22, 2008
I wonder if it is a good thing, though. The grinding poverty visited on a country under economic war is often far more damaging, and long lasting, than the brutality of a shooting war. More often than not, that is because a shooting war tends to focus on the actual target, such as the government. An economic war works its way up the food chain, slowly. One only has to look at the government officials in North Korea, Iraq, and now the Gaza strip to see this.
Oct 22, 2008
Or maybe the big wars aren't fought with guns and bombs anymore, but rather are economic in nature?
Oct 22, 2008
While it is true that war is no longer economically profitable for a nation, it is also true that politicians are in the business of transferring wealth between groups within the nation and do not generally care if they have to spend a lot to get a few bucks to their friends in industry. As an example look at the major defense contractors like Haliburton. They have made a killing (no pun intended) on the Iraq war.

Dwight Eisenhower foresaw all of this and said "Nowhere is it written that America will endure forever." In his presidency he witnessed major defense contractors setting up lobbying networks specifically to lobby for war so that they could make more profit. Is it just coincidence that they have operations in every key voting district and that every American president (with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter) has launched at least one major foreign military excursion?

For an excellent documentary on this, rent "Why we Fight" some night.

By the way, you are not the first to think this. Economists in the 19th century predicted similar things.
Oct 22, 2008
Arguably, this is what the terrorists are doing to the USA ("turning off the economic spigot").

Rather than staging a big war with the USA, Bin Ladin's bunch is going after the USA's economy by getting the USA to stage big wars across the world.

They provoke expensive invasions, knock down the US economy... WIN.

Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog