WE ARE SO SCREWED
The next two years promise to be dramatically bad for fair-minded– okay, non-imperialist U.S. citizens. Never mind the thousands of innocents caught in the crosshairs of our military machine (and its proxies) worldwide. You might think that the Bush administration appears to be in over its head in Iraq; you might think that a recently elected Democratic congressional majority is ready to rein in the Chimperor; and you might think that a Democratic White House in 2009 would be poised to join that Democratic congress in cleaning up Bush’s Western Asian mess.
If you are thinking these things, you are most likely wrong. Reader and friend Flo sent me a couple of articles that discuss the why and how of this issue.
New Oil Law Means Victory in Iraq for Bush
By Chris Floyd
Bush’s Rush to Armageddon
By Robert Parry
I have but one thing to add to the two articles, and it relates to Chris Floyd’s illustration of the scope of U.S. global military expansion and his mention of the growth and entrenchment of U.S.-based mercenary corporations.
U.S. imperialism has always been carried out under the flimsy fig leaf of ‘spreading democracy.’ This phenomenon is not new to the Bush administration. However, now that there is no other superpower to oppose the U.S., the Bushies and their backers and adherents have attempted to go apeshit with the concept of global domination. I believe that the U.S. empire is already overextended, though, and the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan are just two symptoms of that overextension. While the U.S. is capable of putting more advanced firepower at the point of attack than most other nations combined– and its Middle Eastern client Israel holds a similar advantage over its neighbors– the Bushies have placed the U.S. in a position where its reach has exceeded its grasp.
The Empire may be fully invested in subjugating the brown people of the Middle East and controlling their oil, but the brown people of the Western Hemisphere have gotten restless. U.S. dominance over our own half of the planet may no longer be a given (despite our successful destruction of Haitian and Colombian democratic aspirations).
Also, the other players in the Middle East might be dozens of years and trillions of dollars behind the U.S. and Israel in terms of military prowess, but they are not as isolated as the U.S. and Israel might wish them to be. Russia and China are competing with the U.S. for petroleum, and their respective militaries– while not up to U.S. standards– are sufficiently formidable to forestall any direct aggression from the U.S.
The point of this is that the U.S. imperial enterprise may achieve a bit more success in the short term, but it is doomed to fail in the long run. As that happens, the U.S. will find itself in a precarious position domestically. Our economy, which depends heavily on continued domination of Middle Eastern oil reserves, is already deep in the red. It is a house of cards that can not withstand serious competition from one or more global rivals, nor can it support the sort of sustained military action that would be necessary to weaken or eliminate such rivals.
I have a hunch that as our global position rapidly declines, the imperial chickens will come home to roost. The U.S. façade of selling democracy, which no one buys abroad (especially among our victims), will fall even at home. The electorate has sat apathetically while two successive presidential elections were stolen; the legislative branch has served as nothing better than a rubber stamp for an increasingly lawless and overreaching executive; the judiciary has facilitated the degradation of the constitution from wrapping paper to toilet paper; the Fourth Estate, corrupted by corporate consolidation, has faithfully sung the praises of empire and dutifully obfuscated its filthy, bloody underbelly.
This is a nation of cowed, bloated, politically soulless consumers, and our protected right to rake in the excess is all that lubricates the machinery of our self-deception. When that excess begins to dry up, it will be too late to seek progressive and democratic solutions to the resulting logistical and political crises. The physical infrastructure of democracy might remain (as it does in many of the most brutal dictatorships), but real political power will be heavily centralized. Instead of the bottom-up populist self-government that many of us still delude ourselves into believing we possess, top-down autocracy will be out in the open.
The players of dictatorship are already on the pitch, and they have been in training for decades now. The militarization of our local police forces– mostly under the rubric of the “war on drugs”or the more general “war on crime”– and their vertical integration with national law enforcement is virtually complete. The precedent for unconstitutional deployment of law enforcement against lawful citizen activity was established during the Wilson administration and elevated to a fine art by the time Nixon occupied the White House. Though there is usually some public hand-wringing over these excesses, there has often been little or no accountability or effective sanction. A U.S. in crisis, I believe, would readily accept these totalitarian forces being unleashed without reserve.
To make matters worse, the mercenary industry, in combination with the private prison industry, represents a juggernaut of mass repression that needs only to be coordinated and unleashed. The extralegal apprehensions and detentions of foreign nationals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (and various other gulags around the world) has set the precedent. Furthermore, similar incarceration of several U.S. citizens has gone uncontested by the legislative and judicial branches and the vast majority of the electorate. Add the illegal Bush administration spying regime to the mix, and all the elements of a totalitarian state are already established. Once again, they need only to be coordinated and deployed as such.
There are some who will read this and laugh; they will say that I am being paranoid and that I am prone to conspiracy theory. In anticipation of such a response, I must say that I am not predicting the future. These concepts are just extrapolations of what I see happening now. There are an infinite number of variables that could arise and interact in order to preempt even the mildest of the elements I discussed above. The way things are going now, though, I don’t see that happening. I reckon that very soon, I will feel compelled to keep my bags packed and my passport current.