Empires have come and gone over the course of human history. The cause and pattern of their fall have remained more or less the same and is presently typified by the United States of America: Wars outside their borders and poverty in the hinterland.
First, a brief outline of the American empire
America is (was) not an empire in the historical context of the term. It departed from classical empires in not occupying foreign lands. In fact it even let the countries it defeated to run their own administration but with vice-like grip on their economic and foreign policies and a limited but very powerful military footprint (in the form of military, naval and missile bases), making them subservient to American interests. Thus you have Germany and Japan with all the trappings of independent, democratic nations but in practice still under American grip (lately loosening) since WWII. South Korea and Philippines come close to this group, though not exactly in the same category.
Then there are countries – incidentally mostly the so-called “Muslim countries” — like Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt (too early to say if it will really cut its umbilical cord tied to America) that willingly accepted American obedience in return for financial and military aid.
Saudi Arabia and the little monarchies comprising the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council are a class apart. They stick to America for sustenance of their own rule but no practical return benefit of any sort to their people. Most part of the petrodollars earned from America in fact never reach these countries but remain very much there to nourish American banks and arms industries. This has been the story even long before the manufactured “Iran threat,” which means the “Iran threat” is nothing but a convenient ruse to keep their people silent.
The story of European part of the American empire was born in World War II, cemented through reconstruction aid under Marshal Plan. The threat of Soviet short range missiles and tanks marching once again westward further tied Western Europe to America. But it went beyond military union under NATO to be one with America in their world view, financial (banking) policies and social norms. America decided for Europe it politics and defense – as was best seen, for instance, during the years of discussions with the Soviet Union on short range missiles. The discussions were held by America, not the potentially threatened countries, i.e., Western Europeans; they were just passive audience waiting for the decisions reached.
Finally, Canada (a NATO member), Australia and New Zealand are simply holding apron strings of the empire to be worthy members of the Bush’s “international community.”
With the demise of the countervailing force – the Soviet Union – and helped by deep pockets, military might and global media reach, America, began redefining and molding political, economic and social terminology and rules for the world according to its own perceptions and use. American power got unleashed – domestically and internationally.
On the domestic front, the most visible part of the American power on display for, and of consequence to, its population and the world at large was the size and the global reach of its stock market and banks; the latter, in particular, tying, directly or indirectly, almost whole of the global economy to their network and in the processes enriching American economy.
On international front, it first checked its “superpower” status against Iraq (first war, 1990-91). Live telecast of bombers taking off the aircraft carriers in the India Ocean and the Persian Gulf, cruise missiles getting launched from thousands of miles, and tanks rolling through desert sands were enough to cow-down friend and foe. “Enemy” decimated (though not eliminated), world awed and none to challenge, America came out emboldened.
Superfailure on military front
Afghans, whose sacrifices against Soviet Union inadvertently achieved America such superlative prefixes as “the superpower”/ “the sole superpower”/ “the hyperpower,” came to be next the target using false flag 911 operation. With that was born the new enemy and mission, the “War on Terror,” which unfolded really as the “War on Muslims”. The power and reach of the American empire was uniquely at display when even countries of no-consequence — like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia — and far off — like New Zealand, Australia, Iceland and Finland — willingly hitched American bandwagon against Al Qaeda and Taliban “threat.”
When terror and death was still on display for the world to watch in awe and submission over Afghanistan’s sky and barren mountains, the “superpower” decided for a grander and mightier show that necessitated a Bagdad revisit. It was a real revisit, indeed, of the proportions world had never seen or heard about – in terms of brazen and crooked lies in justification of the war, use of military might and, most importantly, despicable moral values displayed during the conduct of the war.
History is replete with cases where a powerful army was defeated by a weak one. However, what sets American defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan apart is that it wasn’t defeated by any regular army but a bunch of rag tags with no support, unlike earlier when a similar rag tag bunch, only far more in numbers, was supported – through arms, logistics and finance – by the very America and a host of its allies against Soviet Union. Soviet Union’s defeat wasn’t as spectacular or shameful because its military wasn’t as mighty and resources not as huge and sophisticated as the American, and it was fighting alone; in fact, cornered and ostracized by the world community at the behest of America. On the contrary and despite its far superior military and other resources, America didn’t fight alone. It got nearly whole of the world on its side, including NATO and many non-NATO armies. And equally importantly, its enemies were restrained from accessing military supplies: Iraqis fighting mainly with whatever they could loot from Saddam’s arsenal during American bombardment, Afghans have relied most on fertilizer!
Any doubt it isn’t Superfailure?
Superfailure on economic and domestic fronts
Recently we heard America deciding to give “behind the scene” support to NATO’s war on Libya and Syria. Also, we haven’t seen America rushing ground attack on Yemen or Somalia despite being engaged in both countries for a long time now through drone warfare.
Don’t make mistake of attributing this to American war wariness. Shooting and killing is what Americans in general and their rulers in particular love. Gun lobby is not for nothing the most influential lobby there.
It is only because superfailure on military fronts in far off lands seamlessly arched back home where American economy and financial sector failed in equally pitiful manner and measure, forcing America to limit its war efforts to cost effective Playstation drone bombings and supply of some rudimentary military hardware to its mercenaries.
Simultaneous with letting its military loose in “wars of choice,” America also let its money sharks (banksters) unbridled in the money pond. Neither came cheap. Both devoured the nation – and devoured it to its bare bones. One devoured economy and the other people. And together, ensuring the American prefix “superpower” is substituted with ‘superfailure;’ power and glory with decline and shame.
A nation of 15 trillion dollar economy running a national debt of 16.3 trillion dollars and a total debt close to 59 trillion dollars is no laughing matter. It reflects the callous leadership. More than that, it reflects depths of ignorance that ordinary Americans have fallen to, unaware where they have been led to in their merry-go-round credit card life.
On top of this mountain of debt is the failing economy with very little chance of recovery in many, many years to come – notwithstanding whatever contrary the political leadership or economists, Nobel Laureates or not, may say. Just keep watching frequent downward revisions to the predicted growth rates.
If the American national debt looks staggering, the number of its drug addicts, prisoners, homeless, unemployed, on food stamps (technical cover-up for the more degrading term ‘beggars’), divorces, shootings, or those committing suicides are no less staggering. They reflect a society torn apart at the seams. These are the type of social indices that would worry anthropologists about the Third World countries. Here we are talking of a nation that until only few years ago was the largest lender, the “Leader of the First World” still with 15 trillion dollar economy, the “sole superpower,” the “hyperpower!”
Blaming Europe or China will not help. What would help is to stop being led “like a stupid mule” and have a relook at its own policies.
Superfailure beyond borders
Wars haven’t accumulated debt alone for America. They also accumulated heaps of hate against America around the world, raging particularly in the Muslim world. Strange it may seems to most Americans that despite making tremendous contributions to the world in terms of science and technology and aid that have made significant differences to the life of ordinary people, yet their nation is presently one of the most hated nations on earth. However, strange it wouldn’t look if they give a thought to how much equally America extracted from the world through blood and fortune.
Look at the wars alone it has inflicted post-WWII on poorest of the poor countries, first in the name of fighting commies and lately terrorists. Destabilizing elected governments through covert operations is another American story of blood spilling, no less gruesome than the one openly enacted in Libya and another under way in Syria under the overt “regime change’ doctrine.
Also, American aid to any country has never come cheap. The least it would do is to force feed its financial, political, social and moral norms, sometimes under the garb of helping the spread of democracy and sometimes directly as aid strings.
War or aid, objective remains the same: Americanize the world – remove any other identity and homogenize wholly and thoroughly (like it did with Native Americans at gun point). Nothing short of arrogant definition of the media-prompted dream of the now suddenly forgotten “American Century.”
Suddenly, but not without reason. It is difficult even for the worst type of presstitute to be still writing about “American Century” and be convincing in the face of economic and social indices stats that presently characterize America. Recent resoundingly successful NAM meeting in Iran under the leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and now overwhelming vote, including by some of the key US allies, in favor of Palestine are indicative enough about America’s decline and isolation in the world. Here more than who voted in favor of the Palestinians, what is significant is who stood with America other than Israel and Canada — the Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.
Where is Europe gone? Where are the coalition partners? Where is the “international community?”
It is not just America itself but even the multilateral institutions it created and controls, like World Bank and IMF, are no more in favor — the loud message the proposed creation of alternative financial institutions by BRICS conveys. Moreover, America is already out of South America, and Europe is avoiding it- so distinctly seen in how Euro Zone countries, led by Germany and France, have kept America (and its European poodle, Britain) at bay while trying to resolve their economic problems. (Mark this: It is matter of time before Germany would lead continental Europe on way to economic integration with Moscow.) Also, Africa is quietly falling into China’s lap.
America is left with Israel and arrogance
“Pacific pivot” and — its less talked about and low key pincer — Africom are the last ditch efforts of the superfailed nation to be relevant in the face of its decline and rise of China. An effort already declared futile by the present state and future prospects of the American economy.
Retired as Professor and Head, Department of Geology & Geophysics (which he founded in 2000), University of Kashmir, M. I. Bhat served for 20 years as a scientist at one of Indian premier research labs, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehra Dun. Other than his research subject, international politics has always been his main attraction. He began writing on this and other topics since 2010. His articles have appeared in Veterans Today, Palestine Chronicle, OpEdNews and Greater Kashmir. Unencumbered by any sort of “cake of custom,’ he believes peace flows from justice, and justice should not entertain considerations other than ‘honest’ facts, that is, Truth. More Press TV articles by M. I. Bhat