By Mike Whitney
America’s time as a superpower is coming to an end. The financial crisis was just the last straw. Whatever good faith was left after the invasion of Iraq, the shrugging off of international treaties and the shameless disregard for human rights, is now gone. The United States has polluted the global economic system with worthless mortgage-backed securities and, by doing so, has pushed 6 billion people closer to a long and painful recession. That’s not something that can be easily forgiven.
The anger at the US seems to be surfacing everywhere at once. It was particularly noticeable at the recent opening of the UN General Assembly. Typically, this is a tedious event full of empty political blabbering and pretentious ceremonies. But not this time. With the world sliding towards a US-created recession; patience have worn thin, and foreign leaders have started to lashing out at the United States more vehemently. The speeches have been blunt and acrimonious; no one is “pulling their punches” any more. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez summed up the mood of the meetings like this:
“I think that, sooner rather than later, this empire will fall – to the benefit of the whole world, enabling a balance in the world to be created: polycentric and multi-polar. That will guarantee peace in the world. To the creation of this multi-polar world we are making our small contribution.”
Chavez likes the American people but opposes the American Empire; it’s that simple. He was the first foreign leader to offer food and medical assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. (Bush refused his offer) Also, he regularly supplies tons of heating oil to low-income families in the Northeast USA.
What Chavez objects to is Bush’s “unipolar” model of global governance whereby all the world’s crucial decisions–on everything from global warming to nuclear proliferation–are made by Washington. No one likes being told what to do, just as no one likes the US constantly meddling in their affairs. That’s why none of the UN attendees seem particularly bothered by the fact that the US financial markets are in freefall. It’s called schadenfreude, taking pleasure in someone elses misfortune, and there was ample supply of it at the United Nations last week.
Many of the dignitaries seem to believe that America’s sudden downturn presents opportunities for a change in the way the world is run. That’s what everyone wants; change. Real change. No one wants another 8 years like the last. That’s why the central theme in Chavez’s speech was repeated over and over again by the other world leaders. They reject the present system and want a bigger role in shaping the world’s future.
That doesn’t mean that the world hates America. It just means that everyone wants a breather from the torture, the abductions, the bombing of civilians, and now, the financial contagion that the US has spread throughout the global system. The US’s lack of regulation and low interest monetary policies have driven up inflation, triggered food riots, and sent oil prices skyrocketing. Enough is enough. The United States is like the dinner guest who doesn’t know when it’s time to go home. Perhaps, a touch of recession will help to rebalance Washington’s approach and make its leaders more responsive to the needs of the rest of the world. In any event, other nations are already preparing for a world where America’s role is greatly reduced.
Journalist John Gray summed it up like this in his article in The Observer, “A Shattering Moment in America’s fall from Power”:
“The control of events is no longer in American hands…..Having created the conditions that produced history’s biggest bubble, America’s political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape.”
The US is about to join the family of nations and learn how to get along with its neighbors whether it wants to or not. There’s simply no other choice; the dollar is falling, the deficits are soaring, and the financial markets are in a shambles. America will either learn to cooperate or become isolated in a world that is rapidly integrating. It’s “get along or get out”; a message that Washington needs to learn quickly so it can adapt to a new power-paradigm.
Yes; plenty of money will still go into covert operations and CIA-sponsored dirty tricks just to keep alive the hope the Superpowerdom will be restored. That is to be expected. The well-heeled rogues in the British royal family still dream of rebuilding the Empire, too. But realists know that it’s just a harmless fantasy. Nothing will come of it. Empire’s have a short shelf-life and they’re impossible to stitch-back together. They usually end on a corpse strewn battlefield or in a towering financial bonfire which leaves nothing behind but a pile of ashes and shards of broken glass. We can only hope that the yawning economic chasm ahead of us all, will involve less hardship than we anticipate. But when a nation sows dragon’s teeth, it shouldn’t expect a harvest of sweet plums.
Journalist Steve Watson reports on Infowars:
“A Council on Foreign Relations member and former policy planner under prominent Bilderberger Henry Kissinger has penned a piece in the Financial Times of London calling for a “new global monetary authority” that would have the power to monitor all national financial authorities and all large global financial companies.
“Even if the US’s massive financial rescue operation succeeds, it should be followed by something even more far-reaching – the establishment of a Global Monetary Authority to oversee markets that have become borderless.” writes Jeffrey Garten also a former managing director of Lehman Brothers
The biggest global financial companies would have to register with the Global Monetary Authority (GMA) and be subject to its monitoring, or be blacklisted. That includes commercial companies and banks, but also sovereign wealth funds, gigantic hedge funds and private equity firms. The GMA’s board would have to include central bankers not just from the US, UK, the eurozone and Japan, but also China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil. It would be financed by mandatory contributions from every capable country and from insurance-type premiums from global financial companies – publicly listed, government owned, and privately held alike.” (Infowar.com)
The dream of “one world” government does not die easily, but it is dead all the same. The center of the present global financial system is the Federal Reserve. Its offspring includes the Council on Foreign Relations, the IMF, The World Bank, the G-7 banking cartel and thousands of predatory NGOs which have expanded the grip of the Washington banking cabal and the dollarized system across the planet. Neoliberalism is collapsing. What we are seeing now is the erratic spasms of a terminal heart patient entering the final stages of cardiac arrest. There is no drug or medical procedure that will restore the victim to good health.
No one is looking to the US or its “economic hit-men” to chart a course for their country’s economic future. Those day’s are over. The US will have to pull itself from the rubble and start over without the massive infusions of low interest capital from China, Japan and the Gulf States. The money spigots have been turned off. It’s thin gruel and hard times ahead. That’s the price one pays for swindling the world with worthless mortgage-backed snake oil and other “illiquid” garbage.
Russian President Vladimir Putin summed up recent events in the financial markets like this:
“Everything that is happening in the economic and financial sphere has started in the United States. This is a real crisis that all of us are facing, and what is really sad is that we see an inability to take appropriate decisions. This is no longer irresponsibility on the part of some individuals, but irresponsibility of the whole system, which as you know had pretensions to (global) leadership.”
Back at the United Nations, Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbuck echoed similar sentiments when he said:
“The United States is solely to be blamed for the financial crisis. They are the cause for the crisis and it is not Europe and it is not the Federal Republic of Germany. The Anglo-Saxon drive for double-digit profits and massive bonuses for bankers and company executives that were responsible for the financial crisis.”
“The long term consequences of the crisis are not clear. but one thing seems likely to me; the USA will lose its superpower status in the global financial system. The world financial system is becoming multipolar.”
Steinbuck was merely reiterating the feelings of Chancellor Angela Merkel who used more diplomatic language in her critique:
“The current crisis shows us you can do some things on the national level, but the overwhelming majority must be agreed to on the international level. We must push for clearer regulations so that a crisis like the current one cannot be repeated.”
Merkel knows that Europe was blind-sighted by America’s deregulated system which allows crooks and chiselers to rule the roost. Even now–in the middle of the biggest financial scandal in history–not one CEO or CFO from a major investment bank has been indicted or dragged off to prison. US markets are a lawless “free for all” where no one is held accountable no matter how large the crime or how many people are hurt. But, there’s a price to be paid for running a crooked system and fleecing investors, and the US will pay that price. Already, the purchase of US Treasurys has slowed to a crawl. In the coming months, America’s life-support system will be disconnected altogether and the oxygen tent removed. Kissinger’s protege is not worried about that; but working class American’s should be. There’s a train wreck just ahead and many people will suffer needlessly.
This is how Spiegel Online puts it:
“The banking crisis is upending American dominance of the financial markets and world politics. The industrialized countries are sliding into recession, the era of turbo-capitalism is coming to an end and US military might is ebbing….This is no longer the muscular and arrogant United States the world knows, the superpower that sets the rules for everyone else and that considers its way of thinking and doing business to be the only road to success.
A new America is on display, a country that no longer trusts its old values and its elites even less: the politicians, who failed to see the problems on the horizon, and the economic leaders, who tried to sell a fictitious world of prosperity to Americans….Also on display is the end of arrogance. The Americans are now paying the price for their pride.” (Spiegel Online, “America loses its Dominant Economic Role”)
President Dmitry Medvedev was not present at the opening ceremonies at the United Nations, but his views on the nascent “multipolar” world are worth considering. In a recent interview he said:
“We cannot have a single polar world. The world has to have various poles. A policentric world is the only way of ensuring security for the years ahead. So I think it is a very promising direction for our country to pursue…The world is more stable when there are a range of major, important political players. In a multipolar world, everyone influences everyone else. We will work to extend ourselves.
I do not think that the bipolar world that existed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact (The Cold War) has any future prospects. But it is clear today that the single-polar world is completely unable to manage crisis situations.”
Both presidential candidates have vowed to continue the unilateralist Bush Doctrine. Obama is just as eager as McCain to violate sovereign borders, invade countries that pose no imminent national security threat to the US, and carry out the many flagrant violations of human rights and international law as long as it advances the geopolitical objectives of western mandarins. There’s no doubt that the impending financial meltdown will bring our leaders back to their senses and help to restore the republic. The US needs a foreign policy that doesn’t require slaughtering people in their homes or ripping off their retirement savings to maintain our standard of living.
The war that Bush has launched against the world–the war on terror–will persist for years after the US financial system collapses in a heap. The will to power is fueled by arrogance, class consciousness, and a “sense of entitlement” that is stronger than even the will to survive. This is the force that animates the destructive, suicidal impulses of the current conflict. And that is why the war will continue. The social fabric within the US will be torn to shreds long before the fighting stops. A strong sense of entitlement creates the belief that “The world is mine to do with whatever I choose; the claims of others are of no consequence”. These feelings cannot be changed through logic or rational discussion; they must be eradicated with a scalpel the same way one would remove a cancerous tumor.
There’s trouble ahead. The multi-polar world is about to collide head-on with the “faith-based” unipolar world and millions are bound to suffer. But there is no doubt about the final outcome. The geopolitical plates are shifting inexorably away from Washington. America’s ability to wage war will steadily erode as capital and resources dry up. Its only a matter of time before the war machine sputters to a halt and the troops return home. When the killing stops, a truly new world order will begin.
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