Tuesday, October 9, 2012

End of the Cold War Left the Sole “Victor” Heading To the Exit Wreathed in Self-Congratulations



From our buddy Tom, we learn why we have very little money left (certainly none for Medicare expansion or Social Security maintenance according to the rightwingers who run the country (including most of the traditional Dems)), and the largest and most powerful military the world has ever seen without being one whit safer from "bad guys" or more able to face the immense future challenges immediately upcoming in our rapidly decaying world.

Read the whole essay here.

Blindsided by Predictably Unintended Consequences
By all the usual measuring sticks, the U.S. should be supreme in a historically unprecedented way. And yet it couldn’t be more obvious that it’s not, that despite all the bases, elite forces, private armies, drones, aircraft carriers, wars, conflicts, strikes, interventions, and clandestine operations, despite a labyrinthine intelligence bureaucracy that never seems to stop growing and into which we pour a minimum of $80 billion a year, nothing seems to work out in an imperially satisfying way.

It couldn’t be more obvious that this is not a glorious dream, but some kind of ever-expanding imperial nightmare.


This should, of course, have been self-evident since at least early 2004, less than a year after the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq, when the roadside bombs started to explode and the suicide bombings to mount, while the comparisons of the United States to Rome and of a prospective Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East to the Pax Romana vanished like a morning mist on a blazing day. Still, the wars against relatively small, ill-armed sets of insurgents dragged toward their dismally predictable ends. (It says the world that, after almost 11 years of war, the 2,000th U.S. military death in Afghanistan occurred at the hands of an Afghan “ally” in an “insider attack.”)

In those years, Washington continued to be regularly blindsided by the unintended consequences of its military moves. Surprises -- none pleasant -- became the order of the day and victories proved vanishingly rare.


One thing seems obvious: a superpower military with unparalleled capabilities for one-way destruction no longer has the more basic ability to impose its will anywhere on the planet. Quite the opposite, U.S. military power has been remarkably discredited globally by the most pitiful of forces. From Pakistan to Honduras, just about anywhere it goes in the old colonial or neocolonial world, in those regions known in the contested Cold War era as the Third World, resistance of one unexpected sort or another arises and failure ensues in some often long-drawn-out and spectacular fashion.

Given the lack of enemies -- a few thousand jihadis, a small set of minority insurgencies, a couple of feeble regional powers -- why this is so, what exactly the force is that prevents Washington’s success, remains mysterious. Certainly, it’s in some way related to the more than half-century of decolonization movements, rebellions, and insurgencies that were a feature of the previous century.

It also has something to do with the way economic heft has spread beyond the U.S., Europe, and Japan -- with the rise of the “tigers” in Asia, the explosion of the Chinese and Indian economies, the advances of Brazil and Turkey, and the movement of the planet toward some kind of genuine economic multipolarity. It may also have something to do with the end of the Cold War, which put an end as well to several centuries of imperial or great power competition and left the sole “victor,” it now seems clear, heading toward the exits wreathed in self-congratulation.

Explain it as you will, it’s as if the planet itself, or humanity, had somehow been inoculated against the imposition of imperial power, as if it now rejected it whenever and wherever applied. In the previous century, it took a half-nation, North Korea, backed by Russian supplies and Chinese troops to fight the U.S. to a draw, or a popular insurgent movement backed by a local power, North Vietnam, backed in turn by the Soviet Union and China to defeat American power. Now, small-scale minority insurgencies, largely using roadside bombs and suicide bombers, are fighting American power to a draw (or worse) with no great power behind them at all.

Think of the growing force that resists such military might as the equivalent of the “dark matter” in the universe. The evidence is in. We now know (or should know) that it’s there, even if we can’t see it.

Washington's Wars on Autopilot

After the last decade of military failures, stand-offs, and frustrations, you might think that this would be apparent in Washington. After all, the U.S. is now visibly an overextended empire, its sway waning from the Greater Middle East to Latin America, the limits of its power increasingly evident. And yet, here’s the curious thing: two administrations in Washington have drawn none of the obvious conclusions, and no matter how the presidential election turns out, it’s already clear that, in this regard, nothing will change.


2 comments:

opit said...

Ex military intelligence analyst Mack Reynolds turned his hand to writing science fiction decades ago. One of his more relevant themes was how it would be impossible for a world superpower to continue to use expensive bombs to kill men armed with sticks - who turned the invaders' weapons against them.
Victorious in war
Spurred the Japanese to war by imposing sanctions.
Hitler desperately did not want war with Britain. This was why his 'right hand man' Rudolph Hess ended up spending his life in Spandau prison after parachuting into Britain - so the news would not be public.
Sanctions were used in Iraq before they were fully turned against Iran : the same tactic credited as 'nearly' - and much more could be said about that as relates to banking - destroyed the infant Thirteen Colonies : blockade.
The simplest analysis rings the truest. Nations with independent currencies are the chosen victims.

Suzan said...

So, Germany's next?

Thanks for the Hess note.

Always good to remember.

S