Monday, February 27, 2012

War Nation: Military Keynesianism's Iron Grip on Washington

Nations are defined by what they do. For much of the post-WWII period America has been defined by wars. In almost every case these have been wars of choice rather than necessity; the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the brief wars in Grenada and Panama, the long Afghanistan War, the 2nd Iraq War and the non-localized and never ending War on Terror.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 there was discussion of a peace dividend, meaning a shift away from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. This would entail "economic conversion" of a substantial portion of the industrial base of the US economy from "guns to butter" as they saying goes. We never did see a peace dividend, and military spending has more than doubled in the ensuing two decades.

The political and financial underpinnings of America's War Nation status are multiple, but there is one aspect of this entrenched policy that forms the unshakable financial and political foundations of our military industrial complex. This is the concept of military Keynesianism. Keynesianism, named after the 20th-century English economist John Maynard Keynes, is the term for when the federal government spends revenues to boost economic activity, which can be especially important during economic downturns. Virtually all Republicans and even many Democrats decry Keynesian economics in all cases save one; military spending. Read More