Empire America

Monday, 05 November 2012

Most Americans want to believe they live in a republic where even a coloured man can become the president. It helps to deny the tragic truth that the business of America is war, and that it’s the emperor fronting the oligarchy who decides who gets squished. The elections are a farce to persuade outsiders they are democratically invaded and droned. The unspoken role of the American voter is to endorse an emperor short-listed by imaginary people called corporations.

Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch says, “Washington may be mobilised for permanent war. Special operations forces may be operating in up to 120 countries…  Drone bases may be proliferating across the planet. We may be building up forces in the Persian Gulf… The American people, however, are demobilised and detached from the wars, interventions, operations, and other military activities done in their name.  As a result, 200 Marines in Guatemala, almost 78% of global weapons sales, drones flying surveillance from Australia – no one here notices; no one here cares.”

They should – not just because presidents morph into emperors, but because the US Empire is dismantling the American Republic in plain sight. This is the authentic “clash of civilisations”. On 8 December 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress.  “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan … I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

Under the US constitution Congress is invested with the power to declare war. This was the last time it did so. The wars fought since have had congressional approval but this is not the same as a declaration. Tom Mullen, author of “A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America” says there are profound implications. Crucially, the declaration of war is not a formality; it’s a resolution recognising that America is already at war.Evidence must be presented that overt acts of war have been committed against the US.

Congress must consider the evidence and decide whether a state of war exists. President Bush would not have been able to wage war on Iraq. “In fact, the absence of any overt acts of war by the nations in question is the reason that there were no declarations of war against Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, or any other nation that the U.S. government has waged war against since WWII.” In short the citizens of the republic are being taxed, illegally and aggressively, to pay for the empire’s wars.

As George W Bush ended his blood (and oil) – thirsty first-term in 2004, law professor Michael Mandel published “How America Gets Away with Murder”. It’s a meticulous account of how the US commits the supreme crime – waging aggressive war – with complete impunity, ignoring the Nuremberg principles and giving the UN the finger.  He suggests international law may be quite disposable for the sole remaining superpower self-licensed to kill.  US voters enthusiastically participating in the current pantomime should be careful about concluding they’re exempt as targets.

The Washington Post has revealed that extra-judicial assassinations are now permanent policy. “Over the past two years the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix’…Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.”

The policy is secret and beyond judicial oversight but “disposition matrix” is unquestionably a gem of Newspeak. There’s no way of telling how many have been killed. US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was assassinated by a drone in Yemen for allegedly propagating Islamic fundamentalist ideas. His 16 year-old son, accused of nothing, was also killed. Robert Gibbs, a top Obama adviser, said “he should have had a more responsible father”.

On the eve of the election Obama told drooling supporters, “In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Today, our businesses have created over 5 million new jobs… As long as there’s a single American who wants a job but can’t find one, our work isn’t done.  As long as there are families who are working harder but falling behind, our work isn’t done. As long as there’s a child languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity, anywhere in this country, our work is not yet done.”

This honest-sounding account of modest improvement is treacherous. Six million households have been thrown into poverty in the past four years and around 100 million Americans – a third of the population – are now considered to be poor or near poor. The number dependent on food stamps has risen by about 16 million in two years to around 48 million; 23 million Americans would like a full-time job but can’t get one. The fortune of the six heirs to the retail giant Walmart outstrips the income of the bottom 30 percent. Still the only policy in Washington is “trickle-down”, the claim that if the rich get richer so will the rest.

Economist Joseph Stiglitz says it’s a fallacy that even the IMF now recognises. He points out that the top one percent of American income earners captured 93 percent of the income growth during the “recovery” of 2009-2010. This is of course the network that promotes emperors, puffs an Obama administration with Wall Street functionaries, and demands astronomical bank bail-outs impossible for ordinary humans to conceive.

There is no offer of anything akin to Roosevelt’s New Deal although there is considerable consensus the present economic crisis will eclipse the Great Depression. Clues on both sides of the Atlantic suggest a solution may be sought in war. Obama told the adoring crowds, “Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down.  Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead.”

Mr bin Laden on the best evidence was dead long before the president’s men got to him. The official story, that the most valuable witness to the crime of the century was simply shot in the head and tossed into the sea, ranks with the tooth fairy and the gnomes at the bottom of the garden. So does the tale of Al Qaeda’s demise.

James F Tracy, associate professor of media studies at Florida Atlantic University notes the mainstream media, after denying the story for over a year, now admits that the US has been actively allied with and supporting its alleged arch-enemy Al Qaeda in Libya and now in Syria.

“What the Obama administration has sought to do with the alleged murder of Bin Laden in May 2011 is to close the chapter on the old, villainous Al Qaeda and open a chapter on the new and friendly Al Qaeda. This narrative is slowly unfolding, while Americans are instructed on a different bogey to fear, which now appears to be “home-grown terrorism”.

War abroad, destabilisation at home, martial law on the back of a repressive apparatus already in place appears to be the preferred and profitable option. The role that Al Qaeda operatives will play in such a scenario is frightening. Even worse says Tracy, Americans simply believe what they’re told.

“A majority of Americans are ill-informed, politically unsophisticated, and in many instances even functionally illiterate. Thus they are unaware of the police state’s accelerated formation since the mid-1990s and unprepared to contest it. A combined regime of poor public education and the stultifying effects of mass media and culture have dumbed the American public down to the extent that its republic has been taken right out from underneath its nose.”

This is sadly, completely credible for the following reason. Mitt Romney argues, “Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel.” Iran does not share a border with Syria and has 1100 miles of its own coastline. Incredibly Romney has continued to trot out this analysis in presidential debates despite being told by reporters in February that this was foolish. It’s a pity for us all that Americans can be dazzled by such talent and let it rule and ruin the planet.

Shamus Cooke, a writer for Workers Action says Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree on key issues, making post-election policy easy to predict. The war on unions will continue; corporations will be allowed to plunder natural resources without environmental restraint; Wall Street will reign supreme with taxpayer bail-outs on tap; there will be savage austerity programmes and the Middle East will be plunged into war. This is the package that’s guaranteed by both candidates to all Americans, even those who don’t vote.

In the UK much the same policies are being implemented. There’s no need to roll-back rights as the establishment is adept at taking care of itself informally. The BBC will provide extensive and sober coverage, presenters doing their best to sound intelligent and excited about dross, and the Electoral College. Experts from the murky world of international think tanks will feature prominently. And no child will cry out, “Look! Look! The Emperor has no clothes!”

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