February 28, 2007

The Birth of the Functioning Core

Hatched by Dafydd

Commenter Ashowalt asked a great couple of questions. I started answering in the comments section... but after writing a bunch, I realized I could get a cheap blogpost out it instead. So here we go...

Thomas P.M. Barnett, in the Pentagon's New Map (and geez, shouldn't I at least get a virtual beer from him for so tirelessly flogging that fascinating book?), argues that nations within the Functioning Core simply do not go to war with each other... that all of our military engagements since the end of World War II have been either within the Non-Integrating Gap or with a Gap nation that was trying to invade the Core. Core nations are too economically intertwined for war to be a viable option.

Ashowalt challenged me: What were the "factors" that I believed made the post-World War II world significantly different than that of 1910, just before a number of civilized nations fought each other?

I responded that the most significant factor was World War II itself. I was on the right track, but I hadn't really thought it through until Ashowalt asked me to elaborate:

How does the fact that WWII has occurred increase the extent to which economic interdependence would dissuade countries from going to war with one another?

First a warning: I am not an economist; but if I had to hazard a guess, it would be not so much the war itself but the massive economic rebuilding that followed.

I have no idea what Barnett himself would say; if he talks about this in the book cited above, I haven't gotten to it yet. So if this explanation turns out to be nothing but airy-fairy spun sugar, blame me, not him. (I have some disagreements with his thesis, but none that affect this point.)

First, note that prior to the war, there was no "Functioning Core," because there was barely the first inklings of a global economy; many civilized states were still economically isolated from other countries (including the United States, for the most part). Remember that the Core comprises those countries that are integrated economically, legally, and in a "communications grid" (telephone, radio, television, satellite and cable, internet) with the "global net" -- which didn't exist in the 1930s:

  • Economic integration: hurting your neighbor hurts yourself nearly as badly, since your neighbor cannot or will not buy your exports anymore; thus, there is a huge monetary incentive to work out any disagreements amicably -- by treaty or lawsuit.
  • Legal integration: every country within the Core has the same basic expectations in terms of how a citizen or subject will be treated by his own and by other governments in the Core: If you visit France, you do not expect the la Sûreté Nationale to kidnap you and hold you for ransom; in Canada, you are protected against being arrested for something that was legal last week, when you did it.
  • Communications integration: information flows freely, through every avenue available, within and between Core nations; thus also floweth culture (music, literature, religion), news, commentary, personal correspondence, scientific and technological discoveries, and so forth. I can pick up the phone and call friends in Germany, Mexico, or the Netherlands. I can watch cable TV from Japan. I can e-mail anywhere that allows internet access.

That last bullet item is very important: With the free flow of information, cultures bump into each other; they're forced to interact and get along non-violently. Thus, they evolve towards each other; this leads to a set of worldwide norms, taking on similar characteristics... and prohibiting "atrocities" or "crimes against humanity."

(The Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan were very secretive countries that did not allow information to pass their borders in either direction, if they could stop it.)

Cultures tend to become very similar in the Core... it's why I say that Core culture, and especially that of America (the core of the Core), is "Borg culture": We assimilate every other culture that we contact; resistance is futile.

After WWII, the United States and the victorious European powers (mostly us) spent then unimaginable sums on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and on our occupation and rebuilding of Japan.

But it wasn't just money pounded down existing rat-holes; we insisted upon major economic and political reforms, moving the European and Japanese establishments towards more openness, away from tariffs, and -- specifically and deliberately -- towards integration with other economies around the world.

The economic boom that followed was so overwhelming that none of these states has moved (voluntarily) towards isolation since. Rather, there have been repeated attempts, some successful, others not, to make Europe even more interdependent in all three spheres (economic, legal, and communications): the United States of Europe; the European Economic Community; the European Union.

(In a curious footnote to history, we offered the same aid to the Soviet Union at the same time... but we conditioned it upon Stalin accepting the same reforms. He refused -- and instead we had the Evil Empire, which was definitely a part of the Non-Integrating Gap. But imagine what a different world we would have today had he accepted the deal!)

Anyway, following both the war and the rebuilding of the late 1940s and early 1950s, the global economy was born; the "Functioning Core" could come into existence.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 28, 2007, at the time of 7:14 PM

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Tracked on March 2, 2007 3:19 AM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

FIRST...the Owners here offer such *GREAT* posts and/or topics.

First, note that prior to the war, there was no "Functioning Core," because there was barely the first inklings of a global economy;

Is it war when a lion runs down a baby buffalo?!? Or, is it war when a baby buffalo outruns a lion?!? Do lions and buffalo ever know peace?

What came first...money or a "Functioning Core"??? Humans or dinosaurs??? BTW, whatever happened to the tAlKs between humans and dinosaurs back then?!?

Is life in the flesh really this difficult to figure out? i think not...

KårmiÇømmünîs†

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2007 9:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy

Dafydd,

Excellent answers. I think Barnett does talk about the success of the Marshall plan. And he discusses the burst of globalization, and accompanying large drop in global poverty, between 1945 and 1980.

Tomy

The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2007 9:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: Binder

While I'll agree that global thinking didn't happen much in the economy until after WWII, doesn't the global effect of the American stock market crash in 1928 provide pre-WWII evidence of a "global economy"?

The above hissed in response by: Binder [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2007 9:57 PM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy

Dafydd,

If you would, please critique Ralph Peters article The roots of today's wars.

I have some problems with it:

  • Limiting the use of the word "ideas", such that it excludes faith and ethnicity.
  • Trying to isolate faith and ethnicity from politiics and economics
  • Representing faith, especially radical faith, as something other than a mass movement, not unlike Nazism; are they killing over differences in faith, or because fanatical leaders are promising a place in history. Eric Hoffer, in True Believers - Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements", says that the true believer has shunned his present "self" and will live and die for the collective future, he includes Nazi Germany in his description of a mass movement, as well as all religions.

Thanks,

Tomy

The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2007 10:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

The stock market crash here in the 20's did not create a world wide depression, but it was part of a larger economic collapse world wide...but that collapse did not come about because of a war, at least not directly. I suppose it could be connected with WW1. But the truth is I think that those two wars so destroyed Europe that they just took the fight out of them and that in turn made it possible for the Marshall Plan to be so successful.

The last time Europe saw that many years of peace was when the Romans ruled the continent. And I suppose you call the Roman Empire its own functioning core.

And the US and Britain had been intertwined economically for years, they were the number one investors in young America and that might be one of the reasons we abandoned any notion of fighting each other years and years ago.

I also think that the economies within the countries are more intertwined. The days of the Emporer of China living in splendor while he rules over millions of starving peasants are gone. Capitalism has changed all that.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 3:22 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sean Meade

sure, consider yourself virtual-beer-ed ;-)

i am linking you in my weekly wrapups. does that count for anything? ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Sean Meade [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 4:01 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sean Meade

(by the way, i cannot visit this weblog without thinking of the song 'big lizard' by the Dead Milkmen ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Sean Meade [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 4:02 AM

The following hissed in response by: McnMan

There certainly was a good bit of economic integration and commonality of laws in 1910 as well as 1930. The first transatlantic telegraph cables were laid in the late 19th century, IIRC, so there was some communications integration as well by 1910, especially within Europe. Phone lines and railroad tracks criss-crossed the continent.

I guess what could make this theory work is if there is a certain critical mass of this type of integration that causes a Core to develop. That critical mass would then have been reached when the post-war reconstruction drew these societies even closer together.


The above hissed in response by: McnMan [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 6:08 AM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

To build upon Binder and Terrye's posts:

The Great Depression was "worldwide", it affected not just the US, but Europe as well, Japan had its stock market crash before then and was still in recession. I believe that the Smoot-Hartley Act not only provided the triggering event for the US Stock Market crash (the market was ballooned by speculation and was due for a correction), but that it started a trade war which converted what would have been a recession (they called them "financial panics" back then) into something much broader, deeper, and longer. Without that trade war we would have had several countries suffering from recessions, but it wouldn't have lasted so long, nor been as sever. This indicates that an economically integrated core, or at least proto-core, did exist.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 6:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

McnMan:

If you take a metric of economic (and/or the other modes) interconnectivity and intertwining and graph it, it will become visually obvious; the chart is exponential... so the difference between the economic integration of 1920 and that of 1955 is staggeringly large.

Sean:

Thanks; I hope it's a virtual Guiness!

Do you know if TPMB plans to speak in the Los Angeles area anytime this year? I'd love to attend -- assuming it's not a $100 a ticket fundraiser for Democrats!

Thanks,

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 6:46 AM

The following hissed in response by: ashowalt

I'm not an economist either, so take the following comments with an appropriately sized shard of salt.

I believe a global economy did exist prior to WWII, and even prior to WWI. True, neither television, nor commercial radio, nor the internet existed in 1910, but international credit, the real determinant of a global economy, was flourishing. The principal difference between today's global economy and the 1910 global economy was that the 1910 version had fewer members (a smaller functional core), and was centered in Europe. But importantly, it included the principal, original combatants in WWI. So given that private financiers and governments across Europe all carried large debts with one another prior to WWI, if any one of those economies went in the tank, it would hurt all the others. This, to me, is the central idea behind a Functional Peace Core, and it was largely on this basis that Norman Angell argued in 1910 that a European war would be a tragedy well behind the physical destruction directly wrought. And Angell's arguments echoed those made about a decade earlier by a Polish mathematician/economist (I forget his name, but he's referenced in Niall Ferguson's book The Pity of War), who essentially argued at that time that war between civilized nations had been rendered impossible by the global, or at least trans-European, economy.

In response to this point:

If you take a metric of economic (and/or the other modes) interconnectivity and intertwining and graph it, it will become visually obvious; the chart is exponential... so the difference between the economic integration of 1920 and that of 1955 is staggeringly large.

That is true, but I believe that is more a reflection of the number of nations in the Functional Core, than of the extent of interdependence between the nations that are in it. And if this is true, the smaller functional core of the early twentieth century still should have avoided conflict within its group.


I'm not claiming that the concept of Functional Economic Core as de facto Peace Core is incorrect, but I do wonder if essential circumstances have changed sufficiently in the past 100 years to make it a more reliable guarantor of peace than it was at the turn of the last century. If they have, I would suspect that the greatly evolved communications integration of the past century, which you referred to, would be a big part of it.

The above hissed in response by: ashowalt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 7:08 AM

The following hissed in response by: ashowalt

One quick follow-up. In the previous post, I argued that the Functional (economic) Core existed prior to WWI much as it does today. The difference being that it had fewer members, but the essential integration itself, based on international credit, being quite comparable. I think a similar argument could be made for legal integration. Several treaties were passed in Europe in the 19th century creating a framework of trans-European business and civil law. Such that, for example, an Englishman residing in France in 1900 could be confident that he would not be kidnapped and held for ransom by la Surete Nationale. So, as above with economic integration, I don't believe that legal integration has changed all that much in essentials (aside from the number of nations involved). Communications integration has, however, and perhaps that's the key.

The above hissed in response by: ashowalt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 7:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

Actually, I think there is a more fundamental reason at work determining which nations will and will not go to war, and I HIGHLY recommend the book that explores this in great and fascinating depth:

Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another by Spencer R. Weart

The following review sums it up quite well:

In this seminal work, historian Spencer Weart analyzes every recorded instance of conflict among democracies and comes to a remarkable conclusion: democratic republics have never gone to war against one another. Though he is not the first to present this theory of "democratic peace," the depth and breadth of his research sets Never at War apart as a work of singular importance.

To present as scientific a study as possible, Weart meticulously defines various forms of government in order to present a working model of democracy. He defines a republic as a community in which political decisions are made by citizens with equal rights, then divides republics into two camps: democracies, in which at least two-thirds of adult males can make political decisions, and oligarchies, in which one-third or fewer males hold political rights. Working within these parameters, he finds that "republics and only republics have tended to form durable, peaceful leagues." Taking his point further, he asks, "When states avoid war so thoroughly, can that be a mere accident, or is there some deeper reason? If a general reason exists then we may already have at hand, in peaceful democratic regions like Western Europe, the blueprint for a solution to the problem of war." Such a solution is both his hope and his conviction.

As he illustrates with copious historical examples, governments tend to transfer their internal political structure outward, so that they deal with other nations as if they were operating from a similar set of rules--a kind of diplomatic "do unto others" approach. When republics are dealing with one another, negotiation and compromise are used instead of war. When two different political regimes are in conflict, however, no similar ground rules apply, and war becomes much more likely. To back up such claims, he relies on a wealth of evidence that stretches from ancient Greece through Renaissance Italy and into the mid-1990s, including an appendix that details nearly every meaningful skirmish between "approximately republican regimes" over the past two millennia. Impressive in scope and powerfully convincing, Never at War is an effective tool for waging peace. --Shawn Carkonen

One other fascinating thing Mr Weart discovered is that democratic republics DO, quite frequently and with utmost savagery, go to war with dictatorships because of what he calls "The Appeasement Trap". The problem is that the very diplomatic attitudes and approaches that lead to peace between democracies end up being viewed as "weakness" by dictatorships. Thus convinced that the democracy in question "will never fight", the dictator pushes and pushes until he "crosses the line" and to his utter amazement the once apparently "too weak to fight" democracy is grimly determined to exterminate him because "the scales have fallen from their eyes" and they have decided that he can't be lived with after all. In most cases the dictator ends up convincing himself that the democracy "tricked" him into war. Examples of this "Appeasement Trap" pattern are Germany vs. Great Britain -- WWI, Germany vs. USA -- WWI, Germany vs. Great Britain & France -- WWII, Japan vs. USA -- WWII, North Korea vs. USA -- Korean War, Argentina vs. Great Britain -- Falklands War, Iraq vs. USA -- Gulf War, Afghanistan vs. USA -- GWOT, Iraq vs. USA -- Iraq War II, etc.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 8:06 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Between Dafyd and the excellent comments (and I mean you FdredTownWard) there is not much to add. Except one more point - Never underestimate la dolce vita.

Democracies and republics create the good life - wealth, health, free time, potential for advancement, etc. Life is so fine that some will voluntarily commit cultural suicide rather than give it up. I refer, of course, to the baby bust in Europe. Yes, it is that good.

Dictatorships have none of these things, making them more likely to roll the dice in war. Actually, the lure of the appeasement trap is la dolce vita - dictatorships view this and want some, but can only conceive of taking it rather than creating it. Like a mouse nibbling on the cheese, they sniff and poke until the trap is sprung.

In poker, a rich man will rarely say "all in", while a poor man does it all the time.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 9:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Larry D., it is Smoot-Hawley, not Smoot-Hartley. It set tariffs as high as 60% in some instances, and between the act and the depression, exports from the U.S dropped approx. two-thirds and imports dropped approx. three-fourths. Overall world trade declined by two-thirds as a result of it and similar protectionist policies enacted by other countries. As a sidebar, foreign trade amounted to approx. 2% of GDP in 1929.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 9:40 AM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Excuse me, that should have been exports amounted to approx. 2%. Need to engage brain. Need more coffee. Total foreign trade would have been slightly over 3% of GDP.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 9:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

Thank you, Fritz, for the correction. And if a trade war had such serious effects in 1929, when only a few percent of GDP was directly involved in foreign trade, imagine what it would do now.

The Great Depression would be a better object lesson if the lesson were widely recognized, certainly after WWII efforts were make to trade wars less likely. But one of Clinton's economists actually said she thought a trade war would be a good thing.

And thanks to FredTownWard for the info on Spencer Weart's work. Others have noticed before that history has few examples of democracies going to war with each other, but I know of now one who has done such though analysis of the subject. It is interesting to note, though, that all of the examples of democracies turning on dictatorships involve the "Anglo-Sphere", specifically Great Briton and the USA.

Before WWII, Japan's civilian government had been usurped, piecemeal, by it's military. Germany and Italy both were dictatorships by the time they went to war. Having a functioning republican form of government may be the most important characteristic of a peaceful core.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 10:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: ashowalt

Having a functioning republican form of government may be the most important characteristic of a peaceful core.
Forgoing discrete definitions (I would argue that Hohenzollern Germany was not appreciably less democratic-republican than were early 20th century France and Britain), let's assume that it is true that democratic-republics do not go to war with one another. Returning to the question which originated this discussion, what would this have to say about the possibility of warfare between the United States and the People's Republic of China?

The above hissed in response by: ashowalt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 11:17 AM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Larry D. I agree with you on what I think your saying about the depression. The crash of '29 would have been bad enough in and of itself, but the trade war started by Smoot-Hawley compounded the problem by slowing any chance of recovery. I could also argue that it contributed to the conditions which led up to WW-2. I can only imagine what the effects of a similar trade war would be with much of the world now so heavily dependant on trade. The U.S. world trade accounts for almost 25% of our GDP.
As for Dafydd's points about the core, I think he is right except I would put most of the impetus on trade with communications and the rule of law running a distant second and third. It behooves countries to make agreements when they each hold the other's prosperity in their hands. War is more a product of an angry and dissatisfied population.
Anyhow, great post Dafydd and great comments from everyone. Plus it takes me back to my youth when it was fun to sit around drinking beer and trying to solve the world's problems.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 2:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

ashowalt wrote "(I would argue that Hohenzollern Germany was not appreciably less democratic-republican than were early 20th century France and Britain)"

Spencer R. Weart disagreed with you and cited several reasons in his book, which I don't have handy to refer to. If memory serves, he pointed out how Hohenzollern Germany was a significantly more autocratic form of government, especially in the area of defense and foreign policy after Kaiser Wilhelm II seized the reins from Bismarck, which is one of the conditions he points to as breaking his definition of a stable democratic republic. Just for example another is "longevity"; a democratic republic has to exist for 3 years or so before all war with another democratic republic can be ruled out.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 2:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

ashowalt wrote "Returning to the question which originated this discussion, what would this have to say about the possibility of warfare between the United States and the People's Republic of China?"

Spencer R. Weart would argue that there is a very serious danger of China & the USA going to war inadvertantly, via the Appeasement Trap, over Taiwan. Barring governmental lunacy, China will only attack Taiwan if it thinks the USA will do nothing, but what if they guess wrong? Thus he would likely have approved of W's blunt public comment to the effect that the use of nuclear weapons could not be ruled out in a conflict over Taiwan though the Striped Pants crowd wet theirs at the time. The trouble is that while the Chinese have no reason to doubt W's determination, they may need convincing again by his successor, whoever that is. There turns out to be a very good argument for high-decibel saber-rattling by democracies, at least on occasion.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 2:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: ashowalt

Spencer R. Weart disagreed with you and cited several reasons in his book, which I don't have handy to refer to. If memory serves, he pointed out how Hohenzollern Germany was a significantly more autocratic form of government
Given his thesis, he would virtually have to. But isn't that argument, as presented, kind of like saying, "I disproved that I'm stupid by pointing out that I'm smart"? Regardless, that was just a parenthetical point either way. The larger point, as pertains to Spencer R. Weart, was, assuming his thesis is correct, doesn't it leave the door wide open for a conflict between the U.S. and the P.R.C.?

The above hissed in response by: ashowalt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 3:05 PM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

Let me clarify my analysis: the US stock market and economy in 1929 were due for a recession, too much speculation, leveraged positions, etc. A recession was an inevitable and necessary correction. Absent Smoot-Hawley it would have happened anyway, indeed it was the debate on the act that helped trigger the crash, the Act itself didn't get signed into law until 1930. But Smoot-Hawley didn't just provide the pinprick which burst the bubble, it triggered a trade war as several of our trading partners reciprocated with their own tariffs. That make our recession much worse and far longer, ditto for anyone else with significant trade (in this case, a couple of percent was significant). Hence the Great Depression, instead of an ordinary recession. It lasted until 1939, and there were fears that it would return after WWII ended. However, well let me quote from Wikipedia:

In part as a result of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff and other countries' responses to it, the post-World War II world saw a push towards multilateral trading agreements that would prevent a similar situation from unfolding. This led in part to the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944 and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in the 1950s.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 3:08 PM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

ashowalt wrote "Given his thesis, he would virtually have to. But isn't that argument, as presented, kind of like saying, 'I disproved that I'm stupid by pointing out that I'm smart'?"

Not really, though that is not a totally off the wall inference. Weart's approach was to examine every meaningful skirmish between approximately republican regimes and see if he could postulate and then uncover evidence of non-democratic defects that would explain why the expected "democratic peace" failed to hold in these cases, and to be at all useful, these non-democratic defects would have to apply to multiple cases. In the case of Hohenzollern Germany you had an unelected autocrat virtually dictating Germany's defense and foreign policy at this time. This meant no democratic brakes on the Kaiser's policy decisions and also little or nothing to convince the British that they were dealing with a government "like" theirs. Misperception and perception on both sides is after all what loads and then triggers the Appeasement Trap.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 3:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Ashowalt:

The interconnection of the Core only produces peace when the countries involved understand that war will devastate them even if they win. If they don't understand it or don't believe it, it's obviously not a deterrant.

Clearly, the level of interconnection was an insufficient deterrant when Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduck in 1914.

Nothing is an absolute guarantor of peace. But here is the point...

You have $X billion to spend on defense. You must decide upon a force structure. Do you:

  1. Buy a military designed to fight the next Soviet Union -- whether that's China, NoKo, or whatever "Big One" you imagine... and then simply ignore the threat from global jihad?
  2. Buy a military designed to fight the next "Big One" -- and then try to coax al-Qaeda and Hezbollah into fighting World-War-II style battles with you? (You know, your 5,000 main battle tanks against theirs, your thousands of fighter jets against theirs, your destroyers and frigates against theirs...)
  3. Decide where you are most likely to fight -- inside the Gap, against global jihadists and other violent movements -- and buy a military designed to fight them?

You can't do all three. You can't even do two of them; you haven't enough money. You must pick one and only one.

From the fall of the Soviet Union to 9/11, we weaseled out with door number 2; today, we're moving as swiftly as possible to door number 3.

I think it's a wise choice.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 5:07 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

This is the danger of qualitative analysis, as opposed to quantitative analysis.

Yes, there was some interconnection between national economies, legal systems, and communications prior to WWII, in fact, even prior to WWI. But it was nothing like we have now.

Suppose I bake a cake, but I only use one teaspoon of sugar. "The sugar I added didn't make the cake taste sweet at all," I say; "so why should you think that adding two cups of sugar would do any better?"

A deterrant becomes a deterrant only when it's understood and believed; WWII was a good object lesson of how devastating war can be, even for the victors (Russia, Britain, France); and the rebuilding started a massive globalization that dwarfed all previous gropings in that direction.

That is why I say that WWII and the rebuilding that followed combined to make "Core war" anathema.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 5:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: DrMalaka

There might have been a technologocial component to WWII as a launch point to the core. I assume there were a lot of advancements during that period, better cars, planes, boats, which ended up bringing people together more. The government spent so much money on R&D for the war effort, those expenses had to have a positive global technological effect. This would have helped the creation and growth of the core.

Plus, we had a lot to do with it. The US was an isolationist country prior to WWII. Getting to be America's friend was a major benefit to joining the core. And we benefited greatly to have more trading partners.

The above hissed in response by: DrMalaka [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2007 6:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: ashowalt

Dafydd,

I think at this point, you and I largely agree: Functional Core nations generally should not go to war with one another, and in most cases probably will not. But, in both the historical example and the present-day situation, a strange brew of ultra-nationalism stoked by an inferiority complex and historical insecurity might change things a bit.

The above hissed in response by: ashowalt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2007 5:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Ashowalt:

I think at this point, you and I largely agree...

There is one more important element, however: Since we cannot build one army that will defend against every possible scenario, and since we cannot build an infinite number of separate armies, we must perforce choose which threats we expect -- and build an army to deal with those threats.

I maintain the threat that China will attack us is so incredibly remote that we would damage our national security by building to counter it rather than putting our energy and treasure into building to counter the Gap threats.

That is, we haven't the luxury of doing everything; we're forced to choose; thus we should choose to defend against our likely enemies, not our implausible ones.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2007 6:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: ashowalt

As with many of the above arguments, that is one of degree. There is no question what the principal military threat is right now, and it's not China. However, in my opinion, China should not be written off as an impossible, or even an implausible, threat. Obviously, we cannot plan for every possible global, strategic contingency. But we can plan for several, and a contingency which involves China as a direct enemy combatant should be among that several.

The above hissed in response by: ashowalt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2007 6:36 AM

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