I’ve been watching Ken Burn’s “War” series on Netflix for a couple of nights and a thought struck me like a thunderbolt.
We (the allies) won the Second World War largely due to this one unmistakable fact…
We out manufactured our opponents.
America used its enormous capacity to manufacture pleasure goods and necessities and all the things that made being an American so desirable.
TV’s and radios and razors and rubber ducks… Cars and cables and cans and tires. We had no trouble filling the shelves of Sears and Woolworth’s and Macy’s and every Five and Dime store on every corner of every town in this country and we still had enough capacity to export our surplus all over the world. Our manufacturing capacity was so strong that we barely had use for any of our own scrap material. We sold tons of it cheaply to the Japanese thinking how clever we were to be getting rid of the stuff. The Japanese wrote the checks for the stuff and eventually returned it to us by dropping it on our heads at Pearl Harbor.
This little incident served to stir up the carefree and hedonistic giant that was America enough to immediately begin turning it’s fantastical capacity to make or build any and everything that could be used to make life easier and / or more pleasurable… over to the capacity to damage, destroy, kill and generally make miserable the source of it’s irritation.
By the time America’s manufacturing machine got revved up… we were building ships, planes, guns, jeeps, trucks, bombs, radios, raincoats, shoes, and submarines faster than the enemy could destroy them. And not only were we making enough for ourselves… we supplied England and Russia as well. We made so much stuff that you could still find WWII surplus stuff well into the 1980’s.
That’s why we’re still the world leader… right? … We’re still king of the hill in the manufacturing capacity game and if anybody messes with us… we’ll turn on that vaunted manufacturing machine again and rain down destruction and woe upon our enemies… Right?
In a word …
We couldn’t manufacture our way to a decent surrender ceremony if we faced a threat of even a fraction of what we faced in WWII. If any country with a decent military and a real manufacturing capacity came after us… We’d be fighting our way out of an occupation with no guarantee that we’d get all of our territory back without a very, very concerted and time consuming effort.
Example: We’ve been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for years and our troops still don’t have sufficient gear to protect them nor carry the fight where it needs to go either in intensity or capacity. And even though Iraq and the Taliban were well armed… these are only bush league ( pun intended) countries that couldn’t have out fought the State of Connecticut in its WWII heyday. Our generals are already screaming that we’re at the breaking point and that it would be suicidal to go after Iran.
So… What would we do if we got into a disagreement with a nation or group of nations that could be considered 2nd world or better? Say… Brazil or North Korea or India or China or Russia or even Iran? Could we handle any one of these countries without resorting to the nuclear option? I don’t think so.
I suspect that if we didn’t resort to nukes… China or Russia could invade North America through Canada and take all of Canada west of the Mississippi and the American states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Minnesota as well as a good bit of northern California before we could mount a decent defense.
But… I don’t think we’ll have to worry about a ground war here on American soil… Why? Because this nation is already subservient to the power of a communist nation.
Preposterous! You say… Wanna bet?… Go out and try to find a way to live your life without Chinese made goods … You won’t get very far unless you are among the very rich. And to add insult to injury… They know it and don’t try to hide it.
Your car? Remember you used to grouse that all the parts were made in Mexico?.. Think again… Need a new cell phone? Even the iPhone is made in China.
If our government doesn’t kiss the feet of the Chinese rulers… Inside of a year… You will be walking shoeless through the aisles of a near empty Wal-Mart hoping that you can find a shirt from Honduras that wasn’t made on Chinese sewing machines. But you won’t walk far due to the effects of the various poisons you ingested over the past year in your seafood, medicines and toothpaste. Of course the fact that your pets died recently from food poisoning will tend to have a negative affect on your morale also.
Sure.. We’ll muddle by for a year or so on the stockpiles of stuff already here… But prices will skyrocket as supplies dwindle… And even if you manage to baby your cell phone through a couple of years… There’s no guarantee that the network it runs on will survive due to the fact that all of the switches that make up the network are either manufactured in whole or contain a significant number of parts made in China…. Ouch!
Our whiz bang weapon systems that companies like Raytheon and Boeing are cranking out?… how much you wanna bet that the chips that make them do everything including go bang are made in Asia? Most people can count 200 items in their house with made in China labels without breaking a sweat… I can count 50 items without moving from my desk. Now count how many of those items you can or care to live without?
Wanna talk about your car?.. I didn’t think so.
I’m banging away at this essay on a Mac that was designed in California but made in China… The Dell laptop was assembled in the USA though… out of mostly Chinese parts…. Bluetooth?.. USB?… Firewire?… Surge protector?… Full spectrum low energy compact florescent light bulb?… My fancy Logitech 5.1 surround sound speakers?!?… MY FRUIT OF THE LOOMS!!!!??? The ones with the comfort band and no itchy label?!?
Our corporate masters… driven by our greed for easy profits have sold the very strength of America right out from under our noses with nary a thought of the future consequences. The very rich will adapt quite readily to the expense of living without the cheap goods… They always have. But the average family will suffer mightily… To the point of death in many cases.
So… without firing a shot or risking one soldier’s life… The Communist People’s Republic of China has fulfilled Khrushchev’s promise that communism would bury capitalism.
In the name of the almighty dollar… Our children will live in a world where they are vassals to a stronger nation.
And here’s the irony… Even if we chose to put our nation back into a position where we could make our own stuff again… Guess where we’d have to buy the technology to do so from?