In an interview with Fortune, Republican presidential candidate John McCain was asked what the single gravest long term threat to the U.S. economy was. This is not an easy question, with so many choices and all. Is it the housing crisis or the credit crisis? What about the huge deficit the country is running, or the rising cost of energy? How about Social Security? McCain didn’t select any of those options; instead, he said that radical Islam was the single biggest threat to the U.S. economy. Pardon me a moment while I let this sink in a bit…nope, still don’t see it…oh well, maybe it’s beyond me. Why don’t we analyze it a little more and see if that helps?
Okay, so 9/11 did a number on our economy, I give him that. I can also understand the argument that terrorist attacks, or even the threat of them, can upset consumers, thus affecting the economy. So radical Islam can have an impact on the economy, but is it really the biggest threat? Wait…I think I get what he is trying to say--maybe McCain is telling us that radical Islam is the biggest economic issue because it is forcing us into war and costing us not only billions of dollars each year to fight abroad, but also billions to fight here at home. Oh, and it is also a problem because the movement keeps growing stronger the more we fight it--kind of like using fire to put out fire. Wow, I totally understand now, this fight is going to go on forever--man, that is going to be a downer for our economy. Okay, so now I see why it is such a huge problem…
In all seriousness, I could go on for awhile about why radical Islam is, and has, been fueled by our actions, but for the sake of brevity I will not (for more information here is a good write up). Based on the fact that we in essence created (in many cases) and have fueled radical Islam, maybe the biggest long- term threat to the U.S. economy is not radical Islam, but rather poor foreign policy. That might not be such a bad selection after all. We could look at the national debt as a big one, but we can also say that a lot of that debt was created because of poor foreign policy decisions. We could make the same case for several other problems as well.
At the end of the day, we know exactly why McCain chose radical Islam as the biggest problem, and that is because he is riding the “national security” ticket. If any voter has serious doubts about our national security, McCain is their man. The politics of fear, as it is called, is probably the biggest thing McCain has going for him right now, and he wants to milk it for all he can. The more American voters he can convince that national security is an issue, the better chance he has to win. It also doesn’t hurt that Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president has family ties to Islam, a point which has unfairly caused accusations that he is supporting terrorists--despite the fact that Obama himself is a Christian, not a Muslim. Long story short, McCain chose this reason for political purposes, yet he might not be too far off in actuality--only he needs to focus less on the effect and more on the cause.