24 April, 2012

What If the Unthinkable Happens?

A little different post from me today. Few numbers, just speculation about a possible result of having high government debt and ignoring our national resources.

I’ve pointed out endlessly the issues relating to the economic crisis in Europe. I’ve also mentioned the ongoing situation in the Middle East more than once. And I’ve discussed our own debt and who owns it constantly. The point I’m trying to make here is that there are high tension areas all over the world. And it’s not getting better. I haven’t even mentioned Korea, or Russia.

This kind of world wide tension is what led to both World Wars.

So, what if the unthinkable happens? What if there’s a protracted, conventional, World War? I won’t go completely unthinkable and discuss nuclear options. I’m just talking about conventional warfare with ships, planes, tanks and lots of young men (and women).

Can the United States win such a war? I don’t want to say that I’d bet against us. Americans have a long history of fighting hardest when our backs are against the wall. And we have an incredible military with the best trained soldiers and the best military minds in the world.

But the odds would definitely be stacked against us.

We certainly don’t seem to have the patience for a four year effort like WWI and WWII. Remember, after two weeks of the War in Iraq, the press was already using the word “quagmire”. It was such a huge issue in the 2004 Presidential race that the Democrats nominated an anti-war hero.

Conventional wars cost a lot of money. How will the United States finance the war effort? The countries that have been buying most of our debt are the countries we’re most likely to be at war with. We’d have to sell war bonds. But we’d still have to finance our existing debt. Which would mean more bonds. And we have a weakened economy. Who’s going to be able to buy the bonds?

What about natural resources? How are we going to power our ships and planes? The countries that have been selling us most of our oil are also the countries we’re most likely to be at war with. We’re not drilling enough here or refining enough here to do it on our own. And it would take money and time to get that infrastructure going again, particularly the refineries.

And it’s not just oil. Building refineries, ships, planes, weapons requires lots of steel. Steel production in the United States is barely a quarter of what it was in 1973. How long would it take to get steel production back up to the levels we’d need for a protracted war? And how much would that cost?

Could we win? I honestly don’t know.

Fortunately, there’s little to no chance of the unthinkable happening, right?


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