Many countries have relied on a single main export for their income and economic stability. For the Americans, this export is war.
The great depression that began in the USA with the Wall St crash of 1929 caused unprecedented levels of unemployment and destroyed heavy industry. Sweeping political changes followed with the landslide election of Roosevelt, the New Deal programs, the suspension of the gold standard, and the recession of 1937, which after a period of sharp growth, returned unemployment to depression levels.
The Americans were in a bad state, but it wasn’t long before the second world war broke out in Europe.
This war would solve many problems in the USA with the revitalisation of their economy and the beginning of an unprecedented period of growth.
They joined the war in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbour. While many American men were away fighting in Europe and the Pacific, the people back home were enjoying a new period of prosperity and consumerism. This was the answer to the economic prayers of the USA.
Since World War 2, the USA has been in a constant state of war until the present day.
Occupations of parts of Europe, Japan and parts of the Far East Axis continued until 1955. The Korean war kicked off in 1950 and military involvement in Vietnam began in 1959.
Military action ensured the continuation of economic prosperity as tax money was taken from the people and handed over the military industrial contractors. It also had the added bonus of ensuring the backing of the people for the state. American patriotism during conflict saw that the policies of intervention went (mostly) unquestioned.
When there wasn’t any actual military conflict to be had, there was the Cold War.
The Cold War never escalated beyond name calling and sabre rattling, yet cost billions to wage and galvanised the spirit of the Americans against the new foe of Communism.
World War 2 had supposedly been fought in the name of freedom against Fascism, yet the cold war saw a reaction to communism worthy of any paranoid dictatorship. Communism was a political ideology, yet was not dealt with in a political manner. The carrying of a Communist party membership card would result in arrest an imprisonment. Even allegations without evidence became enough to persecute those suspected of Communist sympathies.
The Cold War continued the practise of huge military spending and expansion through the production and testing of atom bombs, hydrogen bombs and delivery and protection systems. It was this level of spending that would bring down the enemies in Russia through financial collapse rather than military conquest.
This period of anti Communist feeling also served to bolster the idea of patriotism in the average American, ensuring they don’t question the policies of Government for fear of being unpatriotic or even denounced as a communist.
Another fundamental part of the Cold War, aside from the arms race, was the space race. The quest to put the first man on the moon resulted in massive spending coupled with huge technological advances.
As 500 million people around the world watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon (And goof his pre prepared line) America was one.
The Apollo missions were never about science. They were about beating the Russians, solidifying the patriotism of a nation and continuing economic stability. No more moon missions are planned and space exploration has stagnated. It is no longer politically necessary. Now we have other means to achieve the same goals with even better results.
When the Cold War finally ended in the early nineties with the collapse of communism, America was fresh out of wars. They were involved in UN spats such as the Gulf, Somalia and Kosovo, but had no wars to call their own.
To remedy this situation we were given a new concept – The War on Terror.
The war on terror is a totally new concept in military conflict. It is similar to the Cold War but includes armed confrontation. The new enemy is Al Quaeda, an invisible group that encompasses any terrorist action. The war cannot be won and is not supposed to be. It is a perpetual conflict that will keep the USA at war for as long as they deem necessary.
Two nations have already been invaded and conquered, and the current President has his eyes on a third. In between the armed incursions, there are the domestic operations. The American people are for the first time, treated as enemy combatants.
When the enemy is not in some foreign country that you can invade, but living in your country, among your own people, unseen and undetected, you can treat every citizen as the enemy until they can prove other wise.
The War on Terror has not only caused conflict outside American borders, but it has removed most of the basic freedoms of those living within.
Of course the average American citizen is a patriot. They don’t want to be branded a terrorist any more than they wanted to be branded a Communist. That’s why they let it happen. The military spending continues, the American people stand as one against the new foe.
War. What is it good for? The power and influence of the strongest nation on earth since 1941.