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not the Monkees’ Daydream Believers

Monday 31 March, 2008

I attended this event organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power  The 2 basic premises of his book are that 1.  the fall of the Berlin Wall changed the world more than US politicians realized, & 2.  9/11 didn’t change the world as much as those same politicians thought.  To #1, it’s not just Bush.  In the times of the cold war, it provided a system of security in which other countries were subsumed to America & wars were political.  When the wall fell, each country went its own way & the US had to focus more on alliances.  Bush took the approach that we don’t need allies because we’re omnipotent, but we’re actually weaker. To #2, deterence doesn’t deter if we’re not deterring states.  We need to create coalitions & haven’t done that.  What Kerry suggested in the last election, police & intelligence, have been adopted.  Rumsfeld claimed the biggest danger was the Pentagon bureaucracy  & that the military needed to be overhauled with new technology & fewer troops.  He seemed to be vindicated by Afghanistan when we needed so few troops, but we didn’t play the game long enough to know what to do after “the war was won.”  The US strategy in Iraq was more misconceived than incompetently implemented.

As a businessperson, my main issue is Kaplan’s take on the economic impact of his assertions.  He claims the budgetary changes the government undertook after 9/11 were miniscule & insignificant.  I maintain that the massive redirection of funds which dismantled whole departments & created the Dept. of Homeland Security have altered the course of our economy.  If taken 1 step further that 9/11 led us to the war in Iraq, I think there’s little doubt that the impact of the war has impacted on our national debt, the value of the US$, & our trade balance.

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