Monday, February 04, 2013

Woe is US -- Re: Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Why It's "Legal" When the U.S. Does It

I enclose pasted below, if you are interested, a take on US power that is, I think, most interesting, in Tom Dispatch Noam Chomsky's recent article entitled. "The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful Washington’s Dilemma on a “Lost” Planet." 

 I have, in my pedestrian way, been saying for a long time that the US is STUCK in a 1945 WWII time warp psychological miasma.  If nothing else WWII was a necessary war.  Finally, the good war, (I DO think WWII was a "good" war) if there can be a good war but its rearrangement of Allied power is over. It birthed us lathering in love us, praise us the saviors of Europe and the entire world from the worst kind of fascist dictator, love us we along with our allies did a wondrous thing (and I think they did do that.)  

To use George Bush's infamous words we had capital political capital and we surely did spend it PROFUSELY but in the long term I have suspected MOST unwisely.  The problem is the world is NOT WWII Europe or Japan anymore and has not been for quite some time.  It has changed so significantly that the US seems to me not to know what to do.  We are losing control of the power we always had and worse the US speaking softly with grand philosophical democratic ideals but carrying the biggest war stick of all is failing to create sound policy.  After World War II the US supported right wing, often religious tyrannies or any tyranny, for that matter, all over the world -- as long, of course, as that tyrant suited US interests since we called the shots (pardon the pun.)

Now with a changing world we are -- in a word -- flummoxed.  It worries me frankly because if one truly looks at religious prone-to-civil-war fascism one feels, at least I do, lightheaded and rather nauseated but those of us who have seen US power as significant contributing factors behind the now Arab Spring realignment of the Middle East, it comes as no surprise.  Emerging secular and Islamic nationalism along with even anarchy is scary indeed. It is not exactly what the doctor ordered for US hegemony, empire and the maintenance of its brand of global power.

Middle Eastern Islamic countries know they have what the west wants only they are not playing by OUR rules anymore.  When the US was the only rule maker after the Soviet collapse it comes as a cold water shower on a 25 degree day when we lose the power we enjoyed for a VERY long time spending LOTS of blood and LOTS of money to secure it.  Loss of hegemony is intolerable but more intolerable is the loss of our blood and treasure for oil the real reason we are in such a mess anyway.

How will it all play out?  Who the hell knows?  My grandmother used to say some day the living will envy the dead. This is a pretty bleak thought, I know, but conceivable with the utter explosive fragmentation and perpetual war in the Middle East and a future for some Middle Eastern states of anarchy combined with loose nukes.  Add to the toxic blend blinding hatred for the US with its Iraq War based on lies destabilizing that neck of the woods along with the sworn enemy of the Middle Eastern many -- Israel ready to pounce at any moment when the US fires the starting gun to bomb Iran -- and things look rather bleak in Bleak House USA doncha think?

The next big fear promulgated by the war makers in the US is what to do if Iran acquires nuclear weapons. How can we stop them when we, Israel, the west and Pakistan have many?  I do NOT have the foggiest idea and worst of all, I think, neither does the Pentagon, the State Department, the Defense Department, the CIA and certainly not this president nor ANY president.  In fact, in my view, things would be much scarier with a right wing ideologue like an Etch-A-Sketch Romney salivating over the power to push that nuclear button with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing "Handel's Messiah" in the background.  Thank God (or something) for the small favor of Romney's political demise.  I digress.

To quote the great William Bendex those of us who remember the 1950's "The Life of Riley", "what a revoltin (sic) development this is!"  Perhaps someone(s) else will figure out how to deal with this most complex (to say the least) conundrum.  I am damned if I know.  Let me know if anyone figures it out and wake me up in 25 years if I or anyone is around to do so!

Please read Tom Dispatch with Noam Chomsky's article below.

Subject: Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Why It's "Legal" When the U.S. Does It A Regular Antidote to the Mainstream Media
February 3, 2013
Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Why It's "Legal" When the U.S. Does It

Credit the Arab Spring and what’s followed in the Greater Middle East to many things, but don’t overlook American “unilateralism.”  After all, if you want to see destabilization at work, there’s nothing like having a heavily armed crew dreaming about eternal global empires stomp through your neighborhood, and it’s clear enough now that whatever was let loose early in the twenty-first century won’t end soon.

If, from Tunisia and Egypt to Syria and Libya, the Arab Spring was a series of popular uprisings, it was also a series of unravelings.  Two decades late, the Cold War system of great power control in the Middle East, in which the U.S. was the dominant partner and the Soviet Union the lesser one, is finally disintegrating.  The abattoir that is now Syria could be considered the Russian contribution to the present chaos; Egypt, with its besieged fundamentalist president, its irate soccer fans in the streets of its Suez-Canal-bordering cities, and its army chief talking about a possible “collapse” of the state, should be considered part of the far greater and more devastating American contribution.  (Along with Israel, Egypt was one of the three pillars of the American system in the region; the other, still standing in all its fundamentalist glory, its vast oil reserves pumping away, remains Saudi Arabia.)

In any case, when you see what’s happening these days, first thank the American unilateralists of the 1990s, our own financial jihadis. They dreamed of organizing a planet subservient to American financial power and ended up, in 2008, blowing a hole in it instead.  A decade later came George W. Bush and his neocon followers, dreaming of doing the same thing in military terms, with similarly disastrous results.  If the neoliberals helped create the 1% world of Middle Eastern oppression that a young Tunisian with a lighter set afire, Bush’s visionary militarists, with their catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq, did even greater damage.  They punched a hole directly in the oil heartlands of the planet and set what they already liked to call “the arc of instability” -- little did they know -- aflame.  Between them, they drove us through what, in 2004, Amr Moussa, then head of the Arab League, called “the gates of hell,” imagining they were the gates to an imperial paradise.

Now, from Pakistan and Yemen to Mali and Niger, Washington's dronesspecial ops, and cyber warriors are now blindly pushing that process of destabilization forward, even as they further undermine American power in the region.  This post-Arab Spring world and the state of U.S. power are the subjects that TomDispatch regular Noam Chomsky takes up in the following excerpt adapted from his wide-ranging new interview book with David Barsamian, Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.  (It’s another Chomsky must-read.) Tom
The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful 
Washington’s Dilemma on a “Lost” Planet 
By Noam Chomsky
[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books).  The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]
Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?
The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources -- the main concern of U.S. planners -- have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.
Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.
The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism -- mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.

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