Advertisements

Tag Archives: American empire

Bolton’s Blunder: Hubris and Dead Empire Walking, by Yvonne Lorenzo

Hubris blinds to our own flaws and our enemies’ strengths. The US government right now may be history’s biggest case of hubris. From Yvonne Lorenzo at lewrockwell.com:

In hindsight, a good teacher can positively affect your life years into the future. When I was a teenager attending a private school in the 1970s, I took a course on Russian history. I remember my teacher well all these years later, but I also remember some of what he taught. Americans think of themselves as the principal cause of the defeat of Nazi Germany, but Russia lost tens of millions of lives defending against her invasion. And my teacher told me that a way to understand the existence of the Eastern Bloc, especially the partitioning of Germany was that Russia decided it would never be invaded at such great human cost by Germany and its allies ever again; if paranoid, there was a reason for the paranoia and the decision was less about Russia expanding and taking territory, which the nation didn’t need, but creating a buffer zone against possible incursion, hence also the partition of Germany so that she could never again become a mortal threat. I also recall his stating that Stalin couldn’t inspire the people to fight and die for Soviet ideals; instead, he returned to historical themes of saving the Fatherland, their homes, their nation from destruction and enslavement by a foreign enemy.

I mention my personal experience because I was reminded of what I learned so long ago in a new book, currently available on Amazon Kindle and in paper by Andrey Martyanov, entitled Losing Military Supremacy The Myopia of American Strategic Planning. Yet the title, although in fact the heart of book, doesn’t do the book justice because for interested Americans Martyanov explains the very different cultures, American and Russian. If “culture” is not a precise word, one should say that both Russia and America have unique experiences and the experiences of America today put her in great jeopardy.  Let me quote an excerpt from the book that makes this point better than I can:

While speaking to the US military at Fort Bragg after the official conclusion of US operations in Iraq in 2011, in what can only be described as an acute case of myopia and ignorance, President Obama doubled down on a his dubious “finest fighting force in history” claim, assuring all that “we know too well the heavy cost of that war.” Here was the problem: America doesn’t. With the exception of those who fought and died or were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and their immediate families, America, as it was with every American foreign war, never knew the real costs. Even as bodies of American GIs started to arrive in coffins into the US from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans continued, as if nothing really happened, to go to work, buy lattes at espresso stands, sell and buy cars, go on vacations, travel around the world and pay their mortgages. Normal life went on as if nothing of significance happened. The very phenomenon which was responsible for the United States emergence as a superpower—war, WWII in particular—was never a factor which had a real impact on the nation and created no real inhibitors in the political elites to their often ignorant, boastful and aggressive rhetoric nor created a necessity to study the subject, which was foundational to American prosperity and success after WWII. This still hasn’t been done.

Continue reading→

Advertisements

America: ‘Indispensable Nation’ No More, by Andrew Bacevich

There are a lot of countries out there who are dispensing with the indispendable nation. From Andrew Bacevich at theamericanconservative.com:

“Only those of us who were born under Queen Victoria,” wrote Ronald Knox, “know what it feels like to assume, without questioning, that England is permanently top nation, that foreigners do not matter, and that if worst comes to the worst, Lord Salisbury will send a gunboat.” Knox offered this trenchant observation, redolent with irony and perhaps tinged with regret, not as a policymaker or strategic thinker, but from the vantage point of a clergyman. From the 1920s through the 1950s, Monsignor Knox was the most famous and influential Catholic priest in all of Great Britain. As such, he entertained a distinct perspective on what actually qualifies as permanent and what merely offers the appearance.

While perhaps using different terms—our preference is for dispatching nuclear aircraft carriers rather than gunboats—Americans born after World War II came into adulthood imbued with precisely the same sentiment about their own country. From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we—not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians—were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history’s verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C.

If doubts remained on that score, the end of the Cold War removed them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals threw themselves headlong into a competition over who could explain best just how unprecedented, how complete, and how wondrous was the global preeminence of the United States.

Continue reading

Veni, Vidi, Tweeti (I Came, I Saw, I Tweeted) An Obituary for the Republic, by Tom Engelhardt

The American empire isn’t turning out quite the way its progenitors envisioned. From Tom Engelhardt at tomdispatch.com:

What dreamers they were! They imagined a kind of global power that would leave even Rome at its Augustan height in the shade. They imagined a world made for one, a planet that could be swallowed by a single great power. No, not just great, but beyond anything ever seen before — one that would build (as its National Security Strategy put it in 2002) a military “beyond challenge.” Let’s be clear on that: no future power, or even bloc of powers, would ever be allowed to challenge it again.

And, in retrospect, can you completely blame them? I mean, it seemed so obvious then that we — the United States of America — were the best and the last. We had, after all, outclassed and outlasted every imperial power since the beginning of time. Even that other menacing superpower of the Cold War era, the Soviet Union, the “Evil Empire” that refused to stand down for almost half a century, had gone up in a puff of smoke.

Imagine that moment so many years later and consider the crew of neoconservatives who, under the aegis of George W. Bush, the son of the man who had “won” the Cold War, came to power in January 2001. Not surprisingly, on viewing the planet, they could see nothing — not a single damn thing — in their way. There was a desperately weakened and impoverished Russia (still with its nuclear arsenal more or less intact) that, as far as they were concerned, had been mollycoddled by President Bill Clinton’s administration. There was a Communist-gone-capitalist China focused on its own growth and little else. And there were a set of other potential enemies, “rogue powers” as they were dubbed, so pathetic that not one of them could, under any circumstances, be called “great.”

In 2002, in fact, three of them — Iraq, Iran, and North Korea — had to be cobbled together into an “axis of evil” to create a faintly adequate enemy, a minimalist excuse for the Bush administration to act preemptively. It couldn’t have been more obvious then that all three of them would go down before the unprecedented military and economic power of us (even if, as it happened, two of them didn’t).

It was as clear as glass that the world — the whole shebang — was there for the taking.  And it couldn’t have been headier, even after a tiny Islamist terror outfit hijacked four American jets and took out New York’s World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. As President Bush would put it in an address at West Point in 2002, “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.” In other words, jihadists aside, it was all over. From now on, there would be an arms race of one and it was obvious who that one would be. The National Security Strategy of that year put the same thought this way: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” Again, anywhere on the planet ever.

Continue reading→

 

The Price of Empire, by Umair Haque

The price of empire is a nation’s soul. From Umair Haque at eand.co:

It’s a striking fact of today’s world that the two rich societies in shocking, swift, sharp decline are America and Britain. Nowhere else in the world, for example, are real income, life expectancy, happiness, and trust all plummeting, apart from maybe Venezuela (No, “but at least we’re not Venezuela!” is not the bar to aim for, my friends.) Their downfall is, of course, a self-inflicted catastrophe. But the interesting question is: why? And what does it tell us about what it takes to prosper and thrive in the 21st century, which is something that America and Britain clearly aren’t doing, and maybe aren’t capable of doing?

Here’s an equally curious observation. America and Britain aren’t just any countries. They are the former hegemons of the world’s most powerful empires. Britain, until the first half of the 20th century, and America, picking up where Britain left off. Is this just a strange cosmic coincidence — that it is the two greatest empires of the most recent past who are the ones seemingly most incapable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century? There aren’t coincidences that great, my friends. Such tides of history always whisper lessons to be learned. What is this one trying to urgently teach us?

That there is a price to empire. A grave and ruinous one. And that price has grown over the centuries — so high that now, it is not worth paying anymore.Let me explain what I mean — because it is not just about spending too much money and grasping too high. Not at all. It is about the kind of a place and people such a country ends up limited to being — and perhaps can then never really easily outgrow.

Continue reading

Placing the USA on a collapse continuum with Dmitry Orlov, by the Saker

Collapse, like Ernest Hemingway once said about bankruptcy, happens slowly at first, then quickly. From the Saker and Dmitry Orlov at thesaker.is:

The word ‘catastrophe‘ has several meanings, but in its original meaning in Greek the word means a “sudden downturn” (in Greek katastrophē ‘overturning, sudden turn,’ from kata- ‘down’ + strophē ‘turning’).  As for the word “superpower” it also has several possible definitions, but my preferred one is this oneSuperpower is a term used to describe a state with a dominant position, which is characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined-means of economic, military, technological and cultural strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Traditionally, superpowers are preeminent among the great powers” this one, “an extremely powerful nation, especially one capable of influencing international events and the acts and policies of less powerful nations” or this onean international governing body able to enforce its will upon the most powerful states“.

I have mentioned the very visible decline of the USA and its associated Empire in many of my articles already, so I won’t repeat it here other than to say that the “ability to exert influence and impose its will” is probably the best criteria to measure the magnitude of the fall of the USA since Trump came to power (the process was already started by Dubya and Obama, but it sure accelerated with The Donald).  But I do want to use a metaphor to revisit the concept of catastrophe.

If you place an object in the middle of a table and then push it right to the edge, you will exert some amount of energy we can call “E1”.  Then, if the edge of the table is smooth and you just push the object over the edge, you exercise a much smaller amount of energy we can call “E2”.  And, in most cases (if the table is big enough), you will also find that E1 is much bigger than E2 yet E2, coming after E1 took place, triggered a much more dramatic event: instead of smoothly gliding over the table top, the object suddenly falls down and shatters.  That sudden fall can also be called a “catastrophe”.  This is also something which happens in history, take the example of the Soviet Union.

Continue reading→

 

U.S.’s Defeat in Syria is a Crisis of Empire, by Tom Luongo

Of the empire’s sea of woes, Syria might the most woeful. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The U.S. lost in Syria. Donald Trump finally had the courage to admit that to the world when he ordered the pull out of all U.S. troops there.

Syria was to be the sparkling jewel in the Empire of Chaos’ Crown. A masterstroke of realpolitik which would advance every major U.S., Israeli and Saudi objective while thoroughly destabilizing the Levant and setting the stage for wiping out Iran and eventually Russia.

If the Assad government fell Syria would become something worse than Libya. It would become a source of abject chaos for decades to come. And the formation of greater Kurdistan would put advanced U.S. and Israeli military assets on Iran’s doorstep.

Carving up Syria, Iraq and possibly even Turkey, once Erdogan was removed from power, would put the U.S. and Israel in control of the oil assets to fund a jihadist-led insurgency across all of central Asia.

Moreover, the chaos would ensure a steady stream of refugees into Europe to destabilize it. That chaos would lead to further political integration of Europe under EU control.

Continue reading

Thank Goodness for Trump, the Ugly American, by Gilbert Doctorow

In his own way, Trump has done more to dismantle the American empire than anyone else. From Gilbert Doctorow at antiwar.com:

Survival in the Age of Trump is today on many minds. For some, the issue is whether our whimsical, volatile president will undo 70 years of alliance (read: empire) building here and now. For others, it is whether he will finally realize his campaign promises to be the Great Disrupter and fulfill the wishes of the vast majority of the American public to live at peace with the world.

The turning point was Donald Trump’s announcement a week ago on Twitter that he ordered the U.S. military to withdraw the 2,000 or so American ground troops from Syria. This was initially greeted with skepticism by our dissident community and also by one international actor which is very interested in avoiding confrontations, not to mention armed conflict with the United States on and over Syrian territory, namely the Russian Federation.

But the shrill denunciations that the announcement precipitated among US political elites and media, followed by the resignation of the US Secretary of Defense, “mad dog” General James Mattis the day after the announcement, made it plain that the withdrawal order will be implemented within thirty, sixty or, at the outer limit, ninety days. Moreover, the US military further released to the public the news that following the removal of US ground troops in Syria the American air offensive in Syria would come to an end. And it was confirmed that the President had ordered the American military presence in Afghanistan to be halved, meaning the departure of 7,000 soldiers according to a timetable still to be defined.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: