Nineteen years ago, the U.S. had the strongest military in the world, but the economy was showing signs of weakness. Back in March of 2000, the stock market bubble burst, resulting in the NASDAQ or “dot com bubble” crash. Still at that time, most of the country believed Reagan as he referred to the country as, “…the shining city upon a hill…” Due to its military might the U.S. was able to project its power and impose its will upon the world. Rove’s arrogant assertion that “…when we act, we create our own reality…” is a major part of the problem that the U.S. empire is facing today. What gets lost in this assessment is the historic reality that all empires run their course.
Herodotus (History, Book 1.53) tells the story of Croesus, king of Lydia c. 585-546 BC in what is now Western Turkey and the Ionian shore of the Mediterranean. Croesus conquered Ephesus, Miletus and neighboring Greek-speaking realms, obtaining tribute and booty that made him one of the richest rulers of his time. But these victories and wealth led to arrogance and hubris. Croesus turned his eyes eastward, ambitious to conquer Persia, ruled by Cyrus the Great. Having endowed the region’s cosmopolitan Temple of Delphi with substantial silver and gold, Croesus asked its Oracle whether he would be successful in the conquest that he had planned.
Like Cicero in the Roman Republic, there are always a handful of chroniclers who can see and articulate clearly the social, cultural, and political realities of empires in terminal decline. They call out the bankruptcy of an inept and corrupt ruling class, blinded by hubris, as well as a populace that has checked out of civic life and is entranced by bread and circus spectacles. In his trilogy Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Chambers Johnson does a masterful job of showing how and why we are disintegrating. So does Andrew Bacevich, who, in his newest book of essays, On Shedding an Obsolete Past: Bidding Farewell to the American Century, writes about the debacles that have beset the American empire since the Vietnam War, a conflict he fought in as a young army officer.
The late Anthony Bourdain wrote in 2001 that “once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.” However many people might have wanted to do that over the decades, Kissinger remains with us. Today is his hundredth birthday. And he continues to be treated as a respected elder statesman. That should tell you everything you need to know about America’s global empire. Tributes have been flowing to Dr Kissinger all week. At CNN, foreign correspondent David Andelman enthuses that “at 100, Henry Kissinger is still teaching us the value of ‘Weltanschaüng.’”
When all else fails, when you are clueless about how to halt a 7.5% inflation rate, when your Build Back Better bill is gutted, when you renege on your promise to raise the minimum wage or forgive student debt, when you can’t halt the Republican suppression of voting rights, when you have no idea how to handle the pandemic which has claimed 900,000 lives – 16% of the world’s total deaths although we are less than 5% of the world’s population – when the stock market fluctuates on wild rollercoaster rides of highs and lows, when what little help the government offered to the labor force — half of whom, 80 million, experienced a period of unemployment last year — sees the termination of the extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance, forbearance for student loans, emergency checks, the moratorium on evictions and expansion of the child tax credits, when you watch passively as the ecocide gathers momentum, then you must make the public afraid of enemies, foreign and domestic.
Nearly 200,000 protesters attended a pro-Palestine demonstration in Central London on Saturday afternoon, another clear sign that support for Palestinian rights is becoming increasingly mainstream and the imperialists are losing control of the Israel narrative. The real consequence of this is that people will begin losing trust in the government and media institutions which support Israel, because without trust the empire can’t propagandize people, and without the ability to propagandize us our rulers cannot rule. There’s no risk for Israel of losing US backing due to the US government suddenly evolving a conscience or listening to its constituents, that won’t happen, but losing control of the narrative poses a major problem for the empire.
Native peoples in the United States continue to struggle for justice. While this year brought some important victories, such as Washington’s NFL team finally dropping its racist name and logo, and a landmark win in the Supreme Court for Native rights in McGirt v. Oklahoma, the difficult work of recognizing and redressing the country’s legacy of oppressing its first inhabitants continues. Efforts by Native and allied activists to spread observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an alternative to Columbus Day is an important part of this work.
The US War Machine must be stopped, and only we can stop it. That's why we are organizing the People's Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine, a series of actions in New York City from September 20 to 23 while the United Nations General Assembly meets. At a time when all of the world leaders gather, we will say we've had enough of the US War Machine. We demand the US be held accountable for its destructive acts. It's time for the US government to obey the United Nations Charter by stopping regime change operations, ending the use of unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions) and ceasing military attacks. We demand the US sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty, rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, disband NATO and close bases and outposts around the world. We demand an immediate transition to a peace economy that uses our resources to meet human needs and protect the planet.
From the outset Canadian officials had an incredibly expansive definition of NATO’s supposed defensive character, which says an “attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.” As part of the Parliamentary debate over NATO external minister Lester Pearson said: “There is no better way of ensuring the security of the Pacific Ocean at this particular moment than by working out, between the great democratic powers, a security arrangement the effects of which will be felt all over the world, including the Pacific area.”
Hiroji Yamashiro has been a fierce leader of the anti-base movement on Okinawa Island in fighting back against the blanket of U.S. militarism that covers the island. Yamashiro, along with other anti-base activists, have been arrested and are being charged. 18.4 percent of the island belongs to the Pentagon in the form of 32 military bases, tens of thousands of troops, and constant military training exercises either near or just overhead of major civilian populations. I’ve met university students who told me they have no idea what life is like without helicopters constantly flying over them and interrupting their daily routines. The anti-base movement in Okinawa is leading the way in fighting base against the American Empire of Bases. Its time we support them in their fight.
By Dan Freeman-Maloy for Mondoweiss. The coming months mark the centennial of Palestine’s forcible incorporation into the British Empire. In November 1917, British foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour declared his government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”; in December, Jerusalem fell to British troops. One hundred years later, the effects of these events continue to reverberate. This should be a time of sombre reflection about international responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Palestine. This responsibility should weigh heavily on the West.
By Ajamu Baraka for Counter Punch - Libertarian U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared from the Senate floor last week in anticipation of the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2018: “I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared and unconstitutional war…What we have today is basically unlimited war, anywhere, anytime, any place upon the globe.” With these words, Paul became one of the few voices to oppose the obscenity that is known as U.S. war policy. But only two other senators joined him: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). But there is a wrinkle here: Paul is not concerned with the size of the military budget. He’s pointing his finger at the continuation of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF) of 2001, which was the “legal” basis for the U.S. global “war on terror.” He wants Congress to re-assess this legislation that has prompted endless wars abroad. After Paul’s amendment to the NDAA was defeated, the Senate went on to approve it with a vote of 89-9 Monday in what the New York Times correctly identified as a bi-partisan effort, to authorize a military budget of $696 billion—an increase in the military budget of almost $75 billion and well over the $54 billion that Pres. Donald Trump had originally proposed.
By Chas W. Freeman, Jr. for Lobe Log Foreign Policy - for I’m here to talk about the end of the American empire. But before I do I want to note that one of our most charming characteristics as Americans is our amnesia. I mean, we are so good at forgetting what we’ve done and where we did it that we can hide our own Easter eggs. I’m reminded of the geezer—someone about my age—who was sitting in his living room having a drink with his friend while his wife made dinner.