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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.
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"
aspiring to genteel poverty
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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