by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; and from these proceed debt and taxes; and armies, and debts, are taxes of the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few … no nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’’ (My emphasis – FL) (1)
Thus was the initial warning by James Madison to the possible development (and dangers) which lie ahead of the great social and political experiment in what was to become the American Republic. In fact these militaristic/ imperial proclivities were also noted by the more astute members and chroniclers of American history and repeated by Alexis De Tocqueville in 1835. He wrote that:
Among democratic nations the wealthiest, best educated, and ablest men seldom adopt a military profession, the army taken collectively, eventually forms a new nation by itself where the mind is less enlarged, and habits are made rude than in the nation at large. Now this small and uncivilized nation has arms in its possession and also knows how to use them; (My emphasis – FL) for indeed the pacific temper of the community increases the danger to which a democratic people is exposed from the military and the turbulent spirit of the Army. Nothing is so dangerous as an army in the midst of an unwarlike nation; the excessive love of the whole community for quiet puts the Constitution at the mercy of the soldiery. (2)
‘Unwarlike’? Well the Republic was to become very warlike for most of its history. Things got started in earnest in 1846-48 with the US/Mexican conflict. This marked the first U.S. armed conflict chiefly fought on foreign soil. It pitted a politically divided and militarily unprepared Mexico against the expansionist-minded administration of U.S. President James K. Polk, who believed the United States had a “manifest destiny” to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. A border skirmish along the Rio Grande started off the fighting and was followed by a series of U.S. victories. When the dust cleared, Mexico had lost about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. So the US got the taste of imperial hubris and easy victories early on. This was the beginning of a will to global expansion which has seen the US develop a penchant for global hegemony.
What could be more apposite and sombre of these measured warnings to the present time and the leadership thereof. The United States has transmuted from being an experimental national democracy into a rampaging imperial juggernaut with all the attendant features of empire. In general and in more recent times these imperial conflicts have been wars of choice. No-body had attacked the US since the half-hearted British attempt in 1812 and the Japanese in 1941. The only war of any significance since independence was the internal conflict between the industrial north and the agrarian south.
The Rise of Empire
This awakening of US imperialism was later extended to the Spanish/American war of the late 19th century. New territories in Latin America and East Asia were added through their annexation. The US had thus become the latest newcomer to the imperialist club although it always insisted (rather unconvincingly) that it was different to the more established British, French, Spanish and Portuguese exploitative models. There was a belief, presumably mandated by the deity, in America’s manifest destiny to rule the world. This is the same patter, which is now trotted out by the neo-cons, the Deep State, NSA, MIC, MSM, and political parties. Whether they actually believe in this is something of a moot point.
Yet now the United States finds itself everywhere in a situation of endless simultaneous wars, occupations, blockades (whoops, I mean sanctions), economic warfare, surveillance warfare and one-sided alliances whereby its ‘allies’ are in many ways worse treated than its chosen enemies and are becoming increasingly disenchanted with their subaltern role. This is particularly instanced in the American German falling out over the question of Russian Gas and Nordstream2. Germany has its own national interests which conflict with those of the US. How exactly is this going to play out? It should be understood in this respect that the US does not have ‘allies’ in the generally accepted understanding of the term, but subaltern hierarchies of the ‘Me Tarzan – You Jane’ variety. The ‘Jane’ in the situation are the assembled and invertebrate species of EU vassal regimes who up to this point in their history have always been willing to prostrate themselves at the command of their transatlantic masters.
One of the stranger anomalies of this US global military-economic posture is the influence of Israel – Israel this tiny country, with its tiny population, in the middle east must be obeyed at all costs. And making sure that it is obeyed are the various interest groups in the US which inter alia includes the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the Anti-Deformation League (ADL) the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Most, if not all, of the senior members of these organizations are Jewish, Zionists and/or neo-conservatives. To give an example of their influence and reach take the case of uber-hawk and Zionist lackey Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Amidst the general routine and prevalent corruption in American political and corporate life the Las Vegas gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson – staunch supporter of his particular interests and the Israeli cause – began throwing around tens of millions of dollars to push legislation to ban internet gambling in order to protect his billion dollar oligopoly casino interests against competition. It wasn’t long before Graham introduced a bill to ban internet gambling. When asked about the curious coincidence of timing Graham said that his Southern Baptist constituents in South Carolina (SC) shared Adelson’s aversion to internet gambling so there was no quid pro quo involved.
It should be borne in mind, however, that Graham had held Federal Office in SC since 1995, and yet he had felt no driving urge to introduce such legislation until 2014. This took place when Graham had apparently undergone a Damascene Conversion precisely at the time that Mr Adelson began to shower him with monies. Graham’s transaction with his benefactor apparently did not meet the Supreme Court’s chief Justice, John Roberts’s, narrow definition of an illegal quid pro quo as expressed in the Court’s 2010 Citizens United Decision.
In another unrelated instance involving Graham, which might be considered as being questionable, there were his political liaisons with a foreign state and its leader – Benjamin Netanyahu – whose policies Graham would be disposed to imbibe and support whatever the policies the Israeli Prime Minster might propose, an arresting statement in light of the Senator’s oath to the American Constitution and the voters he represents. (3)
Yet another instance of a corrupt American official in the pocket of Israeli interests. Moreover, it is not merely lower rank officials who willingly take the knee to Israel, the process reaches up to the highest levels of the US political establishment; so much so that It seems difficult to exactly work out who is whose client state in the US/Israel relationship.
Various right-wing think-tanks (see above) most importantly the American Enterprise Institution, or to give it its full name, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research is a Washington, D.C. based think-tank which researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare. AEI is an independent non-profit organization supported primarily by grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. This of course is a rather misleading description of what it actually does, and what its alleged goals are, in what is a vehemently pro-Zionist neo-con outfit. Leading figures include Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Mr and Mrs Wurmser as well as the rest of the Zionist neo-con gang whose entire raison d’etre seems to be unconditional support for Israel. This was instanced in the policy statement, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) was a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel‘s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values” (i.e., naked imperialism). It has widely been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal and murder of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the ongoing war and annexation of parts of Syria by engaging in proxy and actual warfare and highlighting Iraq’s alleged possession of mythical “weapons of mass destruction”.
It would not be an exaggeration to surmise that US foreign policy is now, and has been for some time, subsumed under Israel’s strategic interests and policies in the middle-east. Exactly what the United States gets out of this relationship is not clear other than the mollycoddling and financing of the Zionist apartheid state for no apparent returns.
The US foreign policy enigma:
I think it was Winston Churchill who once described the foreign policy of the Soviet Union as being ‘’ … a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.’’ It seems that much the same is true of the United States and its foreign policy. The cornerstone of the policy was put in place in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s western frontier and the first and second Iraq wars, as well as the destruction of Libya, ably assisted by the British and French. This period of triumphalism for the Anglo-Zionist empire is ending with the imperial overstretch eventuating from 9/11. This episode has been subject to a myriad of various theories and has never been definitively demonstrated as to who were the brains behind this event. That being said the consequences of the event had deep-going ramifications. As one commentator has noted.
‘’The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack and the botched response to it delivered a twofold lesson: first, perpetual intervention in conflicts abroad is likely to spawn what the CIA calls ’’blowback’’ an unintended negative consequences of an intervention suffered by the party that intervenes. It is irrefutable that America’s funding and arming of religious based (i.e., Jihadis- FL) resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan created a Frankenstein’s monster that little more than a decade later brought the war back to the United States. But we have been largely unwilling to join the dots beyond that. Invading Iraq in 2003 spawned further instability in the middle-east and the emergence of more terrorist groups. Why is it that so few of our pundits have noticed the obvious fact that the civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS are the direct results of our actions in Iraq? Beyond that the United State’s government’s ham-fisted meddling in internal Ukrainian politics helped to set in motion a predictable chain of events that has sparked a new cold war. Actions such as this have drained our Treasury and destabilized large areas of the World. (4)
It also seems pertinent to enquire as to what extent is the United States carrying out policies which could be defined as being the pursuit of its national interests; this as opposed to the interests of internal and itinerant cosmopolitan groups in the US whose sympathies and interests lie elsewhere in overseas climes and not in the US heartlands. But this should be expected from the aims and objectives of these footloose globalist oligarchies in the key positions at the apex of American institutions and exerting what amounts to a stranglehold on policy-making.
Overstretch, Hubris and Messianism
Generally speaking all empires have recognisable contours of development, maturity, and decline; and there is no reason to suppose that America and its empire will be an exception to this general rule. For all that the American ruling class has taken it upon itself to deny these fundamental conditions and processes of empire. A case study was the fate of the British Empire. At the end of WW2 Britain could no longer bear the costs of holding down 25% of the worlds surface. Moreover the populations of empire – particularly in India – did not wish to be held down. Post 1945 the jig was up: the UK was effectively bankrupt, and the US took full advantage of this.
‘’The US concept of multilateralism was expressed in the Lend-Lease programme in its dealings with the UK. The British loan of 1946 and the Bretton Woods Agreements called for the dollar to supplant sterling as the world’s reserve currency. In effect the Sterling Area was to be absorbed into what would be the dollar area which would be extended throughout the world. Britain was to remain in a weakened position in which it found itself at the end of the war … with barely any free monetary reserves and dependent on dollar borrowings to meet its current obligations. The United States would gain access to Britain’s pre-war markets in Latin America, Africa, the middle-east and the far east … the Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelt the end of Britain as a Great Power.’’ (5)
This is the way empires die, new empires arise, decline, and they in their turn also die, and this process admits of no exceptions.
The Big Push
From a geopolitical viewpoint the most important developments in recent years have been the relative decline of America in economic, political, and cultural terms, the rise of China, and the recovery of Russia from the disastrous years of the Yeltsin ascendancy. That being said it should be acknowledged that America is the most powerful global economic and military alliance – but there has been the undermining of this pre-eminence which is symptomatic of its present state. I remember the scene in the film Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen playing Captain Willard who sums up his (and America’s) dilemma: ‘’Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.’’ That pretty much sums up the situation facing America then and now. As for the $ dominance well that worked provided advantage was not taken of its privileged position, but of course, human nature being what it is, advantage was taken. Moreover, the reserve status of the dollar isn’t, as many suppose, a one-way gravy train. Given that the dollar is the world’s global currency demand will fluctuate. Increased demand will push up the value of the greenback meaning that goods and services exported to the US will become cheaper. However a strong dollar will push up the costs of America’s export producers and lead to a hollowing out of US industry. Hence the Rust Belt. The absurdity of having a domestic currency serve as the global reserve currency means that the US monetary authorities need to engineer a situation whereby an equilibrium match of dollar inflows to dollar outflows is attained. A difficult if not impossible trick to perform. Please see the Triffin Paradox.
This is a situation which the US cannot endure. It must act now to reverse its own decline and prevent the rise of other great powers. The ‘Big Push’ mentality whereby the final victorious outcome against an entrenched enemy became a feature of military ‘thinking’ (sic) during WW1. The British and French offensives on the western front, the battles of the Somme 1916, Ypres III 1917 (Wipers 3 as the British soldiers’ called it) and the Nivelle offensives 1917, did not succeed in bringing about a victory over embedded German opposition and cost hundreds of thousands of casualties for a few blood-soaked hundred meters of gain. The situation was reversed in 1918 when the Germans went on the offensive, but the result was a successful counter-offensive by the British, French, and newly arrived American divisions and finally the Armistice of 1918.
Be that as it may this ‘Big Push’ mentality has seemingly insinuated itself into current US’s strategic thinking. This in spite of the fact that the rather inconsistent results of such past policies does not offer a particularly feasible option – but they may just do it anyway. Who knows?
Thumbing through the history books is always a good guide to how the decision makers behave at the inflexion points of history.
The Sicilian Expedition
In the History of the Peloponnesian War the Greek Historian, Thucydides, gives an account of the key moment in the ongoing wars between Sparta and Athens. This was the invasion of Sicily by Athens or more commonly known as the Sicilian Expedition. The view of Pericles in 430 BC was the status quo option: neither expand the Athenian empire nor diminish it. No withdrawal from Afghanistan.
… do not imagine that what we are fighting for is simply the question of freedom or slavery; there is also involved the loss of empire and dangers arising from the hatred we have incurred in the administration of it. Nor is it any longer possible to give up this empire – though there maybe some people in a mood of panic and in the spirit of political apathy actually think that this would be a fine and noble thing to do. Your empire is now like a tyranny; it may have been wrong to take it; it is certainly dangerous to let it go. (6)
Sound familiar? After the acquisition of empire, the costs of this enterprise start to roll in; the process then begins to move and then stagnate under the weight of its own slowing momentum and popular resistance. But like today’s neo-cons the Athenian war party nonetheless prevailed: the empire must at all costs be preserved. In terms of a modern cost-benefit analysis this would in purely rational business terms conclude that the maintenance of empire was not sustainable; it was a loss-making operation.
Sceptics about the wisdom of the Sicilian adventure including Nicias warned about the irrational exuberance of the war party as follows:
It is true that this assembly was called to deal with the preparations to be made for sailing to Sicily. Yet I still think that this is a question that requires further thought … is it really a good thing to send the ships at all? I think that we ought not to give just hasty consideration to so important a matter which does not concern us … I shall therefore confine myself to showing you that this is the wrong time for such adventures and that the objects of your ambitions are not to be gained easily. What I say is this: In going to Sicily you are leaving many enemies behind you, and you apparently want to make new ones there and have them also on your hands. It is with real alarm that I see this young man’s party (i.e., the war party FL) sitting at his (Alcibiades) side in this assembly all called in to support him and I and my side call for the support of the older men among you. If any one of you sits next to one of his supporters do not allow yourself to be browbeaten or frightened of being called a coward if you do not vote for war. (7)
But such reasoned arguments did not move the war party who gave Nicias’ arguments noticeably short shrift. The war party was on heat and there was no stopping the momentum of war pumped up by an adrenalin of mass psychosis. But this was not the end of the matter.
The war 415-413 BC itself turned out to be an absolute disaster for Athens. After achieving early successes the Athenians were checked by the arrival Spartan general, Gylippus, who galvanized the local inhabitants into action. From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted. A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the Athenian soldiers’ ability to continue fighting and also their morale. The Athenians attempted a last-ditch evacuation from Syracuse. The evacuation failed, and nearly the entire expedition were captured or were destroyed in Sicily. Athens never really recovered after this strategic rout.
The whole sorry episode seems remarkably familiar: deadly examples of overestimating your own strength and underestimating the strength of the opposition. This policy (or lack of) has turned out to be a leitmotif in the US wars of choice against small but determined adversaries. The results of deploying the same playbook operationalised by the same incorrigible Neanderthals in the deep state with the same utterly predictable results. This present ongoing American attempt to construct a world empire through political, economic, and military means seems to be gearing up and preparing to launch its own Sicilian Expedition and this process has already been started. A classic example of imperial overreach. Nevertheless, the policy must go on; and it must be soon or never. One is reminded of Einstein’s famous dictum applicable to the PTB who are in charge of US policy. (8) But do the Americans really believe that they can carry this off? Are they actually crazy? Or is the whole thing nothing more than a brilliant bluff. Time will tell.
(1) James Madison – ‘Political Observations’ – 1795. Letters and Writings of James Madison – 1865 – Volume IV
(2) Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America – Volume 2 – pp.282/283
(3) ‘Senator Lindsey Graham – Meeting in Israel with PM Netanyahu – Fox News – 27 December 2014.
(4) Mike Lofgren – The Deep State – p.43
(5) Michael Hudson – Super Imperialism – pp.268/269
(6)Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War – The Policy of Pericles – Book 2 – 63
(7) Thucydides – Ibid – Launching of the Sicilian Expedition Book 6 – 8, 9, 10
(8) “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”