Will we now hear two phrases from the past?
History doesn’t repeat itself, but people do. And since people use language, I wonder if post-Bin Laden, Americans will be hearing two phrases from recent history that now have new relevance.
1. Peace dividend. Remember 20 years ago when the Cold War ended? Now that that Soviet Union had been vanquished, all that money we were spending on defense would be less necessary and we could redirect our budgets toward domestic priorities. It was a nice sentiment, but it never really materialized. Perhaps now is the moment. After several trillion dollars of spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and after making the entire world safer, maybe Americans will get a 21st century peace dividend — and use the funds at home to tackle education, infrastructure, and the national debt.
2. Morning in America. Two weeks ago, the New York Times reported that 70% of Americans believed that the country was heading in the wrong direction. Bin Laden’s demise will no doubt improve that number in the short term. But in the long-term, it might reboot American confidence more deeply — and as a result, deliver a low-cost economic stimulus. Remember: At this point in Ronald Reagan’s term, the US was on the ropes. But after taking on that era’s bear in the woods and seeing the economy tick upward, a year later it was “morning again in America.“