Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Chalmers Johnson - Sorrows of Empire: "The war with Iraq that followed had even less justification and subverted the system of international cooperation that the U.S. had worked since World War II to create. Immediately following 9/11, American leaders began to fabricate pretexts for an invasion of Iraq. These were then uncritically disseminated by American print and television media, leading a majority of Americans to believe that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to their own safety and that he had personally supported al-Qaeda in its attacks of 9/11.

"The United States will feel the blowback from this ill-advised and poorly prepared military adventure for decades. The war in Iraq has already had the unintended consequences of seriously fracturing the Western democratic alliance; eliminating any potentiality for British leadership of the European Union; grievously weakening international law, including the Charter of the United Nations; and destroying the credibility of the president, vice president, secretary of state, and other officials as a result of their lying to the international community and the American people. Most important, the unsanctioned military assault on Iraq communicated to the world that the United States was unwilling to seek a modus vivendi with Islamic nations and was therefore an appropriate, even necessary, target for further terrorist attacks."

"The United States is embarked on a path not so dissimilar from that of the former Soviet Union a little more than a decade ago. The Soviet Union collapsed for three reasons -- internal economic contradictions, imperial overstretch, and an inability to reform. In every sense, we are by far the wealthier of the two Cold War superpowers, so it will certainly take longer for similar afflictions to do their work. But the equivalent of the economic sclerosis of the former USSR is to be found in our corrupt corporations, the regular looting by insiders of workers' pension funds, the revelations that not a single financial institution on Wall Street can be trusted, and the massive drain of manufacturing jobs to other countries. Imperial overstretch is implicit in our empire of 725 military bases abroad, in addition to the 969 separate bases in the fifty states. Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet system before it collapsed but he was stopped by entrenched interests in the Cold War system. The United States is not even trying to reform, but it is certain that vested interests here would be as great or greater an obstacle. It is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever. The blowback from the second half of the twentieth century has only just begun."

"The few optimistic trends in the U.S. include the development of the powerful anti-globalization coalition that came into being in Seattle in November 1999 and that has subsequently evolved into an anti-war movement. The percentage of the public that does not get its information from network television but from the Internet and foreign newspapers is growing. Our wholly volunteer armed forces are composed of people who see the military as an opportunity, but they do not expect to be shot at. Now that the president and his advisers are ordering them into savagely dangerous situations, it is likely that many soldiers will not reenlist... The main prospect for the future of the world is that perpetual war waged by the United States against small countries it declares to be "rogue states" will lead to the slow growth of a coalition of enemies of the United States who will seek to weaken it and hasten its inevitable bankruptcy. This is the way the Roman Empire ended."

"The only hope for the planet is the isolation and neutralization of the United States by the international community. Policies to do so are underway in every democratic country on earth in quiet, unobtrusive ways. If the United States is not checkmated and nuclear war ensues, civilization as we know it will disappear and the United States will go into the history books along with the Huns and the Nazis as a scourge of human life itself."

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