Tuesday, March 29, 2011

America's Industrial, War-Winning Might

Interesting piece by Krugman today in relation to the Times' new Civil War blog, about how the North won the Civil War (and, later, how America helped win WWII):

[T]he way modern America won was characteristic. Southerners were better warriors — man for man, they almost always outperformed Union armies, although the gap narrowed over time. But the North excelled at the arts of peace — that is, in industry and ability to get things done. The North couldn’t stop Bedford Forrest from raiding supply lines; but it could repair track incredibly fast. And it was that Northern superiority in logistics, in production, that eventually proved decisive.

America’s other great moral war, World War II, was similar. The war movies I watched when I was a kid always had plucky, individualistic American heroes beating superbly equipped Nazis, but the reality was mostly the other way around. We had many heroes, but the truth is that Americans were never as good at the art of war as the Germans. What we were good at was the art of production, of supply. Honor the heroes who stormed Omaha Beach — but it was the floating harbors, the trans-Channel fuel pipeline, and the air superiority achieved through production miracles that really did it.
Not much to add to that. Except that I still find it amusing that fantasy strategy games like Starcraft and the like are much the same way: the wars between the little robots and aliens and whatnot are usually won through canny production and resource management, not through a player's dextrous handling of their onscreen avatars.

Wars really are won on the homefront.

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