Saturday, March 28, 2020

On underestimating America

I’m about 10% through Weinberg’s A World At Arms.  He discusses, as everyone seems to, how leaders in Germany and Japan underestimated the military potential of America.  Americans were doing that as well, and undoubtedly still do – at least according to a brief review I read in the November/December 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs: 

Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the Word’s Sole Superpower by Michael Beckley, Cornell University Press:

“. . . He does not dispute that the United States has its problems or that misguided leaders often squander its advantages.  But he points out the United States’ deep geographic, demographic, and institutional reserves give the country unique resilience.  The United States is the only great power without regional rivals.  Its companies and universities dominate the world.  And most important, Beckley argues that it has by far the best fundamentals for future economic growth, thanks to its abundant natural resources, favorable demographics, secure property rights, and lasting political institutions.  China’s growth prospects, in contrast, are ‘dismal.’. . .”

I recall being impacted by three “America’s in decline.  We are being surpassed by nation X” 

1.      The USSR.  When I went to work at Douglas Aircraft company in 1959, Engineers were sincerely debating the “better red than dead” controversy.  The majority, if I remember correctly, were leaning toward “better red.”
2.     The Arabs, especially Saudi Arabia is buying up our nation. As rich as they are we shall soon all be working for them.
3.     The Japanese.  Their work ethic is much better than ours.  We went through a number of mandatory courses learning the superior ways of the Japanese so we could better compete against Boeing and the Europeans.
4.     And now the Chinese . . . yawn.

I was watching a Youtube interview of Victor Davis Hanson in regard to his The Second World Wars, How the first global conflict was fought and won (published in 2017)Hanson is apparently somewhat worried about North Korea having the capability of bombing our West Coast.  He worried that North Korean leaders probably didn’t understand that we don’t do “tit for tat.”  “If North Korea bombs Spokane,” be began, shaking his head.  “They might think we will bomb just Pyongyang in return, but it won’t be just Pyongyang . . .” He wore a worried expression.  The audience got the impression (or at least this viewer did) that if North Korea bombed Spokane,  North Korea would cease to exist. 

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