Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

Why without blood there is no oil, or anything else, for that matter

A couple of days ago I found this brilliant article, thanks to Zero Ponsdorf of Old War Dogs. This article is really a review of the book titled “The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization”, by Bryan Ward-Perkins. This review got expanded into a fine historical analysis, providing parallels to our times. The author of the article, Orson Scott Card, points out that the book shows that prosperity in the Roman Empire was based on high quality affordable goods and regional specialization, with safety provided by the Roman Army:

What people overlooked was that everything depended on the Roman Army. The army wasn’t carrying the goods, it wasn’t even actively protecting the trade. The army was mostly stationed at the border, while the economy boomed in an empire so safe that none of the cities had walls. But the economic system that offered so much prosperity could only last as long as merchants could trust in the safety of the goods they transported, and as long as people could remain in place to do their work instead of having to flee barbarian invaders.

It was a robust system. Ward-Perkins points out that there were lots of crises over the years, from plague to invasions to civil wars, and none of them brought the system down, except for local crashes from which the economy soon recovered.

Here is the parallel to the modern Western Civilization:

For a century, America has been the great cushion to absorb the shocks that might have brought down western civilization. In the Great War (WWI), Europe crashed its own population through war and then crashed further through the influenza epidemic. But the American economy provided the means for France and Britain — but not Germany — to recover. Arguably, it was the failure to include Germany in the recovery that led to repeated economic crises, and when America finally joined Europe with its own Depression in the 1930s, the stage was set for the next barbarian invasion.

It wasn’t inappropriate for Hitler’s Germans to be called “the Hun.” They may have claimed to be conquering, but in fact they were destroying. Yes, they built factories in some of their conquered and allied lands, but they were chewing up the Slavic population by enslaving and slaughtering them, and they were eliminating much of their own intellectual and merchant class by killing the Jews, who had been disproportionately responsible for the German economy and culture.

In the aftermath of WWII, once again America was the economic cushion — only this time the portion of Germany under western occupation was included in the economic recovery, as was Japan.

The result, over the past sixty years, has been a pax Americana covering much of the world. And the world has prospered fantastically wherever the American military sustained it.

Let me say that again: As with Rome, the American military has been the wall behind which a system of safe trade has allowed an extraordinary degree of specialization and therefore mutually sustained prosperity.

And here is how the possible collapse of our modern civilization is described:

Here’s how it happens: America stupidly and immorally withdraws from the War on Terror, withdrawing prematurely from Iraq and leaving it in chaos. Emboldened, either Muslims unite against the West (unlikely) or collapse in a huge war between Shiites and Sunnis (already beginning). It almost doesn’t matter, because in the process the oil will stop flowing.

And when the oil stops flowing, Europe and Japan and Taiwan and Singapore and South Korea all crash economically; Europe then has to face the demands of its West-hating Muslim “minority” without money and without the ruthlessness or will to survive that would allow them to counter the threat. The result is accommodation or surrender to Islam. The numbers don’t lie — it is not just possible, it is likely.

America doesn’t crash right away, mind you. But we still have a major depression, because we have nowhere to sell our goods. And depending on what our desperate enemies do, it’s a matter of time before we crash as well.

This article obviously has to be read in its entirety in order to understand how the Western Civilization cannot survive without US Military. On a related note, I am now reading “The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power” by Max Boot. It essentially makes the same point, which is, as Thomas Friedman of New York Times wrote, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist”. I’ve been thinking of starting to write reviews of the books I read on this blog, and this one might be the first, once I finish it. But for now, for those chanting “No blood for oil”, let me make a quick point. Suppose you order something on line, let’s say, a music CD. So, you sent your money and now expect your CD to come. What do you think ensures that the vendor will actually send you that CD? That is, besides the vendor’s honor and reputation? If you don’t get your CD, you’ll contact the authorities. Now let’s imagine for a second that the vendor decided to resist. So, when the cops show up at his door, he starts shooting and kills a cop. The same could happen, if the vendor sent that CD, but somebody intercepted it on the way. That cop has just died for your lousy CD. Still, the police action, even at the cost of officer’s life, is necessary in order to ensure that a vendor sends the goods that were paid for, and those goods actually get to their intended destination. Now take it to the global level, and you will understand that the free flow of goods has to ensured by force, be it oil from the Middle East or Chinese-made soft toys. So, unless you are prepared to walk, barefoot and naked at that, stop chanting “no blood for oil” and instead thank the US Military for putting their lives on the line for oil, your pants and everything else you enjoy and take for granted, along with the freedom to bad-mouth those protecting you.

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December 26, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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