The inward-looking United States ‘patriots’
Patriotism, the military and the economy have morphed into the present-day trinity of a religious faith that has taken over the United States and steeped its citizens in the deep belief of the unconditional superiority of their country. Mammon is God, Greed is the Son and Expansionism is the Holy Ghost. Modesty is the devil and Compassion is an unknown entity. Arrogance, Selfishness and Greed are among the major saints that lead the way for the rulers in this once so mighty empire.
In one way you can see it as a trend that began with the deregulatory policies of Ronald Reagan, when money got to be the fruit of speculations. The production deriving from the working people took a backseat and was increasingly outsourced to the economically least-demanding countries. Wall Street turned into a casino where the money holders invariably won and the workers always lost.
However, seen from a different angle, it has been going on ever since the Puritans grabbed the land away from the native Americans. With ups and downs, the citizens of what became the United States, the immigrants of those days, have experienced its growing from a grabbing and growing nation into a military powerhouse and an economic giant. They have learned to cultivate the faith that whatever is done in the name of the greatness of their country is for the good of the world. If you don’t subscribe to this unwritten law you are not a patriot, which is the first of the deadly sins. The countries outside the U.S. borders, if they ever got the attention of this great empire, would be helpless without the United States to show them the way to civilization and to allow them to share a piece of the comfortable greatness of this superior country.
And of course all this power grabbing was disguised as spreading democracy and freedom. In the view of United States citizens only their hallowed country was truly a free country. Europeans were socialists (which to their minds equals communists), so clearly they could not be free countries. Socialism bad, capitalism good. Capitalism equals democracy and no democracy is possible without capitalism. The two go hand-in-hand. Thus goes the propagandized gospel of the United States. The truth is of course just the opposite, but propaganda wins the day. Until the day darkens.
This blatant lie is what is hammered into the brains of children by parents and teachers, and only very recently has it begun to dawn on some United-States citizens that maybe their so much touted greatness is not there to last for generations to come. For centuries there hasn’t even been any serious questioning of whether this perceived moral and economic greatness was founded in reality or if it was merely a mirage fostered by the astronomically wealthy so as to leave them a freeway to increased wealth and power, unhampered by the common sense of educated and well-informed citizens.
The world is not static
But the world is changing and increasingly powerful nations are emerging all over the planet. The wealth of the superior U.S. of A., which had been taken for granted at least since the era of American economic strength began after World War II, is now crumbling.
Ever since the Marshall plan helped Europe get back on its feet and the seemingly forever-lasting Cold War confirmed the United States as the leader of the ‘free world’, U.S. citizens have been firmly convinced that their country was generously helping the broken post-war countries and that the world should be eternally thankful to them. Whenever we are threatened once again by some external danger to our freedom, then we Europeans will come crawling to the feet of Uncle Sam and ask for his magnanimous assistance. It is unknown to the average U.S. citizen that the Marshall plan was forged not as an altruistic way of rebuilding Europe, but was rather a means of enabling the Western world, including the United States, to get back to normal trade conditions, to enrich themselves and, ultimately, for their country to lead the planet to a situation where they would be the self-evident masters. The United States would be the magnanimous lord who condescendingly gives a piece of the booty to his underlings.
The world was theirs to lead and to profit from – forever. Or so they thought. But reality has turned out otherwise.
Obstacles arise to U.S. world leadership
It wasn’t as easy as the predators had believed to gain an unquestioned superpower status over the planet. They overplayed their hand and they are now on what seems to be a sure path to self-destruction.
Europe was going to play the lackey to U.S. leadership by being given token signs of partnership. The European Union was essential to keep all the financially and philosophically very different countries on a firm leash.
Washington minimized the importance of huge countries like China and India, which could not actually be incorporated into a union with the Western nations. Nor could they be totally ignored. However, India at least could be bought up. The free market would take care of that job. Sell the world on globalization, and corporatism would rule the planet. Even China got sold on harsh western-style capitalism and it seemed for some time that the Chinese market would help in boosting world trade in a most profitable way and that monolith would present no problem to U.S. superiority. Nor, by the way, would it improve the inhuman conditions of the millions of poor farmers and workers.
As for Africa, Washington clearly believed that those poverty-stricken countries would easily become obedient and fully dependent slaves, ready to be robbed of their immensely valuable resources and offering very little resistance, if any. After all, this was simply the second chapter of colonialism, a state of things African countries were well used to. The same for Latin America, which the International Monetary Fund and other monetary institutions were doing a superb job on ‘restructuring’, that is to say, plundering and fully intending to take over financially. Until those countries started to wake up.
The wind is turning
Progressive movements are now spreading throughout Latin America after the colossal economic fiascos created by the neoliberal predators, in particular the Chicago boys under Milton Friedman, in the final decades of the last century. This is of course a major thorn in the commanding finger of Washington, a problem that they have more or less had to set aside to deal with another center of insurgence in a very different part of the world.
Central Asia, the Middle East and the Big Game hunters
How Washington could be so naïve as to believe that they could simply take over Iraq, bomb it to ruins and rebuild it as a client state under the sign of American-style democracy, without any serious resistance from the people, is today a source of wonder among most of the people of the world. Iraq is at the present time hobbling along, insurgence emerging now and then but by and large as calm as it has been since the U.S. invasion in 2003. But still Iraq and Western-style democracy are light-years apart.
But Iraq is just one piece of the puzzle. The plan was not really to invade and conquer Iraq alone. No, the hubris of Washington knew of no common-sense limits. They are now first of all trying to propagandize the world into believing that the war in Iraq is won, something the Iraqis would certainly be the first to deny. It is true for the moment though, that the murders and the bombing, civilians always making up the majority of the victims of course, have essentially moved to another stage.
In the wishy-washy way of U.S. warfare, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area is now the major stage in Central Asia where bombs are falling from U.S. unmanned drones. So the state of things is utterly unclear. Is Pakistan an ally or an enemy? Confusion reigns.
The Bush/Cheney administration had a vision, born and nursed by the neocons, that the whole Middle East/Central Asia region would be under Washington’s domination when the several easy wars were over. Afghanistan was more or less rendered helpless in the brief pre-Iraq war, and a puppet regime was installed in Kabul. Pakistan was bought up as a faithful ally, but is now disintegrating with corrupt leaders and anti-USA insurgents popping up not just in the border areas. Religious enmity is a factor but also the millennia-old tribal set-up of these artificially created nations. But what has most effectively poured fuel on the fire is of course the anti-American feelings that are nursed by the fact that the United States is practically running the governments in both countries.
A look back on history
In fact, nobody had managed to conquer Afghanistan since Genghis Khan and his wild Mongol hordes devastated the land in 1219. Much later these invaders made Kabul the capital of the Mughal Empire, which at its peak in 1700 included most of the Indian subcontinent.
During the 19th century, Afghanistan served as a buffer state between the British and Russian empires, both having serious expansionist ambitions. The British failed miserably in their attempt to include Afghanistan into the British Indian Empire in three Anglo-Afghan wars. The first war began in 1838 and during long periods of the latter part of the 19th century, British forces occupied large areas of Afghanistan and had even taken over the handling of its foreign politics. Finally in 1919, after the third Anglo-Afghan war, king Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan an independent country and the same year established diplomatic relations with the new government in the very young Soviet Union.
The war against the Soviet invasion in 1979, at the request of the Marxist government in Kabul in their fight against the mujahedeen rebels, was at first fought locally by regional warlords. The mujahedeen gradually gained increasing power as the main fighters against the Soviet occupiers and the Soviet-friendly government in Kabul. However, in spite of extensive support from the United States and various other countries, they were too divided into multiple factions and the country descended into civil war. After the Russians were forced to withdraw in 1989, the mujahedeen were defeated by the Taliban. This armed movement organized by a village mullah and supported by Pakistan developed as an increasingly powerful politico-religious force. At the time of the U.S invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban had largely defeated the militias and controlled most of the country.
The United States military was not much more successful after their invasion in October 2001, largely due to the fractured nature of the country. The warlords who are still today powerful tribal leaders and the once again increasingly powerful Taliban leaders had never been used to bowing down to presumed authority from Kabul and this spirit of independence made the war pretty much unwinnable. Also, from the very beginning, the neocons had their minds set on Iraq and did not take the war in Afghanistan very seriously.
Another country with an unruly history
Pakistan was founded in 1947 at the end of the British rule over India. The partition from India might not actually have taken place if it had not been for the stubborn insistence by the Muslim leader, the lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The lawyer had quite wide support from the Muslim people but he was also opposed by some other Muslim leaders.
The short history of Pakistan is filled with examples of flagrantly corrupt leaders, a violent history of assassinations and coups d’état.
General Pervez Musharraf came to power through a military coup in 1999 when he ousted the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He immediately assumed dictatorial powers and in 2001 declared himself President. In 2007 he instated military emergency rule and ousted his bitter enemy, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry and several other judges whom he saw as a barrier to his continued place in power. Later facing impeachment and seeing that he had lost all support from home and abroad he chose to bow out. His successor Asif Ali Zardari, the equally corrupt husband of the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in December 2007, also refused to reinstate Chaudhry.
This refusal of President Zardari to reinstate Chaudry to his former post as Chief Justice led to such violent protests and marches on Islamabad from all over the country that Zardari was finally forced to reinstate Chaudhry to his former post on March 16, 2009.
This was greeted by the Pakistanis and by much of the world as an opening towards democracy, but we haven’t seen the end of the game. It is clear that President Zardari has been severely weakened by the political turmoil caused by his refusal to reinstate Chaudhry and the dubious reasons he gave the world to account for this refusal. Also the democratically elected former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, ousted by Musharraf, joined the opposition movement to reinstate Chaudhry. He is now the leader of the opposition against Zardari.
The country is at this time involved in internal political fights that noone can foresee the outcome of. During the period of the British intervention in Afghanistan, ethnic Pashtun territories were divided by the Durand Line, an arbitrarily drawn border between the two countries, in the midst of a mountainous and inaccessible region. This artificial border line has never had any real significance for the people inhabiting the region. The two countries have never ceased to dispute territorial rights and relations between the them have for ever been strained.
|Along this road lies the village of Salang at an altitude of about 3800 meters in the mountains of the Hindukush. The pass crosses the Hindu Kush at 3878 m, but is now bypassed through the Salang tunnel, built by the Soviets, which runs underneath it at a height of about 3,400 m. It links Charikar and Kabul with Mazari Sharif and Termez.|
The new regime, more of the same
The Obama administration seems to believe that Afghanistan and Pakistan can be treated as one entity, the AfPak problem. The terrorists, call them jihadists, call them the Taliban, call them the Pashtun rebels, are spread mainly around the border territory between the two countries. Thus, or so they think, it’s all one problem.
Add to the enormously fragile situation in these two countries, the precarious relations between the United States and Iran, the rock solid and dangerous alliance between the U.S. and Israel, which is becoming an international pariah, and it should be easy to see that Washington will have a hard time getting itself out from this part of the world, which it once thought it would be a cakewalk to invade and dominate.
Washington has, ever since its overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh and the installation of the Shah in 1953, thus getting rid of a regime they feared was too Soviet friendly, had a fixation on asserting domination over this part of the world, the major center of oil production in the world. Thus the unwavering support of Israel and all its horrendous internationally condemned actions against the Palestinians, their eternal victims.
I find it pretty amazing that President Obama is still trying to convince us that the present world order can go on essentially in the same way, just with more cooperation between nations. BUT with the United States as the continued world leader. How long is the rest of the world going to buy this lunacy? More troops to Afghanistan? Why? How? With what money? For what reason? Will 17,000 American advisors, as they are obviously going to be called, save and unite a fractured country that has never been really held together by any government???
This is the end game – the future will be very different
An era is over, the neocons have been playing monopoly with the world in the last rays of light of the world that is now crumbling. The empire they dreamed up was altogether dependent on the abundant resources of oil and coal that are now drying up as well as contributing in a major way to the destruction of the environment. They most likely knew this all along but they went on playing their game until darkness fell.
Well, the light is going out but we now have to look around us and light another lamp that will show us the path to survival. President Obama has to give up on his goal of dominating the world. It is much too late for any such ambitions. This new era that is just beginning has no room for an empire, no room for a superpower.
Bare-knuckled capitalism has proven that it only leads to disaster, to poverty and misery for the masses and the good life for another couple of seconds for the tiny handful of hardboiled capitalists, the multi-billionaires who are playing this game till the very last drops of honey are squeezed out of the flower.
What the future will be like, nobody knows. There are not enough people who seriously try to build a world founded on true democracy, not the kind touted by U.S. and other world leaders, which is rather more what should be called corporatism than a form of government where people have the least significance. However, the one thing that is certain is that today’s world will not last much longer in the state it’s in.
It’s clear that even without the economic meltdown and global warming occurring simultaneously for not unrelated reasons, the world the way it is today does not stand a chance of surviving for generations to come. The killing, the torturing, the unending aggressive wars, mainly fought by the United States over the past few decades and the horrendous economic inequality throughout the world could not go on without finally leading to a massive uprising by the people of the world. With today’s means of communication, unimaginable just a few decades ago, the world would not sit still and watch the poor getting poorer, the rich getting richer, the innocent being tortured and the environment getting ruined for the profit of the big corporations. The wealthy presumed leaders of the world have dug their own grave by ignoring basic human rights and nature’s incredibly delicate balancing act to protect and to make all species survive.
It’s curtain fall for the present world order. Will we be able to continue this century with such totally different priorities that the human race and the planet can be saved?
Finishing lines of Jean Giraudoux’ wonderful play ‘Electre‘ – reference to the Trojan war, returning from which Electra’s father Agamemnon was killed.
La femme Narsès: Comment cela s’appelle-t-il, quand le jour se lève, comme aujourd’hui, et que tout est gâché, que tout est saccagé, et que l’air pourtant se respire, et qu’on a tout perdu, que la ville brûle, que les innocents s’entre-tuent, mais que les coupables agonisent, dans un coin du jour qui se lève ?
Electre: Demande au mendiant. Il le sait.
Le mendiant: Cela a un très beau nom, femme Narsès. Cela s’appelle l’aurore.
The woman Narsès: “What is it called, when a day begins, like today, when everything is ruined, everything is plundered, but one still breathes the air, when everything is lost, when the city burns, when the innocents kill each other, but when the guilty agonize, in a corner of a day that is beginning?”
Electra: “Ask the beggar, he knows”.
The beggar: “It has a very beautiful name, woman Narsès. It is called the dawn.”
 Afghanistan’s resistance movement was born in chaos and, at first, virtually all of its war was waged locally by regional warlords. As warfare became more sophisticated, outside support and regional coordination grew. Even so, the basic units of mujahideen organization and action continued to reflect the highly segmented nature of Afghan society. [… ] Under Reagan, U.S. support for the mujahideen evolved into an official U.S. foreign policy, known as the Reagan Doctrine, which included U.S. support for anti-Soviet resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.
© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com
Siv O’Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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