“The US is a bit like a 375-pound middle-aged man with a heart condition,”

walking down a city street at night eating a Big Mac. He’s sweating profusely because he’s afraid he might get mugged. But the thing that’s going to kill him is the burger.

by David Rothkopf, author and CEO of an international advisory company, in The Enemy Within at Foreign Policy. Also picked up on the Ricks blog, but without much commentary.

Kind of light, but I like Big Macs.

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10 responses to ““The US is a bit like a 375-pound middle-aged man with a heart condition,”

  1. Last night, discussing this very thing, I made the point that the US military is a scalpel in the hands of a man with delirium tremens.

  2. “Politicians love enemies because bashing them helps stir up public sentiment and distract attention from problems at home. The defense industry loves enemies because enemies help them make money. Pundits and their publications love enemies because enemies sell papers and lead eyeballs to cable-news food fights … If America stopped searching for goblins under the bed, it might actually be able to reset its economic priorities and start investing in the things that would make the country stronger, more prosperous, and safer again, from infrastructure to energy security to better schools. ”

    Funneling 5% from the DoD directly into schools would be awesome – except Department of Education would funnel 2% right off the top into more bureaucrats rather than teachers. I’m afraid its a good deal more complicated than ol’ Ricks allows in this article. Aside from that, though, he’s right on target.

  3. If this were a video game, America’s Big Awesome Unit would be the multinational corporation; it’s what we as a nation do best. Competing with totalitarian states like China and Russia in geopolitics with a giant defense apparatus plays to their strength, not ours. I’m on the verge of a nascent thought that 1. we need less DoD 2. Replace corporate taxes with fat CSR requirements 3. Let Starbucks and DeBeers try their hands at places like Africa. Say what you will about United Fruit, but they did build the roads, install the telegraph system, the trains, the electricity, etc.

    BTW – I realize this may be in the wrong thread, but I’m in Theatre Security Decision Making class and am trying to look attentive.

  4. 1. >multinational corporation; it’s what we as a nation do best

    i think that’s a tough argument to make. it’s definitely not something we have an intrinsic advantage at, except in the sense that we had a headstart after WWII. lot of growth in multinationals headquartered outside of the US.

    and even if it is what “we” do best, best for who? when you’re gaming, the Big Awesome Unit does something for you… it doesn’t just break everything and run off screaming. if a corporate entity is able to shift its labor force out of the US, avoid paying US taxes, , expand its labor outside of the US–in what sense is that “national” anymore? because of the address on their business cards? how does that reflect the “national” interest? how can “the nation” harness that to meet some kind of strategic goal?

    >United Fruit

    after the Korean War, South Korea was behind Congo in terms of GDP. it was then developed with direct US aid–an enormous amount of it, as much as we were giving all of Africa at the time–and allowed to develop in a way that worked for them, within some general parameters of what works and what doesn’t. now it’s our number 7 trading partner, and (regardless of it’s actual benefit) is a significant part of our foothold in the Pacific.

    what corresponding benefits came out of United Fruit? Central America isn’t any significantly more developed today than it was a hundred years ago–compared to Brazil, India, China, Mexico, the Tigers, it’s lagging hugely. on the other hand, UF didn’t hurt getting Central America radicalized, which ended up being kind of a pain in the ass.

  5. 2. >plays to their strength

    i honestly can’t follow your argument here.

    our “competition” with China is economic–if you’re saying that bumping heads with them militarily over dumb shit with the Phillipines is, well, dumb shit, then i agree with you. if you’re saying that we don’t need to pump more money into our military towards the end of vaguely asserting dominance over their chunk of the Pacific, then i agree with you. but… i have a hard time relating that to the United Fruit and Starbucks part of what you wrote.

    meanwhile, China is doing a pretty good job of developing Africa in their interest, in what looks on the surface a little bit like how we developed South Korea.

    Shane said something smart when this was on email about South Korea and Germany and Japan being successful because they had underlying structures which permitted success. I don’t mean to say that the answer is just to throw money at developing states; what I am trying to get at is that it requires certain pre-existing conditions, a country-specific strategy (which includes a certain amount of protectionism at the start), and time. purely corporate development is unable to affect at least one of those things, and awful at at least one other. Turning the DoS money on hose on Congo obviously wouldn’t be very successful, but that doesn’t mean that turning the Starbucks hose on would work, either.

  6. …i’m out of coffee, and all you can get here in the store is “cafe glaceado” (with sugar already mixed in) or the stuff for the Moka pot. which is nice, but isn’t coffee.

    Starbucks hose sounds delicious.

  7. Points taken. While I develop a rebuttal, send me your address and I will mail you coffee from a socially responsible, country creating, multinational Fizzbott Unit.

  8. Pingback: Predatory, Developmental, and Other Apparatuses | thought this might interest you·

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