Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I think generally empires simply push the envelope until they get themselves into a war they can't win, and they are overrun. It is possible that a war will put the empire under such strain that there is a revolution (see the Second German Reich and the Russian Empire, which both unravelled during—and because of—WWI). A more fortunate possibility is that when the rot sets in, a new leader will carry out a controlled demolition (see Gorbachev).

For the US, the best one can hope for is a President who becomes a reformist after assuming office (as in the case of Gorby, if it were obvious that they set out to reform the system, they wouldn't be allowed to assume power) and then one can only hope that when internal conflict is unleashed it doesn't spill over.

Otherwise the US is going to have to lose WWIII, or something.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 05:43:28 PM EST
The reckoning will be economic and the account will be reckoned in dollars and oil.

The US will simply be unable to afford to fuel their colossally far-flung outposts.

Those who think the US economy is a house of cards are correct in financial terms.

But the sheer scale of US human resources in terms of ingenuity, knowledge and sheer entrepreneurial spirit are phenomenal. So too, the massive agricultural and other resources currently given over to monoculture and cash crops.

If the US could turn their phenomenal capacity to constructive use, instead of using it to drain the lifeblood of so many regions through conflict and debt, then anything is possible.

And what gives me hope was the fact that within 18 months a 19 year old single-handedly destroyed the (US-dominated) business model of the global music industry.

This process of peer to peer connection and disintermediation is beyond the point of no return, and I believe that a "tipping point" is approaching.

China, Japan, Russia and the rest will soon be holding their dollar bills up to the light and seeing them for what they are: worthless pieces of paper.

Then it will not matter how powerful the US is in military terms: their government will not be able to save their economy - but I believe their people can.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 06:25:37 PM EST
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At least under Communism people knew they were being lied to.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 06:52:25 PM EST
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That's a really depressing thought.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 07:49:30 PM EST
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Are you talking about my sig or about the perfection of our propaganda apparatus?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 02:22:38 AM EST
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aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 02:37:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 04:37:03 PM EST
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"We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us...."

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 06:41:27 AM EST
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Once the base for the empire is gone, even a small war can tip it. The Sardaukars are still milling around and the long shadows of former wars are enough to keep the empire going until they loose.

The base of the US empire is clearly economic and if it is gone, the Irag war might be all that is needed to finish it. Iraq becomes to the US empire what Afghanistan was to the Soviet empire.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 07:43:43 PM EST
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What's interesting about the US position is that it could--with sufficient direction and energy -- turn the country around quite quickly. It would need a couple of things. First, as rdf pointed out in an excellent comment over at ProgressiveHistorians,
much US militarism these days is (implicitly) promoted as Keynesian economic stimulus. If we cut back on useless or destructive military projects we would toss many people out of work. There is no room in the political spectrum to discuss whether this stimulus could be applied to other sectors instead.

This is spot on. My only follow up questioned why is there no room in the political spectrum for advancing alternate stimulus packages? (outside, of course, that we are ruled by troglodytes) I think that's where activists need to start pushing, re-funnel much of the government defense spending into alternate energy solutions (desperately needed), subsidize a nationwide 'solar/wind initiative' for new and older homes, create the next e-vehicle and revamp our transportation infrastructure, make every government building energy self-sustaining by 2050, grow AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps dramatically, pay off our UN dues, etc...  We can quibble about the details, of course, and I know folks like Starvid would argue for nuclear, but just getting the discussion centered on redirecting funds towards broadly speaking C02 free technologies would be a massive improvement. Any of these ideas would contribute funds directly to private and public sectors in the US which would pour money back into the economy.

As for the military? Let the USAF hold a bake sale to pay for their next F-22, as they used to say...:-) The dependence on military spending economics is what's killing us at bottom, if those resources were redirected toward R&D to make self-sustaining CO2 free technologies highly marketable, we could solve global warming, and sell the technology out to the rest of the world at a profit-- the American way, afterall.

But it's a long shot, really. Given where we are. On the poll, I only gave us a %25 chance--and even that is probably a shade too optimistic--though I would love to be proved wrong.

by delicatemonster (delicatemons@delicatemonster.com) on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 10:04:27 PM EST
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This doesn't work because it doesn't square with the US narrative of aggressively potent machismo.

The right especially believes that it's living in a fantasy world where all it has to do is swagger into town with its massive weaponry and the rest of the world acknowledges it not just as heroic winners, but as saviours.

Iraq is just one more example of policy being dictated by a stale collection of old men who really believe this is how it works.

You can't retool the economy without retooling the national psyche. And since the mythology more or less goes back to the first days of the US, that's not an easy thing to do.

Narratives only usually seem to get retooled when people get a nasty reality check that tells them what they used to believe was wrong. And even then, people usually jump in the direction that saves patriotic face rather than dealing with the new reality like adults.

It would take an exceptional leader to change the direction of the narrative. And there would be a significant proportion of the population who would hate him (or her) passionately for trying to make them give up the guns and big toys.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 05:33:11 AM EST
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Iraq is just one more example of policy being dictated by a stale collection of old men who really believe this is how it works

I am not entirely convinced it isn't working. They have regained an access toehold to the resources of Iraq, and better than that in the Kurdish region. Despite their claims to the contrary a balkanization of the country is a likely outcome and perhaps one they wanted all along. The bushistas who started this mess will be crucified but the conditions to access and exploit most of the resources will remain.

by Fete des fous on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 11:34:39 AM EST
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There are two separate issues here. One is whether or not military resource grabs work. And they do - at least up to a point. Especially when the goal is to create instability, which seems to have been what happened in Iraq.

But there's also the narrative, and that's clearly nonsense, as it was in Vietnam and in so many other places.

I'm not sure how cynical the leaders are. Bush keeps making interesting Freudian slips which suggest that he knows it's all a joke and that he's really the sales manager, not the CEO.

But a lot of popular support - such as it is - for the right comes from that macho rescuer here-comes-the-cavalry narrative.

Many Americans will tell you that it was the US that saved Europe from the Nazis - even though it was the Russian campaign that effectively destroyed at least half of the German army, and even though Eastern Europe was sold to the Soviets at Yalta.

And that was partly because the Western faction was too spineless and inept to take more of a stand during the negotiations.

So I don't know if it's a Straussian two-level system of rhetoric for the proles and realpolitik for the pols. Or whether they truly believe their own PR.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 08:08:53 PM EST
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I agree my remarks are not central to your point. Concerning resource grabs in Iraq, I am not sure I can imagine the details but it seems they had little to lose considering Saddam's designs w.r.t. the reserve currency and partnership in the development of the 2nd (1st?) largest oil reserve on the planet, in the midst of Peak Oil. Access to much of the resource could be retained even if the US was forced to eventually withdraw.

The spokespeople can appear to believe in the P.R., yet it seems improbable that much is left to chance or incompetence in the running of the empire.

by Fete des fous on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 02:47:59 AM EST
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