Perpetual War for Perpetual Employment?

Anthony Wile
Daily Bell

Here at the Daily Bell, we remain convinced that America’s serial wars have continually deepened that great country’s economic crisis. And this gives rise to a peculiar dilemma that we don’t usually point out, but which will be the purpose of this article. It may even explain the reluctance of the US to leave Afghanistan and to generally disengage from overseas violence.

This is the issue: “How can the US cease its warring when so many people in that beleaguered country depend on conflict for their employment?”

The US unemployment or under-employment rate (the real one) is somewhere between 25 and 30 percent. To reduce or eliminate garrisons in both Iraq and Afghanistan would inject hundreds of thousands of additional individuals into an economy that is struggling to provide employment to available workers. (Not to mention the private-sector “defense” jobs that would be made redundant.) And assuming that the additional workers find jobs; wouldn’t they be at substantially lower salaries than their existing military compensations?

It is certainly easier to get into a war than to get out of one. Of course, here I am referring to the visible wars only, those which comprise millions of Americans who are earning wages that would otherwise not exist and for whom many would find their current skills not in great demand in peacetime.

It appears on surface that the US could not afford this influx of unemployed and any reigning political body would be committing domestic economic suicide should they chose to truly adopt a non-aggressive foreign policy and return America to protecting its own shores rather than spreading “democracy” all over the world. And here clearly we at the Bell believe that is ALL the US military should be doing. And we also believe that would require a personnel effort of much smaller numbers than taxpayers are currently supporting.

Were the US to suffer such an influx of unemployed as a result of adopting a sensible foreign policy rather than acting as the policemen for global morality, it is likely that trade unions and other leftist organizations would demand the existing wages of the military workers be maintained at current levels. Of course Congress would attempt to pass wage support legislation to ensure that standards of living didn’t suffer in the new careers sought but to what overall detriment to the value of the dollar?

The bottom line is that the US economy cannot handle a peaceful withdrawal from active combat without causing even further unemployment, not just to those on the front lines but to all the industries who comprise the vertical support network which keeps the whole clock ticking. And for politicos intent on battling an already raging domestic unemployment crises, caused primarily by the country’s out-of-control Federal Reserve, it is ironic that the current and future administrations of the US have no way out of this mess.

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