Like Rome Before the Fall? Not Yet - March, 2010

Americans today and those effected by America's cultural hype around the world suffer from a severe form of collective hypnosis. The American empire's greatest achievement has been to fool its citizenry into thinking that the nation is democratically run. Its greatest achievement has been to fool people worldwide into thinking that it was a universal force for good and the policeman of the world. Its greatest weapon has been popular culture, Hollywood, MTV, McDonald and Jeans.

This deception of the masses worldwide was made possible in part by the anti-Communist and anti-Fascist propaganda fed to the so-called "free world," consistently and persistently since the Second World War. The depth and scale of this weapon of mass deception was simply astounding. However, the cold reality of the matter was that the American political/financial system was no different in nature and perhaps more corrupt than most nations run by so-called "oligarchs" today. If you and I had a better life in the US it had nothing to do with a wonderful system, or because of what some Americans want to believe - divine intervention. Americans enjoyed a good life, or what was known as the "American Dream", only because of the unprecedented wealth brought upon by war loot, slavery, genocides and a global financial system that was designed by it to serve it.

This is what made the empire immensely rich, where the even crumbs that fell of the banquet table of the financial elite in America was enough for individuals like you and I to have a decent life. The fundamental problem here, however, is that the masses today don't know how to assess and/or evaluate this reality.

Which brings me to a funny thing called "democracy". True democracy, the notion that the naive/ignorant masses can effectively rule themselves has never existed in practice. Even in the ancient Greek city-states and the Roman Empire, those who had the right to vote were essentially the nation's land owners, the military and the clergy. One day we may just realize that the West's so-called "democracy" is just as flawed and just as unnatural as the East's "communism". Just think for a moment, we are required to obtain higher education, vocational training or a government issued license for doing practically anything of importance in the developed world. Correct? Then why is it that the most important task of electing a nation's leadership is somehow expected to be entrusted to the masses? When this practice is imposed by the West on developing/third world nations it usually and predictably ends up in chaos, for obvious reasons.

Since the Second World War, the concept of democracy has often been used by the political elite in the West as a destructive weapon against nation's whose governments are not compliant or subservient to it. The fact of the matter is, for better or for worst, the world has always been ruled by a financial/political elite, it's no exception today and it's no exception in the West. The elite in advanced nations of the world generally get around this democracy dilemma by having politicians on both sides of the fence work for them. Many are only now beginning to realize that in America, Republican and Democrat parties are essentially two sides of one coin. If the Soviet Union was run by one party with multiple factions, America is run by two parties of one faction. Therefore, whoever wins an election in America - the financial/political elite wins. But do we the people really understand this process? Sadly, the answer thus far seems to be no.

I vividly recall when "yes we can" Obama was running for the presidency, a majority of Americans (including us Armenians) were convinced that by their electoral participation they were making a "change" for good in the United States. My suggestions at the time that nothing would change in the country by the elections because American presidents today are nothing by subservient representatives of special interests was often ignored and dismissed by the sheeple.

We the people desperately need to realize that when we see a Clinton or a Bush or an Obama, or whoever else they are going to be appointing next in the White House, he or she is ultimately responsible not to the people - but to the financial/political elite that made it all possible for them. Nevertheless, the American people's complacency and ignorance of the world around them is now catching up with them. As they comfortably slept, the once great republic was sold to the highest bidders. And now, political analysts, historians and intellectuals alike are discussing not 'if' the American empire will fall but when.
"The United States never likes to think of itself as an empire. Americans are brought up not to think that. But it certainly is. What is it going to take for them to realize that empire is not healthy for the United States like the Soviet Union wasn't healthy for Russia" - Peter Lavelle RT


Like Rome Before the Fall? Not Yet

Paul Craig Roberts on US crumbling economic power

March, 2010

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN complains that he is being driven crazy because so many people are betting on America’s demise. Reports of it are not just exaggerated; they are, he insists, ridiculous. Like President Obama, he will not accept “second place” for the United States. Despite the present crippling budget deficit and the crushing burden of projected debt, he denies that the country is destined to fulfill a “prophecy that we are going to be a great nation that has failed because we lost control of our economy and overextended.” Mr. Biden was referring in particular to the influential book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” by Paul Kennedy, a British historian who teaches at Yale. Published in 1988, the book argues that the ascendancy of states or empires results from the superiority of their material resources, and that the wealth on which that dominance rests is eroded by the huge military expenditures needed to sustain national or imperial power, leading inexorably to its decline and fall. The thesis seems a tad schematic, but Professor Kennedy maintains it with dazzling cogency. In any debate about the development of the United States, one would certainly tend to side with the detached historian rather than the partisan politician.

All too often, however, students of the past succumb to the temptation to foretell the future. For reasons best known to himself, for example, the eminent British historian A. J. P. Taylor predicted that the Second World War would reach its climax in the Spanish port of Vigo. Equally preposterous in its way was Francis Fukuyama’s claim that the conclusion of the cold war marked the end of ideological evolution, “the end of history.” When indulging his own penchant for prophecy, Paul Kennedy too proved sadly fallible. In his book, he wrote that Japan would not stagnate and that Russia, clinging to Communism, would not boom economically by the early 21st century. Of course, Professor Kennedy did not base his forecasts on runes or entrails or stars. He weighed the available evidence and extrapolated from existing trends. He studied form, entered suitable caveats and hedged his bets. In short, he relied on sophisticated guesswork. However, the past is a map, not a compass. It charts human experience, stops at the present and gives no clear sense of direction. History does not repeat itself nor, as Arnold Toynbee would have it, does it proceed in rhythms or cycles. Events buck trends. Everything, as Gibbon said, is subject to “the vicissitudes of fortune.”

Still, history is our only guide. It is natural to seek instruction from it about the trajectory of earlier great powers, especially at a time when the weary American Titan seems to be staggering under “the too vast orb of its fate.” This phrase (loosely taken from Matthew Arnold) was used by the British politician Joseph Chamberlain to depict the plight of his nation in 1902. The country had indeed suffered a severe setback during its South African war and its global supremacy was under threat from mighty rivals in the United States and Germany. Yet the British Empire was at its apogee. Paradoxically, the larger great powers grow, the more they worry about their vulnerability. Rudyard Kipling wrote this elegy to the empire, of which he was unofficial poet laureate, to mark its most spectacular pageant, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Far-called, our navies melt away;

On dunes and headlands sinks the fire;

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Aptly quoting these lines exactly a century later, when Britain gave up its last major colony, Hong Kong, this newspaper’s editorial page noted that the queen’s empire had been relegated to the history books; the United States had become the heir to Rome. Now doom-mongers conjure with Roman and British analogies in order to trace the decay of American hegemony. In so doing they ignore Gibbon’s warning about the danger of comparing epochs remote from one another. It is obviously possible to find striking similarities between the predicament of Rome and that of Washington (itself modeled on classical lines, incidentally, because it aspired to be the capital of a mighty empire). Overstretch is common to both, for example: Rome defended frontiers on the Tigris, the Danube and the Rhine; America’s informal empire, controlled diplomatically, commercially and militarily, girdles the globe.

But the differences are palpable. The Roman economy depended on agriculture whereas the United States has an enormous industrial base, producing nearly a quarter of the world’s manufactured goods, and dominates the relatively new invention of the service economy. Rome was prone to internecine strife whereas America is constitutionally stable. Rome was overwhelmed by barbarians whereas America’s armed forces are so powerful as to prompt dreams of what is known in military doctrine as “full spectrum dominance.” Even in an age of terrorism and nuclear proliferation, it is hard to visualize an attack on America as devastating as that inflicted by Vandals, Goths and Huns on Rome. Similarly, the British Empire was a weak empire. It was acquired thanks to certain temporary advantages, and run on a shoestring. It governed the multitudes of India with 1,250 civil servants, and garrisoned its African colonies with a thousand policemen and soldiers, not one above the rank of colonel. The thin white line often broke under pressure. Then Britain lost a whole generation of empire-builders during the First World War, and was virtually bankrupted by the Second. It was bailed out by the United States, which briefly sustained the British Empire as an auxiliary in the cold war. But its status as no more than a client was amply demonstrated in 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower cracked the whip and stopped the Anglo-French invasion of Suez. The empire was quickly dismembered, its ghost surviving as the Commonwealth.

Stemming from a tiny island, the British Empire was once described as an oak tree in a plant pot. American dominion, by contrast, is rooted in a bountiful continent. But does not the organic metaphor imply that states, like other living things, will inevitably deteriorate and die? This suggestion was convincingly denied by Lord Palmerston, the champion of the Victorian “gunboat diplomacy” that brought China to its knees. To compare that country to a sick man or an old tree was an “utterly unphilosophical mistake,” he said, since a nation could adopt mechanical means of self-renovation. This, needless to say, China has done. Despite its grave problems, there are some relatively simple steps America could take to recover its position. It could bring its military commitments into line with its resources, rely more on the “soft power” of diplomacy and economic engagement and, as George Washington said, take advantage of its geographically detached situation to “defy material injury from external annoyance.” Such a policy would permit more investment in productive enterprise and pay for butter as well as guns, thus vindicating Joe Biden’s faith in the recuperative capacities of the Great Republic. On the other hand, Paul Kennedy may well be right to predict that the United States will shrink relatively in wealth, and therefore power, as its Asian and European rivals grow. Such contractions can be traumatic, as suggested by the experience of Britain, which, as Dean Acheson said, lost an empire without finding a role.

However, the British now tend to echo the historian Lord Macaulay, who said that the end of their physical empire would be the proudest day in their history if they left behind “the imperishable empire” of their arts and their morals, their literature and their laws. In other words, national self-esteem should not stem from global might but from cultural values and achievements. Faced by the prospect of decline, Americans could hardly do better than to cling to the noblest traditions of their own civilization.


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