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America in Decline

October 9, 2011

Liberty weeps for its past greatness

The theme is widely believed. And with some reason, though a number of qualifications are in order. To start with, the decline has proceeded since the high point of U.S. power after World War II, and the remarkable triumphalism of the post-Gulf War ’90s was mostly self-delusion.

The Clinton administration entered office in 1993 and proceeded to adopt a strategy of “dual containment” within the oil rich Arabian states.

With dual containment, however, the United States had committed itself to containing two different countries — Iran and Iraq — who hated each other, which in turn forced them to keep extensive airpower and troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This fueled the rise of al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden was deeply offended by the presence of “infidel” troops on Saudi territory, and so the foolish strategy of dual containment played no small role in causing the terrorism problem we have seen. It also helped derail several attempts to improve relations between the United States and Iran. Dual containment, in short, was a colossal blunder.

But no strategy is so bad that somebody else can’t make it worse. And that is precisely what George W. Bush did after 9/11. Under the influence of neoconservatives who had opposed dual containment because they thought it didn’t go far enough, Bush adopted a new strategy of “regional transformation.” Instead of preserving a regional balance of power, or containing Iraq and Iran simultaneously, the United States was now going to use its military power to topple regimes across the Middle East and turn those countries into pro-American democracies.

This was social engineering on a scale never seen before.

Not only did “Mission Accomplished” soon become a costly quagmire, but wrecking Iraq — which is what the Americans did — destroyed the balance of power in the Gulf and improved Iran’s geopolitical position. The invasion of Iraq also diverted resources away from the war in Afghanistan, which allowed the Taliban to re-emerge as a formidable fighting force. Thus, Bush’s decision to topple Saddam in 2003 led directly to two losing wars, not just one. And these wars were enormously expensive to boot. Combined with Bush’s tax cuts and other fiscal irresponsibilities, this strategic incompetence caused the federal deficit to balloon to dangerous levels and helped bring about the fiscal impasse that we will, globally, be dealing with for years to come.

“The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.” Montesquieu, (Charles Louis de Secondat)  (1689-1755)

The U.S. economy used to be an engine of economic growth and the American political system used to be a well-oiled checks-and-balances machine that was geared toward progress and that could accommodate both leadership and compromise. Moreover, Americans can be proud that their constitution, at least on paper, is one of the best in the world, having been crafted by enlightened founders who believed in individual and democratic freedom.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) once quipped that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”! Indeed, democracy is a very fragile political system that can sometimes fail the very people it is designed to serve. American president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) defined it as “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Currently the states live in a vuccum of morality: it is related to the widespread corruption that permeates many institutions and sectors of the U.S. society, the most corrupt of them all being the political and corporate systems. It is no accident that the epicenter where these two corrupt systems meet is at the Pentagon, an agency where reports upon reports picture it as a cesspool of corruption.

The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

Today, following all the Bush-era tax cuts, the US is a deeply divided country in social terms. The gap between rich and poor is almost as great as it was in the days of oil barons and steel magnates in the last century. Five percent of Americans buy almost 40 percent of all consumer goods sold in the country.

The country is at war with itself. It has a Congress where there is perpetual conflict between the right and the left — and where they don’t even want to talk to each other when the threat of a national bankruptcy looms.

Like no other country, the US became great because of its openness. Now, it has become distrustful, fearful and defensive — against Muslims, against foreigners, against anyone who is different. Citizen militias hunt down illegal immigrants, and many people can still not accept having a black president in the White House.

Where has that one-of-a-kind America gone? New York Magazine sums it up: “Ten years later, America now looks a bit more like other countries do — our embrace of capitalism has grown more complicated, our class mobility less certain, our immigrants and our diversity less unique.”

Even in foreign policy, the world power is no longer seen as the world’s role model. “Leading from behind” is the maxim of the current president, Barack Obama. He says it out of necessity, because stateside a strange alliance has formed, between those on the fringes of mainstream politics both on the left and on the right.

sources:-
Speigal Online
Globalresearch
Walt; Foreign Policy.

 

 

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