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imperialism & war

America: quo vadis? Part II

the second part of examining a troubled "superpower.
America: Quo Vadis (Part II)

In Part 1 of this essay on American so called "supremacy" we examined some domestic and foreign factors which can be attributed to this sole superpower's slow yet irreversible it seems , drift into an abyss. Let us use historical "projection models" from the past comparing U.S global domination to other imperial declines to better grasp the current context. Rome extended the borders of its vast imperial in conquest after conquest then exacted a "tribute" or tax on its subjected citizens. It was a reasonable trade off: the subjected peoples in return for a paying "head tax" to their imperial overlords enjoyed the privileges of Roman civil rights and protection from barbarians thanks to the mighty Empire's legions. Rome also exported it s cultural grandeur, great verse, literature and arts, which enriched the outer peripheries of the imperium. By contrast the U.S exports only "freedom". Decoded this word usually associated with liberty really means tutelage by the World Bank and the IMF in the form of debt repayments coupled with relinquishing all rights to domestic industry over to multinationals. The U.S also exports video games and instant gratification in the form of fast food. This resembles a much cruder version of Rome's panem et circenses or bread and circuses which distracted both the citizens and conquered masses. At home America offers its illiterate, incarcerated or homeless masses a brief reprieve from their pitiful existence by means of a computer generated "virtual reality" show.

Y Pluribus Unum?

The universality of Roman codes laws led to the modern day Republic we call the united state of America. Yet America (unlike the glorious Roman Imperial republic) today is unable or unwilling to extend "universal principles" abroad as it did after the Second World War so successfully in with the Marshall plan to Europe.The greatest example of a "stabilization force" in history. It only can project its military might in what appear to its rivals like China and Russia a hap hazard "on the cheap" bombing campaign. Hence its power is derided as being simply imperialistic aggression as the leftist might say and not an extension of empire . The U.S is unable to win the "hearts and minds" of unruly peoples around the globe because it has lost that battle in the minds of public opinion at home. In fact a deeply divided nation cannot even maintain a binding commonality of national purpose within its own borders. By that I mean invest in public education for its poorest nor provide universal health care for its oldest citizens, or secure its own borders. Or as well have seen with Katrina secure its coastlines from nature's invaders. This is compounded by a Presidency restricted to promoting a corporate agenda at the expense of the greater good of the nation. A presidency willing and able to wage war but not pay for it with higher taxes. A presidency able to ask it's youngest to make the "ultimate sacrifice" on the war while unable to provide housing or decent pension for its "war heroes" on the home front. In ancient times, this led to uprisings among the armed legions of Rome; by the way and triggered the revolts within the Roman imperial armies. Perhaps the Pentagon should do more to keep it troops happy before its too late...

Barbarians at the Gates:

Implementing any national policy to stop the rot and appease discontent within the Republic is hampered as well by the political chasms splitting up the U.S. The American "heartland", "the Bible belt", "the rust belt", and "the Northeast" as they are called are almost separate entities; disparate regions seeming to be insular foreign lands within an increasingly dissolute and divided federation. Then there are the "ethic mixtures" which make up the citizenry. However, the melting pot simmering with migrants is now boiling over. An increasing Latino American population seeking their fair share of the shrinking American pie is increasing demanding more political clout that's represtative of their increasing demographic weight. At the same time, distant relatives on the Mexican side of the border are heading North, in search of an ever elusive "American Dream". One poor Mexican's dream is another Arizona cattle rancher's nightmare. Border States mount a patriotic resistance to this this mass influx by keeping armed militia on patrol to search, find and destroy undocumented day laborers with the benign consent of overworked and underpaid U.S border guards . How does one accommodate these growing internal -external border pressures while at the same time engaging in an endless "war on terror" overseas?
The longer this question remains unanswered the faster America will slip into the abyss.

Let such switch to the foreign front of the Global in scale American- state. In Afghanistan an air war is being fought without the proper amount of ground troops. The same is true in Iraq. The U.S uses flying fortresses like B-52 combined with aero naval operation as a lethal strike force against a primitively armed but much better trained warlords whose iron will cannot be bent by lobbing fancy weaponry or "daisy cutters" into mountain- sides, any more than it is possible for U.S Special Forces to win the "war on terror" anywhere by terrorizing local villagers who shelter their own "freedom fighters". Wielding a big stick without dangling a carrot to Afghan resistance or any other opponent is unlikely to quell the ongoing uprisings in poor and backward states who are subjected to American incompetent imperial rule. The same is true for Iraq, where one of the most costly wars in U.S history is being fought. This unwinnable war is draining the U.S treasury to the tune of 100 billion per year. Beating up bullies , thugs , tinpot dictators the like of Saddam Hussein or Milosvic or stomping on 'military midgets' in the Middle east or cnetral Asia will neither win the U.S friends nor honor in the region nor cower the growing insurgency. On the contrary bombing semi feudal societies "back other stone age" is a futile military goal and mindless utter folly if the bombing does not lead quickly to reconstruction and stabilization and political engagement of the defeated enemy in post war talks. This takes lots of money, it can't be done as a quick and cheap fix. In the case of Iraq a far more advanced society than in Afghanistan , the U.S sought to pacify the nation with "shock and awe" , and fancy military pyrotechnics. Now stumbling in the dark it has put the ox before the cart by drafting a constitution during the a state of war and under occupation . With the impressive military wizardry George W. (as in warlock perhaps?) now over, it turns out there no post war plan to stabilize Iraq. How much longer can the U.S finance such counter produce conflicts even if it is for sake of gaining access to oil in the Persian Gulf. We all know the oil is running out yet Pentagon strategists are obsessed with fighting oil wars just as we enter the post oil era... ..madness!

Furthermore, America gets most of its imported oil from the Western Hemisphere from three client states Mexico, Canada and Venezuela. This does not take billions of dollars of funding a massive intelligence agency to surmise this. The third in South America is becoming an increasingly troublesome and unreliable source to be sure. But trying to overthrow its leader is not likely to pacify a demoractically elected leader either. The other two, Canada and Mexico are profiting from a boom of oil and gas exports to their American oil starved neighbor. A continental trade bloc within the NAFTA context is key to American energy self sufficiency. Ironically the U.S as it is heavily dependent on close economic ties to its North American trading partners is witnessing the deteriorating of bilateral ties with these indispensable allies. Trade friction, differences over the Iraq war, militarization of the U.S borders to the North and South has split apart the "Three Amigos". .

Canada and Mexico have one big advantage over their oilaholic neighbor: they are both relatively speaking to the U.S energy self sufficient. This strategic resource although nationalized in the case of Mexico can be shared provided the U.S takes steps to accomdedate and not alienate those allies. NAFTA can be taken further and integrated into an EU style union. With a common currency, a common immigration policy and labor movement flexibility. But perhaps in the current state of affairs this is only a distant pipedream. Instead of courting its allies in North America and France and Germany in Europe, the U.S have hooked up with a diplomatic midget or "non actor" on the international scene as Dr. Brezinki refers to it: Great Britain. Mind you, I love foggy old England its selection of warm ales and cricket matches. But why has America chosen the U.K as its deputy in fighting the "war on terror". Britain, no matter how charming it may seem from Washington is suffering from post imperial syndrome. It is a major base in Europe for terrorists' cells and terror networks. Furthermore, Britain neither has the economic resources (it refuses to join the world's new reserve currency the Euro) nor the military muscle to support America's military theatrics as impressive as they may be to some spectators watching CNN. Like America, Britain goes to war with third rate "military midgets" such as Serbia or in a more farcical fashion against Argentina to protect a few dozen grazing sheep on a windswept barren island called the Falklands. Britain hopes some of its lost imperial glory may rub off on America. And maybe America identifies with the old and dowdy "mother country" which it spurned back in revolutionary war. But such nostalgia is not worth much militarily nor diplomatically in terms of winning imperial wars in the name of freedom and democracy.