US Doubles Down As Empire Declines

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US empire is in decline. Reports of the end of the US being the unitary power in world affairs are common, as are predictions of the end of US empire. China surpassed the United States as the world economic leader, according to Purchasing Power Parity Gross National Product, and Russia announced new weapons that can overcome the US’ defense systems.

What is happening in the United States, in response, is to do more of what has been causing the decline. As the Pentagon outlined in its post-primacy report, the US’ plan is more money, more aggression and more surveillance. Congress voted nearly unanimously to give the Pentagon tens of billions more than it requested. Military spending will now consume 57% of federal discretionary spending, leaving less for basic necessities. The Trump administration’s new nominees to the State Department and CIA are a war hawk and a torturer. And the Democrat’s “Blue Wave” is composed of security state candidates.

The US is escalating an arms race with Russia and China. This may create the mirror image of President Reagan forcing Russia to spend so much on its military that it aided in the break-up of the Soviet Union. The US economy cannot handle more military spending, worsening austerity when most people in the US are in financial distress.

This is an urgent situation for all people in the world. In the US, we carry an extra burden as citizens of empire to do what we can to oppose US imperialism. We must be clear that it is time to end wars and other tools of regime change, to become a cooperative member of the world community and to prioritize the needs of people and protection of the planet.

There are a number of opportunities to mobilize against US empire: the April 14-15 days of action, the Women’s March on the Pentagon in October and the mass protest planned against the military parade in November.

Turmoil in Foreign Policy Leadership

This week, President Trump fired Secretary of State Tillerson, nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo for the State Department and chose Gina Haspel to replace Pompeo at the CIA. As we write this newsletter, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is on the verge of being fired. The deck chairs are being rearranged on the Titanic but this will not correct the course of a failing foreign policy.

The Pompeo and Haspel nominations are controversial. Pompeo believes torturers are patriots. He is a war hawk on every conflict and competing country, including Russia and especially Iran. And, unlike Tillerson, who stood up to Trump on occasion, Pompeo kisses-up to Trump, defending his every move. Haspel led a CIA black site torture center and ordered destruction of evidence to obstruct torture investigations.

The Democrat’s record on torture is not good. President Obama said he would not prosecute Bush era torturers, infamously saying, “we need to look forwards as opposed to looking backwards.” John Brennan who was complicit in Bush-era torture, withdrew under pressure from becoming CIA director in 2008, instead becoming Deputy National Security Adviser, which did not require confirmation. After Obama’s re-election, Brennan became Obama’s CIA director.

Brennan was inconsistent on whether torture worked. He tried to elevate Haspel, but the controversy around her prevented it. When the CIA spied on the US Senate Intelligence committee over their torture report, Brennan originally lied, denying the spying, but was later forced to admit it. He was not held accountable by either the Democrats or Obama.

Haspel headed a black site in Thailand where torture was carried out. She ordered the destruction of 92 secret tapes documenting torture even though the Senate Judiciary requested the tapes, as had a federal judge in a criminal trial. According to a federal court order, the tapes should have been turned over to comply with a FOIA request. Counsel for the White House and CIA said the tapes should have been preserved. Haspel’s actions should lead to prosecution, not to a promotion as head of the agency, as CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed torture and served time in prison for it, reminds us.

The Trump nominations leave the Democrats on the cusp of a complete surrender on torture in an election year. Caving on torture by approving Pompeo and Haspel will anger Democratic voters and risk the high turnout need for their anticipated 2018 “Blue Wave”.

Republican Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose both nominees. If all the Democrats oppose, the Senate will be split 50-50, requiring one more Republican to block the nominees. Fifteen Democrats supported Pompeo’s nomination as CIA director, so Democratic opposition is not ensured. Will Democrats oppose torture or be complicit in normalizing torture?

Democrat’s Security State Blue Wave

Militarism and war are bi-partisan. When Trump submitted a military budget, the Democrats almost unanimously joined with the Republicans to increase the budget by tens of billions of dollars. But, that is not all, a series of investigative reports by the World Socialist website reported the Democratic Party is becoming the party of military and intelligence candidates.

The series identifies more than 50 military-intelligence candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in 102 districts identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as targets for 2018. The result, as many as half of all new congressional Democrats could come from the national security apparatus. An example is the victory in Pennsylvania by Conor Lamb, an anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-drug war, ex-Marine, which is being celebrated by Democrats.

The Sanders-Democrats, working to make the Democratic Party a progressive people’s party, are being outflanked by the military-intelligence apparatus. In the end, Democratic Party leadership cares more about numbers than candidate’s policy positions.

Patrick Martin writes:

“If on November 6 the Democratic Party makes the net gain of 24 seats needed to win control of the House of Representatives, former CIA agents, military commanders, and State Department officials will provide the margin of victory and hold the balance of power in Congress. The presence of so many representatives of the military-intelligence apparatus in the legislature is a situation without precedent in the history of the United States.”

Just as Freedom Caucus Tea Party representatives hold power in the Republican Party, the military-intelligence officials will become the powerhouse for Democrats. This takeover will make the Democrats even more militarist at a dangerous time when threats of war are on the rise and the country needs an opposition party that says ‘no’ to war.

What does this mean? Kim Dotcom might be right when he tweeted, “The Deep State no longer wants to rely on unreliable puppets. They want to run politics directly now.” What does it mean politically? There is no two-party system on militarism and war. Those who oppose war are not represented and must build a political culture to oppose war at home and abroad.

US Foreign Policy Elites in Denial About Russia’s New Weapons

There is dangerous denial among US foreign policy elites about the Russian weapons systems announced by Putin in his state of the union speech last week. Military-intelligence analyst the Saker compares the US’ reaction to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. US elites are in the first two stages.

The US does not have an adequate defense to the weapons announced by Putin. As the Saker writes, “Not only does that mean that the entire ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] effort of the USA is now void and useless, but also that from now US aircraft carrier battle groups can only be used against small, defenseless, nations!” US leadership cannot believe that after spending trillions of dollars, Russia has outsmarted their military with ten percent of their budget.

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry exemplifies this denial, claiming Putin’s weapons are “phony,” exaggerated and do not really exist. Then he blames the Russians for starting an arms race. Of course, in both the National Security Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review, published before the Putin speech, the US announced an arms race.

US political and military leadership brought this on themselves. The US’ leaving the SALT treaty in 2002 and expanding NATO to cover the Russian border led to Russia’s development of these new weapons.

Further, Obama, and now Trump, support spending more than a trillion dollars to upgrade nuclear weapons. Perry falsifies history and blames Russia rather than looking in the mirror, since he was defense secretary during this era of errors.

The new Russian weapons systems do not have to lead to an unaffordable arms race. The US should re-evaluate its strategy and find a diplomatic path to a multi-polar world where the US does not waste money on militarism. We can divest from the military economy and convert it to civilian economic investment, as the US has many needs for infrastructure, energy transition, health care, education and more.

US global dominance is coming to an end. The issue is how will it end? Will the US hang on with an arms race and never-ending wars, or it will it wind down US empire in a sensible way. The Saker writes:

“The Russian end-goal is simple and obvious: to achieve a gradual and peaceful disintegration of the AngloZionist Empire combined with a gradual and peaceful replacement of a unipolar world ruled by one hegemon, by a multipolar world jointly administered by sovereign nations respectful of international law. Therefore, any catastrophic or violent outcomes are highly undesirable and must be avoided if at all possible. Patience and focus will be far more important in this war for the future of our planet than quick-fix reactions and hype. The ‘patient’ needs to be returned to reality one step at a time. Putin’s March 1st speech will go down in history as such a step, but many more such steps will be needed before the patient finally wakes up.”

As of now, the Pentagon and US leadership are in denial and not ready to face reality. The people of the United States, in solidarity with people of the world, must act now to end the war culture and convince US leadership that a new path is necessary.

Join the days of action!

April 14-15 – National Days of Action to End the Wars at Home and Abroad.

October 20-21 – Women’s March on the Pentagon

November 10 – 12 – No Trump Military Parade

  • JuliaDalton

    Thank you. It is long past due for a peace movement to rise up and put an end to these illegal ways of aggression, our bloated military budget, and our bases spread throughout the world. If we are to survive as a nation and as a species we must end war now.

  • Newton Finn

    Pull on this loose thread hard enough, and the whole neocon/neolib fabric unravels. 9/11 truth should be front and center in ALL protests. It’s the only issue powerful enough to blow apart the false consciousness of “the exceptional nation.”

  • AlanMacDonald

    Finally, I have increased confidence that leaders in the progressive, even Revolutionary, ‘Movement’ are focusing sufficient attention on the seminal and causal cancer of Empire.

    It seems clear, IMHO, that many of the leaders of progressive actions are either “Doubling-Up” on the need to recognize the escalating danger of Empire ginning-up the propaganda and drive toward war, and of many serious left socialist democratic leaders “Doubling Down” on confronting and preventing the Empire from rail-roading the American people toward being conned into another major war as the public was after the 9/11 “Shock Doctrine” drove them into accepting the mass hysteria that allowed the Empire to ignite the war in Iraq (and all subsequent wars in Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc.).

    So the increased alt-media articles, awareness, and focus on the underLYING danger of the Empire is moving and involving many more people into recognizing that Empire, and faux-Emperor Trump are dangers which must be confronted and overcome with anti-Empire and anti-war truth.

    With respect to this disguised global capitalist Empire only nominally HQed in, and merely ‘posing’ as, our former country, the most powerful drivers, facilitators, and dangers of Empire escalation seem to be economic, political, and environmental — with the former dominant.

    The current modality of the global crony capitalist system of Empire — which has recently devolved into only being able to make faux-profits and provide massive income inequality and far greater wealth inequality by inventing products and services purely based on dumping ‘negative externality costs’ [NECs] on people, governments, and the environment clearly can’t avoid existential collapse.

    It has become increasingly obvious, even for only moderately informed Americans, that the ‘media/propaganda-sector’ of the Empire is beating the dumps of war again — in such moves as putting ex-CIA Director into Emperor Trump’s virtual “War Cabinet”, while the MSM ‘muddy stream media’ tries to cover-up the true intent saying that “Coming Korea talks are just bolstering Trump’s ‘diplomatic team’.” BS! War by, for, and of the Empire is in the air — with both North Korea and Iran being set-up as the 21st century versions of the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident.

    For any who watched this Sunday’s imperialist “Talk Shows”, Chuck Toad on NBC’s “Meet the Press” was truly information free — like an anesthetic. While ABC’s “This Week” with George Steponisdic, and CBS’s “Face the Nation” (with the new and vacuous Margaret Brennan replacing the partially truthful John Dickerson) were both ginning-up new Wars and increased military Empire
    ‘abroad’ and scare tactics of domestic spying ‘at home’. Several of the pseudo expert panelists basically telegraphed the Empire’s war-baiting strategy in their debate about the contrived “issues” and the “political agendas” of the two parties — both of which are totally ‘in-the-pocket’ of the Empire. All the incessant chatter and ‘handicapping’ with respect to phony differences were talked about as the Democrat (neoliberal-con ‘D’ Vichy Party) riding a virtual ‘wave’ shift in providing social safety-nets of health-care and protection from NRA enabled mass-shootings, while the Republican (neocon ‘R’ Vichy Party of the exact same Empire) was projected to run in ’18 on their strength of “Protecting” people and “our country” from external maniacs with nuclear weapons.

    Clearly both of these dual-party Vichy-facades are playing almost entirely on the people’s ‘fear of dying’ from either lack of medical care ‘at home’ or nuclear holocaust coming ‘supposedly’ from ‘abroad’.

    It has already been easy to understand, and the media has even agreed that, the only way in which faux-Emperor Trump might deflect attention from, and politically survive, ‘firing Mueller’ would be if a war (or war-like crisis/shock) were occurring at the same time as Mueller’s removal —- so the logical conclusion to that is for Trump (who doesn’t give a damn for surplus and working-class American citizen/’subjects’) to out-gun the ‘supposedly’ opposition party by employing the bigger ‘fear-factor’ of nuclear attack death vs. the Democrats ‘fear-card’ of merely dying from lack of medical care in the U.S.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Yes, Julia, yes, yes yes!

    … “we must end war (and the Empire-thinking that drives wars) now.”

  • collectivist

    Good article.

  • The US empire is in decline.

    Isn’t China’s buying US government bonds prolonging the fate of said empire?

  • Jay Hansen

    Perhaps, but I would stop counting on that in four….three….two….one…..

  • It aint over till the judge at the ICC slams the hammer down.

  • Unfettered Fire

    The only people who still believe in the nation-state are its citizens. Don’t think for a minute that the globalists are competing with one another, just maintaining the pillaged goods, as they have for centuries.

  • John A Majane III

    The premise of this article is incorrect, we have never had and currently do not have an empire. The only foreign soil we ask for is a place to bury our dead soldiers.

  • kevinzeese

    Wow.. This is a great example of how people in the US have their eyes closed to reality. The US is the largest empire in world history and many people in the US deny it exists. The idea that the only place the US wants in other countres is a place to bury our soldies is so sad. Majane seems unaware of the more than 800 US military bases around the world and along with that other smaller bases (which we do not call bases) or that the US has Special Ops personnel in 149 countries. The US has seven wars it is currently fighting and none of them are legal, i.e. the two ways war can be legal are if a country is attacked or the US approves it. John Majane, you have a lot of re-education to do. There are many books that describe the US empire. You will be interested to learn about it. Suggested authors to start out with Alfred McCoy and Chalmers Johnson. Open our mind to reality.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Kevin — that’s exactly the problem —- that less than 1 in 10,000 Americans understand anything about America being the nominal global HQ of this disguised global capitalist EMPIRE.

    Most American’s think that America is some kind of functional democracy — when Gilens, Page, Levitsky, and Ziblatt have already ‘deeply researched’ and proven that America is NOT a democracy anymore in their books, “American Democracy?” and “How Democracies Die”.

    But unfortunately most of the folks on the public intellectual, and academic progressive left who fully understand that America is not a democracy anymore — despite all the BS about Russia attacking our non-existent ‘democracy’ — think and call it complex and overlapping words, like; oligarchy, plutocracy (which are actually the same), authoritarianism, fascism, totalitarianism, “inverted totalitarianism” [Wolin] (which makes it sound the same but extra confusing), “deep state” (which has actually helped the ‘hard-right’ keep Empire hidden, by making it sound conspiratorial), “corporate-state” [Chris’s favorite], police-state (which makes honest cops nervous and targeted, when we need them to stay with ‘we the people’), etc., etc., ad nauseam.

    Which is why I keep trying like hell to get an effective ‘strategy’ for the peaceful “Political Revolution against EMPIRE”, and an even more ‘essential’ and matching ‘strategic Narrative’ out there to educate and activate all people across all of these dozens to hundreds of little ‘identity issues’, the larger but still subordinate “Symptom Problems” (like; expanding and never ending WARS, Wall Street continue looting, vast inequality, racism, anti-science BS, drone assassinations, gun murders in schools and elsewhere, the NRA ‘marketing message’ that serves the 1000X bigger and massively profitable “Merchants of Death” MIC who fund the NRA as their ‘sales shill’, domestic spying, immigrant imprisonment, etc., etc., and finally our entire “ailing social order” [Zygmunt Bauman / Morris Berman] ALL OF WHICH CRIMES, BIG AND SMALL are ‘CAUSED’ by the exact same effin Disguised Global Capitalist EMPIRE — which many more average Americanswould effin recognize, understadn, and take ACTION against —- if and only if they weren’t being so deluded, distracted, ‘divided’ (against each other), and dis-empowered as virtual citizen/’SUBJECTS’, so that they would be will to do what our fore-fathers did and ignite an essential people’s peaceful and patriotic Political/economic and social(ist) Second American “Revolution Against EMPIRE” [Justin du Rivage].

    So, Kevin, this is just a long and perhaps boring explanation of why I bother to keep trying (and getting) clear calls for public understanding and action against EMPIRE, in my calling out of Trump as an Emperor —- which many people can understand and now are increasingly saying, “Emperor Trump” and even more hopefully to link Trump’s obvious Emperor manner and actions to the fact that he is turning America into acting just like and EMPIRE:

    Here’s a slightly cleaned-up edition of one of the three comments that I sent to the NYT today on just one article — and I will continue to do this on as many articles, Editorial Board pieces, Columns, OP EDs, and anything else I can do to get things going, which IMHO, is the only way to address all our effin ‘issues’ by cutting off the head of the ‘issues’ snake:

    “When Bruni reports: of Ann Coulter saying: “But that is the issue of the Former Trumpers. We are voting on the issues, not the man, and I think that is how you get away from tribal politics.”

    I’m very encouraged and delighted for all Americans because the all powerful “issue” that ‘we the American people’ will ultimately stand behind, is the same as our fore-fathers most strongly stood on in the founding of our country — “Do we want to be under the boot of an Empire, or do we want to live in liberty, democracy, justice, and equality in a government of, by, and for the people?”

    And as Patrick Henry might have shouted-out, if Thomas Paine had taken the pain to edit his rallying-cry, “Give me Liberty (from Empire) or give me Death”

    That’s the real message of the original Tea Party!

    So I have full confidence that the American people will always rally for a democracy over the dark specter of Empire and this creeping new 21st century disguised global capitalist-fueled Empire that Emperor Trump is trying to sell, for the royalist ruling-elite’s personal and only private advantage over ‘we the people of America”.

    Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality
    Violent (and dual-party Vichy)

    Alan Mac Donald

    Sent from my iPad