Category Archives: capitalism

Desperate Times

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

It is said that desperate times call for desperate measures. Undoubtedly another of those truisms bandied about but not really well understood. That’s not exactly a surprise, that, is it.

The problem for mankind caught in the clash of civilizations, such as, for example, the onslaught of the European empires upon Africa, the Americas and the Far East, and even for many European nations, is the inability to recognize the coming of desperate times thus remaining wide open to any better armed or more hypocritical predator. By the time the people realize they’ve been conquered, it’s too late for any “desperate measures” short of committing tribal suicide in bloody battles that have no hope of succeeding.

But desperate times do not come only in times of war. They can arise in times of economic oppression conveniently labelled “depression” as if it was somehow a natural event. If the oppressor is able to hide his intent by fomenting hate, fear or greed (the basic formula for any conquest), those being economically conquered will be so busy hating, fearing and exploiting one another they will only realize their real plight when it’s too late to do anything about it; when “desperate measures” will no longer work because they can no longer be enacted.

It is my contention that both, the USA (and satellite or militarily dependent nations) and the European Union have now reached this “desperate times” condition. Predatory capitalism has firmly established itself over these lands and their benighted occupants. These occupants are now boxed in; incapable of coming up with any viable way out of their occupancy. In a very real, para-military way, all those nations reeling under unimaginable debt loads and sucking off the hind tit of international banksters are in fact occupied nations.

They are more firmly controlled and being systematically plundered than were conquered nations under the Third Reich. Banksterism is far more deadly than Nazism yet very few actually recognize this danger. That’s why the growing hype about resurgent Nazism: keep the hate and fear going, hide the plundering.

Banksterism is the traditional snake that ensnares with its eyes before it strikes. The victim is incapable of movement, unable to realize the death blow is coming. “You know this is being done for your own good now,” say the snake eyes. The victim remains hopeful until after the death strike.

It’s not that there was no warning. The “Desperate Times Ahead, Use Extreme Caution” signs have been posted planet-wide for generations, if not ages. It’s not as if there never were mass victims of desperate times which should be a warning for those heedlessly plunging ahead thinking only of the next pay check, the next purchase, the next “fuck” if you will.

The problem is, who is it that’s going to get royally “fucked” this time around? Will it be the “dirty Indians” or the “soul-less blacks of darkest Africa”? Will it be the “godless Arabs” sitting on veritable gold mines of black gold? Will it be the last tribes of the Amazon or the Malayan jungles?

Well no. Civilization has run out of those. Massacred, enslaved, bought out into hopeless poverty and refugee status, they no longer matter. They can no longer feed the banksters of predatory capitalism. Since the System can only feed itself on living flesh that produces, reproduces and reduces, the new victims are Americans and Europeans, and following that, those of China and India. All those who now depend entirely on the World Bank; the IMF; the Fed, (or any other similar agency, regardless of the name it uses) for everything, even in increasing instances for the very air they breathe.

Few ever saw the warning signs of long ago (it’s called history, for those who think studying history is so very boring), fewer yet can sense the perilous condition they’ve willingly let themselves be ensnared into. There are no desperate measures being talked about or even considered, just same old, same old, (replace the Conservatives with the Liberals, the Republicans with the Democrats, the “This” with the “That.” Add a touch of icing on the cake, like alternative energy sources and such, pathetic and pitiful handouts to the clamouring who suspect something’s about to seriously go south… to shut them up, to keep them believing and voting and consuming, even when they know they are believing in a pathocratic deity, voting for a deadly enemy and consuming each other.

Sure, fine, have your “climate change” meetings. Have your Tesla technology and pretty (or ugly) electric cars. Have your windmills of your mind. Feel better? That’s what was intended, that you feel something is being done, by somebody, about something important so you’ll remain compliant. Suck on that nipple. We don’t mind you fussing when less and less milk squirts from it, just suck harder.  It’s that trickle down thing.  It works for us, make it work for you.  Read those self help books we keep grinding out to keep you believing.  Pray to the Universe: it’s just one great big wish granting machine  eager to satisfy your every whim.  Buy the book.  If it works (guffaw!), it’s just more taxes in our pockets.)

 

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Why do we need to Define our Terms?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Sometimes, in trying to explain things, I know that I come across as annoying, or worse, dissing those wonderful time-honoured traditions and beliefs and “undefined” concepts that bring mental comfort in troubling times of discomfort. But why insist on well-worn concepts being defined, and re-defined, particularly at this time?

Which particular concepts? The standard “big” ones: faith, hope, love, miracles, peace, brotherhood, charity. There is never any lack of extolling of these “virtues” or events. Why can’t I go along with that?

Was it Plato who said, ‘The unexamined life isn’t worth living’? Why don’t we apply this to our great “positive” concepts we like so much to talk about, to bandy about, to shout from the streets in demonstrations, to paint on a sash or use as mission statements? How would that read? “The Unexamined Virtue isn’t worth Proclaiming!”

That to me is a truism. Why don’t we examine our virtues? Why don’t we demand of them that they function according to the claims we make of them, or for them? Take this time, somewhere between Christmas and New Year: peace is the leading contender in unexamined concepts. Peace, peace, peace, we write and say to one another.

Many years ago, I studied the Bible. As the world’s #1 best seller, I thought it deserved my time since so many people purportedly studied it. Here’s a passage guaranteed not to be called upon to illustrate any modern sermon. Harsh, more than harsh, but illustrative, oh yes! They call these “Jeremiads” remember? The ranting prophet, only problem is, he was right. Is the following truthful? Does it apply to us today?

Je. 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so that they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Je. 6:11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in. “Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years.

Je. 6:12 Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,” declares the LORD.

Je. 6:13 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practise deceit.

Je. 6:14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Je. 6:15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.

Whether it is “the LORD” or a corrupt and decadent system that brings “punishment” we know from history that said “punishment” is unavoidable, unless there is a collective 180 degree turn away from the current way of conducting “business” between people and the planet. Pay particular heed to Jeremiah’s complaint: “Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.” Isn’t that exactly the case right now? When someone wishes me “peace” in the tradition of this time, I feel sick at heart, knowing the greeting is not analyzed, not defined, not ground up in the crucible of awareness to be offered as a priceless and unblemished gem. In fact it comes in the opposite guise because it is unexamined in the light of current reality. To me, it is a curse.

For who are those so quick to offer ‘peace’ to each other or their neighbours? Those who would never define it for themselves. Those who use it as a feel good thing, a sort of dessert. A sort of magic formula. That traditional wave of the hand by the queen as she rattles by on the street in her fancy carriage and the exploited sheeple happily wave back in glowing subservience.

But there is another reality: that of wars of resources, exploitation, profit, extortion, lust; of racism and bigotry. From those wars come millions of refugees, and how easy it is to see how those who promote the wars, support the wars and do not suffer from the wars but rather profit from them, hardening themselves against the dispossessed. How easy it is to see how ‘the haves’ choose to make themselves comfortable with their world; to overlook the growing intensity of its evil agenda, perhaps hoping against hope that if they make deals with an evil system, the system in turn will leave them have their fake bit of peace.

Understand that when I use the term ‘the world’ I don’t mean this planet or its natural environment. What I mean (properly defined) is man’s global civilization. So, unless one has made a “public” statement of non-collusion with that civilization (I have, by the way, because I know what “the world” consists of) everyone is a bona fide member of ‘the world’ and functions as a representative, a promoter, a worshipper, an agent, a member, at the very least, an adjunct of said ‘world.’

Because they are unexamined in the light of today’s reality, all the great virtues bandied about become nothing but curses. What good does it do when passing by a starving child to wish her health and well-being; to say, “be fed and clothe and praise God for your life”? But when the relatively rich give each other wishes of health, happiness, peace and love, aren’t they in fact cursing the rest of the world that stares at a life they can never have; a life taken from them and that slips away from them in excruciating pain and sorrow? But not to worry, when it comes time to vote, it will always be “the rich” who will garner the majority votes and predictably in a fake system nothing will ever change except for the worse.  And predictably there will be a collective sigh of comfort when it is discovered it is the rich “Democrats” who won.  We can go back to ruling our Empire through hypocrisy and feel good about ourselves.

In closing, another very annoying biblical quote: Brother James, have at it!

Ja. 2:15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

Ja. 2:16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Ja. 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Here’s another from James:

“Ja. 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

Ja. 5:2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

Ja. 5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Ja. 5:4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Ja. 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. [Or yourselves as in a day of feasting]

Ja. 5:6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

Any truth in this yet? You see, it’s really all about definitions. The world creates illusions to suit every need and desire. Whatever you want, it will proffer. For a price, of course, but it will also offer the credit card if you don’t have the cash. Conversely, if you don’t play the game, it will find ways to punish, some subtle, like being unemployed and forced out of your home, and some kept hidden in Guantanamo. Which makes me want to define the word: torture – another time.

Definitions. A life lived without being defined (or examined); when its virtuous or feel-good notions aren’t constantly re-defined against the light of the day, is a life, I wouldn’t say ‘not worth living’ but rather carefully faked. A life lived in an entertainment centre surrounded by images on wide screens, on cathedral tapestries, or wandering through museums and mausoleums.

Definitions. I had a recurring dream a few nights ago, of two very large, obviously GMO designed fanged and slavering black dog-like beasts chasing after unarmed people who, in terror, tried to run away from them. Some got away but only at the cost of others being caught and torn to pieces. You have to hear the screams, see the blood, experience such a thing to understand.

Defined: these are the dogs of war. And they are currently running loose throughout the Greater Middle East, much of Africa and wherever drugs are being grown or manufactured. They are also active in refugee camps; in worker slave camps; in sweat shops and in countries the US Empire holds as “non conforming” and a threat to its claims of planetary hegemony. The bits and pieces of the torn bodies I saw in my dreams are being sold at a discount at Walmart and on Amazon. Where do you shop, and do business? Where it’s cheaper and most convenient?

The real world doesn’t have to fear forgetfulness.
It’s a tough customer.
It sits on our shoulders,
weighs on our hearts,
tumbles to our feet.
There’s no escaping it,
it tags along each time we flee.
And there’s no stop
along our escape route
where reality isn’t expecting us. — Wisława Szymborska, from “The Real World”

 

 

I’m Puzzled about Mankind

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Hi, this is me, and yes, I’m talking to myself again.  Who else would be here to talk to at 10:30 in the evening?

So, what’s so important, I had to close down my evening reading for?

As per usual, I’m wondering about the fate of mankind.  OK, forget that.  I’m puzzled about mankind, is that better?

In some sort of normal scheme of things, if a group of intelligent beings were made aware that what they are doing, as a collective, is endangering the majority of their group, perhaps all of it by also endangering the one and only world they can survive on, one would think they would stop just long enough to consider this possibility, check out the best possible information, correlate the data and if in fact it looked like it was indeed the case, decide on a course change?

Of course I’m speaking of normal reaction to a serious situation.  Is it a fact then that one cannot expect a normal reaction from the collective that likes to think of itself as human, and calls itself mankind?  The collective that certainly considers itself “the smartest guys in the room”?  When was the last time people chose to give planetary leadership to, say, the whales, the elephants, the chimps, the gorillas, the lions, the cheetahs, the cottontail rabbits or the mountain bluebirds?  Even less drastic, when was the last time people chose a tribe of aborigines to rule the planet, using only their tribal rules of interaction with each other and the environment?

This is the problem, you see?  Modern, Techno Man has held the reins of power for far too long, never willing to concede defeat regardless of how many of his own civilizations he destroyed and caused to collapse.  Hubris, pure and simple.  A belief in some theory that man, only man, can rule this world.  No one else gets a chance, it’s a closed rule.  So even if mankind is on the verge of collapsing another civilization, and with it, billions of his own, not to mention the shock-wave effect upon the planet when the collapse inevitably turns to blood and gore, even “limited” nuclear war.

It’s one thing to be intelligent, and certainly mankind is an intelligent species; it’s an entirely different thing to be what I’d call a holistic being.  Intelligence serves evil just as handily as it does those who would do only good.  Intelligence is a tool, nothing more.  It is not a mark of character.  Intelligence doesn’t automatically confer the right to rule, and it follows, to despoil, upon anyone.  In fact if intelligence was used properly, it would lead in the opposite direction so right there we know intelligence, or “IQ” is not how we measure worth, no more than using a monetary factor.

Organized religion, the modern world’s once unchallenged ruler, has taken a bit of a pounding since the last century and deservedly so.  However, having been replaced by science as the new god of the age, things have not gotten any better.  That is because, like religion, science is but a tool of capitalism, i.e. greed, and when you have mostly tools operating a tool, you are going to have a lot of inhuman happenings in the shop and around the yard.  That’s what we’ve been seeing, a whole lot of inhuman happenings.  Highest on the pedestal of scientific achievements: weapons of mass destruction and weapons of all sorts have proliferated.  Those are great for killing people, but surely science can provide other great sources of profit.  Indeed, it proved itself once more in a cornucopia of devilish chemicals to kill bugs and weeds.  DDT,  Malathion, Glyphosate, 2,4-D, Roundup (for those GMO crops!) and… remember Napalm? Killing bugs, weeds, trees and people, in one fell swoop in fiery infernos.  Makes one want to get on the knees and worship in ecstasy, doesn’t it? 

Undoubtedly some will jump to the defense of science and claim it has ushered in many great accomplishments.  Perhaps, but I’ll say this: all, bar none, of those accomplishments were done for profit, and continue to be done for profit, including any and all new drives in “clean” energy, and all monetary profit is always, without fail, to the detriment of the planet and the people.  Science is thus a bit more than a tool, it is a brash and proud whore of capitalism.

I could list a whole lot more of science’s infernal inventions unleashed upon insects, plants, animals and people world-wide.  The thing is, most people reading about such things just shut down.  “Does not compute” — “Change the channel, please!”  Most people can’t even face the things they know themselves to be in collusion with.  It all has to do with intelligence.  Consumers know how they get their mosquito-free pond setting environment; their bug-free flowers and their relatively cheap goods, no denying that, despite all the happy people in the commercials, they know about the poisons, the exploitation of labour, the oppression of dispossessed minorities and refugees, the endless extortion of life from the poor globally.  They know.  But with a great deal of help from their programming, they choose to ignore the warnings that such things have never ended well before.

Near the end of this internal monologue I realize once again that such things as I’m seeing here today have never boded well for any other civilization.  When you see rising corruption in places of power, you see more wars of extortion.  You see a general breakdown of many good things some societies had managed to set up for themselves.  You see more repression at home, on the streets.  More police armed for war and looking for mass confrontation.  More “security” everywhere.  You see personal freedoms taken away one by one, then two by two, then all gone.  You see razor wire fences going up and more prisons.  You experience racism and segregation when you thought you’d done away with such evils. 

You did not, and you never will, simply because your programming tells you it’s fixable.  You can patch it.  So your system plays you.

One example, for Americans.  Recently there was some concern that a known pedophile running as a Republican would be elected to the senate.  Oh, the uproar!  Then “miraculously” the “good guy” predictably a Democrat, won.  Jubilation in the ranks.  And the wheel turns, the game goes on and none are the wiser.  So the Democrats, if there’s still a country left standing after the current fiasco regime, will return to power, and to all their sleazy games which are just put on hold while the Republicans do the dirty work of validating a glorious return for their opposition.  There’s intelligence here, surely or at least method to madness.

So, what are you actually puzzled about then?

If I were offered a way out of a predicament that spelled so much doom, wouldn’t I take it?  Would I just shrug it off, or argue against it when all of my arguments have already proved to be false?  Surely there is some room for intelligent intelligence here, on this world?

Good luck with that one girl, you’re on the wrong planet, but don’t give up, you’re almost done!

Yeah, I wondered about that, and thanks for reminding me.

We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind

I came across the following article on a blog I follow – Tales from the Conspiratum.  I thought of simply re-blogging, but I don’t like the “Tales” background which makes it difficult to read articles, so I went to the source blog, “Counter punch” and simply copied the entire article and pasted it here with all relevant links.

It’s a bit long but it makes points that some of us have known since we went to grade school about the power that is imperialism.  How do we know whether we are living in a “free” world, or enmeshed in an imperial, world-dominating military dictatorship?  To decide, we need access to certain facts, not myths, legends, hearsay or the hum-drum BS of bought-and-paid-for commercial mainstream media.  We need to read what thinkers have to say.  Here is one such article.  May you find the time to ponder.  _________________________________________________________________________________________

We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind

Shortly after the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, made a candid confession to the Army Times, “I’m running out of demons, I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il Sung.” Amid the general bonhomie of the military interview, Powell nicely encapsulated a central truth of empire: it doesn’t want peace. Never did. Imperialism, the monopoly stage of capitalism, is based on conquest. Peace is little more than an aftermath in the imperialist vision. It is the dusty rubble-strewn silence that descends on Aleppo when the jihadists have been bussed out. It is the silent pollution of the Danube when the NATO jets have flown. It is the quiet that settles on the Libyan square once the slave auction has concluded. Peace is an interlude between the birth of avarice and the advent of aggression. Little else.

If Powell confessed empire’s disinterest in peace, he also expressed the need of the imperials state for a steady supply of new enemies. Conflict is the lifeblood of imperial capitalism. It is how the ruling class further enriches itself. It is how the global elite expand their dominion over the planet. Those who will not pay tribute under threat of menace, must ultimately face the menace. But this truth, that the imperial state is the carmine tip of elite expropriation, must not be aired among the hoi polloi. It is the unseemly underbelly of power and if it were widely understood it would hack away the legitimacy of the state, which is only justified by its nominal commitment to the welfare of the nation. That claim only appears legitimate in the face of some grim and ghastly threat. Powell understood that with the nasty specter of the evil empire crumbling to ash on an Asian plain, a spine-chilling new antagonist would have to be invented to replace it.

Enter the specter of Islamic terror. Islamic terrorism is largely the product of American terror. It is wittingly conjured into being through our wanton destruction of Muslim societies. We did not attack Muslim nations in order to produce a new enemy. We attacked them to extend our control of natural resources, shape the trade routes of the future, and expand the reach of global capital. But the epiphenomenon of terrorism was both predictable and embraced as a casus belli. It is the hobgoblin used by ruling class media to frighten western populations into acquiescence with the west’s warlike vision for global hegemony.

But western populations have of late grown weary of the terrorist scourge and the endless storylines of restive migrants doing the dirty work of mysterious jihadists on the Disneyfied streets of western capitals. Jets into skyscrapers. Cars into crowds. Backpacks in corners of concert halls. High-rise shotgunners spraying bullets into public squares. Terror fatigue is spreading across a western world that could only sustain permanent stress levels for so long. Thankfully, for the managers of empire and its media flacks, a reborn Russian state, rising from the ashes of a capitalist looting spree, has provided a second narrative front in the war for the mind of the west. A different visage emerges. Not the bearded votary narrating a death wish to a shaky cam. But a Muscovite in a bespoke suit with a supercilious grin on his sly poker face. The optics are different, but in a media environment of constant overexposure, that is a good thing.

Both terrorism and a revanchist Russia represent figments of horror in the minds of western citizens. They are the bête noire with which we can shape our worldview and pepper our cocktail conversations. We do not realize that Islamic terror is largely a product of American terror. We do not see that American aggression provokes Russian self-defense. As such, these orientalist caricatures represent the hypocrisy of imperial neoliberalism, which is forever flying the false flag of economic justice and democratic freedom over its just-conquered capitals. Inhabitants of those broken cities know better, as their standard of living plummets and their dictators are replaced by juntas. They know the west is like Joseph Conrad’s sepulchral city, where an alabaster exterior hides a crypt of rotting flesh. That is the real vision that western media works so feverishly to disguise, one no sane person could stomach. That’s why the media must craft fresh Frankensteins at such a feverish pace. Fairy tales of secular missionaries bringing the gift of free-market democracy to the benighted tribes of the east.

Globalization and Its Discontents

The terminology of that fairy tale is telling. The term ‘globalization’ has been used as a portmanteau containing all of the sly nuance of neoliberalism. Globalization is the rush of capital into every conceivable crevice of the planet in search of profitable new ventures. Unfortunately, markets must be pried open with war when rhetorical picklocks don’t suffice. The term ‘humanitarian’ is the masque we now affix to the gruesome face of war whenever we must attack some recalcitrant socialist backwater. What we used to call a ‘civilising mission’ in Africa, we now call a ‘humanitarian intervention’ in the Middle East. Historians call that ‘progress.’

The effect of this noble-minded fustian is to pacify a population and to marginalize anyone who attempts to reveal the true character of imperial action. Who would oppose a globalizing force of open markets that promise to bring ‘developing’ and ‘emerging’ nations online and on par with our post-industrial west? Those who do can hardly explain the extractive nature of neoliberal globalization or its deindustrializing effect on developing economies before they are skewered by the flagbearers of humanitarianism. Who would deny the righteous cause of intervening to halt imminent genocide? One has barely called into question whether genocide is actually imminent before being fleeced by the rhetorical guardians of the west’s civilizing mission. The righteous R2P. One has hardly breathed a word of how the ‘war on terror’ is largely generated by the state terror we inflict on other nations before being rubber-stamped a traitor and told to leave the country (if you don’t like it).

The fable must be accepted. We are spreading freedom and equality. Simple as that. End of story. Say that the United States is the greatest counter-revolutionary force in the world, and be branded a traitor–by the counter-revolutionaries. Wherever democratic freedom rears its ugly head, you can be sure that U.S. media flacks, as well as special forces, drones, proxy terrorists, and battalions are on hand to crush what they claim to defend.

Softening the Blow

The fairy tales are told by the mainstream media, shamelessly so. The Wolf Blitzers of the world devote themselves to the slavish production of fresh threats. The liberal MSM is represented today by outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. These ciphers take the crude evasions of the White House, State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence agencies, and camouflage them. They dress them in muted tones that dampen the drama of blast craters. They massage the story to elide the facts that might produce introspection or taint the purity of our self-image. Self-criticism is inappropriate, but the righteous condemnation of other nations is a moral mandate. Print everything in classic fonts, with well-designed column widths, and add in world-class photography that turns ruination into artistic representation. This is the manna consumed by the acolytes of exceptionalism.

Nothing better embodies the empty ruse of liberalism than the bulky deadwood of the Times. There is of course the elitist coverage of mini-breaks in distant villas, where war-torn peasant societies repair their communities round a communal table. There are the heady profiles of the latest restaurant trends, where the bearded Brooklyn chef with neck tats touts his vegan currywurst to the gentrified hood. There is the fastidious theater review and the effusive real estate forecast. Filler aside, readers will be reminded that war is necessary when America wages it; globalization is inevitable when it means free markets, and free markets mean individual freedom; multiculturalism and mass immigration are desirable to all, irreversible, and a moral imperative; and inscrutable new alien threats are profiled with an Orientalist’s hopeful but ultimately worrisome and mystified gaze. Little mention is made of the fact that our conflicts are provably imperial resource wars; that in nearly every port of call our country wages counter-revolutionary battles that stifle liberation and independence; that globalization has wrecked the American standard of living through labor arbitrage and offshoring; that immigration ought not to be coupled with austerity unless the objective is race wars; that the lives of women, LGBTQ, and people of color are collateral damage in the crosshairs of empire; or that American capitalism has no interest in delivering jobs, living wages, or upward mobility to its extant population, let alone its newest members.

When these mostly taboo subjects are noted, they are presented as a perplexing side effects of a noble project of laissez faire globalization. They are unfortunate but must not be rashly addressed. Better to endlessly maintain the status quo as one wrestles with the philosophic implications of global capitalism. This was Obama’s favorite tactic. Open a dialogue, but don’t change anything important. This dissembling attitude was beautifully expressed in a recent Twitter thread which detailed seventy years of Times articles proclaiming a dizzying succession of reform-minded princes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the patriarchy’s misogynist grip on power is as firm as ever, as is Washington’s backing. The last post in that thread noted Thomas Friedman’s sycophantic paean to the new idol of Saudi imperialism, Mohammed Bin Salman, or ‘MBS’ to his fawning admirers. Friedman’s article was printed last week.

When not absorbing the high culture of the Times literary supplement, one finds the corporate liberal Democrat happily digesting bite-sized reports from the National Public Radio (NPR). Here the adherence to the state view is no less vigilant than in print. Thus when NPR interviews a CIA psychologist who tells us that whistleblowers are either psychopaths, narcissists, or lingering in some irresponsible adolescence, the “national security correspondent” fails to challenge these claims. And when Australian broadcasting interviews Hillary Clinton, it allows the venal egotist to smear WikiLeaks as a Kremlin tool and call Julian Assange a narcissistic opportunist without the slightest resistance. Questions about the shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation are feebly set aside at the merest sign of discomfort by Madame Secretary. And Times op-ed writers like Friedman can happily call for support of al Qaeda, destroying target societies, and cheerlead more global wage leveling by chastising workers for not falling in lockstep with the elitist program.

These are the signs of a dead discipline. The mainstream media is no longer adversarial. It takes the official story at face value. It has abdicated its proper role in a democratic society, which is partly why we are no longer a democratic society. As Princeton University has explained, we are effectively a plutocracy. Thanks to the MSM, though, most of us continue to believe the rhetorical platitudes of our corrupt leaders. Media is one of our numberless emasculated institutions, which are now authoritarian and warlike. (See liberal faith in the Mueller investigation, led by a neoliberal imperialist who fought to crush Vietnamese socialism and led the FBI, one of the most regressive and criminal organizations in the world.) Like readers who still place a naive faith in the government, MSM writers continue to believe they are doing independent journalism in the service of truth (“Democracy dies in darkness,” the Post implores us). But real journalism accepts nothing at face value. It is the Socratic voice that unsettles the consensus.

Bot Bylines

Instead of incisive journalism that digs, defies, and holds power to account, we get self-censoring media automatons pampering oligarchs and pretending that all good-thinking people care deeply about the state of the state. Listen to the soothing language of the New York Times on the supposedly earth-shaking Russian influence campaign on social media. It hits all the right notes without seriously challenging the narrative. Note how it bleeds concern. This kind of journalism is a palliative for the conscience of a liberal. Ah, the “thorny debates” inside Facebook, no doubt had “in good faith,” and subject to “fateful misunderstandings,” if Ken Burns were documenting it. “Executives worry” and there is considerable “hand-wringing” afoot in good faith efforts to wipe out “fake news.”

Even the protagonists of the story are usefully quoted. Facebook lawyers, commenting on the miniscule purchase of ads over a two-year period from accounts with even the most tenuous Russian connection, much of it after the election, much of it not even mentioning presidential candidates, and the creation of bots to grow click farms, recoiled in horror and called the knowledge “deeply disturbing” and “an insidious attempt to drive people apart.” This is theater for the masses. Cue the organ grinder.

The goal of this domestic conditioning is to remove the democracy from democracy. The objective is to create a hollow shell of a democratic society, representative on the outside, plutocratic on the inside. The marble tomb inhabited by necrosis. This is deliberate. Read Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk Out of Democracy for a nice overview of how America’s collective conscience has been shaped by corporate forces. Why? Because we are the enemy. The enemy is our freedom of thought and speech, because that is what inevitably leads to democratic, socialist, or communist change that benefit the people as a whole, not just the vanishingly small margin of corporate elites who promote and profit from war, conquest, and rule. The problem with democracy is that it isn’t very profitable for capital. Socialist countries tend to emphasize social services. It is extremely hard to make money delivering quality social services to the poor. Really, the only way to make money off of social services is to deliver inadequate social services to the middle class for extravagant fees. See Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act for a master class in this technique. Monopoly capitalism is incompatible with actual democracy. To the degree that a truly democratic society can have free markets, they must be strictly regulated, prevented from reaching monopoly status, and completely walled off from public institutions. Otherwise, they will cannibalize those institutions, reshaping them as rubberstamp organs of elite profit.

As it is, democracy is merely the mask that disguises the engines of imperialism. It is useful in this regard because, unlike socialism, democracy makes no serious claims on the means of production. It depoliticizes the most political issue of all: economics. Thus the manufacture of enemies, job one for the ruling class media, always targets socialist-leaning nations that sense the need for economic justice alongside social justice. Even if they are mixed economies that provide space for open markets, like Venezuela. It makes no difference. We mustn’t tolerate the slightest majoritarian impulse in the economic arena. All such beliefs must be terminated. We must be refashioned as foot soldiers of exploitation. To this end, western propaganda outlets have made psychologist Erich Fromm’s warning sound less like prophecy than predestination, “The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots.”

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Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

The Antidote – short story

Hey guess what: tomorrow is October 3, and ever since I was born, October 3rd has been my birthday.  I’ve clocked 71 of those tomorrow.  71 earth orbits around the sun, that’s a lot of space miles, yes?  Or is that space smiles? 🙂  I’m not fishing for “Happy Birthday” wishes here, in fact I don’t much care for them, but I am reminding myself that I’ve made it into the company of “elders” and that gives me some leeway, as Ashley King of  https://misfitspirit.wordpress.com/category/blogging/ said in her latest post, to express unpopular opinions.  Well in my case, I call them thoughts, but they remain unpopular nevertheless because, well, they don’t come from the same trough most people fill up their minds from.

So, without further ado, here’s a short story (longer than my usual shorty shorts) or if you prefer, a parable, that expresses my life’s philosophy to this point.


The Antidote

[a short story by  ~burning woman~  told by Sha’Tara]

Quote: “Since my house burned down I now have a better view of the rising moon”― Mizuta Masahide (1657–1723)

Quote: The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.” ― John Keats

It’s wrong… it’s all wrong, all so wrong!”

The old woman lies, thin and straight in the center of her retirement home bed, small bony hands clenched in tight fists pressed hard against her temples, pushing up strands of thinning grey-white hair.  She has her eyes tightly closed, as if she’s trying to see something in her mind that her physical surroundings would only confuse or cancel out.  She hears the voice again.

Please auntie Zee, please don’t make a scene or they’ll give you more pills to calm you down and I’ve come a long ways to visit with you.  Can we talk, please?” 

Zee opens one eye, slowly, deliberately, and stares at her eighteen year old grand-niece sitting primly in the bedside chair.  With great effort, she unclenches her hands, drops her arms onto the covers and cautiously opens both eyes.  With piercing blue eyes, she looks at the tall girl, scanning her attire and tight pony tail of thick auburn hair.  She lets out a deep, deep sigh.

Oh Sandi, thank God it’s you and not Jean.  I had a very complex dream last night, or was it earlier today, and I was re-hashing what I was being shown.  You probably don’t want to hear about that – Lord knows the rest of the family sure doesn’t want to hear about my “visions” and dreams.”    

Don’t lump me in with them, aunt Zee.  I’m only eighteen but I’ve always preferred listening to your “stories” than to the rest of ‘em.  They bore me to death, those people.  That’s why I left home to be on my own.  I’m fed up with the whining, the oneupmanship and infighting plus the endless BS.  You know that money you and uncle Doug gave me so I could at least get a couple of college years in?  They were trying to get their hands on it.  ‘We’ll invest it for you,’ they said.  I’m done with that bunch.  So, sure, tell me about what’s all so wrong.  Tell me all of it, I want to hear it.  Can I record it?”

Auntie Zee, known as Mrs. Zelda Mortimer to the retirement home files and Ms Zee to the staff, pushes the button that brings her bed up and leans back into a thick pillow for comfort.  She smiles at Sandi.

Sorry, again, for thinking of you as part of the family.  You were never.  Of course you can record what I have to say.  You may find some of it useful, who knows?  Could you pass me that ice water and bring the bowl of jelly beans closer so we can dig in?”

She sips her water through the straw, grabs a few candies from the dish and sighs.  “Some of life’s little but important pleasures, my dear.”

Sandi giggles and helps herself to the jelly beans also, then waits.  Zee closes her eyes, chewing slowly on her jelly beans then begins her “sharing.”

Way back when, even before I was a teenager, I used to have dreams, visions, and “encounters” which I’m sure you’ve heard about.  Maybe I should have never told anyone but it’s hard to keep such things to oneself, especially when the information is not for you particularly, but concerns so many people.  Did you know you’re never too young, or too old, to be taught, and to learn?  That even when you know you’re close to dying life remains a deep mystery unraveling itself in your mind?  That when you are thus engaged, life and death blend into each other and you don’t really mind “dying” since your mind has freed itself to wander away from your body, rediscovering an old freedom it used to know before it incarnated?  I’m telling you this because I know you have it in you to be a visionary, though what you do with this information is your business, not mine. 

Zee let out a deep sigh.  “The problem is sorting it out, the real from the fake, the truth from the lie.  I used to believe that it didn’t matter as long as I could hold the entire picture together, at the same time, in my mind.  I could see the juxtaposing of lies and truth; of real and, well, not so real, or at least, not so real in this space.  Nothing, you understand, can ever be “unreal” and there is no such thing as fiction…”  

“Stop, wait, auntie Zee.  What do you mean, no such thing as fiction?”

“Well, what’s fiction?  Is it what can’t be… or what we can’t figure out how to make it be?  What’s real, what’s not real?  Let’s take some truly dichotomous examples: a cow versus Tweety Bird.  They’re both “characters” but to the average mind, a cow is real whereas Tweety is a cartoon character birdie.  Tweety, to the average mind, does not, and cannot exist.  This way of viewing reality is what causes mankind to repeat mistakes and never actually learn anything.  It is the kind of thinking that always leads to a far wall from which you can only turn around and retrace your steps.  Listen to me, Sandi, and try not to think of me as a crazy old woman.  The wall is what isn’t real.  If you want to, you can enter a world where a cow and Tweety exist side by side and there is no dichotomy – no problem of discerning what is real.  It’s all real.

“Think of it this way: how did the cartoonist discover Tweety, and his other friends in the Looney Tunes cartoons?  They had to come from somewhere, so we say, they were imagined.  That is the same as saying that anything imagined comes from nothing, making the “imaginator” a kind of god, having the power to make something out of nothing.  How many previously imagined things have been made real through science and technology in particular? So, something “real” comes from “nothing” and no one, it seems, notices the very serious problem here, that people can actually make something from nothing.

“There is, however, another conclusion that can be made.  That would be that these “unreal” or “imaginary” things come from another dimension, another universe perhaps, but they have to come from somewhere, somewhen, somehow.  Close your eyes and walk to that boundary, that wall that claims to be the end of reality.  Walk through it.  Don’t tell me what you see there, just let your mind absorb the view without getting absorbed in the details – they don’t make any sense at first.  Have you ever heard of the 13th floor?”

“Well, there is an older movie on that topic, people traveling forward and backward in time, that sort of thing.  At the end, the main character finds himself in the future, on the 13th floor, and looking forward in time, he sees that nothing is as yet made.”

“What do you think the writer, and the movie, were attempting to portray about life?”

“That either nothing is real, including myself, here and now, or everything is, and that it is us who create ourselves and our reality.”

“And what do we use to create that reality?”

“I’m not sure.  I’d say, imagination, but that’s too slick an answer, and it doesn’t explain anything, not really.”

“I always told you you were very smart, Sandi.  Even as a young child, you weren’t fooled.  You questioned everything.  When did you stop believing in God, or in deities in general?”

“Oh, when it no longer made any sense to pray for stuff to an omnipotent deity and nothing ever, I mean not ever, happened.  There never was any sort of undeniably miraculous response to all the prayers I heard.  Those who prayed stayed in the same boat as those who didn’t and those who openly rejected and mocked.”

“When you stopped believing, did God stop to exist?”

“I think that God never existed; that I believed in a man-made chimera, a convenient fiction invented by a certain class of individuals to lord it over others, and to take their money.”

“That’s a stock unbeliever answer.  Can you do better than that?”  Zee smiled at Sandi, her piercing blue eyes now wide open and challenging.

“You want me to say that…”

“Stop!  Stop right there.  I don’t want you to say anything.  I want you to think about your answer regarding God’s reality.”

“Oh, I see.  Fiction.  If God is a chimera, fiction, that means He exists, no matter what I think.  That means God has existed on man’s world from the beginning that man began to “see” God and will continue to exist here as long as someone believes in Him.  God is eternal and omnipresent, but not omnipotent because his creator, man, hasn’t evolved into that dimension as yet.  But God and Man are essentially one and the same, though most people would hate to face that, not being willing to take on the mantle of responsibility they continue to drape God with.  So, because of belief systems, God exists, is real, and does whatever his believers or followers ascribe to Him even though it’s the people, or nature, that have accomplished what is ascribed to God.”

The old lady claps her hands, if feebly, exclaiming, “I knew you would figure it out!”

“Does that mean that “I am God” as in the sense of that New Agey teaching?  Should I think of myself as God, then?”

“Why bother with the title?  It would be a totally unnecessary burden.  The concept of “God” is so corrupted and compromised to greedy and evil corporate entities, why would anyone want to wear that label?  Why not just be Sandi?  If you called yourself “God” do you think that would help you get things done easier?  Do you think it would allow you to perform real miracles?  The most serious problem with the God concept is that it is too alien for this world.  People haven’t figured out how to be “God” and yet they have projected their “God” into this reality, hoping against all nature, science and common sense, that their character will perform acts his creators cannot.  Does that remind you of something?”

“Yes, Looney Tunes!  The characters in those cartoons can do many things, and survive many incidents that their creators could never do.  Essentially, God is still nothing more than a cartoon character at this point in time and our mental evolution.”

Zee nods her head slowly and closes her eyes.  There is a satisfied look on her face.  She is proud of her niece indeed.

“Auntie Zee?”

“Ah yes dear? 

“If we are given time, do you think that eventually we will become, you know, like God, omnipotent; able to do things that today can only be classed as miracles?

“I can’t imagine humanity ever becoming omnipotent, that being what you’d call an absolute and no mental or material reality can support an absolute value.  We can know of their existence but we could never “go there” since we chose to participate in the created orders and left Spirit.  Only pure Spirit can exist within absolute values without destroying itself.  I can however imagine us getting pretty close.  I can imagine us developing empathy and creating a utopia based on such a sense.  That in itself would be already be far superior to any of our divinities’ revealed characters.”

“Aunt Zee, when I woke you up, you were saying something scary.  You said “It’s wrong, it’s all so wrong!”  Do you remember?  Can you tell me what it is you saw in your dream, or vision?”

“Oh, that.  Yes certainly.  A recurring nightmare.  Not so unusual for dreamers or visionaries in times like these.  You see, I observed the destruction of this global civilization.  I saw the chaos, the famine, the wars, the genocides, the incineration of entire cities and death beyond counting, not only of people, but of much that remains of wild and domestic animal life on the planet; birds literally falling out of the sky, and millions of fish dying in the seas and their putrid flesh washing up on sea shores and rivers all over the world.  I saw what appeared to be the end of mankind, only it wasn’t the end. 

“In all our visions, there is always a ¹deus ex machina: either a remnant, or some divinity comes to the rescue.  It doesn’t matter to me which; all I know is, we will not be allowed to destroy ourselves completely.   Why not? I asked.  The answer is one that few, if any, ever want to hear.  We won’t be allowed to destroy ourselves completely because our real masters, which are hidden forces, powers and authorities; the puppet masters who lord it over these worlds, feed on our suffering and pain.  They lust after the smell of warm, freshly spilt blood.  They thrill to the screams of the dying: that’s where they congregate to gorge themselves and hold their macabre dances.  That is why they will not allow wholesale nuclear destruction in the coming wars.  The nuclear option is too quick, giving too short a time for them to enjoy the horror attendant to the deaths. 

“Our civilization’s end is going to be one of their great orgies, lasting hundreds of years during which billions will suffer and die in brutal, primitive ways.  But there still will be no end to the suffering.  Even as we die, they have already made plans to stop the carnage and rebuild the race so they can nurture a new death orgy in time.  It’s in our programming, you see, to never, ever, learn from our mistakes.  We don’t see them as our mistakes, but always as someone else’s.  It’s never our fault, therefore we never can truly repent and change.  So… we remain mind-slaves and victims and while we indulge our innate violence against one-another so creatively, we never discover who our real “leaders” are, and what they want us for.

“We don’t understand what it means to change our mind.  There is a joke from my time about having an open mind.  At the height of our materialism we allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into believing that our brains and mind were one and the same.  So the joke went like this: he was told to keep an open mind, so he did and eventually, his brain fell out.  But it was more than a joke, it was a deep belief that to change your mind is to express doubt; to show weakness  so that eventually we will be unable to maintain our great religious, national, race, values.  Believers and patriots are not permitted to change their minds, although they can move their allegiance between a trinity of “gods” or ruling forces.  They can believe in their religiously defined God.  They can believe in a particular type of government, or aspect thereof.  They can, if the first two don’t do it for them, switch their allegiance to Money, to some sort of powerful financial system, for example capitalism.  These three are in essence the gods of mankind. They have the power to make people do things completely contrary to their own nature, remember that, Sandi and you will not be taken by shock and surprise when you see people you thought you knew do things you know they would never do “in their right minds.”

“There is a block on our understanding so that sooner rather than later, after every war, we plunge ourselves into the manufacture of “new and improved” implements of war, ever and anon because we love war; we love the financial benefits derived from it;  we are ever seduced by the “romance,” the adventure, the thrills, that tradition ascribes to warfare.  Our trinity of powerhouse “gods” – religion, the state and money – unite, join hands, in times of war.  Without that agreement wars would not be possible.  However insane this may seem, it is who and what we truly are.  

“If you doubt this, consider how many best sellers were written about war during the episode we call ‘the Cold War’ where the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation was kept foremost in our thoughts, much as it is being repeated at this moment in time.  Religion was a very big factor in promoting, not just the cold war, but its peripheral “hot” wars that justified it.  All the world’s governments, through the United Nations, and their economies, were involved in this conflict.  Capitalism came to rule and ruin all national economies without exception, while the world’s focus was on the conflict-for it’s always but “one” conflict regardless of how many theatres it plays in. 

“Wars give us a new sense of freedom from a constraining legality and morality that we hate, all denials of it to the contrary.  We, the people of earth are not what we believe ourselves to be and our historical performance, as a species, proves it over and over.”

“Wow, aunt Zee… you’re kind of scaring me with this.  I’ve never heard you speak like this.  Is this what you were shown in your visions and dreams, or did you figure it all out for yourself?”

“Both, I think.  It’s hard now to sort it out, what I remember from my dreams, what I remember from reading and observing.  I didn’t mean to scare you, but I wanted you to know this, to have it for yourself.”

It’s OK, I can handle it now.  But tell me, is that what you meant by “It’s all so wrong?”  That we are doomed to repeat our history, however horrible, like, forever?”

“No dear, I’m afraid I haven’t told you the saddest part yet.”

“Oh!  What is the saddest part, aunt Zee?”

“The saddest part, as I’ve been shown, is that we are born equipped with the antidote to our repeating folly but we refuse to consider it, or use it.  We would rather condemn billions of our own, never mind the others, to unimaginable horror and death, than try one simple move that would cancel out this coming nightmare –“ aunt Zee snorts – “ah, what am I saying, we’ve always been in this nightmare! Only now with greatly increased population and the congregating of the largest groupings into cities, with less supporting land to fall back on, this means the coming horror must spread exponentially.”

“Bottom line then, aunt Zee, what should we do, what can we do?”

“There is no longer any “we” in this.  The “we” has been an abject failure and is about to demonstrate how terribly dangerous “we” can become. “We” is going to make things a whole lot worse than they are now as you will see for yourself.”

“What can I do then?”

“That is the proper question.  If you would practice being “God” your future is going to give you plenty of opportunity.  The antidote to Armageddon is the unfeigned practice of compassion through self empowerment, or self-reliance if you prefer. 

Oh yes, you will see people walk forth into hell on the wings of love and brandishing their weaponry.  On their faith in “God” and calling divine blessings on their weaponry.  Filled with hope in the invincibility of their weaponry.  They will see their weapons, their fears, hate, and lusts, as all aspects of their particular God.  They will not be aware of any contradiction between their beliefs and their acts.  They will pray, and they will kill and be killed.  Even at the worst of times they will not come to an understanding of how to end it.  They will choose death because that is what they have always done; it is what they are programmed to do.  

“Now listen to me carefully, this is critically important for you to grasp this, to try to understand.  The compassionate will do none of the things I have mentioned.  She will never participate in any of it.  She will stand her ground and offer whatever she has, or can, to all and sundry.  She will not take sides.  She will not defend her “space” whatever that is.  She too will die, of course, but it will be a death of no value to the vampires; it will be a poison to them.  She will be an oasis of change and if the resurgence of “man” is based on her stand, then the new race will be of no value to the predators and they will leave this world. 

“What is so wrong, is that so few will have the mental wherewithal to understand this; the vision and courage to reject all of society’s old values that have been, since time immemorial, specifically tailored to serve the predators.”

Zee showed signs of exhaustion at this point and Sandi exclaimed, “That’s a lot for me to think about, auntie Zee.  I’ve totally tired you out and I have only a half hour left to get a taxi and catch my bus at the depot and I can’t afford to miss my shift at the lab.  I’m sorry I made you talk so much.  I’ll come back next Tuesday and we’ll talk about what I’ve learned from this; what I decide to do.”

“Come here, Sandi.  Hold me…  Look dear, there isn’t going to be a next Tuesday for us; I’m going home.  I waited for you, so I could tell you.  This is my last vision and my last share.  I’m so thankful it is with you.  Let’s say our final goodbye now, then you go on and live the best life you can figure out for yourself.  Perhaps we will meet again, out there, though I’m told that isn’t how it usually happens.  You’re the life-raft I’m casting out from this old sinking ship.  Look to the stars and sail smart.”

Sandi felt like remonstrating but knew better than to argue. “If that’s the way it must be, then good bye, auntie Zee.”  Trying to put some levity in it, she adds, “And say a big and loud “Hello!” to the Cosmos for me.  You know what?  I’ll look for you, I don’t care what doesn’t usually happens.  Our conversation isn’t finished, damn it!”

Sandi wiped the flow of tears from her eyes, and cheeks, smearing make up as she walked deliberately through the door and down the hallway without looking back.  She wouldn’t be coming to the funeral: that was a matter for the rest of the family to fight over.  She had an appointment with her own destiny that had yet to be formulated.

¹Deus ex machina: The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. (from Wikipedia)  

The Collapse of Empire, or Something more?

 

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

Are we really seeing the collapse and downfall of more than just a historically minor event such as the now inescapable fading of the American military/industrial empire?  Are we not in fact entering into the final “hurrah!” of man’s entire global civilization with no possibility of turning back?

Though a majority of people are beginning to feel the slippery slope dragging them and their certainty down, it’s still very much business as usual and if some things appear, well, seriously skewed, there’s got to be something to blame it on which “they” will, of course, correct in due time.  And, we have all the time in the world after all.

It’s been man’s way since… when, exactly?  No one knows, but since history was recorded, man’s way of dealing with massive change and catastrophe has been to throw a lot of money (or equivalent) measured in blood, sweat and tears, at it until “it” was tamed and reconfigured. 

But never fixed: that is something that man considers below his dignity to address.  Fixing would mean serious change and that’s just too deep, too heavy, too complicated, too… utopian.  Utopias are for dreamers in Never-never Land, and for conspiracy theorists. 

What would it entail, to fix our dying civilization (as opposed to screaming, bombing, consuming and poisoning it to death)?  Imagine wholeheartedly coming to terms with our differences, such as race, colour, gender, sex, social status, and choosing peaceful and bloodless co-existence on a planetary scale.  Not just between Earthians, but between all the creatures that make up our biosphere and living/livable space? 

The response to that question: Hell no… we don’t fix nothin’ heah.  If it don’t do what we want it to do, we jes’ beat the tar out of it until it does and if it don’t, we shoot it and bust it up good.  Then we celebrate the dust up if we win, and vow revenge if we lose.  The game goes ever on.

Man’s idea of solving problems is strictly out of a Warner Brothers cartoon world.  In man’s world you can kill at will knowing more always appears to make new targets.  You can destroy all you want, it all grows back.  Whatever it is you destroy you “know” that it will be back tomorrow so you can destroy it some more, and not only have fun doing it, but profit from the destruction.  Somehow, no matter how much abuse we give it, this world is a magical cornucopia that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’  Why worry? 

Without realizing the total unreliability of his eye-blink historical record, man relies on it to make the critical decision not to care about how the world is reacting to unrelenting and increasing abuse.  After all, says history, there’s never been an end before, just some tough patches some had to go through.  We went down and came back up swinging against, well, just about everything but particularly against nature, for nature has always been, and remains, man’s number one enemy, the one to be subdued through overt pillage and rape. 

It’s all a question of guts and glory.  The planet needs taming and conquering and it’s so big that nothing man does can have any significance when it comes to destruction. 

Right?  OK, so maybe it doesn’t seem right, but it certainly is done that way as observation notes. 

So?  So, here’s something to ponder.  History does say man always came back.  But two things come into this static picture of the past.  One, and obviously, there never was the population density (that we can know of) we are now experiencing, with no place left to go when the life boat seriously begins to take in water, except into the water to drown.  Two, we never had the technology (that we know of) we now have that empowers us to literally destroy most of life on this world. 

Two current problems history has no hindsight on, so cannot help us resolve.  We’re on our own – how about that!  So, what’s local “man” doing about it?  Well, in the midst of what is probably the most serious heat wave ever experienced in this neck of the woods, the local water-slides are doing a booming business.  That’s just one thing I’ve observed.  Certainly not unexpected, but what does that say about the general mindset? 

The First Law of The First World: “Thou shalt not mess with my comfort, my pleasure and my financial profit.”  

Thus we ensure that what we are experiencing is not just the downfall of a particularly deranged capitalistic empire, but the imploding of man’s entire global civilization… with no hope whatever of turning it around.  All I see for “healing” are band aid solutions applied to a global hemorrhage, simply because a real fix would mean loss of, you guessed it, comfort, pleasure and profit and that is unacceptable to the planetary mindset.

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Trumping the Empire

NOTE:  I’m posting this copy of a “Tomgram” article for 2 reasons.  

One, this particular article (I’ve read many others with a similar theme but none as clearly stated) “validates” what I said about Donald Trump as a potential POTUS when he first entered the race for president of the US of A.  What I said then, and have repeated so many times since that it feels this has been going on for years, is this:  Were I an American citizen entitled to vote I’d vote for Donald Trump.  For one reason only.  I see Trump as the perfect architect of the irrecoverable downfall of the American military-industrial corporate empire and attendant hegemonic powers.  I would vote for Trump as the instrument millions of America’s victims of US-based corporate exploitation and USA military oppression have been waiting and praying for since that empire’s military defeat in Vietnam.  My thoughts were never meant as any kind of anti-American people statement but as an anti-hegemon dream fulfillment. 

Two, for the “2020” scenario of US military debacle in the Middle East at the end of this article.  Not only is it quite entertaining, to some of us who “live” our current history in mind and heart, it is a prophecy.   (Sha’Tara) 
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Posted by Alfred McCoy at 4:23pm, July 16, 2017.
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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: In September, Dispatch Books will publish the next in our line-up of explorations of imperial America: Alfred McCoy’s remarkable In the Shadows of the American CenturyKirkus Reviews has praised it as “sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike, offering no likely path beyond decline and fall.” Among the impressive range of comments we’ve gotten on it come two from Pulitzer Prize winners. Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer, writes that McCoy “persuasively argues for the inevitable decline of the American empire and the rise of China… Let’s hope that Americans will listen to his powerful arguments.” And historian John Dower states that the book “joins the essential short list of scrupulous historical and comparative studies of the United States as an awesome, conflicted, technologically innovative, routinely atrocious, and ultimately hubristic imperial power.” As with all his work since the CIA tried to stifle his classic first book, The Politics of Heroin, back in the early 1970s, McCoy’s is leading-edge stuff and a must-read, so reserve your copy early by clicking here. Tom]

I was 12. It was 1956. I lived in New York City and was a youthful history buff. (I should have kept my collection of American Heritage magazines!) Undoubtedly, I was also some kind of classic nerd. In any case, at some point during the Suez crisis of that year, I can remember going to the U.N. by myself and sitting in the gallery of the General Assembly, where I undoubtedly heard imperial Britain denounced for its attempt to retake the Suez Canal (in league with the French and Israelis). I must admit that it was a moment in my life I had totally forgotten about until historian Alfred McCoy, whose new Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, is due out in September, brought it to mind again. And I certainly hadn’t imagined that Suez might have any applicability to this moment. But almost 16 years after this country’s disastrous “war on terror” was launched and with yet another major Middle Eastern city in rubble, we are undoubtedly witnessing a change in the balance (or imbalance) of power on this unruly planet of ours — and who better to make sense of it than historian McCoy?

Think of him as a modern Edward Gibbon, writing in the twenty-first century on the decline and fall of a great empire. However, unlike Gibbon, who wrote his classic book on Rome centuries after its empire had disappeared from the face of the earth, McCoy has no choice but to deal with American decline contemporaneously — in, that is, the very act of its happening.

I had a canny friend who assured me a couple of decades ago that when European countries finally started saying no to Washington, I’d have a signal that I was on another planet. So we must now be on Mars. I was struck, for instance, by a recent piece in the Guardian describing the G20 summit as “the ‘G1’ versus the ‘G19.’” In other words, it’s increasingly Donald Trump’s Washington against the world, which is the definition of how not to make an empire work. Since imperial decline may, in fact, have been a significant factor in bringing Donald Trump to power, think of him as both its harbinger and — as McCoy so vividly describes today — its architect. Tom

The Demolition of U.S. Global Power 
Donald Trump’s Road to Debacle in the Greater Middle East 
By Alfred W. McCoy

The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.

From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, canceling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since the end of World War II.  However unwittingly, Trump is ensuring the accelerated collapse of American global hegemony.

Stunned by his succession of foreign policy blunders, commentators — left and right, domestic and foreign — have raised their voices in a veritable chorus of criticism. A Los Angeles Times editorial typically called him “so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality” that he threatened to “weaken this country’s moral standing in the world” and “imperil the planet” through his “appalling” policy choices. “He’s a sucker who’s shrinking U.S. influence in [Asia] and helping make China great again,” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman after surveying the damage to the country’s Asian alliances from the president’s “decision to tear up the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal in his first week in office.”

The international press has been no less harsh. Reeling from Trump’s denunciation of South Korea’s free-trade agreement as “horrible” and his bizarre claim that the country had once been “a part of China,” Seoul’s leading newspaper, Chosun Ilboexpressed the “shock, betrayal, and anger many South Koreans have felt.” Assessing his first 100 days in office, Britain’s venerable Observer commented: “Trump’s crudely intimidatory, violent, know-nothing approach to sensitive international issues has encircled the globe from Moscow to the Middle East to Beijing, plunging foes and allies alike into a dark vortex of expanding strategic instability.”

For an American president to virtually walk out of his grand inaugural celebrations into such a hailstorm of criticism is beyond extraordinary. Having more or less exhausted their lexicon of condemnatory rhetoric, the usual crew of commentators is now struggling to understand how an American president could be quite so willfully self-destructive.

Britain’s Suez Crisis

Blitzed by an incessant stream of bizarre tweets and White House conspiracy theories, observers worldwide seem to have concluded that Donald Trump is a president like no other, that the situation he’s creating is without parallel, and that his foreign policy is already a disaster without precedent. After rummaging around in history’s capacious closet for some old suit that might fit him, analysts have failed to find any antecedent or analogue to adequately explain him.

Yet just 60 years ago, a crisis in the ever-volatile Middle East overseen by a bumbling, mistake-prone British leader helped create a great power debacle that offers insight into the Trumpian moment, a glimpse into possible futures, and a sense of the kind of decline that could lie in the imperial future of the United States.

In the early 1950s, Britain’s international position had many parallels with America’s today. After a difficult postwar recovery from the devastation of World War II, that country was enjoying robust employment, lucrative international investments, and the prestige of the pound sterling’s stature as the world’s reserve currency. Thanks to a careful withdrawal from its far-flung, global empire and its close alliance with Washington, London still enjoyed a sense of international influence exceptional for a small island nation of just 50 million people. On balance, Britain seemed poised for many more years of world leadership with all the accompanying economic rewards and perks.

Then came the Suez crisis. After a decade of giving up one colony after another, the accumulated stress of imperial retreat pushed British conservatives into a disastrous military intervention to reclaim Egypt’s Suez Canal.  This, in turn, caused a “deep moral crisis in London” and what one British diplomat would term the “dying convulsion of British imperialism.” In a clear instance of what historians call “micro-militarism” — that is, a bold military strike designed to recover fading imperial influence — Britain joined France and Israel in a misbegotten military invasion of Egypt that transformed slow imperial retreat into a precipitous collapse.

Just as the Panama Canal had once been a shining example for Americans of their nation’s global prowess, so British conservatives treasured the Suez Canal as a vital lifeline that tied their small island to its sprawling empire in Asia and Africa. A few years after the canal’s grand opening in 1869, London did the deal of the century, scooping up Egypt’s shares in it for a bargain basement price of £4 million.  Then, in 1882, Britain consolidated its control over the canal through a military occupation of Egypt, reducing that ancient land to little more than an informal colony.

As late as 1950, in fact, Britain still maintained 80,000 soldiers and a string of military bases astride the canal. The bulk of its oil and gasoline, produced at the enormous Abadan refinery in the Persian Gulf, transited through Suez, fueling its navy, its domestic transportation system, and much of its industry.

After British troops completed a negotiated withdrawal from Suez in 1955, the charismatic nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser asserted Egypt’s neutrality in the Cold War by purchasing Soviet bloc arms, raising eyebrows in Washington. In July 1956, after the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower had in response reneged on its promise to finance construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Upper Nile, Nasser sought alternative financing for this critical infrastructure by nationalizing the Suez Canal.  In doing so, he electrified the Arab world and elevated himself to the top rank of world leaders.

Although British ships still passed freely through the canal and Washington insisted on a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, Britain’s conservative leadership reacted with irrational outrage. Behind a smokescreen of sham diplomacy designed to deceive Washington, their closest ally, the British foreign secretary met secretly with the prime ministers of France and Israel near Paris to work out an elaborately deceptive two-stage invasion of Egypt by 250,000 allied troops, backed by 500 aircraft and 130 warships.  Its aim, of course, was to secure the canal.

On October 29, 1956, the Israeli army led by the dashing General Moshe Dayan swept across the Sinai Peninsula, destroying Egyptian tanks and bringing his troops to within 10 miles of the canal. Using this fighting as a pretext for an intervention to restore peace, Anglo-French amphibious and airborne forces quickly joined the attack, backed by a devastating bombardment from six aircraft carriers that destroyed the Egyptian air forceincluding over a hundred of its new MiG jet fighters. As Egypt’s military collapsed with some 3,000 of its troops killed and 30,000 captured, Nasser deployed a defense brilliant in its simplicity by scuttling dozens of rusting cargo ships filled with rocks and concrete at the entrance to the Suez Canal.  In this way, he closed Europe’s oil lifeline to the Persian Gulf.

Simultaneously, U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, backed by Washington, imposed a cease-fire after just nine days of war, stopping the Anglo-French attack far short of capturing the entire canal. President Eisenhower’s blunt refusal to back his allies with either oil or money and the threat of condemnation before the U.N. soon forced Britain into a humiliating withdrawal. With its finances collapsing from the invasion’s soaring costs, the British government could not maintain the pound’s official exchange rate, degrading its stature as a global reserve currency.

The author of this extraordinary debacle was Sir Anthony Eden, a problematic prime minister whose career offers some striking parallels with Donald Trump’s. Born into privilege as the son of a landholder, Eden enjoyed a good education at a private school and an elite university. After inheriting a substantial fortune from his father, he entered politics as a conservative, using his political connections to dabble in finance. Chafing under Winston Churchill’s postwar leadership of the Conservative Party, Eden, who styled himself a rebel against hidebound institutions, used incessant infighting and his handsome head of hair to push the great man aside and become prime minister in 1955.

When Nasser nationalized the canal, Eden erupted with egotism, bluster, and outrage. “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser,” Eden berated his foreign affairs minister. “I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered, and if you and the Foreign Office don’t agree, then you’d better come to the cabinet and explain why.” Convinced that Britain was still the globe’s great power, Eden rejected sound advice that he consult fully with Washington, the country’s closest ally. As his bold intervention plunged toward diplomatic disaster, the prime minister became focused on manipulating the British media, in the process confusing favorable domestic coverage with international support.

When Washington demanded a ceasefire as the price of a billion-dollar bailout for a British economy unable to sustain such a costly war, Eden’s bluster quickly crumbled and he denied his troops a certain victory, arousing a storm of protest in Parliament. Humiliated by the forced withdrawal, Eden compensated psychologically by ordering MI-6, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, to launch its second ill-fated assassination attempt on Nasser. Since its chief local agent was actually a double-agent loyal to Nasser, Egyptian security had, however, already rounded up the British operatives and the weapons delivered for the contract killers proved duds.

Confronted with a barrage of angry questions in Parliament about his collusion with the Israelis, Eden lied repeatedly, swearing that there was no “foreknowledge that Israel would attack Egypt.” Protesters denounced him as “too stupid to be a prime minister,” opposition members of parliament laughed openly when he appeared before Parliament, and his own foreign affairs minister damned him as “an enraged elephant charging senselessly at… imaginary enemies.”

Just weeks after the last British soldier left Egypt, Eden, discredited and disgraced, was forced to resign after only 21 months in office. Led into this unimaginably misbegotten operation by his delusions of omnipotence, he left the once-mighty British lion a toothless circus animal that would henceforth roll over whenever Washington cracked the whip.

Trump’s Demolition Job

Despite the obvious differences in their economic circumstances, there remain some telling resonances between Britain’s postwar politics and America’s troubles today. Both of these fading global hegemons suffered a slow erosion of economic power in a fast-changing world, producing severe social tensions and stunted political leaders. Britain’s Conservative Party leadership had declined from the skilled diplomacy of Disraeli, Salisbury, and Churchill to Eden’s bluster and blunder.  Similarly, the Republican Party has descended from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and George H.W. Bush to a field of 17 primary candidates in 2016 who promised to resolve an infinitely complex crisis in the Middle East through a set of incendiary policies that included making desert sands glow from carpet-bombing and forcing terrorists to capitulate through torture. Confronted with daunting international challenges, the voters of both countries supported appealing but unstable leaders whose delusions of omnipotence inclined them to military misadventures.

Like British citizens of the 1950s, most Americans today do not fully grasp the fragility of their status as “the leader of the free world.” Indeed, Washington has been standing astride the globe as a superpower for so long that most of its leaders have almost no understanding of the delicate design of their country’s global power built so carefully by two post-World War II presidents.

Under Democratic President Harry Truman, Congress created the key instruments for Washington’s emerging national security state and its future global dominion by passing the National Security Act of 1947 that established the Air Force, the CIA, and two new executive agencies, the Defense Department and the National Security Council. To rebuild a devastated, war-torn Europe, Washington launched the Marshall Plan and then turned such thinking into a worldwide aid program through the U.S. Agency for International Development meant to embed American power globally and support pro-American elites across the planet. Under Truman as well, U.S. diplomats forged the NATO alliance (which Washington would dominate until the Trump moment), advanced European unity, and signed a parallel string of mutual-defense treaties with key Asian allies along the Pacific littoral, making Washington the first power in two millennia to controlboth “axial ends” of the strategic Eurasian continent.

During the 1950s, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower deployed this national security apparatus to secure Washington’s global dominion with a nuclear triad (bombers, ballistic missiles, and submarines), a chain of military bases that ringed Eurasia, and a staggering number of highly militarized covert operations to assure the ascent of loyal allies worldwide. Above all, he oversaw the integration of the latest in scientific and technological research into the Pentagon’s weapons procurement system through the forging of the famed “military-industrial complex” (against which he would end up warning Americans as he left office in 1961).   All this, in turn, fostered an aura of American power so formidable that Washington could re-order significant parts of the world almost at will, enforcing peace, setting the international agenda, and toppling governments on four continents.

While it’s reasonable to argue that Washington had by then become history’s greatest global power, its hegemony, like that of all the world empires that preceded it, remained surprisingly fragile. Skilled leadership was required to maintain the system’s balance of diplomacy, military power, economic strength, and technological innovation.

By the time President Trump took his oath of office, negative, long-term trends had already started to limit the influence of any American leader on the world stage.  These included a declining share of the global economy, an erosion of U.S. technological primacy, an inability to apply its overwhelming military power in a way that achieved expected policy goals on an ever more recalcitrant planet, and a generation of increasingly independent national leaders, whether in Europe, Asia, or Latin America.

Apart from such adverse trends, Washington’s global power rested on such strategic fundamentals that its leaders might still have managed carefully enough to maintain a reasonable semblance of American hegemony: notably, the NATO alliance and Asian mutual-security treaties at the strategic antipodes of Eurasia, trade treaties that reinforced such alliances, scientific research to sustain its military’s technological edge, and leadership on international issues like climate change.

In just five short months, however, the Trump White House has done a remarkable job of demolishing these very pillars of U.S. global power. During his first overseas trip in May 2017, President Trump chastised stone-faced NATO leaders for failure to pay their “fair share” into the military part of the alliance and refused to affirm its core principle of collective defense. Ignoring the pleas of these close allies, he then forfeited America’s historic diplomatic leadership by announcing Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord with all the drama of a reality television show. After watching his striking repudiation of Washington’s role as world leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told voters in her country that “we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

Along the strategic Pacific littoral, Trump cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact on taking office and gratuitously alienated allies by cutting short a courtesy phone call to Australia’s prime minister and insulting South Korea to the point where its new president won office, in part, on a platform of “say no” to America. When President Moon Jae-in visited Washington in June, determined to heal the breach between the two countries, he was, as the New York Times reported, blindsided by “the harshness of Mr. Trump’s critique of South Korea on trade.”

Just days after Trump dismissed Moon’s suggestion that the two countries engage in actual diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang, North Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching Alaska or possibly Hawaii with a nuclear warhead (though experts believe Pyongyang may still be years away from effectively fitting such a warhead to the missile).  It was an act that made those same negotiations Washington’s only viable option — apart from a second Korean War, which would potentially devastate both the region and the U.S. position as the preeminent international leader.

In other words, after 70 years of global dominion, America’s geopolitical command of the axial ends of Eurasia — the central pillars of its world power seems to be crumbling in a matter of months.

Instead of the diplomacy of presidents past, Trump and his advisers, especially his military men, have reacted to his first modest foreign crises as well as the everyday power questions of empire with outbursts akin to Anthony Eden’s.  Since January, the White House has erupted in sudden displays of raw military power that included a drone blitz of unprecedented intensity in Yemen to destroy what the president called a “network of lawless savages,” the bombardment of a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles, and the detonation of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on a terrorist refuge in eastern Afghanistan.

While reveling in the use of such weaponry, Trump, by slashing federal funding for critical scientific research, is already demolishing the foundations for the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower’s successors, Republican and Democratic alike, so sedulously maintained for the last half-century. While China is ramping up its scientific research across the board, Trump has proposed what the American Association for Advancement of Science called “deep cuts to numerous research agencies” that will mean the eventual loss of the country’s technological edge. In the emerging field of artificial intelligence that will soon drive space warfare and cyber-warfare, the White House wants to reduce the 2018 budget for this critical research at the National Science Foundation to a paltry $175 million, even as Beijing is launching “a new multi-billion-dollar initiative” linked to building “military robots.”

A Future Debacle in the Greater Middle East

With a president who shares Sir Anthony Eden’s penchant for bravura, self-delusion, and impulsiveness, the U.S. seems primed for a twenty-first-century Suez of its own, a debacle in the Greater Middle East (or possibly elsewhere). From the disastrous expedition that ancient Athens sent to Sicily in 413 BCE to Britain’s invasion of Suez in 1956, embattled empires throughout the ages have often suffered an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle, a misuse of armed force known technically among historians as micro-militarism. With the hubris that has marked empires over the millennia, the Trump administration is, for instance, now committed to extending indefinitely Washington’s failing war of pacification in Afghanistan with a new mini-surge of U.S. troops (and air power) in that classic “graveyard of empires.

So irrational, so unpredictable is such micro-militarism that even the most fanciful of scenarios can be outpaced by actual events, as was true at Suez. With the U.S. military stretched thin from North Africa to South Korea, with no lasting successes in its post-9/11 wars, and with tensions rising from the Persian Gulf and Syria to the South China Sea and the Koreas, the possibilities for a disastrous military crisis abroad seem almost unending. So let me pick just one possible scenario for a future Trumpian military misadventure in the Greater Middle East.  (I’m sure you’ll think of other candidates immediately.)

It’s the late spring of 2020, the start of the traditional Afghan fighting season, and a U.S. garrison in the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is unexpectedly overrun by an ad hoc alliance of Taliban and Islamic State guerrillas. While U.S. aircraft are grounded in a blinding sand storm, the militants summarily execute their American captives, filming the gruesome event for immediate upload on the Internet. Speaking to an international television audience, President Trump thunders against “disgusting Muslim murderers” and swears he will “make the desert sands run red with their blood.” In fulfillment of that promise, an angry American theater commander sends B-1 bombers and F-35 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of Kandahar believed to be under Taliban control. In an aerial coup de grâce, AC-130-U “Spooky” gunships then rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire. The civilian casualties are beyond counting.

Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques across Afghanistan and far beyond. Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse. In isolated posts across the country, clusters of Afghan soldiers open fire on their American advisers in what are termed “insider” or “green-on-blue” attacks. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters launch a series of assaults on scattered U.S. garrisons elsewhere in the country, suddenly sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, U.S. helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops not just in Kandahar, but in several other provincial capitals and even Kabul.

Meanwhile, angry over the massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the anti-Muslim diatribes tweeted almost daily from the Oval Office, and years of depressed energy prices, OPEC’s leaders impose a harsh new oil embargo aimed at the United States and its allies. With refineries running dry in Europe and Asia, the world economy trembling at the brink of recession, and gas prices soaring, Washington flails about for a solution. The first call is to NATO, but the alliance is near collapse after four years of President Trump’s erratic behavior. Even the British, alienated by his inattention to their concerns, rebuff his appeals for support.

Facing an uncertain reelection in November 2020, the Trump White House makes its move, sending Marines and Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf. Flying from the Fifth Fleet’s base in Bahrain, Navy Seals and Army Rangers occupy the Ras Tanura refinery in Saudi Arabia, the ninth largest in the world; Kuwait’s main oil port at Shuaiba; and Iraq’s at Um Qasr.

Simultaneously, the light carrier USS Iwo Jima steams south at the head of a task force that launches helicopters carrying 6,000 Special Operations forces tasked with seizing the al-Ruwais refinery in Abu Dhabi, the world’s fourth largest, and the megaport at Jebel Ali in Dubai, a 20-square-mile complex so massive that the Americans can only occupy its oil facilities. When Teheran vehemently protests the U.S. escalation in the Persian Gulf and hints at retaliation, Defense Secretary James Mattis, reviving a plan from his days as CENTCOM commander, orders preemptive Tomahawk missile strikes on Iran’s flagship oil refinery at Abadan.

From its first hours, the operation goes badly wrong. The troops seem lost inside the unmapped mazes of pipes that honeycomb the oil ports.  Meanwhile, refinery staff prove stubbornly uncooperative, sensing that the occupation will be short-lived and disastrous. On day three, Iranian Revolutionary Guard commandos, who have been training for this moment since the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear accord with the U.S., storm ashore at the Kuwaiti and Emirate refineries with remote-controlled charges. Unable to use their superior firepower in such a volatile environment, American troops are reduced to firing futile bursts at the departing speed boats as oil storage tanks and gas pipes explode spectacularly.

Three days later, as the USS Gerald Ford approaches an Iranian island, more than 100 speedboats suddenly appear, swarming the carrier in a practiced pattern of high-speed crisscrosses. Every time lethal bursts from the carrier’s MK-38 chain guns rip through the lead boats, others emerge from the flames coming closer and closer. Concealed by clouds of smoke, one finally reaches an undefended spot beneath the conning tower near enough for a Revolutionary guardsman to attach a magnetic charge to the hull with a fateful click. There is a deafening roar and a gaping hole erupts at the waterline of the first aircraft carrier to be crippled in battle since World War II.  As things go from bad to worse, the Pentagon is finally forced to accept that a debacle is underway and withdraws its capital ships from the Persian Gulf.

As black clouds billow skyward from the Gulf’s oil ports and diplomats rise at the U.N. to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of imperial Britain to brand this “America’s Suez.” The empire has been trumped.

Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the now-classic book The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, which probed the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over 50 years, and the forthcoming In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, out in September from Dispatch Books.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Alfred W. McCoy