Sunday, 13 March 2011

The financial cost of the wars and me

Many years ago I read ' Report from Iron Mountain' which satirically makes the point that peace is not in the interest of a stable society and that even if lasting peace could be attained it would almost certainly not be in the best interests of society to achieve it.  War was a part of the economy therefore it was necessary to conceive a state of war for a stable economy.  Several months after I read 'Report from Iron Mountain' the United States of America declared war on Iraq and the novel floated around in my mind.  Over the last ten years I gradually forgot about the book, until recently.

One of the ideas from the novel that stuck with me was that war is the only thing to exist outside of a country's natural economy.  It is literally the only event (for lack of a better word) in which the government has the ability to artificially create demand where there previously was none. When a war begins it creates a world of demand for weaponry, clothing, personnel, construction, and much more.  War creates a need and someone has to supply that need. And in doing so, this creates jobs in manufacturing and construction that without war would not exist.

This week I was considering the financial cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the trauma they have bestowed on the American deficit when I remembered that delightful novel and I had to ask myself.... What the fuck?  How has the cost of the war been estimated at Five Trillion dollars yet has seemingly had so little positive impact on the growth of the American economy.  If war exists outside the natural parameters of an economy, has the ability to be controlled by a government and requires phenomenal input to continue over a ten year period then...  Where are these jobs?  Where is the growth in the manufacturing sector?  Or more poignantly, where is the manufacturing sector?

And then it dawned on me... The world is a very different place than it was in 1967 when 'Report from Iron Mountain' was written.  The economic truth remains the same... War does in fact stimulate an economy... But not necessarily ones own in the new global world.  If a company that outsources to China has won the contract to supply uniforms then all the war does is add to America's financial debt and contributes nothing to its growth.

I loathe both wars for numerous humanitarian reasons yet they've continued to exist for nearly a third of my life now.  If they are going to exist for another ten years then let's at least play the economic game right, if nothing else.