Tuesday, May 12, 2020


A rogue wave is an unexpected maritime danger for ships
and boats at sea. Rogue waves are not fully understood
yet, but they have long damaged or sunk vessels of all sizes.
(The tallest known rogue wave was estimated a 115 feet
high; the tallest precisely measured was 80 feet high.)
Big waves that occur in storms, from earthquakes or
volcanoes (tsunamis), or from other explainable causes,
are not rogue waves.


It is not too soon, I think, to speculate about and discuss 
U.S global strategic and security relationships during and
after the pandemic “rogue wave” which is now occurring

The American debate is as old as “the halls of Montezuma”
and  “the shores of Tripoli’ --- that is, when and where to
extend American power, and should we be the guardian or
a policeman to the globe.  Two world wars, several
regional wars, and numerous humanitarian rescues, have
left contemporary American generations wary and weary
of putting our soldiers in harm’s way without “victory” or
at least visible positive outcomes. Yet a savage 20th century
instructed the Western democracies over and over that
strategic passivity or avoidance courts disaster.

That debate continues.

Many historians have pointed out that what really
enabled  the catastrophe of World War II was the global
economic trauma of the Great Depression --- and not
only very weak or misguided statesmen, dictators, or
feckless international organizations. In fact, the value of
European trade fell two-third between 1929 and 1932, and
unemployment skyrocketed. Unlike the post-World War I
and Depression U.S.,  Central and Eastern European
nations, most of which were only recent democracies,
saw the rise of radical political groups on the left and the
right. Critically, the German democratic Weimar Republic
survived its notorious reparations burden and
hyper-inflation crises of the 1920s (while most of it
Western neighbors were rebuilding from World War I),
but it could not survive the Great Depression. Profound
economic weakness caused by the “rogue wave” of the
financial collapse of the early 1930‘s severely hobbled the
strongest European nations, Great Britain and France, in
protecting other European democracies from fascism and

That is why an overlong shutdown response to the current
pandemic is so risky because it might profoundly weaken
free market North American, European and Asian
democracies in their long struggle against new malign
and global totalitarian and barbaric forces.

As I write this, those nations  --- and in the U.S., those
states --- which adopted the shutdown strategy to combat
the pandemic are in varying processes of reopening their
commerce and economies. It is now uncertain how  much
damage has been done. Just as some medical experts
overstated the medical impact of the pandemic (so far),
those economic experts who are predicting a global
depression, runaway inflation and fiscal chaos might be
indulging in worst case melodrama. Nevertheless,we are
in uncharted territory --- no one knows what the
aftermath will bring.

This further complicates the decision-making about when
and where to reopen economies that have been shut down.
Not only does risking individual lives and individual (as
well as local business) fiscal well-being have to be weighed
and considered, the economic health of nations needs to be
taken into account.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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