“By 1937 the Sloan Knudsen formula had saved GM. In three years it would have to save the world.” — Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge
Somehow I’m having a hard time getting properly panicked about all the world’s crises today. I know, Ebola is deadly, but it’s just another overblown invisible threat to our well-being. Consider: The CDC’s own website shows that in 2011, 53,826 Americans died from the flu and pneumonia, but three years ago no such panic used up so much of our daily news broadcasts. TV anchors said get flu shot and ended it at that.
Yes, ISIS is going crazy across parts of Syria and Iraq. But few understand that the Wahhabis, who consolidated the entire Saudi peninsula, were the spiritual ancestors of this strict Islamic sect — and today much of the world buys oil from them. In any case, in the period of 1900 through 1932, when the Wahhabis overrode that region of the world, few even knew it was taking place, much less forming a potential future threat to anyone outside that small section of Middle Eastern desert.
Come to think of it, Charles Crane, of bathroom and kitchen fixture fame, went into that region in 1930 and on February 25, 1931, became the first American ever to meet King Abdul Aziz. Crane ended up donating the money for a geological survey of Saudi Arabia, which is how they discovered oil and gladly embraced the wealth it would bring them.
No, in terms of real threats to the world, the ones that can truly alter history, nothing today can compare to what transpired during the last half of the Great Depression with the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany and that of a belligerent Japan in the Pacific. These were not groups of young, angry jihadists racing around the desert in their used Toyota compact pickup trucks; they were large, well-financed, armed and organized military forces. Their primary goal was to attack and conquer those regions supplying the world’s industrialized nations with their critical raw materials — or to take over those industrialized nations.