Tag Archives: American empire

Choose One, But Only One: Defend the Billionaire’s Bubble or the U.S. Dollar and Empire, by Charles Hugh Smith

The dollar and empire come first. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The Empire is striking back, protecting what really counts, and the Billionaire Bubble sideshow is folding its tents.

One of the most enduring conceits of the modern era is that the Federal Reserve acts to goose growth and therefore employment while keeping inflation moderate (whatever that means–the definition is adjustable). This conceit is extremely handy as PR cover: the Fed really, really cares about little old us and expanding our ballooning wealth.

Nice, except it doesn’t. The Fed’s one real job is defending the U.S. dollar, which is the foundation of America’s global hegemony a.k.a. The Empire.

One thing and one thing alone enables global dominance: being able to create “money” out of thin air and use that “money” to buy real stuff in the real world. The nations that can create “money” out of thin air and trade it for magnesium, oil, semiconductors, etc. have an unbeatable advantage over nations that must actually mine gold or make something of equal value to trade for essentials.

The trick is to maintain global confidence in one’s currency. There is no one way to manage this, as confidence in a herd animal such as human beings is always contingent. Once the herd gets skittish, all bets are off.

The herd is exquisitely sensitive to movements on the edge of the herd, where threats arise. There are various tricks one can deploy to maintain confidence: pay a higher rate of interest on bonds denominated in one’s currency, so global capital flows into your currency; treat this capital well with a transparent set of tax laws and judiciary / regulatory oversight, maintain a deep pool of liquidity so capital can enter and exit without stampeding the herd, and having at least a semi-productive, diverse economy that generates goods, services and income streams to support the currency.

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America’s Attila the Hun moment, by Simon Black

Empires are made to expire. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

In the year 435 AD, after several years of endless menacing from the nomadic Hun tribe, the Roman Empire was ready to make a deal.

The Huns were fairly new on the continent; they had originally come from central Eurasia as recently as 370 AD. Yet in the span of a few short decades, they quickly established themselves as the dominant tribe in Eastern Europe, conquering vast territories and threatening the Roman Empire.

The Empire was a pitiful shell of its former self at that point. So Emperor Theodosius II sent one of his generals to meet with the Huns in the city of Margus, now called Pozarevac in modern day Serbia.

The leader of the Huns was a short, flat-nosed warrior in his mid 30s named Attila who famously remained on his horse during the entire meeting with the Roman envoys.

Attila was cunning, and he knew the Romans were weak. So he intentionally made ridiculous demands.

Among them, he told the Romans he would leave them alone if they paid a tribute of 700 pounds of gold per year (worth about $13.3 million in today’s money).

This was a significant sum back then, especially given that the Roman Empire had lost its most productive gold mines in Hispania to the Visigoths and Vandals in the early 400s.

(The region of Andalusia in modern Spain is actually named for the Vandal tribe, derived from the Arabic word al-Andalus.)

In addition to the money, though, Attila also demanded that the Romans could not enter into any alliance with any other tribes if the Huns deemed them to be a threat.

In making this demand, Attila was essentially giving himself control of Rome’s foreign policy and military affairs.

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January 2022: A Game Changing Moment Between Russia, America and the World, by Tim Kirby

Vladimir Putin’s ultimatum concerning NATO’s encroachment dispels the illusion of the American empire. From Tim Kirby at strategic-culture.org:

What Moscow is really asking for is to redraw the borders of influence between Russia and the West.

One of the most frequently asked questions about U.S.-Russian relations over the last few years has been “have we hit rock bottom?”. No matter how bad things seem, about every six months a few Congressmen with questionable motivations come up with a new pack of sanctions or other threats to make the situation get just a bit worse. After many years of this it seems as though there is always room for relations to somehow plummet even further down the dank shaft they are in. However, Washington may have run out of ideas and threats as both sides of Cold War 2.0 are set to meet around January 10th right after the holiday season in Russia officially ends to build a solid mutually approved deal so that hopefully U.S.-Russian relations can finally be exposed to daylight again.

Image: Comically bad relations between nuclear powers are still a great danger even after the Cold War.

From a Russian standpoint there is finally some cause for optimism due to the fact that they have chosen a logical hardline position and yet Washington, understanding it, has still agreed to discuss it. Although American diplomats and politicians (like those in many countries) are very skilled at nodding their heads for a couple hours then just doing whatever the hell the want to give the illusion of sticking out an olive branch, this time the Russian position is so clear cut that if it were completely off the table Washington wouldn’t even bother participating. They would be more likely to throw a PR hissyfit via the Mainstream Media accusing the Russians of X,Y, and Z, than listen to a position they find revolting for hours of negotiations. Essentially, the American side at least humoring Russia’s demands is a positive step for sure.

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America’s Foreign Policy Dilemma, by Paul Craig Roberts

In their arrogance, American policymakers have stopped listened to anything but their own propaganda. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

American foreign policy, wrapped up in hubris inside American exceptionalism, is incapable of recognizing a dangerous situation.

And a dangerous situation is what we have.

The Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov speaking for the Kremlin has made it clear that Russia will tolerate no further movement of NATO toward Russia’s borders. Russia has ruled out any possibility of the former Russian provinces of Ukraine and Georgia becoming NATO members. If this red line is ignored, the consequences, Ryabkov said, “will be dire.” Russia will respond militarily, and the West, he said, will find it has undermined its own security, not Russia’s.

In other words, as the Kremlin sees it, the incorporation of Ukraine and/or Georgia into NATO is an unacceptable threat to Russian national security. Period. It is not negotiable.

In a rational world such an unequivocal statement by a preeminent military power with hypersonic nuclear missiles would be taken seriously. But the Western World is no longer rational. It is a world drunk on arrogance. The NATO secretary replied to what is, in effect, an ultimatum from a nuclear power by rejecting out of hand that power’s security concern: “Whether Ukraine joins NATO is up to the bloc’s member states and its leadership, and Moscow doesn’t have input into the decision.” The idiot NATO secretary went on to boast, foolishly, that NATO was so little impressed with Russian objections that NATO was “already training Ukrainian troops and consulting with them, and are conducting joint exercises and providing military supplies and technology.”

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US Hegemony Doesn’t Make The World More Peaceful, It Makes It More Dangerous, by Caitlin Johnstone

Stupidity and braggadocio are dangerous, and the U.S. government has been exhibiting both in spades. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

A Republican senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee stated on a Tuesday Fox News appearance that he strongly supports keeping US military action on the table if Russia invades Ukraine, up to and including a first-use nuclear attack.

“I would not rule out military action,” Senator Roger Wicker told Fox News host Neil Cavuto. “I think we start making a mistake when we take options off the table. So I would hope the president keeps that option on the table.”

“What does military action mean, senator?” Cavuto asked.

“Well, military action could mean that we standoff with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction on Russian military capability,” the senator replied. “It could mean that. It could mean that we participate – and I would not rule that out – I would not rule out American troops on the ground. You know we don’t rule out first-use nuclear action. We don’t think it will happen. But there’s certain things in negotiations – if you’re going to be tough – that you don’t take off the table.”

Wicker emphasized that his position was entirely bipartisan.

“To the extent that you’ve had Democrats on the show right before me saying that we should be tougher, I support that and I appreciate that,” Wicker said. “I think they represent the fear that we have, the realization that we have in the Congress, that losing a free democratic Ukraine to Russian invasion would be a game-changer for a free Europe.”

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Watch as a Great Empire Stumbles and Falls, by Bill Bonner

You can stop worrying. The Biden administration is on the supply chain case, and our problems will soon be solved. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – What a marvelous time to be alive… with a front-row seat to watch a great empire stumble and fall!

It only happens once every hundred years or so… So pull up a chair and enjoy the show.

Here’s the big news, from Bloomberg:

U.S. Factory Output Falls in Fresh Supply-Chain Warning

Production at U.S. factories fell by the most in seven months in September, in part reflecting a sharp pullback in the manufacturing of motor vehicles as well as broader backlogged supply chains and materials shortages.

Supply chain? What’s happening is much more than just a weak link. Adjusted for inflation, real industrial production has been going down for half a century and now is only a third of its 1968 level.

Falling Apart

The U.S. enjoyed a fake prosperity for the last 30 years – but only because China picked up the burden of manufacturing and sold goods to Americans at discount prices, keeping inflation in check.

And now, the U.S. no longer has the good jobs, the infrastructure, or the know-how to make things Americans want.

Instead, appliances and geegaws are shipped across the Pacific Ocean – at enormous cost – while the discounts disappear.

China’s raw materials costs – metals, fuel, etc. – are going up. So are its wages. It can no longer offset America’s money-printing with cheap products.

Yes, here in the U.S., “inflation” is now out in the open… and the whole scam is coming apart. CBS News reports:

A perfect storm of high demand and low supply is sending fuel prices through the roof. Driving your car is costing a lot more – and heating your home this winter could, too.

[…]

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas this week is $3.27 – a seven-year high. According to GasBuddy, a price tracking service, the price of a gallon nationwide has gone up more than five cents in a week.

Meanwhile, benchmark crude oil prices have risen above $80 a barrel for the first time since 2014. As a result, Chicago-area utilities are projecting that heating bills will be up to 50% higher this winter. The New York Department of Public Service warned residents last week that their home heating bills could jump 21% compared to last winter.

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750 Bases in 80 Countries Is Too Many for Any Nation: Time for the US To Bring Its Troops Home, by Doug Bandow

Shutting down bases would signal a winding down of the American empire. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

President Joe Biden did what his three predecessors could or would not: halt a seemingly endless war. It took two decades, but American troops no longer are fighting in Afghanistan.

An important aspect of the US withdrawal was closing Washington’s bases, which once spread across the country. Uncle Sam left Bagram Air Base, America’s biggest facility in Afghanistan, on his way home.

However, some 750 American military facilities remain open in 80 nations and territories around the world. No other country in human history has had such a dominant presence. Great Britain was the leading colonial power, but its army was small. London had to supplement its own troops with foreign mercenaries, as in the American Revolution. In wars with great powers Britain provided its allies with financial subsidies rather than soldiers.

Previous empires, such as Rome, Persia, and China, were powerful in their own realms but had little reach beyond. The latter never reached outside Asia. Persia was twice halted by the Greek city states. As great as Rome became, its writ never went much beyond the Mediterranean, with Central Europe, North Africa, and the Mideast its boundaries. The New World remained beyond the knowledge let alone control of all three.

A new Quincy Institute study by American University’s David Vine and World Beyond War’s Patterson Deppen and Leah Bolger details the global US military presence. Washington has nearly three times as many bases as embassies and consulates. America also has three times as many installations as all other countries combined. The United Kingdom has 145. Russia two to three dozen. China five. Although the number of US facilities has fallen in half since the end of the Cold War, the number of nations hosting American bases has doubled. Washington is as willing to station forces in undemocratic as democratic countries.

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End Of The US Empire: Orwell’s 1984 ‘Newspeak’ & Dirt Cheap Gold, by Egon von Greyerz

The fate of an empire’s currency generally mirrors the general fate of the empire. From Egon von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

The final phase of Empires normally ends with the same signals whether it was 2000 years ago in Rome or  today in the US.

One of the first signs is losing wars together with excessive debts, deficits, devaluations and decadence  The US being defeated and hurriedly fleeing from Afghanistan in a few days clearly signifies the end of the US empire.

The mighty US military has in the last few decades conducted disastrous wars against very small countries with no big armies or weaponry. Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan come to mind but there are many more as we show below.

Brown’s University has just made a study of the US cost of wars since 9/11. They arrive at a staggering $8 trillion and the loss of 900,000 lives .

So in the last 20 years, the US has spent $8 trillion or 40% of annual GDP on conducting totally unsuccessful wars. The report also states that even after the exodus from Afghanistan the US is still involved in wars in over 80 countries.

Current extent of the US empire

US CURRENT WAR ACTIVITY

The cost of being involved in some kind of war activity in 85 countries will continue to cost the dying US empire dearly for decades to come.

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The American Empire In Retreat, by Ross Douthat

Empires often collapse from the outside and work in, which is one way to think of the American empire’s most recent failure in Afghanistan. From Ross Douthat of the New York Times via zerohedge.com:

America leaving Afghanistan memeA meme artist’s conception of of America’s retreat from Afghanistan. 

In one of the more arresting videos that circulated after the fall of Kabul, a journalist follows a collection of Taliban fighters into a hangar containing abandoned, disabled U.S. helicopters. Except that the fighters don’t look like our idea of the Taliban: In their gear and guns and helmets (presumably pilfered), they look exactly like the American soldiers their long insurgency defeated.

As someone swiftly pointed out on Twitter, the hangar scene had a strong end-of-the-Roman Empire vibe, with the Taliban fighters standing for the Visigoths or Vandals who adopted bits and pieces of Roman culture even as they overthrew the empire. For a moment, it offered a glimpse of what a world after the American imperium might look like: Not the disappearance of all our pomps and works, any more than Roman culture suddenly disappeared in 476 A.D., but a world of people confusedly playacting American-ness in the ruins of our major exports, the military base and the shopping mall.

But the glimpse provided in the video isn’t necessarily a foretaste of true imperial collapse. In other ways, our failure in Afghanistan more closely resembles Roman failures that took place far from Rome itself — the defeats that Roman generals suffered in the Mesopotamian deserts or the German forests, when the empire’s reach outstripped its grasp.

Or at least that’s how I suspect it will be seen in the cold light of hindsight, when some future Edward Gibbon sets out to tell the story of the American imperium in full.

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The Cost of an Empire, by Bill Bonner

The costs of America’s imperial wars are never borne by the criminals who promote them. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

Let’s drink to the hard-working people

Let’s drink to the lowly of birth

Raise your glass to the good and the evil

Let’s drink to the salt of the earth

Salt of the Earth, The Rolling Stones

YOUGHAL, IRELAND – Yes… we are hooting for the salt of the Earth. Saluting the faceless crowd, the lowly of birth… the masses… the hoi polloi… the proles.

In a few words: They are getting treated like Afghans.

Misled by the U.S. empire, corrupted by its fake money, and then left behind as the elite slip away.

Cost of Empire

Empires are always costly. And the costs are borne, mostly, by the working classes.

The Roman Republic was built by the blood and energy of its small farmers. Then, imperial conquests brought booty and slaves back to Rome. These were divvied up among the elite, who established large latifundia – farms run by slave labor.

The small farmers were driven out of business, forced to sell their farms to the big producers, and later, often forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

America never figured out how to make its empire pay.

From the very beginning, it was its own “little guys” who paid. They paid the taxes. They put on the uniforms. They may not have understood what “we” were fighting for, but they were ready to follow the sound of the cannon from San Juan Hill to Mỹ Lai.

The Vietnam War was one of the U.S. empire’s most spectacular fiascos. Your editor spent part of that war onboard a U.S. Navy cruiser… comfortably off the coast of California or at our base in San Diego.

Offered the glory of commanding a river boat on the Mekong Delta, he demurred. Even then, it was clear that the war was an expensive and dangerous boondoggle.

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