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mercredi, 07 novembre 2018

Le monde se dissocie discrètement des États-Unis

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Le monde se dissocie discrètement des États-Unis

Article original de Brandon Smith, publié le 9 octobre 2018 sur le site alt-market.com
Traduit par le blog http://versouvaton.blogspot.fr 


… et personne n’y prête attention 
 
par Brandon Smith
 
Ex: https://versouvaton.blogspot.com


La confiance aveugle dans le dollar américain est peut-être l’un des facteurs les plus invalidants dont disposent les économistes pour évaluer notre avenir économique. Historiquement parlant, les monnaies fiduciaires sont des animaux dont la durée de vie est très courte, et les monnaies de réserve mondiales sont encore plus sujettes à une mort prématurée. Mais, pour une raison ou une autre, l’idée que le dollar est vulnérable au même sort est jugée ridicule par les médias dominants.
 
Cette illusion a aussi récemment perfusé dans certaines parties du mouvement économique alternatif, certains analystes espérant que l’Administration Trump renversera en quelque sorte plusieurs décennies de sabotage des banques centrales en seulement quatre à huit ans. Cependant, cette façon de penser exige qu’une personne ignore complètement la tendance actuelle.

Des années avant que l’on ne soupçonne l’imminence d’une guerre commerciale, de nombreux pays ont établi des accords bilatéraux qui devaient réduire le dollar comme principal mécanisme d’échange. La Chine a été un chef de file dans cet effort, bien qu’elle soit l’un des plus importants acheteurs de titres du Trésor américain et détenteurs de réserves en dollars américains depuis le krach de 2008. Au cours des dernières années, ces accords bilatéraux ont pris de l’ampleur, en commençant par de petits accords, puis en se transformant en accords massifs sur les matières premières. La Chine et la Russie sont un parfait exemple de la tendance à la dé-dollarisation, les deux pays ayant formé une alliance commerciale sur le gaz naturel dès 2014. Cet accord, qui devrait commencer à stimuler les importations en Chine cette année, élimine le besoin de dollars comme mécanisme de réserve pour les achats internationaux.

La Russie et certaines parties de l’Europe, y compris l’Allemagne, se rapprochent également sur le plan commercial. Avec l’entrée de l’Allemagne et de la Russie dans l’accord sur le gazoduc Nordstream 2 malgré les condamnations de l’administration Trump, nous pouvons voir une nette progression des nations s’éloignant des États-Unis et du dollar et allant vers un « panier de devises ».
Le ministre de l’Énergie, Rick Perry, a laissé entendre que des sanctions sont possibles à l’égard du projet Nordstream 2, mais les politiques de guerre commerciale ne font que hâter le mouvement international qui s’écarte des États-Unis comme centre d’influence commerciale. Les sanctions américaines contre le pétrole iranien appuient cet argument, car la Chine, la Russie et une grande partie de l’Europe travaillent ensemble pour contourner les restrictions américaines sur le brut iranien.

La Chine a même mis en place son propre marché de pétro-yuans, et les premières livraisons de pétrole du Moyen-Orient vers la Chine payées par un contrat de pétro-yuans ont eu lieu en août de cette année. Les économistes classiques aiment à souligner la petite part du marché mondial du pétrole que représente le pétro-yuan, mais ils semblent ne pas avoir saisi l’ensemble de la situation. Le problème, c’est qu’il existe maintenant une solution de rechange au pétro-dollar là où il n’en existait pas auparavant. Et c’est là l’essentiel de la question qu’il faut examiner : La tendance vers des alternatives, et toutes les alternatives conduisant à la centralisation par les banques mondiales.
Au-delà de l’abandon du dollar américain en tant que monnaie de réserve mondiale, il y a une nouvelle question autour des systèmes de paiement internationaux alternatifs. SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) est un réseau mondial de « messages financiers » entre les grandes banques, dont les banques centrales. Les transactions sont enregistrées via le réseau SWIFT, ce qui permet une confirmation rapide des « messages » et des mises à jour de comptes dans le monde entier.

Fondé à l’origine à Bruxelles, SWIFT est depuis des décennies le seul réseau bancaire de ce type disposant d’une capacité mondiale et, jusqu’à récemment, les principaux centres de données étaient situés aux États-Unis et aux Pays-Bas.

Le gouvernement américain a exploité un contrôle économique étendu en utilisant son influence sur SWIFT, notamment en surveillant massivement les transactions financières internationales et en refusant à des pays comme l’Iran l’accès à SWIFT par des sanctions. Par le passé, les États-Unis ont saisi ou gelé des fonds transférés par l’entremise de SWIFT entre des banques à l’extérieur des frontières américaines, y compris des transactions entièrement légales, ce qui indique que les États-Unis exercent un contrôle manifeste sur le système. Le statut de réserve mondiale du dollar, combiné à l’influence des États-Unis sur l’outil le plus important dans les transactions bancaires internationales, a renforcé la domination financière des États-Unis pendant de nombreuses années.

Mais le règne du dollar touche rapidement à sa fin, les banques mondiales comme le FMI cherchant à centraliser l’autorité monétaire dans une structure mondiale unique. La grande illusion perpétrée est que l’« ordre mondial multipolaire » qui est en train de naître est en quelque sorte « anti-globaliste ». Ce n’est tout simplement pas le cas.

Alors, que se passe-t-il réellement ? Le monde se rétrécit à mesure que tout le monde, SAUF les États-Unis, se consolide sur le plan économique. Cela inclut les alternatives à SWIFT.

La Russie vend ses bons du Trésor américain, mais entretient des liens étroits avec le FMI et la BRI, appelant à un système monétaire mondial sous le contrôle du FMI. La Chine fait de même, en resserrant ses liens avec le FMI par le biais de son système de panier de DTS, tout en coupant un par un ses liens avec le dollar. L’Europe se rapproche de la Russie et de la Chine, s’efforçant de défier les sanctions américaines.

Aujourd’hui, tous ces pays construisent de nouveaux réseaux de type SWIFT afin de mettre les États-Unis à l’écart de la boucle. En d’autres termes, les États-Unis sont en train de devenir le méchant de notre soap opera mondial et, du fait de leur orgueil démesuré, ils préparent le terrain pour leur propre destruction. Les États-Unis jouent un rôle de catalyseur en aidant les banques mondiales en faisant peur à leurs ennemis et alliés et en les poussant à une plus grande centralisation. Du moins, c’est le récit que je soupçonne que les futurs historiens reprendront.

Dans le cadre des efforts visant à saper les sanctions américaines contre le pétrole iranien, l’UE a établi un programme pour construire un nouveau système SWIFT en dehors de l’influence américaine. C’est un modèle auquel la Russie, la Chine et l’Iran ont accepté de participer, et la nouvelle a été largement ignorée par le grand public. Le Wall Street Journal a rapporté à contrecœur l’évolution de la situation, mais l’a rejetée comme étant inefficace pour contrecarrer les sanctions américaines. Et cela semble être le consensus parmi les médias – minimiser ou ignorer les implications d’un système SWIFT alternatif.

Les préjugés à l’égard du dollar soulèvent une fois de plus leur vilaine tête, et les dangers de ce genre de déni sont nombreux. Le dollar peut être, et est en train d’être contourné par des accords commerciaux bilatéraux. La domination américaine sur les marchés pétroliers est contournée par d’autres contrats pétroliers. Et maintenant, le contrôle américain des réseaux financiers est contourné par des programmes SWIFT alternatifs. Le seul fil conducteur qui maintient le dollar et, par extension, l’économie américaine ensemble est le fait que ces alternatives ne sont pas encore répandues. Cela va inévitablement changer.

Alors, la question est : quand cela va-t-il changer ?

Je crois que le rythme de la guerre commerciale dictera le rythme de la dé-dollarisation. Plus les tarifs deviendront agressifs entre les États-Unis et la Chine, l’Iran, l’Europe et la Russie, plus vite les systèmes alternatifs déjà existants seront mis en œuvre. À l’heure actuelle, la rapidité du conflit entre les États-Unis et la Chine laisse entrevoir un passage du dollar à un panier de monnaies internationales d’ici la fin 2020, et il faudra environ une autre décennie pour que ce processus se concrétise. En d’autres termes, le système du panier des DTS servira de pont dans le temps vers une nouvelle monnaie de réserve mondiale, un système monétaire mondial unique.

Avec les tarifs douaniers actuels qui couvrent au moins la moitié du commerce chinois et l’autre moitié qui est menacée si la Chine riposte de quelque manière que ce soit, je pense que ce n’est qu’une question de mois avant que la Chine n’utilise ses propres dollars et réserves de bons du Trésor comme arme contre les États-Unis. Lorsque cela arrivera, la Chine n’annoncera pas publiquement cette mesure, et les grands médias ne sauteront dessus que beaucoup trop tard.

Ne vous attendez donc pas à ce que l’Europe vienne en aide à l’Amérique si cela se produit. Il me semble évident, d’après le comportement récent de l’UE, qu’elle a l’intention de rester neutre, du moins pendant l’escalade, si ce n’est être totalement du côté de la Chine et de la Russie par nécessité économique.

La préparation de cet événement exige autant d’indépendance financière que possible. Cela signifie des alternatives tangibles au dollar, comme les métaux précieux, et des économies localisées basées sur le troc et le commerce. Une fois que le dollar perdra son statut de réserve mondiale, le transfert de l’inflation des prix aux États-Unis sera immense. Les dollars détenus à l’étranger reviendront en masse dans le pays, car ils ne seront plus nécessaires à l’échange international de biens et de ressources. Ce changement pourrait se produire très rapidement, comme une avalanche.

Encore une fois, ne vous attendez pas à recevoir un avertissement avant que les créanciers étrangers ne vendent des actifs libellés en dollars, et attendez vous à ce que les effets négatifs se fassent sentir dans un délai très court sur Main Street.

Brandon Smith

Note du traducteur

Les analyses de cet auteur fortement anti-centralisation semblent parfois s'arrêter là où commencent les intérêts américains. Il est donc intéressant de connaître la vision d'un Américain pur jus, même anti-système, à l'égard de la fin de l'Empire américain. On pourrait le voir se réjouir de contempler la fin de l'Empire et de ces guerres impliquant le retour de la nation. Il devrait se féliciter de voir le dollar débarrassé de ce rôle de réserve mondiale qui désindustrialise son pays et lui vole sa souveraineté.


Certes les USA, s'ils existent encore en un seul morceau, devront faire défaut sur le dollar de la Fed et passer à une autre monnaie. Une monnaie souveraine ?

mercredi, 23 avril 2014

The Ukraine Imbroglio and the Decline of the American Empire

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A CounterPunch Special Report: Reflections on the Wages of “Immoderate Greatness"

The Ukraine Imbroglio and the Decline of the American Empire

by ARNO J. MAYER
 

When discussing the Ukraine-Crimea “crisis” it might be hygienic for Americans, including their political class, think-tank pundits, and talking heads, to recall two striking moments in “the dawn’s early light” of the U. S. Empire: in 1903, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, under President Theodore Roosevelt America seized control of the southern part of Guantanamo Bay by way of a Cuban-American Treaty which recognizes Cuba’s ultimate sovereignty over this base; a year after the Bolshevik Revolution, in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched 5,000 U. S. troops to Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia to participate in the Allied intervention in Russia’s Civil  War, which raised the curtain on the First Cold War.  Incidentally, in 1903 there was no Fidel Castro in Havana and in 1918 no Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin.

It might also be salutary to note that this standoff on Ukraine-Crimea is taking place in the unending afterglow of the Second Cold War and at a time when the sun is beginning to set on the American Empire as a new international system of multiple great powers emerges.

Of course, empires have ways of not only rising and thriving but of declining and expiring.  It is one of Edward Gibbon’s insightful and challenging questions about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that is of particular relevance today.  Gibbon eventually concluded that while the causes for Rome’s decline and ruin were being successfully probed and explicated, there remained the great puzzle as to why “it had subsisted for so long.”  Indeed, the internal and external causes for this persistence are many and complex.  But one aspect deserves special attention: the reliance on violence and war to slow down and delay the inevitable.  In modern and contemporary times the European empires kept fighting not only among themselves, but also against the “new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child,” once these dared to resist and eventually rise up against their imperial-colonial overlords.  After 1945 in India and Kenya; in Indochina and Algeria; in Iran and Suez; in Congo.  Needless to say, to this day the still-vigorous

U. S. empire and the fallen European empires lock arms in efforts to save what can be saved in the ex-colonial lands throughout the Greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

There is no denying that America’s uniquely informal empire, without settler colonies, expanded headlong across the globe during and following World War Two.  It did so thanks to having been spared the enormous and horrid loss of life, material devastation, and economic ruin which befell all the other major belligerents, Allied and Axis.  To boot, America’s mushrooming “military-industrial complex” overnight fired the Pax Americana’s momentarily unique martial, economic, and soft power.

By now the peculiar American Empire is past its apogee.  Its economic, fiscal, social, civic, and cultural sinews are seriously fraying.  At the same time the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and Iran are claiming their place in the concert of world powers in which, for a good while, one and all will play by the rules of a new-model mercantilism in a globalizing soit-disant “free market” capitalist economy.

America’s splendid era of overseas “boots on the ground” and “regime change” is beginning to draw to a close.  Even in the hegemonic sphere decreed by the Monroe Doctrine there is a world of difference between yesteryear’s and today’s interventions.  In the not so distant good old times the U. S. horned in rather nakedly in Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1962), Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1980s), Grenada (1983), Bolivia (1986), Panama (1989), and Haiti (2004), almost invariably without enthroning and empowering more democratic and socially progressive “regimes.”  Presently Washington may be said to tread with considerably greater caution as it uses a panoply of crypto NGO-type agencies and agents in Venezuela.  It does so because in every domain, except the military, the empire is not only vastly overextended but also because over the last few years left-leaning governments/“regimes” have emerged in five Latin American nations which most likely will become every less economically and diplomatically dependent on and fearful of the U. S.

Though largely subliminal, the greater the sense and fear of imperial decay and decline, the greater the national hubris and arrogance of power which cuts across party lines.  To be sure, the tone and vocabulary in which neo-conservatives and right-of-center conservatives keep trumpeting America’s self-styled historically unique exceptionalism, grandeur, and indispensability is shriller than that of left-of-center “liberals” who, in the fray, tend to be afraid of their own shadow.  Actually, Winston Churchill’s position and rhetoric is emblematic of conservatives and their fellow travelers in the epoch of the West’s imperial decline which overlapped with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and Communism.  Churchill was a fiery anti-Soviet and anti-Communist of the very first hour and became a discreet admirer of Mussolini and Franco before, in 1942, proclaiming loud and clear: “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”  By then Churchill had also long since become the chief crier of the ideologically fired “appeasement” mantra which was of one piece with his landmark “Iron Curtain” speech of March 1946.  Needless to say, never a word about London and Paris, in the run-up to Munich, having willfully ignored or refused Moscow’s offer to collaborate on the Czech (Sudeten) issue.  Nor did Churchill and his aficionados ever concede that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact (Nazi-Soviet Pact) of August 1939 was sealed a year after the Munich Pact, and that both were equally infamous ideologically informed geopolitical and military chess moves.

To be sure, Stalin was an unspeakably cruel tyrant.  But it was Hitler’s Nazi Germany that invaded and laid waste Soviet Russia through the corridor of Central and Eastern Europe, and it was the Red Army, not the armies of the Western allies, which at horrendous cost broke the spinal cord of the Wehrmacht.  If the major nations of the European Union today hesitate to impose full-press economic sanctions on Moscow for its defiance on Crimea and Ukraine it is not only because of their likely disproportionate boomerang effect on them.  The Western Powers, in particular Germany, have a Continental rather than Transatlantic recollection and narrative of Europe’s Second Thirty Years Crisis and War followed by the American-driven and –financed unrelenting Cold War against the “evil empire”—practically to this day.

During the reign of Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev NATO, founded in 1949 and essentially led and financed by the U. S., inexorably pushed right up to or against Russia’s borders.  This became most barefaced following 1989 to 1991, when Gorbachev freed the “captive nations” and signed on to the reunification of Germany.  Between 1999 and 2009 all the liberated Eastern European countries—former Warsaw Pact members—bordering on Russia as well as three former Soviet republics were integrated into NATO, to eventually account for easily one-third of the 28 member nations of this North Atlantic military alliance.  Alone Finland opted for a disarmed neutrality within first the Soviet and then post-Soviet Russian sphere.  Almost overnight Finland was traduced not only for “appeasing” its neighboring nuclear superpower but also for being a dangerous role model for the rest of Europe and the then so-called Third World.  Indeed, during the perpetual Cold War, in most of the “free world” the term and concept “Finlandization” became a cuss word well-nigh on a par with Communism, all the more so because it was embraced by those critics of the Cold War zealots who advocated a “third way” or “non-alignment.”  All along, NATO, to wit Washington, intensely eyed both Georgia and Ukraine.

By March 2, 2014, the U. S. Department of State released a “statement on the situation in Ukraine by the North Atlantic Council” in which it declared that “Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO and a founding member of the Partnership for Peace . . . [and that] NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference.”  The State Department also stressed that “in addition to its traditional defense of Allied nations, NATO leads the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and has ongoing missions in the Balkans and the Mediterranean; it also conducts extensive training exercises and offers security support to partners around the globe, including the European Union in particular but also the United Nations and the African Union.”

Within a matter of days following Putin’s monitory move NATO, notably President Obama, countered in kind: a guided-missile destroyer crossed the Bosphoros into the Black Sea for naval exercises with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies; additional F-15 fighter jets were dispatched to reinforce NATO patrol missions being flown over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and a squadron of F-16 fighter bombers and a fulsome company of “boots on the ground” was hastened to Poland.   Of course, theses deployments and reinforcements ostensibly were ordered at the urging of these NATO allies along Russia’s borders, all of whose “regimes” between the wars, and especially during the 1930s, had not exactly been paragons of democracy and because of their Russo-cum-anti-Communist phobia had moved closer to Nazi Germany.  And once Hitler’s legions crashed into Russia through the borderlands not insignificant sectors of their political and civil societies were not exactly innocent by-standers or collaborators in Operation Barbarossa and the Judeocide.

To be sure, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Obama administration’s chief finger wagger, merely denounced Putin’s deployment in and around Ukraine-Crimea as an “act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of pretext.”  For good measure he added, however, that “you just do not invade another country,” and he did so at a time there was nothing illegal about Putin’s move.  But Hillary Clinton, Kerry’s predecessor, and most likely repeat candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, rather than outright demonize Putin as an unreconstructed KGB operative or a mini-Stalin went straight for the kill: “Now if this sounds familiar. . . it is like Hitler did back in the ‘30s.”  Presently, as if to defang criticism of her verbal thrust, Clinton averred that “I just want people to have a little historic perspective,” so that they should learn from the Nazis’ tactics in the run-up to World War II.

As for Republican Senator John McCain, defeated by Barack Obama for the Presidency in 2008, he was on the same wavelength, in that he charged that his erstwhile rival’s “feckless” foreign policy practically invited Putin’s aggressive move, with the unspoken implication that President Obama was a latter-day Neville Chamberlain, the avatar of appeasement.

But ultimately it was Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who said out loud what was being whispered in so many corridors of the foreign policy establishment and on so many editorial boards of the mainline media.  He advocated “creating a democratic noose around Putin’s Russia.”  To this end Graham called for preparing the ground to make Georgia and Moldova members of NATO.  Graham also advocated upgrading the military capability of the most “threatened” NATO members along Russia’s borders, along with an expansion of radar and missile defense systems.  In short, he would “fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin”—in keeping with NATO’s policy since
1990.  Assuming different roles, while Senator Graham kept up the hawkish drumbeat on the Hill and in the media Senator McCain hastened to Kiev to affirm the “other” America’s resolve, competence, and muscle as over the fecklessness of President Obama and his foreign-policy team.  He went to Ukraine’s capital a first time in December, and the second time, in mid-March 2014, as head of a bipartisan delegation of eight like-minded Senators.

On Kiev’s Maidan Square, or Independence Square, McCain not only mingled with and addressed the crowd of ardent anti-Russian nationalists, not a few of them neo-fascists, but also consorted with Victoria Nuland, U. S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  Too much has been made of her revealing or unfortunate “fuck the EU” expletive in her tapped phone conversation with the local U. S. Ambassador Geoffrey Ryatt and her distribution of sweets on Maidan Square.   What really matters is that Nuland is a consummate insider of Washington’s imperial foreign policy establishment in that she served in the Clinton and Bush administrations before coming on board the Obama administration, having close relations with Hillary Clinton.

Besides, she is married to Robert Kagan, a wizard of geopolitics who though generally viewed as a sworn neo-conservative is every bit as much at home as his spouse among mainline Republicans and Democrats.  He was a foreign-policy advisor to John McCain and Mitt Romney during their presidential runs, respectively in 2008 and 2012, before President Obama let on that he embraced some of the main arguments in The World America Made (2012), Kagan’s latest book.  In it he spells out ways to preserve the empire by way of controlling with some twelve naval task forces built around unsurpassable nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, its expanding Mare Nostrum in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

As a disciple of Alfred Thayer Mahan, quite naturally Kagan earned his spurs and his entrée to the inner circles of the makers and shakers of foreign and military policy by spending years at the Carnegie Endowment and Brookings Institution.   That was before, in 1997, he became a co-founder, with William Kristol, of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, committed to the promotion of America’s “global leadership” in pursuit of its national security and interests.  A few years later, after this think tank expired, Kagan and Kristol began to play a leading role in the Foreign Policy Initiative, its lineal ideological descendant.

But the point is not that Victoria Nuland’s demarche in Maidan Square may have been unduly influenced by her husband’s writings and political engagements.  Indeed, on the Ukrainian question, she is more likely to have been attentive to Zbigniew Brzezinski, another highly visible geopolitician who, however, has been swimming exclusively in Democratic waters ever since 1960, when he advised John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign and then became national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter.  Heavily fixed on Eurasia, Brzezinski is more likely to stand on Clausewitz’s rather than Mahan’s shoulders.  But both Kagan and Brzezinski are red-blooded imperial Americans.  In 1997, in his The Great Chessboard Brzezinski argued that “the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played” on the Eurasian “chessboard,” and that as a “new and important space on [this] chessboard . . . Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia.”  Indeed, “if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its [then] 52 million people and major resources, as well as access to the Black Sea,” Russia would “automatically again regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”  The unwritten script of Brzezinski, one of Obama’s foreign policy advisors: intensify the West’s—America’s—efforts, by means fair and foul, to detach Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, including especially the Black Sea Peninsula with its access to the Eastern Mediterranean via the Aegean Sea.

Presently rather than focus on the geopolitical springs and objectives of Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine-Crimea Brzezinski turned the spotlight on the nefarious intentions and methods of Putin’s move on the Great Chessboard.  To permit Putin to have his way in Ukraine-Crimea would be “similar to the two phases of Hitler’s seizure of Sudetenland after Munich in 1938 and the final occupation of Prague and Czechoslovakia in early 1938.”  Incontrovertibly “much depends on how clearly the West conveys to the dictator in the Kremlin—a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler—that NATO cannot be passive if war erupts in Europe.”  For should Ukraine be “crushed with the West simply watching the new freedom and security of Romania, Poland, and the three Baltic republics would also be threatened.”  Having resuscitated the domino theory, Brzezinski urged the West to “promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine legitimate” and assure it “privately . . . that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defense capabilities.”  At the same time “NATO forces . . . should be put on alert [and] high readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U. S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful.”  And as an afterthought Brzezinski suggested that along with “such efforts to avoid miscalculations that could lead to war” the West should reaffirm its “desire for a peaceful accommodation . . . [and] reassure Russia that it is not seeking to draw Ukraine into NATO or turn it against Russia.”  Indeed, mirabile dictu, Brzezinski, like Henry Kissinger, his fellow geopolitician with a cold-war imperial mindset, adumbrated a form of Finlandization of Ukraine—but, needless to say, not of the other eastern border states—without, however, letting on that actually Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, had recently made some such proposal.

Of course, the likes of Kagan, Brzezinski, and Kissinger keep mum about America’s inimitable hand in the “regime change” in Kiev which resulted in a government in which the ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists, who had been in the front lines on Maidan Square, are well represented.

Since critics of America’s subversive interventions tend to be dismissed as knee-jerk left-liberals wired to exaggerate their dark anti-democratic side it might help to listen to a voice which on this issue can hardly be suspect.  Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and renowned inquisitor of anti-Semitism, concedes that “there is no doubt that Ukraine, like Croatia, was one of those places where local militias played a key role in the murder of thousands of Jews during World War II.”  And anti-Semitism “having by no means disappeared from Ukraine . . . in recent months there have been a number of anti-Semitic incidents and there are at least two parties in Ukraine, Svoboda and Right Sector, that have within them some extreme nationalists and anti-Semites.”

But having said that, Foxman insists that it is “pure demagoguery and an effort to rationalize criminal behavior on the part of Russia to invoke the anti-Semitism ogre into the struggle in Ukraine, . . . for it is fair to say that there was more anti-Semitism manifest in the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement than we have seen so far in the revolution taking place in Ukraine.”  To be sure, Putin “plays the anti-Semitism card” much as he plays that of Moscow rushing to “protect ethnic Russians from alleged extremist Ukrainians.”  Even at that, however, “it is, of course, reprehensible to suggest that Putin’s policies in Ukraine are anything akin to Nazi policies during World War II.”  But then Foxman hastens to stress that it “is not absurd to evoke Hitler’s lie” about the plight of the Sudeten Germans as comparable to “exactly” what “Putin is saying and doing in Crimea” and therefore needs to be “condemned . . . as forcefully . . . as the world should have condemned the German move into the Sudetenland.”

Abraham Foxman’s tortured stance is consonant with that of American and Israeli hardliners who mean to contain and roll back a resurgent great-power Russia, as much in Syria and Iran as in its “near abroad” in Europe and Asia.

As if listening to Brzezinski and McCain, Washington is building up its forces in the Baltic states, especially Poland, with a view to give additional bite to sanctions.  But this old-style intervention will cut little ice unless fully concerted, militarily and economically, with NATO’s weighty members, which seems unlikely.  Of course, America has drones and weapons of mass destruction—but so does Russia.

In any case, for unreconstructed imperials, and for AIPAC, the crux of the matter is not Russia’s European “near abroad” but its reemergence in the Greater Middle East, presently in Syria and Iran, and this at a time when, according to Kagan, the Persian Gulf was paling in strategic and economic importance compared to the Asia-Pacific region where China is an awakening sleeping giant that even now is the globe’s second largest economy—over half the size of the U. S. economy—and the unreal third largest holder of America’s public debt—by far the largest foreign holder of U. S. Treasury bonds.

In sum, the unregenerate U. S. empire means to actively contain both Russia and China in the true-and-tried modus operandi, starting along and over Russia’s European “near abroad” and the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait connecting the South China Sea to the East China Sea.

Because of ever growing budgetary constraints Washington has long since complained about its major NATO partners dragging their financial and military feet.  This fiscal squeeze will intensify exponentially with the pivoting to the Pacific which demands steeply rising “defense” expenditures unlikely to be shared by a NATO-like Asia-Pacific alliance.  Although most likely there will be a cutback in bases in the Atlantic world, Europe, and the Middle East, with the geographic realignment of America’s global basing the money thus saved will be spent many times over on the reinforcement and expansion of an unrivaled fleet of a dozen task forces built around nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.   After all, the Pacific and Indian oceans combined being easily more than twice the size of the Atlantic and though, according to Kagan, China is not quite yet an “existential threat” it is “developing one or two aircraft carriers, . . . anti-ship ballistic missiles . . . and submarines.”  Even now there are some flashpoints comparable to Crimea, Baltic, Syria, and Iran: the dustup between Japan and China over control of the sea lanes and the air space over the potentially oil-rich South China Sea; and the Sino-Japanese face-off over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.  Whereas it is all but normal for Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea to have tensions, even conflictual relations, with China and North Korea, it is something radically different for the United States to NATOize them in the pursuit of its own imperial interest in the furthest reaches of its now contested Mare Nostrum.

The Pacific-Asian pivot will, of course, further overstretch the empire in a time of spiraling fiscal and budgetary constraints which reflect America’s smoldering systemic economic straits and social crisis, generative of growing political dysfunction and dissension.  To be sure, rare and powerless are those in political and academic society who question the GLORIA PRO NATIONE: America the greatest, exceptional, necessary, and do-good nation determined to maintain the world’s strongest and up-to-date military and cyber power.

And therein lies the rub.  The U.S.A. accounts for close to 40% of the world’s military expenditures, compared to some 10% by China and 5.5% by Russia.  The Aerospace and Defense Industry contributes close to 3% oi GDP and is the single largest positive contributor to the nation’s balance of trade.  America’s three largest arms companies—Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing—are the world’s largest, employing some 400,000 hands, and all but corner the world’s market in their “products.”  Of late defense contracting firms have grown by leaps and bounds in a nation-empire increasingly loathe to deploy conventional boots on the ground.  These corporate contractors provide an ever greater ratio of contract support field personnel, many of them armed, over regular army personnel.  Eventually, in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom private contract and regular military personnel were practically on a par.

This hasty evocation of the tip of America’s military iceberg is but a reminder of President Dwight Eisenhower’s forewarning, in 1961, of an “immense military establishment” in lockstep with “a large arms industry. . . [acquiring] unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought,” injurious to democracy.  At the time Ike could hardly have imagined the gargantuan growth and political weight of this military-industrial complex or the emergence, within it, of a corporate-contract mercenary army.

The formidable oligarchy of arms makers and merchants at the heart of the military-industrial complex fields a vast army of lobbyists in Washington.  In recent years the arms lobby, writ large, spent countless millions during successive election cycles, its contributions being all but equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.  And this redoubtable octopus-like “third house” is not about to sign on to substantial cuts in military spending, all the less so since it moves in sync with other hefty defense-related lobbies, such as oil, which is not likely to support the down-sizing of America’s navy which, incidentally, is far and away the largest plying, nay patrolling, the world’s oceans—trade routes.

There is, of course, a considerable work force, including white-collar employees, that earns its daily bread in the bloated “defense” sector.  It does so in an economy whose industrial/manufacturing sectors are shrinking, considerably because of outsourcing, most of it overseas.   This twisted or peculiar federal budget and free-market economy not only spawn unemployment and underemployment but breed growing popular doubt about the material and psychic benefits of empire.

In 1967, when Martin Luther King, Jr., broke his silence on the war in Vietnam, he spoke directly to the interpenetration of domestic and foreign policy in that conflict.  He considered this war an imperialist intervention in far-distant Southeast Asia at the expense of the “Great Society” which President Johnson, who escalated this war, proposed to foster at home.  After lamenting the terrible sacrifice of life on both sides, King predicated that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He even intimated that “there is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent . . . the richest and most powerful nation in the world . . . from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Almost 50 years later President Obama and his staff, as well as nearly all Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives, policy wonks and pundits, remain confirmed and unquestioning imperials.  Should any of them read Gibbon they would pay no mind to his hunch that “the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness” which by blowback corroded the polity, society, and culture that carried it.  Of course today, with no barbarians at the gates, there is no need for legions of ground forces so that the bankrupting “defense” budget is for a military of airplanes, ships, missiles, drones, cyber-weapons, and weapons of mass destruction.  Si vis pacem para bellum—against whom and for which objectives?

In the midst of the Ukraine “crisis” President Obama flew to The Hague for the third meeting of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) chartered in 2010 to prevent nuclear terrorism around the world.  The NSS was Obama’s idea and project, spelled out in an official statement issued by the White House Press Secretary on the eve of its founding meeting in April 2010 in Washington.  This statement stressed that “over 2,000 tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium exist in dozens of countries” and that there have been “18 documented cases of theft or loss of highly enriched uranium or plutonium.”  But above all :”we know that al-Qaeda, and possibly other terrorist or criminal groups, are seeking nuclear weapons—as well as the materials and expertise needed to make them.”  But the U. S., not being “the only country that would suffer from nuclear terrorism” and unable to “prevent it on its own,” the NSS means to “highlight the global threat” and take the urgently necessary preventive measures.

Conceived and established in the aftermath of 9/11, by the latest count the NSS rallies 83 nations bent on collaborating to head off this scourge by reducing the amount of vulnerable nuclear material worldwide and tightening security of all nuclear materials and radioactive sources in their respective countries.  At The Hague, with a myriad of journalists covering the event, some 20 heads of state and government and some 5,000 delegates took stock of advances made thus far in this arduous mission and swore to press on.  But there was a last minute dissonance.  Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and Yi Jinping, the President of China, along with 18 other chief delegates, refused to sign a declaration calling on member nations to admit inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to check on their measures to rein in the menace of nuclear terrorism.

Inevitably the standoff over Ukraine-Crimea dimmed, even overshadowed, the hoped-for éclat of the Nuclear Security Summit.  President Obama’s mind was centered on an ad hoc session of the G 8  in the Dutch capital; a visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels; an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, in Rome; and a hastily improvised meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.  Except for his visit with the Holy Father, from which he may have hoped to draw a touch of grace and indulgence, in his other meetings the President reasserted and proclaimed that America was and meant to remain what Hubert Védrine, a former French Foreign Minister, called the world’s sole “hyperpower.”  The Ukraine-Crimea imbroglio merely gave this profession and affirmation a greater exigency.

It is ironical that the scheduled Nuclear Security Summit was the curtain-raiser for the President’s double-quick imperial round of improvised meetings in the dawn of what Paul Bracken, another embedded and experienced geopolitician, avers to be The Second Nuclear Age (2012), this one in a multipolar rather than bipolar world.  Actually Bracken merely masterfully theorized what had long since become the guiding idea and practice throughout the foreign policy-cum-military establishment.  Or, as Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain would put it, for many years the members of this establishment had been “speaking prose without even knowing it.”

The negotiated elimination or radical reduction of nuclear weapons is completely off the agenda.  It is dismissed as a quixotic ideal in a world of nine nuclear powers: U. S., Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea—and Israel.  It was on Obama’s watch that the U. S. and post-Soviet Russia agreed that neither would deploy more than roughly 1,500 warheads, down from many times that number.  But now, with Russia’s reemergence as a great power and China’s prodigious forced-draft renascence, in a multipolar world the U. S. seems bent on keeping a considerable nuclear superiority over both.  Whereas most likely Washington and Moscow are in the throes of “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals and delivery capabilities, in this sphere China is only beginning to play catch-up.

Standing tall on America’s as yet unsurpassed military and economic might, Obama managed to convince his partners in the G 8, the conspicuous but listless economic forum of the world’s leading economies, to suspend, not to say expel, Russia for Putin’s transgression in Ukraine-Crimea.  Most likely, however, they agreed to make this largely symbolic gesture so as to avoid signing on to ever-stiffer sanctions on Moscow.  With this American-orchestrated charade the remaining G 7 only further pointed up the prepossession of their exclusive club from which they cavalierly shut out the BRICS.

The decline of the American Empire, like that of all empires, promises to be at once gradual and relative.  As for the causes of this decline, they are inextricably internal / domestic and external / foreign. There is no separating the refractory budgetary deficit and its attendant swelling political and social dissension from the irreducible military budget necessary to face down rival empires.  Clearly, to borrow Chalmers Johnson’s inspired conceptually informed phrase, the “empire of bases,” with a network of well over 600 bases in probably over 100 countries, rather than fall overnight from omnipotence to impotence risks becoming increasingly erratic and intermittently violent in “defense” of the forever hallowed exceptional “nation.”

As yet there is no significant let-up in the pretension to remain first among would-be equals on the seas, in the air, in cyberspace, and in cyber-surveillance.  And the heft of the military muscle for this supererogation is provided by a thriving defense industry in an economy plagued by deep-rooted unemployment and a society racked by a crying income and wealth inequality, growing poverty, creeping socio-cultural anomie, and humongous systemic political corruption.  Notwithstanding the ravings of the imperial “Knownothings” these conditions will sap domestic support for an unreconstructed interventionist foreign and military policy.  They will also hollow out America’s soft power by corroding the aura of the democratic, salvific, and capitalist City on the Hill.

Whereas the Soviet Union and communism were the polymorphic arch-enemy during the First Nuclear Age terrorism and Islamism bid well to take its place during the Second Nuclear Age.  It would appear that the threat and use of nuclear weapons will be even less useful though hardly any less demonic today than yesterday.  Sub specie aeternitatis the cry of the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center and Boston’s Marathon was a bagatelle compared to the fury of the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.  It is, of course, commendable that so many nations now seek to prevent “nuclear terrorism” by way of the Nuclear Security Summit.  However, there being no fail-safe systems of access control this endeavor is bound to be stillborn without a simultaneously resolute drive to radically reduce or liquidate the world’s staggering stock of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials.  After all, the greater that stock the greater the opportunity and temptation for a terrorist, criminal, or whistle-blower to pass the Rubicon.

According to informed estimates presently there are well over 20,000 nuclear bombs on this planet, with America and Russia between them home to over 90% of them.  No less formidable are the vast global stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium.

In September 2009 Obama adjured the U. N. Security Council that “new strategies and new approaches” were needed to face a “proliferation” of an unprecedented “scope and complexity,” in that “just one nuclear weapon exploded in a city—be it New York or Moscow, Tokyo or Beijing, London or Paris—could kill hundreds of thousands of people.”  Hereafter it was not uncommon for Washington insiders to avow that they considered a domestic nuclear strike with an unthinkable dirty bomb a greater and more imminent security risk than a prosaic nuclear attack by Russia.  All this while the Nuclear Security Summit was treading water and the Pentagon continues to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal and delivery capabilities—with chemical weapons as a backstop.  With the cutback of conventional military capabilities nuclear arms are not about to be mothballed.

Indeed, with this in mind the overreaction to Russia’s move in Ukraine-Crimea is disquieting.  From the start the Obama administration unconscionably exaggerated and demonized Moscow’s—Putin’s—objectives and methods while proclaiming Washington’s consummate innocence in the unfolding imbroglio.   Almost overnight, even before the overblown charge that Moscow was massing troops along Ukraine’s borders and more generally in Russia’s European “near abroad” NATO—i. e., Washington—began to ostentatiously send advanced military equipment to the Baltic counties and Poland.   By April 4, 2014, the foreign ministers of the 28 member nations of NATO met in Brussels with a view to strengthen the military muscle and cooperation not only in the aforementioned countries but also in Moldova, Romania, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.  In addition NATO air patrols would be stepped up while anti-missile batteries would be deployed in Poland and Romania.  Apparently the emergency NATO summit also considered large-scale joint military exercises and the establishment of NATO military bases close to Russia’s borders which, according to Le Figaro, France’s conservative daily, would be “a demonstration of force which the Allies had themselves foregone during the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.”  Would tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable aircraft—or nuclear-capable drones—be deployed on these bases?

To what end?  In preparation of a conventional war of the trenches, Guderian-type armored operations or a total war of Operation Barbarossa variety?   Of course, this being post Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there must be a backup or contingency plan for nuclear sword play, with both sides, should reciprocal deterrence fail, confident in their first and second strike capabilities.  Not only Washington but Moscow knows that in 1945 the ultimate reason for using the absolute weapon was transparently geopolitical rather than purely military.

With the weight of the unregenerate imperials in the White House, Pentagon, Congress, the “third house,” and the think tanks there is the risk that this U. S.- masterminded NATO “operation freedom in Russia’s European “near abroad” will spin out of control, also because the American Knownothings are bound to have their Russian counterparts.

In this game of chicken on the edge of the nuclear cliff the U. S. cannot claim the moral and legal high ground since it was President Truman and his inner circle of advisors who unleashed the scourge of nuclear warfare, and with time there was neither an official nor a popular gesture of atonement for this wanton and excessive military excess.  And this despite General Eisenhower’s eventual plaint that the “unleashing of the atomic infernos on mostly civilian populations was simply this: an act of supreme terrorism (emphasis added) . . . and of barbarity callously calculated by the U. S. planners to demonstrate their country’s demonic power to the rest of the world—and the Soviet Union in particular.”  Is there a filiation between this cri de coeur and the forewarning about the toxicity of the “military industrial complex” in President Eisenhower’s farewell address?
This is a time for a national debate and a citizen-initiated referendum on whether or not the U. S. should adopt unilateral nuclear disarmament.  It might be a salutary and exemplary exercise in participatory democracy.

Arno J. Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso). 

mardi, 22 octobre 2013

Conversations with History: Chalmers Johnson

Conversations with History: Chalmers Johnson

lundi, 21 octobre 2013

Chalmers Johnson

 

The BLOWBACK SYNDROME: Oil Wars and Overreach

 

DECLINE of EMPIRES: The Signs of Decay

lundi, 01 avril 2013

Les adieux au Greenback

Yuan.jpg

«Les adieux au Greenback»

«Les USA pourraient, déjà dans un futur proche, se voir contraints d’amasser une réserve de yuans»

Ex: http://www.horizons-et-debats.ch/

Est-ce que la structure mondiale de la monnaie se trouve devant une refonte et un changement, comme nous ne l’avons plus vécu depuis de nombreuses décennies? Les spécialistes de monnaies en Europe voient et ressentent que particulièrement en Extrême-Orient «les adieux au Greenback» se font fortement entendre. Le chef du marché des changes d’une grande banque globale a nommé cela, lors d’une discussion, «le danger imminent de burnout». Des contournements de la monnaie de référence mondiale se sont établis notamment dans le commerce asiatique et l’économie pétrolière. Dans le commerce, les USA se retrouvent même derrière la Chine. Et toujours plus d’observateurs aux USA craignent un désastre à la suite de la politique monétaire ultra-libérale de la FED …
Un signe qui ne passe pas inaperçu: les pays émergents du bloc BRICS – soit le Brésil, la Russie, l’Inde, la Chine et l’Afrique du Sud – bricolent plus ou moins ouvertement à leur propre banque de développement. Capital de départ prévu: 50 milliards de dollars (!). Elle est clairement prévue – dans une phase ultérieure – comme concurrent possible au Fonds monétaire international, dans lequel les USA font la loi. La République populaire de Chine, de son côté, accélère davantage et plus ouvertement la propagation du yuan. Celui-ci a accédé rapidement, dans le commerce inter-asiatique, à un statut préférentiel de monnaie de facturation. En même temps, l’Europe est torturée par une douloureuse crise de dettes. Une récession menace de nouveau les USA après la baisse du produit intérieur brut lors du dernier trimestre de 2012. Mais la Chine a accédé, malgré moins de croissance, au rang de la plus grande nation de commerce mondial en 2012. Ainsi a-t-elle subtilisé, rapidement mais douloureusement, la couronne aux USA – que ceux-ci avaient portée depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale …
Le magazine allemand Manager Magazin parle un langage clair: après des décennies, pendant lesquelles, au moyen de la mondialisation, de contrats stratégiques et de géants de Wall-Street en expansion, comme Coca-Cola, General Electric et IBM, la superpuissance USA a imposé son rythme au reste du monde, le vent tourne maintenant. Et ce tournant est dramatique. Dans le commerce mondial, surgit une nouvelle infrastructure, de plus en plus prête à renoncer à la monnaie de référence mondiale du dollar. «Les nouveaux joueurs de très haut niveau dans la ligue des champions économiques évoluant de façon rapide viennent d’Asie, d’Amérique latine, d’Afrique» …
Le Boston Consulting Group a établi, ces derniers jours, pour la cinquième fois depuis 2006, une liste des 100 plus grands challengers des pays émergents. Parmi les «100 Global Challengers», 30 viennent de Chine, 20 d’Inde. Pas moins de 1000 entreprises, venant des marchés émergents, ont franchi en 2006 le mur du son de 1 milliard de dollars de chiffre d’affaires annuel. L’analyse les nomme les Volkswagen, les Wal-Mart et les Apple de l’avenir! Ils sont maintenant sur le point de faire peur à l’Occident. Et la monnaie de référence mondiale pour les attaques sur le système économique mondial établi ne s’appelle plus automatiquement «dollar», mais de plus en plus souvent «renminbi». Les USA pourraient, déjà dans un futur proche, se voir contraints d’amasser une réserve de yuans, pour continuer à participer pleinement au commerce international …
La nervosité aux USA, face à cette relève de la garde, se transforme par endroits déjà en cynisme. «Nous voyons une guerre monétaire», dit Peter Schiff le PDG d’Euro Pacific Capital. «Ce qui distingue une guerre monétaire d’une autre guerre», ajoute-t-il, «c’est le fait que l’on se tue soi-même, et les USA semblent, dans ce sens-là, être déjà considérés comme le vainqueur désigné.»
Même pour le magnat des médias et milliardaire Steve Forbes, cela devient inquiétant: «La banque centrale américaine produit toujours plus de désastres, comme un drogué», dit-il, et il craint que la politique monétaire actuelle en arrive à ruiner l’économie américaine…

Source: Vertraulicher Schweizer Brief n° 1350 du 21/2/13

(Traduction Horizons et débats)

dimanche, 04 décembre 2011

The End of Americanism

The End of Americanism

Pat Buchanan's Suicide of a Superpower

Alex KURTAGIC

Ex: http://www.alternativeright.com

Pat Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower is an apt follow-up to his 2002 volume, The Death of the West. Although the new book focuses on the United States, it restates and updates the narrative of the older book. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the former refers briefly to the latter early on.

Buchanan’s main thesis is this:

When the faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, the people die. That is the progression. And as the faith that gave birth to the West is dying in the West, peoples of European descent from the steppes of Russia to the coast of California have begun to die out, as the Third World treks north to claim the estate. The last decade provided corroborating if not conclusive proof that we are in the Indian summer of our civilization.

Buchanan_Pat_-_Suicide_of_a_SuperpowerSuicide has stirred some controversy in the mainstream media for stating what for many is, or should be, known and obvious, but which for the majority is either not so or taboo: the negative consequences of immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism.

Yet, the book has obtained wide coverage and seems widely available—last month, while travelling in the United States, it saw it prominently displayed in the bookshops of major airports. This is a significant achievement that must not pass without notice, for there are others who have been advancing identical theses without the same level of exposure.

Suicide, however, is not without significant limitations, and these merit detailed discussion, for they stem from an outlook that will need to be overcome if we are ever to move forward with an effective solution to the suicide of America and the rest of the West.

The Pluses

With 428 pages of meat in it, Suicide is divided into 11 chapters, each of which is in turn divided into shorter sections with lapidary titles. The chapters are: The Passing of a Superpower, The Death of Christian America, The Crisis of Catholicism, The End of White America, Demographic Winter, Equality or Freedom, The Diversity Cult, The Triumph of Tribalism, The ‘White’ Party, The Long Retreat, and The Last Chance.

In none does Buchanan flinch from presenting the facts as they are. And where there are lacunae, Kevin MacDonald has already filled them with his Culture of Critique. The first chapter is in tone apocalyptic, yet the sheer rapidity of the United State’s decline as a superpower justifies that tone; Rome’s decline in wealth and capability may have taken longer, but America’s is comparable and, as Buchanan presents it, suggests familiar buildings and everyday objects one day becoming ruins and broken artefacts in a continent abandoned to a dark age. Buchanan proposes solutions in the final chapter, but, besides flawed (and I get to that further down), they are conditional, which lends the trajectory of decline traced throughout most of the volume an aura of inevitability. This is not an indulgence on pessimism, because all previous empires eventually collapsed, and all previous great civilisations in history came to an end.

In his detailed discussion of Christianity’s role in the United State, and of the crisis of Catholicism, Buchanan acknowledges the importance of the transcendent. Many of the ills that afflict the West in our age are linked to, if not the result of, a materialist conception of life, and of the consequent subjection to a secular economist criterion of all matters of importance to a nation and a people. The dispossession and loss of moral authority of the White race in their own traditional homelands was to a significant degree achieved through, or caused by, economic arguments. It was not the so-called ‘civil rights’ movement in the United States that turned Detroit into a ruin; what turned it into a ruin was the reliance on economic arguments—so characteristic of the materialist liberal outlook—that enabled the decision to purchase Black slaves in African markets and ship them to North America. Similarly, the loss of moral and spiritual vigour, which has so enfeebled the White race and sapped its will to live, can be traced to the rise of secularism, to the severing of the race’s link to the transcendent. ‘Where are the martyrs for materialism?’ he asks.

To this Buchanan adds a helpful discussion about equality and freedom. He explodes the liberal conception of them as concomitant concepts, and convincingly presents them as polar opposites in a dichotomy: greater equality means less freedom, greater freedom means less equality. Buchanan makes clear that the only possible way to see these two concepts as concomitant is by ignoring human biodiversity, for, where inborn differences in physiology impose upper limits to human plasticity, equality—the elimination disparities in outcome—cannot be achieved without handicapping the cause of those disparities. Thus, the freedom to choose among the best universities is limited for bright White students when entry requirements are relaxed among less able non-White students in the effort to achieve equal outcomes among all racial groups.

The chapters on the diversity cult and tribalism re-state arguments that have for years been advanced by Jared Taylor. Taylor has done it in much greater detail, but Buchanan will reach a much wider audience, so this is a gain. Buchanan also echoes the Sailer Strategy—‘the idea that inreach to its white base, not outreach to minorities, is the key to future GOP success’—in his discussion of his party’s prospects as Whites decline in the United States. And, like Taylor, he ridicules those who see this decline as a cause for celebration.

Also like Taylor, but in the economic area, Buchanan reveals some astonishing facts. Apparently, the United States military relies on equipment that cannot be made without parts manufactured by potential enemies and economic rivals. Did you know that?

Another helpful discussion is introduced in the final fourth of the book, where Buchanan, following Amy Chua, deals with the fatal design flaw that afflicts multiethnic nations that have embraced democracy and capitalism:

Free markets concentrate wealth in the hands of a market-capable ethnic minority. Democracy empowers the ethnic majority. When the latter begin to demand a larger share of the wealth, demagogues arise to meet those demands.

This is a reply to the economic argument for the state-sponsored policy of immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism in the West, repeated without proof and refuted by empirical studies everywhere, that supposedly boosts economic growth because diverse immigrants ‘bring in skills’ and foster greater creativity. In fact, said policy leads to Whites becoming dispossessed minorities, as they already did in a number of other former European colonies. Buchanan points out that people like Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, and Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, use ‘principles invented by white men—universal franchise and majority rule—to dispossess white men’. He also quotes 19th century Rightist Louis Veuillot to describe how democrats are dispossessed by non- (or ‘instrumental’) democrats: ‘When I am the weaker I ask you for my freedom because that is my principle; but when I am the stronger I take away your freedom because that is my principle’. He asks: ‘What does the future hold for the West when people of European descent become a minority in nations they created, and people of color decide to vote themselves proportionate or larger shares of the national wealth?’

In terms of solutions, Buchanan offers common sense advice: the United States should live within its means and actively take steps to cut its deficits. For him this means pruning government and government expenditure, including social security benefits and military bases overseas; and instituting a policy of economic nationalism, levying tariffs on imports and cutting corporation tax to zero, so as to revive manufacturing in the United States, attract overseas investment, and reduce reliance on imports. I do not think even economists will agree on whether this would yield the desired results, but at least Buchanan is making concrete policy proposals that place the interests of his country first, and is willing to accept that ethnonationalism is an inescapable reality of the human condition. 

The Minuses

There are fundamental flaws in Buchanan’s exposition.

Firstly, he equates European civilisation with Christianity. This is surprising, particularly coming from an American writer, advancing an Americanist position, given that some of the basic principles and practices upon which America was founded, such as the constitutional republic, originated or had their roots in Europe well before the dawn of Christianity. What about ancient Greece? What about ancient Rome? Were those not European civilisations? A more accurate statement is that the United States is a Christian country. This is defensible, even if the United States never had an established religion and even if not all Americans were Christian. Perhaps what Buchanan means is that Faustian civilisation—the civilisation of Northern Europe, of which North America is an extension—is a Christian civilisation.

Edward_GibbonBuchanan is correct to identify the decline of Christianity in America as one of the roots of its decline. In doing so, however, he has Edward Gibbon as his inverse counterpart, for Gibbon identified the rise of Christianity in Rome, that is, the decline of the Roman religion, as one of the causes of Rome’s fall. Gibbon would have sympathised, perhaps, with the statement, ‘When the faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, the people die.’ Yet, given that the fall of Rome did not mean the end of European man, and that if the rise of Christianity was linked to Rome’s fall, the rise of Christianity was also linked to the rise of Faustian civilisation. All this tells us, therefore, is that we may be witnessing the end of a cycle involving Christianity. However, even if it is Christianity’s fate to pass, as have other religions, or to become a ‘Third World religion’, as Buchanan puts it, European man will still be there, at least for a while, and, provided he survives as a race, he will give rise to a new civilisation, traceable to the Greek, the Roman, and the Faustian, but founded on somewhat different principles. This will bring no comfort to Christians, nevertheless, and Buchanan, as a Christian, is justified in his alarm.

Gibbon would concede that Buchanan makes a powerful argument for Christianity. A monotheistic religion with a personal god can be a potent unifying force, eliciting much stronger commitments from its followers. The Roman pagans were easygoing, and vis-à-vis other religions, the pagan outlook, as expressed by Nehru in a conversation with the former Chilean Ambassador in India, Miguel Serrano, is generally ‘live and let live’. One can easily accept that it is not difficult to decimate a people with that outlook, for, in as much as it resembles the multiculturalists’ easygoing attitude to all religions except Christianity, it is proving daily in our society an agent of dissolution. It may well be that in a world of intense ethnic competition, a high-tension—even totalitarian and intolerant—religion is the more adaptive group evolutionary strategy. Buchanan’s discussion on the growth and endurance of evangelical Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, and militant Islam indicates he is of this view, and that is a plus consistent with his recognition of the importance of the transcendent. Yet he inadvertedly exposes a conundrum: if Christianity is a universal faith, accommodating every race and nationality, as he says, and if, as he also says, non-evangelical forms of Christianity have declined because they are accommodating, then, would this not suggest that Christianity will not survive in practice as the White man’s religion unless it becomes a non-accommodating faith?

Secondly, Suicide makes it clear that Buchanan cannot conceive of anything beyond the America of the 1950s. This is the most unfortunate aspect of this book. It is also the reason why Buchanan offers no real solutions, other than turning back the clock. Were his recommendations implemented in the United States, they would only retard the processes that are in place, achieving a temporary reprieve, a momentary stabilisation, before resuming their course, perhaps with renewed vigour and speed.

What Buchanan seems not to recognise is that, while the 1950s may have felt good for many, the conditions for the modern trends that he condemns were already in place then. They were simply masked by the transient prosperity, stability, and romanticism of the era. The 1950s led to the 1960s. And the upheavals of the 1960s had their roots in the academics of the 1930s, who in turn had their roots in Marxism, dating back to the 19th century, which in turn had its roots in liberalism and the Enlightenment in the 18th century. And this is not merely a question of there having always been a hostile faction within the American republic, seeking to undermine it with its insidious liberalism; the conservatives who opposed Marxism also had their intellectual roots in 18th-century liberalism. Buchanan makes it seem as if the United States has been hijacked by liberals, but the fact is that it has always been in the hands of liberals, right from the beginning: the United States was founded and is predicated on the ideas of liberal intellectuals, and its Founding Fathers were liberals. If the United States seems to be spearheading the process of Western decline, bringing everyone down with it, it is because liberalism took stronger root there than anywhere else, due to a lack of opposition to liberal ideas.

From this perspective it can be argued that Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower is not the result of the United States’ being ‘far off the course set by [the] Founding Fathers’, but rather of the United States’ being exactly on that course, even if the Founding Fathers never anticipated that it would lead where it has led.

As a conservative in a republic founded by liberals, Buchanan is by definition a liberal, defending a previous stage in the development of liberalism. Hence his failure to see beyond liberalism’s event horizon.

Liberals have a linear conception of history. Thus Buchanan hopes that by prescribing better liberal policies (what he would call conservative policies), the American republic can be set back on course and resume its trajectory of endless progress and economic growth. Unfortunately, treating the problem as if it were a disease in need of a cure is futile when the problem is a congenital defect. In such cases the best hope is genetic resequencing, a form of death and rebirth. Most likely it will mean certain death and a possible rebirth, elsewhere, as something else, perhaps in North America, but at first, if at all, only in a part of it. Concretely this means the break-up of the union into regions and the emergence among them of a dominant republic among weaker ones, with strength or weakness being a function of the dominant racial group in each case.

Similarly futile is the attempt to revert a civilisation to an earlier stage of development. In the Spenglerian view this would be like trying to turn an old dog back into a puppy, or an old tree back into a bush. Technology may make it possible one day to reverse the physical effects of ageing, but it will not erase the memories and conclusions of a lifetime, and therefore not rejuvenate the spirit. This applies even in the non-organic realm: we may be able to restore an old mechanical typewriter so that it looks and works like new, but it will still be obsolete technology, and its reason for being will shift from usable tool to unusable antique.

Unfortunately for those living today, reality is more in accord with the organic conception of history, whereby things go in cycles and slow build-ups lead to rapid changes in state. Following Spengler, Francis Parker Yockey argued that attempts to cause a reversion into an earlier state of development will at best yield temporary results, introducing distortions that will be magnified as the next stage of development indefectibly follows.

One can sympathise with the argument that it would be worse if the current political leadership in the United States managed to stabilise the economy and perform plastic surgery on the face of America, as this would buy said leadership more time and permit existing trends to remain in place until the possibility of a White rebirth in North America, even without United States, became extinct. A Spencerian collapse sooner may open up avenues that may be closed later.

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Buchanan wonders whether the United States will implode by 2025. This was my own scenario in Mister, where the United States disintegrates in a hyperinflationary chaos. But it is difficult to predict with accuracy and I would not want to speculate beyond a possible dismemberment along regional lines sometime this century. When it happens, whenever it may happen, those who remember the America we know today and who did not know better until it was too late will be amazed that people thought the United States would go on forever. They will also be amazed that people ever thought as they do now, despite the final outcome being so blatantly obvious. Buchanan’s diagnosis is mostly accurate, but his treatment, well intentioned as it is, is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The Balance

Despite its defects, there is no escaping it: Suicide of a Superpower is a punishing indictment of the United States’ post-war political leadership, authored by a prominent conservative who speaks as part of America’s mainstream establishment. Any White American fed up with the way things have been going in recent decades and looking for new politics beyond Democrat or Republican will find here solid justifications for going beyond convention and eventually adding his muscle to the struggle for fundamental change.

Suicide will not awaken the complacent, induce the fearful to speak up, or cause ideological enemies to change their views. The complacent is comfortable in his ignorance and does not want his world disrupted by inconvenient truths; in most cases he has the means to avoid them by insulating himself economically. The fearful, who knows but remains silent, will not be emboldened by Buchanan’s confirming him in his views; he will wait, as he has always waited, and then side with change once it looks like it is going to win. The ideological enemy is beyond convincing; the only solution is to crush him thoroughly.

Should you buy Suicide of a Superpower? The answer is yes. Not only is it brave, but it contains many helpful insights and bewildering facts to fuel a healthy debate. The fact that the book is everywhere has also infuriated the radical Left, who have renewed their efforts to have Buchanan fired by MSNBC. The radical Left does not want this kind of discussion to take place in a mainstream media forum. In fact, radical Leftists would like Buchanan to be banned from the networks, shunned by his publishers, phlebotomised by the taxman, prosecuted by the ICC, and sent to the gulags, to spend his old age in poverty, obscurity, and hard labour—surrounded, of course, by politically correct diversity. To his credit, Buchanan has not buckled in to criticism. Therefore, every copy that is sold is a kick to the radical Left, and added impetus for the book to reach more persuadables.

With enough manpower and talent it will be possible to survive the cataclysm and make it through to the other side. The other side is something entirely new; traditional, but different—it is not the White America of the 1950s, nor Reagan on steroids, nor is it a linear extrapolation of what is good about the 2010s minus what is bad. For Whites to survive in America, Americanism must end. Those who survive will be the architects of what comes after Americanism; they will not call themselves Americans—the designation may not even make sense for them. Viewed from the other side, with the old certainties gone and new ones in place, it will be impossible to think as we do today, even if future generations carry forward much of our knowledge, traditions, and cultural legacy.

lundi, 20 décembre 2010

Four Scenarios for the Coming Collapse of the American Empire

Four Scenarios for the Coming Collapse of the American Empire

Alfred W. McCoy

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines.

010909top2.jpgA soft landing for America 40 years from now?  Don’t bet on it.  The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines.  If Washington is dreaming of 2040 or 2050 as the end of the American Century, a more realistic assessment of domestic and global trends suggests that in 2025, just 15 years from now, it could all be over except for the shouting.

Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America’s downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.

But have no doubt: when Washington’s global dominion finally ends, there will be painful daily reminders of what such a loss of power means for Americans in every walk of life. As a half-dozen European nations have discovered, imperial decline tends to have a remarkably demoralizing impact on a society, regularly bringing at least a generation of economic privation. As the economy cools, political temperatures rise, often sparking serious domestic unrest.

Available economic, educational, and military data indicate that, when it comes to U.S. global power, negative trends will aggregate rapidly by 2020 and are likely to reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.

Significantly, in 2008, the U.S. National Intelligence Council admitted for the first time that America’s global power was indeed on a declining trajectory. In one of its periodic futuristic reports, Global Trends 2025, the Council cited “the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way, roughly from West to East” and “without precedent in modern history,” as the primary factor in the decline of the “United States’ relative strength — even in the military realm.” Like many in Washington, however, the Council’s analysts anticipated a very long, very soft landing for American global preeminence, and harbored the hope that somehow the U.S. would long “retain unique military capabilities… to project military power globally” for decades to come.

No such luck.  Under current projections, the United States will find itself in second place behind China (already the world’s second largest economy) in economic output around 2026, and behind India by 2050. Similarly, Chinese innovation is on a trajectory toward world leadership in applied science and military technology sometime between 2020 and 2030, just as America’s current supply of brilliant scientists and engineers retires, without adequate replacement by an ill-educated younger generation.

By 2020, according to current plans, the Pentagon will throw a military Hail Mary pass for a dying empire.  It will launch a lethal triple canopy of advanced aerospace robotics that represents Washington’s last best hope of retaining global power despite its waning economic influence. By that year, however, China’s global network of communications satellites, backed by the world’s most powerful supercomputers, will also be fully operational, providing Beijing with an independent platform for the weaponization of space and a powerful communications system for missile- or cyber-strikes into every quadrant of the globe.

Wrapped in imperial hubris, like Whitehall or Quai d’Orsay before, the White House still seems to imagine that American decline will be gradual, gentle, and partial. In his State of the Union address last January, President Obama offered the reassurance that “I do not accept second place for the United States of America.” A few days later, Vice President Biden ridiculed the very idea that “we are destined to fulfill [historian Paul] Kennedy’s prophecy that we are going to be a great nation that has failed because we lost control of our economy and overextended.” Similarly, writing in the November issue of the establishment journal Foreign Affairs, neo-liberal foreign policy guru Joseph Nye waved away talk of China’s economic and military rise, dismissing “misleading metaphors of organic decline” and denying that any deterioration in U.S. global power was underway.

Ordinary Americans, watching their jobs head overseas, have a more realistic view than their cosseted leaders. An opinion poll in August 2010 found that 65% of Americans believed the country was now “in a state of decline.”  Already, Australia and Turkey, traditional U.S. military allies, are using their American-manufactured weapons for joint air and naval maneuvers with China. Already, America’s closest economic partners are backing away from Washington’s opposition to China’s rigged currency rates. As the president flew back from his Asian tour last month, a gloomy New York Times headline summed the moment up this way: “Obama’s Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage, China, Britain and Germany Challenge U.S., Trade Talks With Seoul Fail, Too.”

Viewed historically, the question is not whether the United States will lose its unchallenged global power, but just how precipitous and wrenching the decline will be. In place of Washington’s wishful thinking, let’s use the National Intelligence Council’s own futuristic methodology to suggest four realistic scenarios for how, whether with a bang or a whimper, U.S. global power could reach its end in the 2020s (along with four accompanying assessments of just where we are today).  The future scenarios include: economic decline, oil shock, military misadventure, and World War III.  While these are hardly the only possibilities when it comes to American decline or even collapse, they offer a window into an onrushing future.

Economic Decline: Present Situation

Today, three main threats exist to America’s dominant position in the global economy: loss of economic clout thanks to a shrinking share of world trade, the decline of American technological innovation, and the end of the dollar’s privileged status as the global reserve currency.

By 2008, the United States had already fallen to number three in global merchandise exports, with just 11% of them compared to 12% for China and 16% for the European Union.  There is no reason to believe that this trend will reverse itself.

Similarly, American leadership in technological innovation is on the wane. In 2008, the U.S. was still number two behind Japan in worldwide patent applications with 232,000, but China was closing fast at 195,000, thanks to a blistering 400% increase since 2000.  A harbinger of further decline: in 2009 the U.S. hit rock bottom in ranking among the 40 nations surveyed by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation when it came to “change” in “global innovation-based competitiveness” during the previous decade.  Adding substance to these statistics, in October China’s Defense Ministry unveiled the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A, so powerful, said one U.S. expert, that it “blows away the existing No. 1 machine” in America.

Add to this clear evidence that the U.S. education system, that source of future scientists and innovators, has been falling behind its competitors. After leading the world for decades in 25- to 34-year-olds with university degrees, the country sank to 12th place in 2010.  The World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly half of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are now foreigners, most of whom will be heading home, not staying here as once would have happened.  By 2025, in other words, the United States is likely to face a critical shortage of talented scientists.

Such negative trends are encouraging increasingly sharp criticism of the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. “Other countries are no longer willing to buy into the idea that the U.S. knows best on economic policy,” observed Kenneth S. Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. In mid-2009, with the world’s central banks holding an astronomical $4 trillion in U.S. Treasury notes, Russian president Dimitri Medvedev insisted that it was time to end “the artificially maintained unipolar system” based on “one formerly strong reserve currency.”

Simultaneously, China’s central bank governor suggested that the future might lie with a global reserve currency “disconnected from individual nations” (that is, the U.S. dollar). Take these as signposts of a world to come, and of a possible attempt, as economist Michael Hudson has argued, “to hasten the bankruptcy of the U.S. financial-military world order.”

Economic Decline: Scenario 2020

After years of swelling deficits fed by incessant warfare in distant lands, in 2020, as long expected, the U.S. dollar finally loses its special status as the world’s reserve currency.  Suddenly, the cost of imports soars. Unable to pay for swelling deficits by selling now-devalued Treasury notes abroad, Washington is finally forced to slash its bloated military budget.  Under pressure at home and abroad, Washington slowly pulls U.S. forces back from hundreds of overseas bases to a continental perimeter.  By now, however, it is far too late.

statue_of_liberty_under_water.jpgFaced with a fading superpower incapable of paying the bills, China, India, Iran, Russia, and other powers, great and regional, provocatively challenge U.S. dominion over the oceans, space, and cyberspace.  Meanwhile, amid soaring prices, ever-rising unemployment, and a continuing decline in real wages, domestic divisions widen into violent clashes and divisive debates, often over remarkably irrelevant issues. Riding a political tide of disillusionment and despair, a far-right patriot captures the presidency with thundering rhetoric, demanding respect for American authority and threatening military retaliation or economic reprisal. The world pays next to no attention as the American Century ends in silence.

Oil Shock: Present Situation

One casualty of America’s waning economic power has been its lock on global oil supplies. Speeding by America’s gas-guzzling economy in the passing lane, China became the world’s number one energy consumer this summer, a position the U.S. had held for over a century.  Energy specialist Michael Klare has argued that this change means China will “set the pace in shaping our global future.”

By 2025, Iran and Russia will control almost half of the world’s natural gas supply, which will potentially give them enormous leverage over energy-starved Europe. Add petroleum reserves to the mix and, as the National Intelligence Council has warned, in just 15 years two countries, Russia and Iran, could “emerge as energy kingpins.”

Despite remarkable ingenuity, the major oil powers are now draining the big basins of petroleum reserves that are amenable to easy, cheap extraction. The real lesson of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was not BP’s sloppy safety standards, but the simple fact everyone saw on “spillcam”: one of the corporate energy giants had little choice but to search for what Klare calls “tough oil” miles beneath the surface of the ocean to keep its profits up.

Compounding the problem, the Chinese and Indians have suddenly become far heavier energy consumers. Even if fossil fuel supplies were to remain constant (which they won’t), demand, and so costs, are almost certain to rise — and sharply at that.  Other developed nations are meeting this threat aggressively by plunging into experimental programs to develop alternative energy sources.  The United States has taken a different path, doing far too little to develop alternative sources while, in the last three decades, doubling its dependence on foreign oil imports.  Between 1973 and 2007, oil imports have risen from 36% of energy consumed in the U.S. to 66%.

Oil Shock: Scenario 2025

The United States remains so dependent upon foreign oil that a few adverse developments in the global energy market in 2025 spark an oil shock.  By comparison, it makes the 1973 oil shock (when prices quadrupled in just months) look like the proverbial molehill.  Angered at the dollar’s plummeting value, OPEC oil ministers, meeting in Riyadh, demand future energy payments in a “basket” of Yen, Yuan, and Euros.  That only hikes the cost of U.S. oil imports further.  At the same moment, while signing a new series of long-term delivery contracts with China, the Saudis stabilize their own foreign exchange reserves by switching to the Yuan.  Meanwhile, China pours countless billions into building a massive trans-Asia pipeline and funding Iran’s exploitation of the world largest natural gas field at South Pars in the Persian Gulf.

Concerned that the U.S. Navy might no longer be able to protect the oil tankers traveling from the Persian Gulf to fuel East Asia, a coalition of Tehran, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi form an unexpected new Gulf alliance and affirm that China’s new fleet of swift aircraft carriers will henceforth patrol the Persian Gulf from a base on the Gulf of Oman.  Under heavy economic pressure, London agrees to cancel the U.S. lease on its Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia, while Canberra, pressured by the Chinese, informs Washington that the Seventh Fleet is no longer welcome to use Fremantle as a homeport, effectively evicting the U.S. Navy from the Indian Ocean.

With just a few strokes of the pen and some terse announcements, the “Carter Doctrine,” by which U.S. military power was to eternally protect the Persian Gulf, is laid to rest in 2025.  All the elements that long assured the United States limitless supplies of low-cost oil from that region — logistics, exchange rates, and naval power — evaporate. At this point, the U.S. can still cover only an insignificant 12% of its energy needs from its nascent alternative energy industry, and remains dependent on imported oil for half of its energy consumption.

The oil shock that follows hits the country like a hurricane, sending prices to startling heights, making travel a staggeringly expensive proposition, putting real wages (which had long been declining) into freefall, and rendering non-competitive whatever American exports remained. With thermostats dropping, gas prices climbing through the roof, and dollars flowing overseas in return for costly oil, the American economy is paralyzed. With long-fraying alliances at an end and fiscal pressures mounting, U.S. military forces finally begin a staged withdrawal from their overseas bases.

Within a few years, the U.S. is functionally bankrupt and the clock is ticking toward midnight on the American Century.

Military Misadventure: Present Situation

Counterintuitively, as their power wanes, empires often plunge into ill-advised military misadventures.  This phenomenon is known among historians of empire as “micro-militarism” and seems to involve psychologically compensatory efforts to salve the sting of retreat or defeat by occupying new territories, however briefly and catastrophically. These operations, irrational even from an imperial point of view, often yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the loss of power.

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Embattled empires through the ages suffer an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle. In 413 BCE, a weakened Athens sent 200 ships to be slaughtered in Sicily. In 1921, a dying imperial Spain dispatched 20,000 soldiers to be massacred by Berber guerrillas in Morocco. In 1956, a fading British Empire destroyed its prestige by attacking Suez. And in 2001 and 2003, the U.S. occupied Afghanistan and invaded Iraq. With the hubris that marks empires over the millennia, Washington has increased its troops in Afghanistan to 100,000, expanded the war into Pakistan, and extended its commitment to 2014 and beyond, courting disasters large and small in this guerilla-infested, nuclear-armed graveyard of empires.

Military Misadventure: Scenario 2014

So irrational, so unpredictable is “micro-militarism” that seemingly fanciful scenarios are soon outdone by actual events. With the U.S. military stretched thin from Somalia to the Philippines and tensions rising in Israel, Iran, and Korea, possible combinations for a disastrous military crisis abroad are multifold.

It’s mid-summer 2014 and a drawn-down U.S. garrison in embattled Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is suddenly, unexpectedly overrun by Taliban guerrillas, while U.S. aircraft are grounded by a blinding sandstorm. Heavy loses are taken and in retaliation, an embarrassed American war commander looses B-1 bombers and F-16 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of the city that are believed to be under Taliban control, while AC-130U “Spooky” gunships rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire.

Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques throughout the region, and Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse.  Taliban fighters then launch a series of remarkably sophisticated strikes aimed at U.S. garrisons across the country, sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, U.S. helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops in Kabul and Kandahar.

Meanwhile, angry at the endless, decades-long stalemate over Palestine, OPEC’s leaders impose a new oil embargo on the U.S. to protest its backing of Israel as well as the killing of untold numbers of Muslim civilians in its ongoing wars across the Greater Middle East. With gas prices soaring and refineries running dry, Washington makes its move, sending in Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf.  This, in turn, sparks a rash of suicide attacks and the sabotage of pipelines and oil wells. As black clouds billow skyward and diplomats rise at the U.N. to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back into history to brand this “America’s Suez,” a telling reference to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of the British Empire.

World War III: Present Situation

In the summer of 2010, military tensions between the U.S. and China began to rise in the western Pacific, once considered an American “lake.”  Even a year earlier no one would have predicted such a development. As Washington played upon its alliance with London to appropriate much of Britain’s global power after World War II, so China is now using the profits from its export trade with the U.S. to fund what is likely to become a military challenge to American dominion over the waterways of Asia and the Pacific.

With its growing resources, Beijing is claiming a vast maritime arc from Korea to Indonesia long dominated by the U.S. Navy. In August, after Washington expressed a “national interest” in the South China Sea and conducted naval exercises there to reinforce that claim, Beijing’s official Global Times responded angrily, saying, “The U.S.-China wrestling match over the South China Sea issue has raised the stakes in deciding who the real future ruler of the planet will be.”

Amid growing tensions, the Pentagon reported that Beijing now holds “the capability to attack… [U.S.] aircraft carriers in the western Pacific Ocean” and target “nuclear forces throughout… the continental United States.” By developing “offensive nuclear, space, and cyber warfare capabilities,” China seems determined to vie for dominance of what the Pentagon calls “the information spectrum in all dimensions of the modern battlespace.” With ongoing development of the powerful Long March V booster rocket, as well as the launch of two satellites in January 2010 and another in July, for a total of five, Beijing signaled that the country was making rapid strides toward an “independent” network of 35 satellites for global positioning, communications, and reconnaissance capabilities by 2020.

To check China and extend its military position globally, Washington is intent on building a new digital network of air and space robotics, advanced cyberwarfare capabilities, and electronic surveillance.  Military planners expect this integrated system to envelop the Earth in a cyber-grid capable of blinding entire armies on the battlefield or taking out a single terrorist in field or favela. By 2020, if all goes according to plan, the Pentagon will launch a three-tiered shield of space drones — reaching from stratosphere to exosphere, armed with agile missiles, linked by a resilient modular satellite system, and operated through total telescopic surveillance.

Last April, the Pentagon made history.  It extended drone operations into the exosphere by quietly launching the X-37B unmanned space shuttle into a low orbit 255 miles above the planet.  The X-37B is the first in a new generation of unmanned vehicles that will mark the full weaponization of space, creating an arena for future warfare unlike anything that has gone before.

World War III: Scenario 2025

The technology of space and cyberwarfare is so new and untested that even the most outlandish scenarios may soon be superseded by a reality still hard to conceive. If we simply employ the sort of scenarios that the Air Force itself used in its 2009 Future Capabilities Game, however, we can gain “a better understanding of how air, space and cyberspace overlap in warfare,” and so begin to imagine how the next world war might actually be fought.

It’s 11:59 p.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday in 2025. While cyber-shoppers pound the portals of Best Buy for deep discounts on the latest home electronics from China, U.S. Air Force technicians at the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) on Maui choke on their coffee as their panoramic screens suddenly blip to black. Thousands of miles away at the U.S. CyberCommand’s operations center in Texas, cyberwarriors soon detect malicious binaries that, though fired anonymously, show the distinctive digital fingerprints of China’s People’s Liberation Army.

The first overt strike is one nobody predicted. Chinese “malware” seizes control of the robotics aboard an unmanned solar-powered U.S. “Vulture” drone as it flies at 70,000 feet over the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan.  It suddenly fires all the rocket pods beneath its enormous 400-foot wingspan, sending dozens of lethal missiles plunging harmlessly into the Yellow Sea, effectively disarming this formidable weapon.

Determined to fight fire with fire, the White House authorizes a retaliatory strike.  Confident that its F-6 “Fractionated, Free-Flying” satellite system is impenetrable, Air Force commanders in California transmit robotic codes to the flotilla of X-37B space drones orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, ordering them to launch their “Triple Terminator” missiles at China’s 35 satellites. Zero response. In near panic, the Air Force launches its Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle into an arc 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean and then, just 20 minutes later, sends the computer codes to fire missiles at seven Chinese satellites in nearby orbits.  The launch codes are suddenly inoperative.

As the Chinese virus spreads uncontrollably through the F-6 satellite architecture, while those second-rate U.S. supercomputers fail to crack the malware’s devilishly complex code, GPS signals crucial to the navigation of U.S. ships and aircraft worldwide are compromised. Carrier fleets begin steaming in circles in the mid-Pacific. Fighter squadrons are grounded. Reaper drones fly aimlessly toward the horizon, crashing when their fuel is exhausted. Suddenly, the United States loses what the U.S. Air Force has long called “the ultimate high ground”: space. Within hours, the military power that had dominated the globe for nearly a century has been defeated in World War III without a single human casualty.

A New World Order?

Even if future events prove duller than these four scenarios suggest, every significant trend points toward a far more striking decline in American global power by 2025 than anything Washington now seems to be envisioning.

As allies worldwide begin to realign their policies to take cognizance of rising Asian powers, the cost of maintaining 800 or more overseas military bases will simply become unsustainable, finally forcing a staged withdrawal on a still-unwilling Washington. With both the U.S. and China in a race to weaponize space and cyberspace, tensions between the two powers are bound to rise, making military conflict by 2025 at least feasible, if hardly guaranteed.

Complicating matters even more, the economic, military, and technological trends outlined above will not operate in tidy isolation. As happened to European empires after World War II, such negative forces will undoubtedly prove synergistic.  They will combine in thoroughly unexpected ways, create crises for which Americans are remarkably unprepared, and threaten to spin the economy into a sudden downward spiral, consigning this country to a generation or more of economic misery.

As U.S. power recedes, the past offers a spectrum of possibilities for a future world order.  At one end of this spectrum, the rise of a new global superpower, however unlikely, cannot be ruled out. Yet both China and Russia evince self-referential cultures, recondite non-roman scripts, regional defense strategies, and underdeveloped legal systems, denying them key instruments for global dominion. At the moment then, no single superpower seems to be on the horizon likely to succeed the U.S.

In a dark, dystopian version of our global future, a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral forces like NATO, and an international financial elite could conceivably forge a single, possibly unstable, supra-national nexus that would make it no longer meaningful to speak of national empires at all.  While denationalized corporations and multinational elites would assumedly rule such a world from secure urban enclaves, the multitudes would be relegated to urban and rural wastelands.

In Planet of Slums, Mike Davis offers at least a partial vision of such a world from the bottom up.  He argues that the billion people already packed into fetid favela-style slums worldwide (rising to two billion by 2030) will make “the ‘feral, failed cities’ of the Third World… the distinctive battlespace of the twenty-first century.” As darkness settles over some future super-favela, “the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression” as “hornet-like helicopter gun-ships stalk enigmatic enemies in the narrow streets of the slum districts… Every morning the slums reply with suicide bombers and eloquent explosions.”

At a midpoint on the spectrum of possible futures, a new global oligopoly might emerge between 2020 and 2040, with rising powers China, Russia, India, and Brazil collaborating with receding powers like Britain, Germany, Japan, and the United States to enforce an ad hoc global dominion, akin to the loose alliance of European empires that ruled half of humanity circa 1900.

Another possibility: the rise of regional hegemons in a return to something reminiscent of the international system that operated before modern empires took shape. In this neo-Westphalian world order, with its endless vistas of micro-violence and unchecked exploitation, each hegemon would dominate its immediate region — Brasilia in South America, Washington in North America, Pretoria in southern Africa, and so on. Space, cyberspace, and the maritime deeps, removed from the control of the former planetary “policeman,” the United States, might even become a new global commons, controlled through an expanded U.N. Security Council or some ad hoc body.

All of these scenarios extrapolate existing trends into the future on the assumption that Americans, blinded by the arrogance of decades of historically unparalleled power, cannot or will not take steps to manage the unchecked erosion of their global position.

If America’s decline is in fact on a 22-year trajectory from 2003 to 2025, then we have already frittered away most of the first decade of that decline with wars that distracted us from long-term problems and, like water tossed onto desert sands, wasted trillions of desperately needed dollars.

If only 15 years remain, the odds of frittering them all away still remain high.  Congress and the president are now in gridlock; the American system is flooded with corporate money meant to jam up the works; and there is little suggestion that any issues of significance, including our wars, our bloated national security state, our starved education system, and our antiquated energy supplies, will be addressed with sufficient seriousness to assure the sort of soft landing that might maximize our country’s role and prosperity in a changing world.

Europe’s empires are gone and America’s imperium is going.  It seems increasingly doubtful that the United States will have anything like Britain’s success in shaping a succeeding world order that protects its interests, preserves its prosperity, and bears the imprint of its best values.

Source: http://www.alternet.org/world/149080/4_scenarios_for_the_coming_collapse_of_the_american_empire/?page=entire