Tag: Empire

Let’s Get Fundamental

“The generation that made the nation thought secrecy in government one of the instruments of Old World tyranny and committed itself to the principle that a democracy cannot function unless the people are permitted to know what their government is up to.”

—Henry Steele Commager

I took that quote from a recent posting by Bruce Fein on the Libertarian site of the The Future of Freedom Foundation. Commager was a great influence on me as a young student and Fein is a hero of mine. Fine delights me, not because I share his POV completely but because he is one of those rare creatures that do exist in Washington–a decent and honorable man of principle. Fein and other libertarians like him believe in a kind of Constitutional fundamentalism. They believe in limited government, of course, but they believe that the separation of powers is fundamental to a relatively free society. The Founders were intelligent students of political science and had, unlike most people today who write about politics, read the classics. Reading the classics makes one skeptical of mankind and governing systems. So the Founders devised a system that was somewhat inefficient but insured political stability. One of the chief means of doing that was to put the power of the purse and or war squarely in the hands of Congress which is closest to the people.  

Must see TV tonight – MLK Jr. & Obama!

Tavis Smiley has produced a special report comparing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama, focusing on their attitudes to war, empire and the consequences for society and the world.  

Smiley speaks out against what Cornell West has called “The Santa-Claus-ization” of King.  In typical goody-two-shoes, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” fashion, the mainstream has chosen to concentrate on what it considers the good, positive King, not the one who criticized U.S. foreign policy and called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”  

That was true when King said it in the sixties, one year before he was assassinated; and, sadly, it remains true today.  

The show airs on PBS tonight (8 PM Pacific, check your local time).  I’ve e-mailed the link out to my list, hoping some will hear, perhaps for the first time, King’s views on war and his contrast to Obama.

Read the Black Agenda Repost article on the program:

King and Obama.

CNBC openly debates “empire’s decline.”

Sweet Lo-retta!

In a TV segment, CNBC panelists candidly debate the decline of the “US empire” without batting an eyelash.  The accompanying article is entitled, “Health Care Law Signals US Empire Decline?”, wherein the guest, a hedge fund manager in “emerging markets” argues that the health care reform is one of many obvious indicators that the lights are blinking red on the US empire, just as national healthcare in Britain signaled its obvious imperial decline.

In their expansionary phase, empires force people to go out, seek risks and fend for themselves, Murrin said, reminding of the dismantling of the British empire after the war, when the National Health Service, which ensures universal health coverage in Britain, was created.

Just some musings

On the morning of September 11th. 2001 I was safely home on Hudson St. in Hoboken NJ. feeding the twin girls I nannied for when thier father called from his office a few blocks north of the World Trade Center.  He asked if we had heard anything on the news, apparently papers were floating by his office window several stories up in the air, people were running away from the area and lots of sirens were sounding.  We killed Barney on PBS and turned to CNN in time to see the second strike.

I finished feeding the girls, found out that my boss was safely away form the area and trying to get back across the Hudson and home.  I asked his wife if it was Okay for me to go see if I could help out down by the PATH station figuring that whatever was happening people would be coming back to town that way or by the ferry that docks there.  

I went to Pier 1 and watched as the south tower fell, we couldnt see it becuase the north tower was still up and blocking the view but we could feel the vibrations of the colapse course up through the ground well over a mile distant.  I knew then and there we were at war.  I spent the rest of the day volunteering at a triage that went mostly unused.  We had a few ferrys and one PATH train.  The few folks I saw had horror stories of watching and hearing people falling from the upper floors.  All were soaked from decontamination hoses and most looked like the walking dead.

John Pilger – Obama and Empire

Well worth the look in light of Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan.

Gorbachev, Obama, & Afghanistan

The Soviet war in Afghanistan, also known as the Soviet-Afghan War, was a nine-year conflict involving Soviet forces supporting the Marxist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government against the Mujahideen resistance.

In 1989, ten years after a little more time, a lot more money, and a lot more lives lost, the USSR finally was forced to give up it’s dreams of domination of Afghanistan and withdrew… and collapsed.

Mikhail Gorbachev had a few words of caution for Barack Obama in the wake of indications that Obama is planning another escalation of 20-35,000 troops to Afghanistan

HuffPo on Sunday:

The former president of the Soviet Union spoke to CNN’s John King Sunday on State Of The Union and after talking about the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev suggested that the US revisit the Kremlin’s efforts to control Afghanistan as the US plans its next move.

“I think that what’s needed is not additional forces,” said Gorbachev. “This is something that we discussed, too, years ago, and we decided not to do it. And I think our experience deserves attention.” McClatchy has reported that President Obama is leaning toward sending as many as 34,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. The Soviet Union fought for nine years in Afghanistan in a war to support Afghanistan’s then-communist government. The USSR ultimately lost the war and 13,000 of its soldiers died.

Gorbachev concluded that for the US, “withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the goal.”

UPDATED: “The Greatest Debtor Nation In Human History”

Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is now adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled “National Security Decision Making.”

This talk by Larry Wilkerson was the keynote speech given at an event sponsored by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, American University History Department, American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute on Oct 21,2009 at American University in Washington DC.

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence describes itself as “a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power”.

Real News Network – October 26, 2009

The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

Part 1

Larry Wilkerson: The beginning of the American “Imperial Rome” and Eisenhower’s warning

We’re All Romans Now


There is only one reason governments’ lie. Truth leads to government by the people. Government by the people is the enemy of the form of government we have now – government by corporate/militarist conspiracy.

We see how Presidents, chosen by the people, are nothing but changed light-bulbs. Out with the old and in with the new but the product they sell remains the same. The light from the new bulb may be shiny and full of hope but the electricity which runs the Company Town called America is the same as it ever was; the atomic power of the almighty buck.

The Last Taboo, and Seeds Beneath The Snow

John Pilger – July 4, 2009

Empire, Obama and the Last Taboo

A 5 minute excerpt

from the full 32 minute talk – on the flip

The American Empire Is Bankrupt

I’ve been a fan of Chris Hedges ever since I first noticed him.  The guy is simply tuned in.

But this recent piece of his can leave you staring at the ceiling, wide awake, when you should be sleeping.  

The American Empire Is Bankrupt

Here’s a small sample:

To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem. If a central bank does not spend the money in the United States then the exchange rate against the dollar will go up. This will penalize exporters. This has allowed America to print money without restraint to buy imports and foreign companies, fund our military expansion and ensure that foreign nations like China continue to buy our treasury bonds. This cycle appears now to be over. Once the dollar cannot flood central banks and no one buys our treasury bonds, our empire collapses. The profligate spending on the military, some $1 trillion when everything is counted, will be unsustainable.

“We will have to finance our own military spending,” Hudson warned, “and the only way to do this will be to sharply cut back wage rates. The class war is back in business. Wall Street understands that. This is why it had Bush and Obama give it $10 trillion in a huge rip-off so it can have enough money to survive.”

The desperate effort to borrow our way out of financial collapse has promoted a level of state intervention unseen since World War II. It has also led us into uncharted territory.

“We have in effect had to declare war to get us out of the hole created by our economic system,” Lanchester wrote in the London Review of Books. “There is no model or precedent for this, and no way to argue that it’s all right really, because under such-and-such a model of capitalism … there is no such model. It isn’t supposed to work like this, and there is no road-map for what’s happened.”

The cost of daily living, from buying food to getting medical care, will become difficult for all but a few as the dollar plunges. States and cities will see their pension funds drained and finally shut down. The government will be forced to sell off infrastructure, including roads and transport, to private corporations. We will be increasingly charged by privatized utilities-think Enron-for what was once regulated and subsidized. Commercial and private real estate will be worth less than half its current value. The negative equity that already plagues 25 percent of American homes will expand to include nearly all property owners. It will be difficult to borrow and impossible to sell real estate unless we accept massive losses. There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite.

Openly hostile: Obama has squandered the benefit of my doubt.

Superficially, Obama remains an appealing personality of great apparent warmth, intelligence, and compassion, which initially made his promise of change credible.  Here’s a partial list of grievances accumulated against him in his short tenure as President via Paul Street that not even the warmest, fuzziest Al Rodgers’ diary could redress.

* Significantly expand the reach and intensity of imperial violence (replete with the mass slaughter of civilians and the related escalation of targeted assassinations) in South Asia.

* Promote a notorious assassin and death-squad leader (Lt. General Stanley A McChrystal – former chief of the military’s special Joint Special Operations Command) to the position of Commander of U.S. Forces in the newly merged “Af-Pak” war theater. [1]

* Sustain the criminal occupation of Iraq beneath rhetoric of withdrawal. [2]

* Increase “defense” (empire) spending, consistent with the following statement in a report issued by the leading Wall Street investment firm Morgan Stanley one day after Obama’s presidential election victory: “As we understand it, Obama has been advised and agrees that there is no peace dividend.”[3]

* Revive military commissions.

* Continue the practice of renditions.

* Maintain secret prisons for persons “held on a short-term, transitory basis.”

* Continue the unspeakable torture of prisoners by an “extrajudicial terror squad” (Jeremy Scahill’s description of the Pentagon’s sadistic “Immediate Reaction Force” in Cuba) at Guantanamo Bay. [4]

* Advance the policy of “indefinite detention” (potentially permanent incarceration) for Guantanamo prisoners for whom no legally compelling evidence can be marshaled.

* Intimidate England (with a threat to withhold intelligence data on potential terrorist attacks!) into preventing a Guantanamo victim from having his day in court on the Bush administration’s torture practices. [5]

* Sustain the Bush administration’s abrogation of habeas corpus rights in regard to the roughly 600 “enemy combatants” kept at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan (where people rendered out of other countries like Yemen and England can be considered “war [-zone]” prisoners!. [6]

* Advance nauseatingly specious legal and moral arguments (“better to look forward than backward”) to prevent serious federal investigation of the Bush administration’s human rights crimes.

* Sustain George W. Bush’s domestic wiretapping program.

* Invoke the “state secrets” (akin to the divine right of kings) doctrine to prevent disclosure of evidence in response to lawsuits emerging from Bush era rendition and surveillance policies.

* Suppress photographic evidence of U.S. torture practices.

* Justify all this and more in the name of the supposed “global war on terror” that was supposedly launched in legitimate defense against the supposedly unprovoked jetliner attacks of September 11, 2001.

* Disregard qualified progressive defenders of civil liberties and human rights from consideration for appointment to succeed Supreme Justice David H. Souter and to thereby counter the hard right leanings of the court’s conservative majority. [7]

* Send clear signals of intent to roll back and partially privatize Social Security and Medicare benefits.

* Betray campaign pledges to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to insert stronger labor and environmental protections. [7A]

* Betray campaign pledges of serious intent to advance an elementary and overdue labor law reform (the Employee Free Choice Act).

* Force and approve an automobile industry re-structuring that drastically cuts domestic autoworkers’ jobs, wages and benefits while subsidizing General Motors’ further shifting of jobs abroad. [8]

* Advance a tepid, business-friendly health care “reform” that leaves the leading parasitic insurance corporations (major campaign sponsors of his) in power.

* “Methodically erase single-payer advocates from the picture” (Glen Ford) of health care reform despite the fact that a majority of Americans have long favored a single-payer (“Medicare for all”) health insurance system. [9]

* Spend trillions of federal dollars on taxpayer handouts to giant Wall Street firms who spent millions on his campaign and who drove the economy over the cliff.  Obama’s Wall Street bailout rejects the elementary bank nationalizations and public financial restructuring that are required to put the nation’s credit system on a sound and socially responsible basis, choosing instead to guarantee the financial, insurance, and real estate industries’ toxic, hyper-inflated assets while keeping existing Wall Street management in place.  It amounts to a giant effort to “keep perpetrators afloat” (liberal economist James Gailbraith) through a scheme in which  the government takes more than 90 percent of the risk but private investors reap at least half the reward.

I could go on. It’s not a pretty story. And it’s only going to get worse.


Pirates of the Somalian

This is not the story of Robin Hood. This is not a clinical case study, nor a predictive model.

It does however seem to be a History Repeats story. A story of many Nations who never got to grow unto themselves. A story written for them, not by them, just as their very lives were by conquerers and outsiders bent on controlling and exploiting them.

It is a tragedy. It is what humans, even ones perhaps trying to do the right thing at first, do when collapse of modern*society happens. We turn into something else.

(*I say modern, because peoples untainted by Western culture rarely devolve into this: a philosophical discussion for another day)

So, people, do you ever wonder how a mostly English or Italian speaking country, that at one time was the envy of the ancient trading world; and one of the only Muslim African Countries that allowed women equal vote when they gained their independence, came to War Lords, Pirates, and poverty in a lawless International Toxic Waste Dump?


I sure did. I am still trying to figure it out.

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