By Paul London, in The Hill.

Important — inspirational — and worth reading in full:

Becoming the Arsenal of Democracy Again

. . . Twice in the 20th century the U.S. put its enormous resources to work and rapidly surmounted challenges from aggressive foreign powers. If the U.S. gets its growth-rate up again, it also could reduce domestic divisions and mitigate potentially destabilizing changes in the nature and location of work, climate change, rural-urban tensions, race and gender issues that are roiling American politics. . . .

Recent history underlines America’s immense capabilities. It already is sending transition fuels like liquified natural gas to friends in Europe and Asia being squeezed by Russia. It also is supporting Ukraine with large quantities of military and non-military aid. Here at home, there are frequent announcements of new finds of rare earths, lithium and similar assets needed to grow and modernize the economy to compete with China. Supply chains will take time and investment to develop, but President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and private sector efforts are starting to kick in.

This kind of investment and transformation is what the U.S. does best. The country rapidly surmounted threats from autocratic regimes twice in the 20th century, making itself into what President Franklin Roosevelt called “the arsenal of democracy.” In 1917 and 1940 there also were domestic forces fighting against “preparedness” as there are today. These had to be overcome to preserve freedom, and overcome they were. The key to these successes was the country’s long-recognized “commercial” culture that encourages innovation, and private and government investment to finance needed projects.

U.S. army-navy spending jumped from slightly less than half a billion dollars in 1916 to $3.4 billion in 1917 and $8.6 billion 1918, huge sums in those days. The surge led to a roughly 40 percent increase in industrial production. New industrial facilities were created on the Tennessee River in Alabama to make nitrate-based munitions. This government investment became the core of TVA that helped modernize a dozen Appalachian and Southern states. There also was a surge in food production. The number of Americans under arms went from less than 200,000 in 1916 to 2,000,000, and far from impoverishing us, these efforts led to higher wages, agricultural prosperity, and improved living standards. Faster growth is always good for ordinary Americans. . . .

The U.S. in 2023 is facing foreign and domestic challenges greater than any it has faced since the Cuban Missile Crisis and World War II. Patriotism today is to invest enough in military and civilian modernization to convince the world that democracies can stand up to autocracies and win the future. Pretending that the country cannot afford to do so because of exaggerated fears of inflation and debt is to learn nothing from 20th century history.

If you disagree, read the whole piece.  It’s persuasive.



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