Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gabriel Kolko: the Decline of the American Empire: The essential problem is the sheer size of the Pentagon and the US military/industrial complex. It comprises more spending on arms and 'defence' than the rest of the world combined, a monstrous situation which spells nothing but danger. It all dates from the First World War. It has been a century of horror, folly, tragedy and irrationality. WW1 led to the Second World War which left us with the Soviet and US military empires. The Soviets collapsed and the Pentagon must also be dismantled without stimulating the existence of another great military establishment, ie without another major war.

US military spending at about $500b p.a. needs to be slashed by 90%, bringing it down to about $50b and on a par with Russia and China. The political system is incapable of achieving this result, or even discussing it, and so military failure and fiscal bankruptcy are virtually the only practical hope. And yet somehow this must occur in the US without some horror of major war or fascistic statism evolving. Looking back at the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is remarkable how little blood (apart from the ongoing Chechnyan tragedy) was spent in the course of the dissolution of the Red Army. It might be too much to hope for that the same relatively 'orderly' collapse also occurs in the USA.

Could we dare hope that by Armistice Day 2018 humanity has finally put aside war as a method of policy?

"The American priorities [after WW2] were specific, focused on individual nations, but they also set the United States the task of guiding or controlling the entire world--which is a very big place and has proven time and again to be far beyond American resources and imperial power. In most of those places in the Third World where the US massively employed its power directly it has lost, and its military might has been ineffective. The US's local proxies have been corrupt and venal in most nations where it has relied upon them. The cost, both in financial terms and in the eventual alienation of the American public, has been monumental."

"The US dilemma, and it is a fundamental contradiction, is that its expensive military power is largely useless as an instrument of foreign policy.... The basic problem the world today confronts is American ambition, an ambition based on the illusion that its great military power allows it to define political and social trends everywhere it chooses to do so.... The world is more dangerous now, in large part because the US refuses to recognize the limits of its power and retains the ambitions it had 50 years ago."

"The US military is falling apart: its weapons have been ineffective, politically Iraq is likely to break up into regional fiefdoms (as Afghanistan has), and perhaps civil war--no one knows. From the Iraqi viewpoint the war was a disaster, but it also repeated the failures the Americans confronted in Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere. That the Iraq resistance is divided will not save the US from defeat.... But it is crucial to remember that the US is only a reflection of the militarism and irrationality that has blinded many leaders of mankind for over a century. The task is not only to prevent the US from inflicting more damage on the hapless world--Iraq at this moment--but to root out the historic, global illusions that led to its aggression."

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