Billions of people around the globe would like Americans to put America first.
The largest infrastructure project in the world is China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, often referred to as the New Economic Silk Road. This effort spearheads the economic integration of the physical center of the world: the contiguous nations from China across Southeast and Central Asia, Russia, Belarus, Iran, and Turkey. The area has large percentages of the world’s land mass, population, and resources. Under construction is a huge network of new linkages: ports, roads, highways, high-speed rail lines, electricity transmission facilities, and petroleum pipelines.
To date China has also invested more than $51 billion in the countries along the present OBOR route. The new land rail routes will greatly reduce transportation costs across Eurasia, enable formerly isolated regions to connect efficiently to sea and land markets and ignite tremendous new economic growth across Eurasia.
“The Eurasian Century Is NOW Unstoppable,” William Engdahl, 10/11/16
US companies and US-led multinational institutions have been excluded from both the construction and financing, and the world’s reserve currency is getting the boot. Transactions are denominated in yuan and rubles, including oil and gas deals. Bye-bye petrodollar, the anchor for the dollar’s reserve status since Nixon abandoned the last dollar-gold link in 1971.
A LIGHT-HEARTED LOOK AT
THE DARK SIDE OF EMPIRE
The war lobby ceaselessly conjures threats to US interests and conspiracies to dominate the world. All which must be met with US intervention—overt, covert, or both. How do you conjure a threat when a big part of the world decides to ignore you, who at best sees the US as irrelevant, at worst, a dangerous nuisance? One of life’s joys, all too rare, is telling self-important, pompous people that nobody cares what they do or say, or even if they live or die. It’s been a long time coming, but the rest of the world is starting to tell the US to keep its opinions and interventions to itself, and that’s a good thing for all concerned.
Two men who have caught the new mood are those Best Friends Forever, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Putin watched the Soviet Union crumble, and Trump has been a vocal critic of the US’s Middle East follies. They both see the dark side of empire. Neither man has ever been accused of selfless concern for humanity. They are both unabashed proponents of national interests—putting America and Russia first—but they’ve redefined national interests in ways that vex the Western elite status quo.
Despite the best efforts of the US government and its mainstream media arm to portray Putin as bent on offensive expansion, to date his efforts outside of Russia have been directed towards securing what fair-minded observers would concede are vital interests. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine after a US-sponsored coup installed a hostile regime there. In a referendum, Crimean citizens voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Sebastopol, on the western Black Sea coast of Crimea, is the Russian navy’s warm-water base.
Russia has provided aid to eastern Ukrainian separatists, who have Russian roots, speak Russian, and would prefer to be part of that country. Repeated references to a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine are a canard. If Russia had invaded Ukraine a Russian flag would fly above the capitol in Kiev. Putin regards a secure Ukraine as vital to Russian security, but he has no interest in assuming Ukraine’s ruinous debts or suppressing the pro-Europe and US western half of the country, and he has not annexed eastern Ukraine. Putin tolerates Ukraine’s current Western puppet government—it’s so incompetent and corrupt it poses little threat—but NATO incorporation, a goal of US neoconservatives, would be unacceptable.
Russia has maintained a naval base, Tartus, on Syria’s western Mediterranean coast since 1971. The Soviet Union and then Russia have been staunch allies of the successive autocratic regimes of father and son Hafez and Bashar al-Assad. Putin’s military moves have bolstered Bashar al-Assad against a rebel alliance seeking regime change, funded and supported by the US, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, and until recently, Turkey. Russia’s regime preservation operation came at the request of Assad, Syria’s elected head of state. Whatever moral high ground there may be in this sad and bloody war, Russia has the better claim to it.
Syria has been disastrous for the US and its Europe allies, and they were excluded from the most recent cease-fire negotiations conducted between Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Iran, on the one side, and various rebel groups on the other. This drives US interventionists crazy. Being ignored is inconceivable and unacceptable, but what can you do other nations choose to do so and you cannot impose your will? Tellingly, the new Trump administration, presumably less interventionist, has been invited to the negotiations.
There are billions of people who wish they could ignore, and be ignored by, the US government. From South and Central America to the countries joining the OBOR initiative to the Middle East and Northern Africa, the US has inflicted misery, corruption, devastation and death. Americans often cast what they do in righteous, even messianic terms, rendering foreigners as “less than” who need to be saved and protected, and Americans as their “more than” saviors. Americans are among the world’s worst listeners; the desires of the saved are usually not acknowledged, much less acted upon. The saved soon see through the charade—America does what America wants, hang the rhetoric—and the US government would undoubtedly win a global poll as the world’s most hypocritical institution.
The hypocrisy leaves the government unable to acknowledge either what it has wrought or its consequences. It has made South and Central America its playpen for political meddling and the war on drugs, but will not admit that the misery it has helped create is in large part responsible for the influx of immigrants. US intervention has turned the Middle East and Northern Africa into a horror show, but policymakers refuse to publicly connect that to the obvious dots of burgeoning global terrorism and the European refugee crisis. US military “protection” comes with the usual protection racket price: you do as your protector says. Hence Europe, Japan, and a host of smaller countries are enervated US vassals. Per the reserve currency privilege, the US has papered the world with its fiat debt, setting up the global economy for the biggest financial and economic crash in history.
Whether they realize it or not, countless billions of ordinary people should pray to whatever god they pray to that President Trump’s America First means America leaves them alone. Commendably, many Americans realize that would be not only best for world, but for America, too. The country faces a debt, demography, and entitlement tsunami. It can no longer afford empire and Pax Americana, if it ever could. Putting America’s own house in order, or even making a good start, would be a full-time, eight-year endeavor for the entire Trump team, and that’s if they never take vacations or sleep.
There is much wisdom in the phrase: “Mind your own business.” Making America great will entail making America dispensable and irrelevant, setting it free to address its own problems, and setting the rest of the world free to address theirs.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: WHEN
AMERICA MINDED ITS OWN BUSINESS