Monday, July 20, 2009

One Book, Five Days

Friday is approaching, and I have one more book to read in addition to online sources. I'd almost completely forgotten about them! If the worst comes, I'll print out anything I have left (those U.S. National Security Strategy Policy Documents seems pretty lengthy) and read them on the flight(s).

A few days ago, I received an exciting text message from Jessica and a similarly exciting e-mail from Mr. Gosney: a fellow Yalie had found his way to our blog and posted a comment! Thrilled, I hopped onto the computer and read his short comment. Jessica and I found him on Facebook--don't you just love the internet and social networking?--and added him. There, we found ourselves invited to a group consisting of accepted Yalies. There are about 37 members as of now. I found scholars from Korea, China, Germany & from the other end of the country--diverse, yes? Looks like we'll be learning about culture, too, which is definitely interesting. All of these students are very bright; most of them are well-experienced debaters and have a passion for politics, economics, or both. It's difficult not to feel the least bit intimidated and, even, scared. Having virtually no experience in and little exposure to debate, I fear I will lag behind every one else. However, I am now further motivated to try and study harder!

Late last night I finally finished reading The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy. It was much easier to read than On War, but there were some slow parts. Because the reading list notes to only read the interesting chapters, I skipped most of the boring portions of the book. Kennedy provides a chronological analysis of the "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," beginning at "the preindustrial world" (such as Ming China and the Habsburgs) and ending at the modern world.

One idea is present throughout the entire book: there is a complementary relationship between economy and war. An unhealthy economy leads to unfunded troops and lack of supplies, therefore leading to a failure of the military and a potential loss at war. On the other hand, a prolonged, unsuccessful war leads to the drainage of money and the skyrocketing of national deficit. This is seen in the United States's current state of war. While war is not the only factor which has led us to our recession, it plays a big part in it. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent annually to support troops on the War on Terrorism. This war, which continues to drag on, has exhausted our economy and troops. This idea of finance complementing military prowess is also exampled in WWI, as quoted by Kennedy: "It is... important to ask where the wartime economies of the various combatants showed weaknesses, since it was most likely that this would lead to collapse, unless aid came from the better-endowed allies." The United States's entry into WWI also greatly shifted the balance of power at a time in which defeat for the Allied Powers appeared certain. "In terms of economic power... the entry of the United States into the war quite transformed balances, and more than compensated for the collapse of Russia at this time." Economically superior, the United States provided the Allies with "small-arms munitions," and "millions of fresh, confident, well-fed troops," turning the tide in their favor.

What makes The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers very convincing is the amount of statistics available: charts, tables, and maps. Ideas are never left without accompanying evidence, providing few points for readers to disagree with.

Tuesday, I will be meeting up with Jessica to analyze Paul Kennedy's book. From there, Mr. Gosney will pick us up to go to dinner at Uncle Chung's with Yohanna, Matt, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Larson, and Mrs. Kronenberg. There we will discuss our packing lists and other things about our upcoming journey while enjoying Chinese cuisine. Now, back to reading Democracy in America!

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie,

    By now you’ve probably learned that there’s a whole network out there of ILS students communicating with each other. I think that that’s so cool. Six billion people on the planet and the world keeps getting smaller by the minute.
    Only read “the interesting chapters”? Without reading the chapters, how are you supposed to know whether they’re interesting or not? And how are you supposed to know which chapter Dr. Dr. Luong might have wanted you to read?
    Funding and winning a war, Stephanie, will always be interrelated. When you get past the ideology engrained in the minds of some Americans, realists will tell you that we won the war against the USSR because we could outspend them. We would play tit for tat with them. Every time one of us would come up with some new super expensive weapon, the other side felt compelled to out do them. Both sides poured more money into this game than they could afford but at the end of the day the USSR ran out of money and they could no longer afford to play the game.
    Here’s a bit of trivia for you: when the US fought WWII they financed it through war bonds and not out of the general treasury. The PEOPLE financed that war.