It was always a paradox: John Stuart Mill, in his seminal (1859), On Liberty, never doubted that a universal civilisation, grounded in liberal values, was the eventual destination of all of humankind. He looked forward to an ‘Exact Science of Human Nature’, which would formulate laws of psychology and society as precise and universal as those of the physical sciences. Yet, not only did that science never emerge, in today’s world, such social ‘laws’ are taken as strictly (western) cultural constructs, rather than as laws or science.
So, not only was the claim to universal civilisation not supported by evidence, but the very idea of humans sharing a common destination (‘End of Times’) is nothing more than an apocalyptic remnant of Latin Christianity, and of one minor current in Judaism. Mill’s was always a matter of secularized religion – faith – rather than empiricism. A shared human ‘destination’ does not exist in Orthodox Christianity, Taoism or Buddhism. It could never therefore qualify as universal.
Liberal core tenets of individual autonomy, freedom, industry, free trade and commerce essentially reflected the triumph of the Protestant worldview in Europe’s 30-years’ civil war. It was not fully even a Christian view, but more a Protestant one.
This narrow, sectarian pillar was able to be projected into a universal project – only so long as it was underpinned by power. In Mill’s day, the civilisational claim served Europe’s need for colonial validation. Mill tacitly acknowledges this when he validates the clearing of the indigenous American populations for not having tamed the wilderness, nor made the land productive.
The title may make it look like this is an article about race, but it’s not. From Mark E. Jeftovic at outofthecave.io:
After the 9/11 terror attacks, when our privacies were permanently revoked, and we entered into “a war which would never end in our lifetimes”, Bush II proclaimed “They hate us because of our freedoms”.
Some critics thought that was an almost nonsensical statement to make, while the credulous took it at face value. It framed whoever perpetrated the attacks as some inhuman “other” that despised happiness itself. It was unthinkable anybody could have an actual foreign-policy derived reason for doing it, and anybody who suggested as much was usually hounded out of the public eye.
However I always thought that utterance did have a kernel of truth to it. If you looked at the United States as a global empire, and that the freedoms “they” hated were not actually the ones to assemble, or worship or to vote, as Bush intimated, but rather the ones where America acted unilaterally in its own interest observing American Exceptionalism as a type of infallible axiom, then Bush would have been closer to the substance of the matter.
Here was world hegemon who claimed the freedom to overthrow governments, the freedom to bomb or invade any country it pleased, the freedom to support brutal dictators, assassinate enemies, interfere in elections and basically do whatever it wanted. Seen in that light, then yes, the 9/11 attackers did hate our “freedoms”.
The Syrian regime change project has gone the way most US regime change projects go these days. From Rick Sterling at antiwar.com:
Since 2011, the US and allies have promoted, trained and supplied militants trying to bring about “regime change” in Damascus. Having failed in that effort, they have tried to strangle Syria economically. The goal has always been the same: to force Syria to change politically. This month, June 2020, the aggression reaches a new level with extreme sanctions known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.
The new law is fraudulent on two counts. It is called “Caesar” in reference to a 2014 propaganda stunt involving an anonymous Syrian who was alleged to be a military photographer. He claimed to have 55,000 photos showing about eleven thousand victims of Syrian government torture. As the Christian Science Monitor said at the time, the “Caesar” report was “A well-timed propaganda exercise funded by Qatar.” A 30 page analysis later confirmed that the “Caesar” report was a fraud with nearly half the photos showing the OPPOSITE of what was claimed: they documented dead Syrian soldiers and civilian victims of “rebel” car bombs and attacks.
The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act is also fraudulent by claiming to “protect civilians”. In reality, it is punishes and hurts the vast majority of 17 million persons living in Syria. It will result in thousands of civilians suffering and dying needlessly.
America used to inspire, now it inspires fear and loathing. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:
I have a bedtime story for you.
Once upon a time a brave nation liberated itself from the tyranny of the British empire and birthed freedom and democracy into the world. With the help of heroes like the abolitionists, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X it overcame systemic racial inequality, and now it is a shining exemplar of human rights, the respected friend of free democracies around the world and the hated foe of all tyrannical regimes. It is not without its faults and its past mistakes, but it is the best leader and protector of the liberal world order that we could possibly hope to have.
I also have a waking up story for you.
Once upon a time a nation rose to prominence after emerging unscathed from two world wars which damaged the infrastructure of its competitors. The world’s major power players quickly coalesced around this new superpower and began maneuvering other nations into a tight empire-like alliance with it. After a long and gruelling cold war, this empire succeeded in toppling the world’s only other superpower and began working to absorb all other nations into alliance with it. If nations resisted, they were subverted, sabotaged and attacked until they either collapsed or allowed themselves to be absorbed into the imperial blob.
The world is finding it easier and easier to ignore Washington’s imperious demands. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
Under President Donald Trump America has become the angry giant. Washington issues its orders to the rest of the world almost daily. But the U.S. directives are routinely ignored. Leading to more and tougher demands. And even greater resistance.
The problem is not just with America’s adversaries, such as North Korea and increasingly China. The administration also attempts to dictate to allies, most notably the Europeans. However, the response is increasingly defiance precisely when Washington most needs to work with friendly states to achieve its purported ends. For instance, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that European governments follow the US out of the Iran nuclear accord, prompting them to effectively choose Iran over America.
The administration’s latest frustrated rants against a recalcitrant world involved Tehran’s tanker flotilla to Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro’s government has reinforced the socialist mismanagement of his nation’s oil resources begun by the late Hugo Chavez. Brutal American economic sanctions have completed the industry’s destruction. So a regime sitting atop abundant oil reserves cannot refine sufficient gasoline for its own population.
Our history in Latin America is marked by arrogance and aggression. Is what’s happening in Venezuela any different?
Uncle Sam straddles the Americas while wielding a big stick labeled ‘Monroe Doctrine.’ American cartoon by Louis Dalrymple, 1905. (public domain)
Uncle Sam doesn’t have the best track record in Latin America. Few foreign policy elites seem to care. Yet, in what the regional proconsul, Admiral Craig Faller of Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), recently called “our hemisphere” and “our neighborhood,” the actual residents haven’t forgotten. Odds are, the U.S. will be even less welcome after the latest local adventure, the bizarre foiled American mercenary-led coup meant to topple President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.
It is tempting and not unreasonable to dismiss the recent folly as an incompetent one-off. No doubt, by any practical measure it must be judged—an appropriate term since “Operation Gideon,” was named for a biblical Hebrew jurist—a total failure. Karl Marx famously intoned that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” Seen thus, the disastrous 1961 CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Fidel Castro’s Cuba counts as the tragedy; and the newest escapade as farce. Neat though the analogy be, this would be a mistake.
The broad contours of the coup attempt are widely reported. Combat-seasoned former U.S. green berets from the private military company Silvercorp, allegedly negotiated a lucrative contract with the Venezuelan opposition to violently replace Maduro with Juan Guaidó. The mission fell apart for a variety of reasons: incompetence, internecine division, and regime infiltration. Yet, for all the drama involved its occurrence wasn’t a total shock.
You could take care of a lot of sick people and provide a lot of unemployment compensation with the money the US government spends on maintaining and expanding its empire. From Scott Horton at antiwar.com:
Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents, off the hook for it, was “a long time ago.” Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for. This would almost certainlythen lead to war with Iran.
The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.
Heaven forbid that all the money we’re borrowing to address the coronavirus and its attendant economic and financial woes prompt anyone to question the money we’re spending to maintain the American empire. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
To fight the coronavirus at home, France is removing all military forces from Iraq.
When NATO scaled back its war games in Europe because of the pandemic, Russia reciprocated. Moscow announced it would cancel its war games along NATO’s border.
Nations seem to be recognizing and responding to the grim new geostrategic reality of March 2020: The pandemic is the real enemy of us all, and while we fight it, each in his own national corner, we are in this together.
Never allow a serious crisis to go to waste, said Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel during the financial crisis.
Emanuel was echoed this month by House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, who called the coronavirus crisis “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
What Clyburn had in mind is what Democrats advanced as their alternative to the $2.2 trillion emergency bill. It was designed to force President Trump either to swallow it whole or to take responsibility for vetoing a critical transfusion of federal funds to keep the economy alive.
Among the items stuffed in the Democrats’ proposal:
A $15-an-hour minimum wage imposed on companies receiving funds. Blanket loan forgiveness of $10,000 for students. New tax credits for solar and wind energy. Full funding of Planned Parenthood. Federal dollars for fetal tissue research.
$300 million for PBS, which has been promoting the LBGT agenda to school kids. Mandating “diversity” on corporate boards as a condition of companies receiving funds. Election “reforms” to increase Democratic turnout. Insistence that airlines, to get a bailout, offset carbon emissions from jet engines. $35 million for the Kennedy Center.
One benefit of the coronavirus panic: the US is leaving some of its smaller military bases in foreign lands because of the virus. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:
“Red” (Morgan Freeman): “Hope is a dangerous thing my friend, it can kill a man…”
Andy (Tim Robbins): “Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
~ The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Two futures lie before us. Like the classic visions of late-Old Testament prophets, contemporary observers – perhaps voyeurs – of U.S. national security policy can, at this precipice of pandemic, discern, however vaguely, as dual, dichotomous prospective paths unfurl. The first, and Washington’s long-preferred, course is one of militarist escalation. It’s contours are there for us to see.
In the past couple of weeks, the Pentagon has unapologetically ramped up its proxy war with Iran – on the soil of an unmistakably unwilling “sovereign” state which has politely, if futilely, asked the US military to leave – by bombing, and killing, third-party “allies” of the Islamic Republic.
Then, though it was hardly covered or noticed, Washington killed a Somali child and an elderly disabled man in an airstrike: the 31st such US attack-from-the-sky in a Trump-accelerated campaign upon yet another country we are not at war with. US Africa Command announced, of course, that five “terrorists” had been killed in the strike with zero reports of civilian casualties. Well, naturally, it helps to have folks on the ground (hardly the norm for America’s techno-killers) to accurately access victim-status. Which is probably one reason – besides flagrant duplicity – that a UK-based airstrike monitoring group’s relevant report estimates Somali civilian casualties in US attacks since 2007 may be 73 times higher than official Pentagon claims.
America’s debt will inflict misery on Americans for this and many generations to come. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, French economist
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