Here's a striking graphic:Let's assume the bottom bar is accurate enough to make the point (even +/-50% is enough). What follows from this? My thoughts run as follows:
- Avoid war! How many monarchs screwed up their chances by being altogether too keen on fighting? You need to be really good at it - Julius Caesar, William of Normandy - to make it pay. It's said that Thomas Cromwell's entire foreign policy was trying to stop Henry VIII going to war. "Trading is better than fighting", as I was brought up to believe by my father (who saw WW2 from the sharp end).
- (Just how wealthy is the USA?! 'Nuff said.)
- What about the Keynsian effects? A great deal of that money has been recycled through the US industrial-military complex (possibly even driving some tech advances). True: but a lot of it must also be counted pure, unadulterated waste: there are more efficient ways! Leading to ...
- What else could the USA have done with the money? Or put another way: what could Biden do if he called an early stop to those outlays?**
- "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation" ...
** There's an interesting story here. When the Ayatollah came to power in Iran, initially he headed off to Qom and didn't do much at all of substance; and people were beginning to wonder if he was just going to return to being a seminarian cleric. What he actually did in the early months was instructive: he immediately stopped the Shah's huge expenditures on armaments, and redirected the money at the rather nervous population, who quickly concluded, hey, this isn't so bad. He thereby literally bought himself breathing-space to plot an altogether more comprehensive takeover of most aspects of Iranian life, which he proceded to do. (To be fair, invasion by Saddam the following year helped consolidate his position too: and he may have regretted some of those cancelled arms shipments.)