Why military Keynesianism is less common outside of the US.

Most Americans think that war is good for the economy.  This is a fairly unique perspective.  I doubt people in many other nations have this perspective because the US has exclusively fought our wars somewhere else since the Civil War whereas most other nations remember wars as reaching their homeland.  For example, Sarah Kaplan and Nick Kirkpatrick write that this year in London, an entire neighborhood was evacuated in the night because

A 500-pound bomb had been found… It’s an alarming message for anyone to receive while standing in their pajamas.

…In the small farming towns of France and Belgium, undetonated World War I explosives that turn up during each year’s spring planting and autumn plowing are known as the “iron harvest.” More than a billion shells were fired during the conflict, according to the BBC, and as many as a third never exploded. In 1996, the French Interior Ministry estimated that 12 million shells still slumber in the soil near Verdun alone. So many explosives linger from century-old battles that residents often see their discovery as utterly banal.

…Since 1946, when France’s Département du Déminage (Department of Mine Clearance) was established, more than 630 démineurs (deminers) have been killed in the line of duty, according to Donovan Webster’s book “Aftermath: The Remnants of War.” So have an uncounted number of civilians.

…According to a 2008 article in Der Spiegel, discoveries of unexploded ordnance are a weekly occurrence in Germany.

…But nowhere is the threat of unexploded ordnance more pervasive than Laos, which has the distinction of being the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.

According to the advocacy organization Legacies of War, more than 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos by the United States during the Vietnam War — the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, every day for nine years. Up to a third of those bombs didn’t detonate, Legacies of War says.

…more than 8,000 people have been killed and 12,000 wounded by leftover live explosives, the New York Times reported in April. Much of the harm is caused by cluster bombs, which spew dozens of smaller bomblets.

…The tennis-ball-size explosives, known as “bombies,” are often triggered by farmers or playful children. The Christian Science Monitor spoke with a woman whose 9-year-old brother was killed when he struck a bomb with a hoe. The Times told the story of two children who tossed one around, thinking it was a pétanque ball (used for a French game similar to bocce). When the “ball” burst, one child was killed instantly. Another, along with a mother who had been standing nearby, died of their injuries days later. Two others were left limping by the blast, their injuries untreated a year later.

People in Laos won’t think that war is good for the economy.  Everyone there would agree that military Keynesianism is an example of the broken window fallacy.  The increased government spending of wartime can stimulate an economy as it did during WWII, but whereas Americans remember how the war finally ended the Great Depression, nobody thinks the economic stimulus is worth it if there is fighting on the homeland which destroys more than what is created.  Residents of many countries constantly get that reminder as they continue to suffer damage from past wars.

Another reason why Americans believe in military Keynesianism more than other nations is that our military-industrial complex lobby is much bigger than in any other nation and they promote the idea too.

Posted in Macro

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