NOT JUST THE ECONOMY, STUPID
David Stockman wades in to the attack on what he calls the “American Imperium”. Published by Lewrockwell.com, he claims that if Congress votes against Obama's war plans against Syria, this can “trigger the end of the American Imperium”. What imperium?
One thing is sure. The downsized US “imperium” certainly has imperial-sized debt, and Stockman knows a lot about how it happened – he was there as Ronald Reagan's OMB budget director in 1981-1985. As we also know, previous and past empires always crippled themselves by taking on real debt and fake wealth in the shape of colonies that weren't filled with gold or oil - but the US never had many formal colonies – Puerto Rico and Guam, for example, are not impressive for a would-be empire.
We can argue the US was a would-be coming empire that never made it. By the 1980s, helped by David Stockman, it already had more than enough debt to choke itself – the never-was imperium was already in decline - but Stockman says the rot goes further back. He says “five decades of incessant meddling, bullying and subversion around the globe has added precious little to national security, but left America fiscally exhausted and morally diminished”. Stockman fingers the CIA-organized 1953 ouster of Iran's prime minister Mohamed Mossadegh – who nationalized Iran's oil industry but closed the door to US oil companies hoping to replace Britain's BP, then called the Anglo Persian Corp. – as an early and evil “misbegotten intervention” of the US. Soon after that, the US dithered with either promoting – or killing – Colonel Nasser of Egypt who seemed to threaten oil transport security through the Suez canal, but who also seemed to be an anti-communist Arab nationalist.
He doesn't mention, but should have cited the 1957 meeting of President Eisenhower and vice-president Richard Nixon with King Saud of Saudi Arabia. Following the meeting, Eisenhower wrote to a close adviser saying: “We wanted to explore the possibilities of building up King Saud as a counterweight to Nasser”, adding “The king was a logical choice in this regard; he at least professed anti-Communism, and he enjoyed, on religious grounds, a high standing among all Arab nations”. State Dept. strategists spun this new geopolitical strategy in far fewer words.
They saw King Saud as a Hollywood-style Islamic Pope able to rule a huge slice of the world – bigger than the Ottoman empire at its greatest extent in the 16th century. With a Saudi Pope, the new US-friendly World Caliphate could include Muslim-majority countries as far flung as the Sahel countries of Africa, India's large Muslim community able to spinoff a new state inside India, the then-Soviet Muslim southern republics, western China, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Chechnya, Daghestan, Albania and the future Kosovo. Unparalleled opportunities for US meddling and “targeted assassination” were in view – but King Saud did not bite the bait!
His more-modest but nonetheless king-sized aspirations were to rule a Sunni-dominated caliphate only extending from Morocco to Iraq and Afghanistan inside which all nation states would be dissolved. To be sure he disapproved of Shia-majority Iran, but that was long before Ayatollah Khomenei invented his dangerous “Peoples Islam” revolution and turned Saudi jealousy into fear and rage.
SO WHAT WENT WRONG?
Reduced to small and dirty, not too expensive drone wars, and lobbing Saudi-financed Tomahawks at Syria if he gets congressional approval, Nobel Peace prizewinner Mr. Obama already has powerful and serious opposition. We can start with Russia, China, India and Iran.
No sane American (obviously not including the insane McCain) would take on the first three. Iran seems different, tempting to some, but regime change in Iran will need nuclear weapons and everybody knows it – including the leaders of Russia, China and India. Peace prizewinner Obama is therefore forced back to hoping he can run a few feckless and reckless Tomahawk barrages on small Syria which is already a graveyard of civil war and wracked by sectarian slaughter. Stockman's claim that if Obama can't do this it signals the end of the American Imperium is however hard to take seriously. How can you end what never started? What American imperium?
Stockman lists the claimed 'historic' bases of American global power. These included anti-communism and free markets, anti-terrorism, humanitarianism, nation-building – in brief American exceptionalism. These were the historic building blocks of Pax Americana, a bakelite-era image of black and white moral, military and economic superiority. Today, the imperial aims are downsized to firing cruise missiles paid for by Saudi Arabia and its clique of Sunni-ruled Gulf State partners, at the puny half-destroyed state of Syria. With the openly stated goal of only “censuring the Syrian regime” for using chem weapons, if it used them.
The official goal is to persuade Bashr al Assad to “make a political gesture”. Maybe a visit to Riyadh, which for a Syrian Alawite would be really something!
GUNS AND NO ROSES
One thing that went seriously wrong with the bakelite-era Pax America model, or myth, was not the Internet revolution or the growth of China but global weapons technology and arms production. Nobody needs nuclear weapons anymore! If your enemy has a Fukushima-sized or Chernobyl-sized reactor stationed in his home territory – you have your sitting target. This is the almost openly stated and real Israel “plan” to take out Iran – first bomb and blow up its large Russian-built power producing reactors, which are only called civil reactors if they happen to operate in the USA.
In the Shah's reign, for decades, the US showered Iran with nuclear technology, called peaceful.
Conversely, today, street-credible Islamic djihadi gangstahs in their Hilux feel simply naked without an AK47, and the supply of “Kalash's” is a lot less of a problem than finding enemies with large civil reactors already stationed and ready to hit with cheap weapons like a home-grown kamikaze with an explosive belt strapped on. Every mid-sized street drug dealer in Europe or the US has a Kalash stash, probably hand grenades or IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and sometimes a few anti-tank missile launchers. They can move up to thirty millimetre and 50mm anti-building, anti-tank and antiaircraft cannons to bolt on to the Toyota Hilux, called “technicals” in Somalia, and able to fire 900 rounds a minute with a 7 kilometre range. These are djihadi-friendly and in abundant supply!
As the budget moves up, helped by petrodollars, our defenders of Islam can move on to NATO-standard urban insurgency weapons such as Eryx anti-building, anti-tank shoulder launched missiles with a 2 kilometre range able to pierce 1000mm of solid steel at that range. Civil nuclear reactors typically have 300mm of concrete shielding. Supply of this ordnance is absolutely no problem. It only costs a lot more than a Kalash or a disposable kamikaze. The world is awash with guns, if not roses.
Not too much further up the budget range “chem weapons” can fall into the supermarket caddy. We have no need to go further than TEPP pesticides and rodent killers, which are extremely effective against human beings. Any midsize developing country can afford them. When the country falls apart in an Islamic insurgency, helped by the American Imperium if Congress feels inclined, the stocks will be there for the freedom fighters – pillagers and killers that is - with a bandana on their head and a neatly trimmed beard strutting in their Hilux.
BUNKER BUSTING-OR BUST YOUR BREECHES
Once upon a time – for example in the glorious 2003 Iraq war - raining in depleted uranium, napalm, white phosphorous, fragmentation bombs and other great things like bunker buster bombs at The Enemy was lauded by the braindead media, called “government friendly” that keeps the public stupid and petty-fascist minded in the US and its lookalike allies, also ex-imperial. What exactly the aim of small dirty wars like the 2003 Iraq war were, except to bully and oppress, was never explained. We have to presume one aim was breeding djihadis, because that is what we got.
We could surmise the official reason was to stake out the stomping ground for Pax Americana 2, but on that score Stockmam too hastily says Pax Americana 2 has no surviving enemies - except what he calls the “feeble kleptocracy” of Russia, run by what he calls a “loud-mouthed thief” and a ratpack of mafia oligarchs. The same motley crew is running China, he opines. If they dared to react with force, Stockman says, they face a devastating economic collapse within months so they will let the downsized imperium crawl along and do damage, a little longer.
Stockman's economic collapse would certainly cut both ways. Without cheap or at least affordable Chinese industrial products to stuff supermarket shelves in the US – its supermarkets would be half empty. Stockman himself gives the reasons, it is mainly because Americans are too fat, lazy, arrogant and dysfunctional to produce the consumer junk-fodder themselves. They lost interest in having an economy that works, the same way they gave up on the “imperium” that never was.
Stockman gets it right on the nail when he asks how is it possible that the peace-loving citizens of America, facing no large or imperial-sized military threat from anywhere on the planet, find themselves in a constant state of war? He says this is due to the “warfare state”, but he doesn't say the US warfare state only attacks shrunken and withered, half crippled countries. When and if by miscalculation the military meddling blows up, and become a Hollywood sized real world war, we can bet the perpetrators and profiteers of the warfare state will not be visible. They will be deep down in hardened bunkers along with the Nobel Peace prizewinner. Still smiling!
Setting aside the stark self-evident catastrophe of Vietnam war defeat – a defeat so real and total it took Hollywood and Sylvester Stallone 25 years to deny it – Pax Americana 2 or the low cost imperium can only take on, and not defeat pint-sized underdeveloped states like Afghanistan. As we know, the Peace prizewinner is rather anxious to get his last grunt out of Afghanistan – not in a wooden box. After that, the leftover wreckage will be abandoned to the djihadis. Thirteen years of war for absolutely nothing – except to increase hatred of Americans and waste tax dollars.
Stockman refuses to see the constant downsizing and wipeout of American imperial ambitions. The 1995 “triumph” of the Kosovo war – killing about 5000 Serbian civilians – was so far away from being relevant to US national security or US economic interests we can only believe this five-day mini-war against a tiny state was pure madness. The brutal Serbian army was expelled from Kosovo, and the drug baron child prostitution racketeer thugs of the Albanian KLA, calling themselves Islamists, took over. For Balkanizing the Balkans this was better than the original, but was it Imperial Power - or just a dirty little war that did nothing at all except increase hatred of Americans?
Stockman argues the US is mired in self-perpetuating warfare state hysteria, a vastly bloated war machine with its national spy apparatus so huge it is now global. Supposedly, the American public is so inert, so ignorant and so bamboozled with propaganda that it sucks this poisoned rubbish like an American baby sucks pesticide-riddled milk from its mother – before growing up to gulp Kentucky Frieds. To be sure, Stockman claims the incessant propaganda has developed such intense fear among Americans that the poor dears are psychologically dependent on the Imperial President and his “responsibility to protect”. By blowing up Syrians in an already half-destroyed country?
His numbers-argument is supposed to impress, but doesn't. He tots up the costs of the American War Machine as $650 billion-a-year. Wal-Mart's annual sales are about $450 billion. To be sure, neither are value-for-money. Wal Mart helps intensify American dependence on Chinese exports – but that is due to pure American laziness and inefficiency - and the War Machine helped Kosovar drug barons, and later on Libyan djihadis take full control “post liberation”. In Libya the message was rammed home by killing the US ambassador to show exactly who is boss. What could be more “imperial” than that?
Feeling big among other dwarfs is the default program for America's would-be imperialists such as John McCain. In the Syria crisis the range of dwarf players is impressive, notably the cowardly and hypocritical Arab League and its bigger dwarfs like petrodollar-bloated Saudi bigwigs with big mouths – but no balls. Like Stockman says, if al Assad's regime was such a truly awful existential threat to the region, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would have taken it out – but in fact they are too cowardly and too hypocritical to do that. So they sidle along to the runt-sized Neighborhood Bully and whine.
Like any fairy tale, the dumb story has to end some place – maybe not in Congress. The Syrian crisis is edging towards to full provocation, and if Obama and his small, more downsized-than-him ally Mr. Francois Hollande have the balls to attack, retaliation is likely from firstly Iran, followed by Russia and why not also China? Trifling details like the Iranians electing a President who wants to normalize relations with the US and its allies – don't count. The certainty of Syria turning into another Libyan djihadi gangstah state when the regime crashes – doesn't count.
The would-be empire and its Peace prize president want another dirty little war. Let them have it!
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.
© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.
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