Sunday, January 20, 2008

Imperialism and Impotency

Glen Greenwald in Salon yesterday, writes a column that is both on the mark, and very disturbing. Go read the whole thing. He points out the impotency of President Bush's recent trip the Middle East and especially his inability to make any forceful policy statements or speak to any of the leaders with any kind of power or authority. His meek request of the Saudi Monarchy to lower oil prices was only met with a smile. Bush's words? "Could you um, please lower the price a little? I mean, look what effect you are having on best customer!" This from Mr. "Dead or Alive?"


"No matter what else is true, our sprawling imperialism -- as has been true for every Empire in history -- is simply unsustainable. The very idea of staying in Iraq for the next several decades with tens of thousands of American troops, while we lavishly fund the grotesquely corrupt and un-American Private Republican Army of Blackwater, is both infeasible and self-destructive. Here's what Pat Buchanan -- who, whatever else one might think of him, has been warning of the unsustainability of American imperialism for years -- said about all of this earlier this week:

To stave off recession, the Fed appears anxious to slash interest rates another half-point, if not more. That will further weaken the dollar and raise the costs of the imports to which we have become addicted. While all this is bad news for the Republicans, it is worse news for the republic. As we save nothing, we must borrow both to pay for the imported oil and foreign manufactures upon which we have become dependent.

We are thus in the position of having to borrow from Europe to defend Europe, of having to borrow from China and Japan to defend Chinese and Japanese access to Gulf oil, and of having to borrow from Arab emirs, sultans and monarchs to make Iraq safe for democracy. We borrow from the nations we defend so that we may continue to defend them. To question this is an unpardonable heresy called "isolationism."

One of the aspects of the presidential campaign that makes it so tiresome and depressing is that virtually none of this is even part of the debate, nor can it be. There are some differences about what to do about Iraq, but the basic thrust of American foreign policy is unchallenged by any of the remaining viable candidates in either party.

Yet until we stop operating on the premise that the world is our playground to run and control through military force -- for invasions, bombing campaigns, wars and occupations to be commenced whenever we perceive it to be in our "interests," however broadly that might be defined -- the only real question is how quickly these problems are going to worsen, how severely the accompanying erosion of our national character will become. A country that is defined by endless war and world military hegemony is inevitably, unavoidably, the Nation of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and Torture and Renditions and Limitless Presidential Power and Secret Black Sites and Blackwater."

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