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So you say you want a Revolution?

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 05:47:07 AM EST

What is the basis of world order?

What are the fundamentals of the international system?

Are relations between states controlled primarily by a system of universal morality that exists outside of the power system imposed by the Anglo-America hegemony?

Or is morality relative so that the rules of the game result from the imposition of order by hegemons?

And is the current system of American hegemony such a grave danger to human life, that anarchy is preferable to order?

I stirred up some indignation this morning by declaring America world leader.

American world leadership is reality, like it or not.

The simple fact is that the moral understandings of the Anglo-American world are the basis of the current system of international power....

I guess the point that I'd make is that the existence of international "systems" is due either to  brute power whether military or through constraining economic relationships.  If there is no hegemon, there is no system.

Brought across by afew


Hegemony is a fact of life.

It's a common mistake to take emperical observations to be normative prescriptions.  In other words, simply because I state that America created and controls the system through which states operate is not necessarily an endorsement.

Further, I would argue that in the absence of American world order, the alternative would be anarchy followed the rise of a new hegemon, globally, or regionally. In other words, nature abhors a vaccuum, so that the destruction of the internatiol system built by American power will not lead to utopia.  Instead the destruction of that system will lead to another.  

The current system of American hegemony was in fact transmitted almost in whole from the previous hegemon, Britain.  The breakdown of British hegemony was precipitated by the rise of Germany as a "great power."  British hegemony resulted in no small part from the maintenance of a balance of power on the Continent.  Britain would suffer no equal rival, and was able to impose international order through economic and military power.

That raises the interesting question of whether economic power is a predicate to military power, or the other way around.  That's a whole other diary, and I don't plan to go into detail on that.  Suffice it to say that the basis of hegemony is law making. States know from previous experience what the results of actions will be.

Order creates certainty.

Laws create certainity because they provide a basis by which we can anticipate the actions of others.  Because we are able to calculate risks, order emerges as actors are held to a common understanding of the consequences of their actions. In a state of anarchy what emerges is Knightian uncertainty where actors are unable to use previous experience to calculate risks.

Although the terms are used in various ways among the general public, many specialists in decision theory, statistics and other quantitative fields have defined uncertainty and risk more specifically. Doug Hubbard defines uncertainty and risk as:

  1. Uncertainty: The lack of certainty, A state of having limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe existing state or future outcome, more than one possible outcome.

  2. Measurement of Uncertainty:A set of possible states or outcomes where probabilities are assigned to each possible state or outcome - this also includes the application of a probability density function to continuous variables

  3. Risk:A state of uncertainty where some possible outcomes have an undesired effect or significant loss.

  4. Measurement of Risk:A set of measured uncertainties where some possible outcomes are losses, and the magnitudes of those losses - this also includes loss functions over continuous variables.

  States are paralyzed as they realize that their previous experience provides them no certainity of what they outcome of actions will be.  In the absence of certainity, morality dissappears as states can essentially do whatever they want until consequences reemerge. Historical examples are very easy to come by.

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931), the Italian invasion of Ethiopia(1935), and the German invasion of Czechoslovakia (1939) being foremost among them.

The value of international orders comes from their ability to provide states certainty.  Even hegemons must comply with the basic rules of the game they establish or they imperil the foundations of their power.  This has been the situation with the Bush administration and the "Global War on Terror (GWOT)."  The invocation of the GWOT as carte blanche for reigning down death and destruction ultimately imperils the order is seeks to create.  State's behavior is predicated on the basic belief that actions have consequences, and you can't just change the rules of the game for the hegemon.

After the introduction of the rhetoric of the GWOT, suddenly it became possible for India to justify blatant action against Pakistan, Israel against Lebanon, etcera.  Actions that would previously have brought condemnation (even if no actual punishment would have been dealt) now are masked in the cloak of legitimacy.  Thanks, George, you've managed to undermine the order imposed by American hegemony, thereby calling into question the long aquiscience (if not acceptance) of America as the West (and later world's) policeman.

Anarchy beckons, and the myriad horrors of the interwar period (1918-1939) hang like hungry ghosts in the shadows.  By seperating arguments against American hegemony from the value of the order hegemony provides, it's clear that order is preferable to anarchy.  And the established order is under attack.  In order to avoid chaos, action has to be taken quickly to restore some modicum of legitimacy to the American system.  Otherwise, the world descends into chaos as states act without fear of sanction.

A New World Order?

The Right realizes that the period of unilateral American hegemony is drawing to a close.  The US based Heritage Foundation and Spain's FAES have presented what they would like to see come next.  They propose an economic and military community of the West that is throughly rooted in neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative military policy.

Ideas provide certainty, and the Right has offered up a plausible (yet undesirable) set of principles with which to provide global order.

The question is not whether oncoming collapse of American hegemony will force the creation of a new world order. It's a matter of what form it will take.

I forsee three possibilities for the future.

1. Complete anarchy. Everything falls apart. The dollar collapses, the American military withdrawls from the world, and no nation is able to impose order. States do as they please, and interstate war remerges as method of foreign policy between industrialized states.

2. Mulipolarity. The absence of a hegemon means that no international order exists, rather regional powers create zones of stabiliy in which their satellite states operate. China competes for dominance against Japan and India in Asia, and expands its influence in Africa. The EU maintains peace and order on the Continent, but is unable to project power. The United States withdraws into isolationism.

3. A "Community of the West." In contrast to the first two scenarios which involve the destruction of the global economy, the creation of a "Community of the West" passes the role of hegemon from the United States to a community of the US and Europe as equal partners. Europe fills military and economic gaps created by the collapse of American hegemony. Rather than being a straigh forward passing on of American hegemony, the new community creates new rules. The creation of rules of the game is politically contested within national electorates and internationally.

I would argue that the third option is the most desirable, and I would make the point that unless the Left offers up ideas about how to create certainty via a new world order, the Right will win by default. And I would argue that the battle to create those rules of the game that govern the conduct of states is the foremost battle facing the Left at the dawn of the 21st century.

Simply saying that you want a revolution, and destroying American hegemony and the order it provides without creating a replacement invites death and destruction. Well brother, you can count me out. We all want to change the world, but not like that.

Display:
This is incomplete.

I'm still working on it, but I'm on a computer at the library, and it looks like it's going to crash.  I'll be finishing in in the next hour our two, but didn't want to lose what I've already written.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 02:32:33 PM EST
Ok, I'm finished.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 03:15:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh my. Long response to this tomorrow. Among others, I suspect ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 03:42:59 PM EST
Quick first reaction is that there is a deal of difference between supremacy and leadership.

People follow leaders: I don't see anyone following the US now, but neither do I see an alternative nation state worthy of being a leader.

I think we are seeing the end of National hegemony. I suspect the US will be the last. The ability to project power led the British to its Empire, and more importantly, to "Sterling hegemony".

Likewise we are seeing the end of the Dollar hegemony that is a consequence of US ability to project power.

I think we will see the end of the nation state other than as a statement of cultural Identity.

This is a consequence of the tectonic changes being wrought by the pervasive spread of the Internet and the connectivity to which it gives rise.

It follows that I don't see any of the outcomes you propose.

I see a "Global Community" consisting of an infinite network of networks: a partnership of partnerships, and cooperative of cooperatives, wherein individual citizens "self organise" within agreed frameworks.

Consensual: cooperative; mutual; without "profit" and "loss" but with mutual creation and exchange of value, in all its forms rather than the "anti-value" financial systems created out of thin air by deficit-based.

A "chaordic" emergent order rather than an order imposed by military force.

A Hegemony of the Commons, in fact.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 04:02:40 PM EST
Exactly right, and in the next couple years too.

Joking aside, nicely stated. There are going to be a lot of people resistant to these long term transitions, and a lot of challenges that will lead some to go to or beyond brinkpersonship, but eventually things will settle out this way.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch how the States reacts to being a bankrupt country. Will they get rid of 300 or 500 or 750 of their military bases around the world?

It is no longer the same world that would get a cold when they sneezed.

There has been a 55 cent negative swing in the dollars value in the last 5 years. It seems to be actually getting to the point where their exports will actually benefit from this decline in value.

There has been a greater negative swing in the american morality as well in the last 5 years, and 55 years as well...it was an era when the world could have benefited from real leadership, but we got more of the same with amplified conniving, and modern greed, and high tech marketing to ease the insertion, down the throats of the masses.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 01:41:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the US is the World Leader, then how come no one is following? - (I just had to get that line in).
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 07:03:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clever, but utterly inaccurate.

How is it that at the same time that the United States is the world's bully, yet it know one is following at the same time?

So is the United States all powerful, or is utterly incapable of making even the weakest state do a damn thing? The cognitive dissonance involved in making the US Government responsible for all the evil in the world, yet at the same time declaring US foreign policy impotent and incapable of eliciting compliance from any state is dumbfounding.

Has the Bush administration fucked up, big time?

Yes, in no small part because they want to impose rules on other, yet not follow them themselves.

Is the US responsible for maintaining much of the current international infrastructure?

Of course, it is called the Washington Consensus after all.

And once you start dismantling the multilateral economic institutions that the United States supports and call into question the US committment to neo-liberal economics, you've exacted such a large portion of the world's export market (note I say export market, not economy) that the whole thing is damaged.  

And if the dollar is no longer the medium through which international commerce is conducted, is there another currency that can fill that role?  Is the Euro really up to being the currency of choice in international transactions?  If not the Euro, then what?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 the whole thing is damaged

Just about sums it up.

The dollar is finished, and as you say, what is the alternative?

Nothing deficit-based is my answer to that. We have to go back to first principles. A new Bretton Woods, rebuilding the system from the ground up.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 05:12:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 Is the Euro really up to being the currency of choice in international transactions?

The unambiguous answer to that is, quite simply, yes.

The euro still has a smaller chunk of international trade transactions and reserve holdings than the dollar, but its financial markets are actually now bigger and deeper than the dollar's.

The euro equity markets are larger than the dollar's by total market capitalisation; the euro bond market is larger than the dollar one (measured by new emissions) and new markets like carbon trading are done in euros.

All the dollar has going for it right now is inertia. It's a huge factor, usually overwhelming (see how the pound sterling is still the reference currency for a number of commodities to this day) but the fact is - there is a credible alternative to the dollar, so, if there is a serious dollar crisis, the switch might be quite brutal, because everybody will know where to go (the inertia is driven before anything by the need for common conventions and rules that are known to all and are reliable). The euro is a reliable currency, backed by a serious central bank, a sound economy (with surpluses, to boot), and it's the only choice available if you want to avoide the dollar.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming the Euro becomes the world's reserve currency, won't the eurozone inherit a major structural cause of the US's foreign debt?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:57:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Providing reserves for others simply makes it easier for you to get into debt because (i) it's in your own currency (so the exchange rate risk is transferred to lenders) and (ii) you can always inflate your way out by 'printing' money, thus transforming default risk into exchange risk for the lenders, a risk they already bear.

So it makes it easy to get into foreign debt, but it does not cause it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:40:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can a large demand for your debt not cause inflationary pressures for you? In other words, is "inflating your way out" a choice, or ultimately a necessity?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:07:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's often overlooked that currency isn't backed by oil or by any particular commodity as - ultimately - by the possibility of the use of military force.

Bush's escapade in Iraq and Afghanistan has destroyed that particular aspect of dollar hegemony. The dollar is edging down now because it's obvious to everyone that the gamble has failed, Iraq has been lost, Iran cannot possibly be invaded successfully, and there is nowhere else to go.

The Euro's soft power can't compete directly with US militarism. So I wouldn't expect a massive overnight shift to the Euro. The economic fundamentals may be strong but not only are they not perceived as being strong - thanks to the relentless propaganda from the FT and the Econo - but the Euro zone is perceived as being militarily vulnerable to both Russia and China.

So what I think is more likely to happen is that the drift will continue without major shifts. A subprime meltdown could change that, or a coup or major terrorist attack on the US. But otherwise the Euro will continue to climb and the dollar will continue to fall at least while Bush is in office.

I'd guess $2.50 to the £ by the end of 2008 at the very least, and possibly even $3, with the Euro edging ahead of the pound even further.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 10:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course currencies can be imposed by force: I think it was one of the Chinese emperors who enforced acceptance of the first paper currency on pain of death.

And, yes Sterling, and subsequently, the Dollar have been global reserve currencies ultimately backed by the ability to project power globally.

But money/currency may always involve - irrespective of any "official" currency -  a consensual two way process.

If both parties agree - then it's money - whether "IT" is cowrie shells, salt, gold, whatever.

In my opinion energy units are the most obviously fungible value units across borders, and land/property rental units the most obvious value units domestically.

For a monetary system all that is then required is a generic accounting system/transaction engine and a suitable guarantee mechanism for bilateral credit.

In essence, the result is the International Clearing Union proposed by Keynes at Bretton Woods.

If people are prepared to accept energy units as currency, then what the government does is a matter of indifference.


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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 10:53:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If people are prepared to accept energy units as currency, then what the government does is a matter of indifference.

Except that you will still have to pay your taxes in the governments currency. And that is backed by violence and jails. And money from the government will be in the governments currency. That gives the governments currency an advantage over any alternative currency. And then there is of course inertia.

I just realised that I dreamt last night that Sweden had changed to euros and old swedish bills were useless. Pretty, but useless. Dreams are odd things.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 16th, 2007 at 08:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so, if there is a serious dollar crisis, the switch might be quite brutal, because everybody will know where to go (the inertia is driven before anything by the need for common conventions and rules that are known to all and are reliable)

That's the point though, unless there are proactive measures, the collapse of the dollar is likely to be as you said brutal.  And because it has the power of inertia, any event that precipitates such a crisis of confidence to cause an exodus from the dollar will likely be dramatic, and rapid.  

And a rapid collapse of the dollar will create vaccuums that tax the ability of the euro to come in and provide stability.  So even if the euro is a viable alternative to the dollar in the long term, can it handle the shock of a crisis?  

And what happens when the US export market drys up, and suddenly all those products previously sent to the US have no place to go?  Can the Chinese economy survive that shock, or does it experience a rapid contraction?  And if China gets the flu, how many other states get pneumonia as a result?

I think that a transition is going to have to happen, it's a matter of how rapidly it occurs, and at what cost.  I think that even the Right realizes this, and they're preparing for that eventuality.  The Left has not.  And unfortunately, bad ideas that provide order trump no ideas at all.  

And that's a huge point that I'm trying to make.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:41:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fully agree with that (both the fact that the transition is likely to be brutal precisely because it's a matter of coordination, and crowd perceitions, and that the right is in a strange way better prepared for it, despite refusing to entertain the notion), and you are indeed making a fundamental point.

We've quoted several times the BNP (British National Party) about peak oil and how thye are waiting for it as the trigger to move their ideas to a higher level of popularity.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:08:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The left has its head up its arse. The US democratic party is a good example, but the European Social Democrats are not far behind.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:15:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The best thing that could happen to the citizens of the US is for us to not be he policeman of the world etc.  I would love the US left to get into power to such an extent that we brouth our own house in order, quit supporting dictatorships and worked for rational policies to reduce poverty and to try to encourage mankind to begin the trek toward some sunny period of human existence.

The reality is that the corporate masters who are firmly in control in this country and have great influence in all the industrial countries, and thus in the developing world also, are going to be loath to let this country drop its useful hegemony.  So, quite against our own interests, I expect to see continued militarism from the US-less so I hope under an Edwards administration, and a continued push to crush unions and further impoverish what used to be the middle class.  Accompanying this will be a twin propoganda stream of how mortal our peril is, and how good we've got it here and that is why the rest of the world hates us.

That is what I see us up against.  The strongest counter to that is an alliance of the progressive movement-or maybe I should say an attempt by us (US progressives) to foster a strong enough movement to be worth allying with.  Possible, but no certainty.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 04:17:55 PM EST
Mulipolarity. The absence of a hegemon means that no international order exists, rather regional powers create zones of stabiliy in which their satellite states operate. China competes for dominance against Japan and India in Asia, and expands its influence in Africa. The EU maintains peace and order on the Continent, but is unable to project power. The United States withdraws into isolationism.

I strongly believe we are in an emerging multipolar reality since a few years. But it won't be like the one you describe. Rather it's going to be like pre-1914, except this time Britain, France, Austro-Hungary and Germany will only make up one of the great powers. 40 % of the global population is not white anymore.

The great powers will compete against each other, hopefully not militarily, and scramble for influence and resources. The 19th century tells us that the way to keep the peace in a multipolar world is to have no fixed alliances, but rather be "treacherous", constantly switching sides to maintain the international balance of power.

But the 20th century tells us that a fixed two-block alliance can remain stable if both sides have a wealth of nuclear weapons.

No one has any idea about what will happen in a multipolar multinuke world.

Multipolarism tells us we should avoid fixed alliances, nukes that we should seek them out. What a pickle.

1648-1945: Multipolar world
1945-1991: Bipolar world
1991-2001(2003?): Monopolar world
2001-?: Multipolar world  

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 05:00:33 PM EST
And I of course meant "No more is 40 % of the global population white."

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 05:43:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is possible for some (mostly) democratic societies to run by the rule of law most of the time. The problem is that there is no law at the international level. Yes there are treaties and various high-sounding documents, but law implies an enforcement mechanism.

As the experience with the UN shows the narrow interests of various states makes it impossible for even the most basic attempts for enforcement of legal standards to be put in place. The benefit to China, for example, in supporting Sudan and blocking action on Darfur, or of Russia doing something similar with Kosovo is slight, yet they won't sacrifice even this small amount of self interest.

At the international level it is still the law of the jungle - might makes right. What you are asking is if there will emerge countervailing power to that of the US. The answer is yes - no empire lasts forever. In fact the US has been a military failure since the end of WWII. It has only succeeded in the area of international trade during this period because of the weakness of all the other competitors. Europe and Japan were recovering from the war and China and India were still third world countries.

As a matter of fact much of the action in the international area is now being undertaken by non-US firms. Alcoa was just outbid for Alcan. Mittal steel has plants in the US. The list goes on.

It's like the Roadrunner cartoon where Wiley Coyote has run off the edge of the cliff and is still going straight ahead since he hasn't looked down yet. The US is living in the same sort of dream.

So there will be a realignment. The question is can it happen peacefully? With the pressures of overpopulation and the impending resource shortages I'm doubtful.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 05:17:08 PM EST
is that the US, as hegemon, imposed rules that, to a larger extent than previous hegemons, it stuck to for itself. That gave more credibility to its claim of pushing the rule of law, because others saw that it allowed itself to be bound, to some real extent, by these rules, like others.

What's been so disquieting in the past 6 years is the extent to which the Bush administration has dumped the past 60 years af slow progress on that front to go back to "rules don't apply to me because I can get away with it". This is not new in itself (it's been the rule in the past), but it was new for the US, and it destroyed the hope for the slow spread of the rule of law in the international sphere.

To me, this will be the longest lasting damage done by the Bush administration.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:45:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree to the extent that this reversal came as a result of 9/11 which was used as a reason to return to the rules of the early Cold War.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:06:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Early Cold War was the period of creation and enforcement of the rules, wasn't it? Back then, it was the USSR that most often used its veto power.

For years now, I've been having a feeling we're reliving the 1930's.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:15:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"reliving the 1930's" - -  I hope not since that was the lead up to WW II and the onset of fascism. While I have read about analogies of the rise of radical Islam to the rise of Fascism there are fortunately too many differences between the two.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, well, I'm talking about the Reichstag fire and powerful countries with powerful militaries being run by batshit insane people and launching wars of aggression.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Military battles are a function of one trying to impose a political belief over another. As economic forces exceed political forces it will trump the need for military battles. Unfortunately that's not tomorrow or next year, but is an ultimate outcome of long term global economic development.

I have believed for years that over time wars will shift from battle fields to board rooms.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When that happens, corporations will procure private armies.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:42:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I really don't think that will happen. Wealth always trumps bullets. The U.S. government today is a shell of what it once was a a ruling force even within the U.S. The are driven and directed by special interest groups (corporations, trade associations) to create policy or not to create policy.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:00:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't mean the "security" sector in the US is contracting. More private security, more private prisons, more police, more homeland security, more military spending...

Because the proles still need to be kept down by force.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:13:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right. Because of the threat posed by radical Muslims the internal security structure of the U.S. has increased to some degree. More importantly it is better organized than it was prior to 9/11.

The U.S. is also already outsourcing security in Iraq because of limited forces.

Private prisons is interesting because now you have a profit motive to better manage the system. But who pays them?

Regarding the military spending, the only reason has been the wars engaged in since 9/11. Whomever is the next U.S. President will bring a new direction in the management of the military. Rumsfeld/Cheney did not have a realistic direction - even before 9/11.

During the 1960's no one ever thought the Cold War would ever end. I am sure this clash with radical Muslims will end at some point (they lose of course) but just not sure how (if I did I would run for President).

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:05:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You really think the clash with radical Islam is the defining struggle of our time, don't you?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:05:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is one of them most defintely. It is a clash that has been percolating for decades that the world ignored. They are smart and wealthy. But more importantly they are highly motivated and focused on a single goal of theocracy. We spoke about the 1930's. The similarity to that time is that many in the world ignored the onset of fascism much the same way ignored the onset of the propagation of radical Islam.

What should be the defining struggle post-Cold War should be a new economic world order.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gazprom authorised to have its own army

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and ethiopia in the 30s, without mention of the prior centuries of imperialism by european countries + america. the whole question of the need for a global leader is predicated on the history of colonialism and its legitimating rhetoric of "civilizing" the backward and heathen peoples of the world.

personally, as a historian of a non-european country, i find any discussion of geopolitical power networks as "moral" quite jarring.

by wu ming on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 05:36:58 PM EST
I was pointing to more recent examples.

As for the use of the word "moral", remember that I'm just using the vocabulary that already exists.  It's not a normative conclusion, but rather an empirical observation about the way things are.  

Blatant warmongering with the intention of conquering and annexing territory is almost non-existent in the post war world.  States no longer start wars to conquer territory and annex it to the mother country.

Now the creation of puppet states and economic imperialism, that's another matter. But it is a distinction.

I'd go into further detail, but I'm incredibly sleepy.  

The question I'd ask everyone is how precisely they propose to prevent the remergence of naked warfare as existed in the interwar period in the absence of an international system with the power to sanction states for ba behavior.

My point is to start conversation, and make people question what the basis of their beliefs is.  I find it aggravating when people merely say "it isn't that way" without being able to explain how it is if not like that.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 05:50:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blatant warmongering with the intention of conquering and annexing territory is almost non-existent in the post war world.  States no longer start wars to conquer territory and annex it to the mother country.

tell it to the palestinians...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 06:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note I said almost, the other major exceptions I can think of would be Western Sahara, and East Timor.  Nontheless, these are all highly irregular situation.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 06:43:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
do states really no longer war to conquer territory and annex it?

The Pentagon:  Earth's premier landlord?

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on a proposal, championed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq in exchange for bipartisan Congressional support for the long-term (read: more or less permanent) garrisoning of that country. The troops are to be tucked away on "large bases far from Iraq's major cities." This plan sounded suspiciously similar to one revealed by Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt in the New York Times on April 19, 2003, just as U.S. troops were preparing to enter Baghdad. Headlined "Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq," it laid out a U.S. plan for:

 

  a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to.... perhaps four bases in Iraq that could be used in the future: one at the international airport just outside Baghdad; another at Tallil, near Nasiriya in the south; the third at an isolated airstrip called H-1 in the western desert, along the old oil pipeline that runs to Jordan; and the last at the Bashur air field in the Kurdish north.

     Shortly thereafter, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, denied any such plans: "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting..." - and, while the bases were being built, the story largely disappeared from the mainstream media.

     Even with the multi-square mile, multi-billion dollar, state-of-the-art Balad Air Base and Camp Victory thrown in, however, the bases in Gates' new plan will be but a drop in the bucket for an organization that may well be the world's largest landlord. For many years, the U.S. military has been gobbling up large swaths of the planet and huge amounts of just about everything on (or in) it. So, with the latest Pentagon Iraq plans in mind, take a quick spin with me around this Pentagon planet of ours.
[...]
In 2003, Forbes magazine revealed that media mogul Ted Turner was America's top land baron - with a total of 1.8 million acres across the U.S. The nation's ten largest landowners, Forbes reported, "own 10.6 million acres, or one out of every 217 acres in the country." Impressive as this total was, the Pentagon puts Turner and the entire pack of mega-landlords to shame with over 29 million acres in U.S. landholdings. Abroad, the Pentagon's "footprint" is also that of a giant. For example, the Department of Defense controls 20% of the Japanese island of Okinawa and, according to Stars and Stripes, "owns about 25 percent of Guam." Mere land ownership, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

     In his 2004 book, The Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson opened the world's eyes to the size of the Pentagon's global footprint, noting that the Department of Defense (DoD) was deploying nearly 255,000 military personnel at 725 bases in 38 countries. Since then, the total number of overseas bases has increased to at least 766 and, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, may actually be as high as 850. Still, even these numbers don't begin to capture the global sprawl of the organization that unabashedly refers to itself as "one of the world's largest `landlords.'"

     The DoD's "real property portfolio," according to 2006 figures, consists of a total of 3,731 sites. Over 20% of these sites are located on more than 711,000 acres outside of the U.S. and its territories. Yet even these numbers turn out to be a drastic undercount. For example, while a 2005 Pentagon report listed U.S. military sites from Antigua and Hong Kong to Kenya and Peru, some countries with significant numbers of U.S. bases go entirely unmentioned - Afghanistan and Iraq, for example.

Read the whole thing, it's worth it....

Annexing a territory doesn't mean planting the flag and then some wheat on it, like it used to.  Now it may mean creating a non-state, destroying agriculture, civilian infrastructure and the social fabric to ensure there is no resistance to the removal of resources like oil or rare earths.  Or it may mean wanting to garrison troops on that spot on the map for strategic reasons.

I contend -- prima facie anyway -- that conquering and annexing is still going on, and that it is at least as bloody as "anarchy" and often deliberately creates "anarchy" (actually warlordism) so as to weaken resistance.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 08:17:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, annexing happens all the time. And since WWII, most of it has been US sponsored. The Soviets liked to rumble their tanks around the former Soviet Bloc just to prove they could, but their ambitions elsewhere were limited to a few more or less loosely affiliated client states.

Compare that to the US which

  1. Still believes it owns Europe
  2. Runs operations throught around half of South America, some of which have included blatant military invasions, while have others have been based on funding and supporting local war lords
  3. Has some very sticky crime-ridden fingers in the Marianas, Guam, areas of Japan and the Far East
  4. Has a useful client state in the middle-east in the form of Israel
  5. Has recently invaded Afghanistan and Iraq

The US is the new British Empire. The sun never sets on it, it believes it has a duty to civilise the natives, and it wouldn't exist without a reliable flow of cash and resources towards Wall St - most of which isn't shared with the rest of the population.

So I disagree that there's anything stable or anointed about this. Just the opposite - the US has been one of the biggest causes of post-War instability, first by dumping Bretton Woods, secondly by running an endless series of mini- and micro-wars, and finally by ineptly trying to run local warlords (i.e. mercenaries) for its own ends.

Don't forget the roots of militant Islamism are in the billions that Carter and Brezinski spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 07:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes I wonder which is the tail, and which is the dog....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 09:12:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Don't forget the roots of militant Islamism are in the billions that Carter and Brezinski spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Hate to slightly disagree here. The roots of militant Islam began in the 1930's. Since then there have been a progression and various stages that have generated increased support for it. There was the period of Middle East imperialism for oil by the West, Nassar's desire for a secular Arab region, and pretty much the policies and exploits of every American President from the 1930's till now.

I would also strongly disagree about the fact that the U.S. has any sort of an empire. Please illuminate.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blatant warmongering with the intention of conquering and annexing territory is almost non-existent in the post war world.  

2003--US invades Iraq, starts building permanent military bases

200?--US invades ? [place your bets]

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 10:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and resources than planting flags on territory. in the early stages, it was led by corporations, in a manner not dissimilar from today. far more continuity than generally understood, in my view.
by wu ming on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 03:30:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simply saying that you want a revolution, and destroying American hegemony and the order it provides without creating a replacement invites death and destruction. Well brother, you can count me out. We all want to change the world, but not like that.

The US is STILL using depleted uranium in the Middle East.  

Death and destruction is the salient feature of the 21st century.  It is happening, and will keep happening.  

The US is currently the leader in this.  

Don't expect to be comfortable long.  Blowback is real.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 10:26:36 PM EST
The breakdown of British hegemony was precipitated by the rise of Germany as a "great power."  

No.  

The breakdown of British hegemony was precipitated by losing a war of choice in Afghanistan.  By several measures, economic and military, that was the turning point.  

The rise of Germany as a true opponent became possible.  

But even that did not decide the matter.  From the point of view of the balance of power, the British reaction to the rise of Germany, while intense, can hardly be considered practical to maintaining the balance.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 10:38:15 PM EST
Germany's rise had nothing to do with the British Empire. It had been on a constant growth curve since Friedrich of Prussia, by the mid-19th century it was a global cultural and scientific power, it beat France in the war of 1870, and even the disaster of WWI didn't prevent the German-speaking world from continuing its dominance in science and technology.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 06:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simply saying that you want a revolution, and destroying American hegemony and the order it provides without creating a replacement invites death and destruction. Well brother, you can count me out. We all want to change the world, but not like that

Heed the words of Lady Macbeth:  What's done, cannot be undone.  

As you recount in an earlier paragraph, the US had a position of hegemony at the end of the 20th century--for good or ill (and there was some of both).  

But as you also recount, in the 21st century, within four years, by its own actions, the US had destroyed that.  Gone.  No longer an option on the table.  True, the US is fighting and clinging, but that is not the same as SUCCEEDING at fighting and clinging.  The US is not succeeding.  What comes next is not decided, but control by the US is gone.  

It matters not how you count yourself.  In or out is equal.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 10:52:03 PM EST
How is your argument different from the argument that a benevolent dictatorship is the optimal form of government and therefore democracy is dangerous foolishness? Or the authoritarian argument that the country needs a strong leader who isn't afraid to bash heads and trample freedoms to keep order?

The Taliban and IRA provided order in the areas they controlled as well.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:14:06 AM EST
So then if the United States and allies withdraw from Iraq, and the bloodshed continues, are Iraqis better off than if Saddam Hussein had been left in power?

Order is essentially amoral, what's key though is that in an international system ruled by law.  Which means that even rulers are held to the same rules as those they rule. So if a leader wants to ensure that everyone follows the rules, they have to also.

The alternative is the absence of an international system, which seems to be something that you're arguing is a good thing.  However the absence of an international system means that states can do whatever the hell they please without any expectation of consequences.

So when Turkey and Greece go to war against one another, no one else has the power to stop that (or the right even to say that war between those two states is unjustified.)

Let alone a case like Darfur, where the atrocity is inarguably a domestic matter.  Therefore what right do other nations have to say that what the Sudanese government is involved is wrong or do anything to stop them from doing it.  Or what right did NATO have to intervene in Bosnia, or Kosovo if no international system exists?  

Suddenly, actions by Europe or the United States to prevent genocide are no longer humanitarian actions based upon making states comply with international morality, become acts of agression perpetrated by the strong on the weak.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:13:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So then if the United States and allies withdraw from Iraq, and the bloodshed continues, are Iraqis better off than if Saddam Hussein had been left in power?

No. Nor are they better off if the US stays and bloodshed continues: that bridge has already been burned.

The last thing that the hegemony you're talking about is is "an international system ruled by law". It's ruled by decree of the US President subject to whatever Congress will allow him away with and the red lines of the other nuclear powers. That is not a rule of law.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:19:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The alternative is the absence of an international system, which seems to be something that you're arguing is a good thing

So the argument that democracy, despite its flaws, is better than dictatorship is the same as arguing that there should be no government?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Essentially MfM is making a Hobbesian argument.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:25:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

You are conflating international and national systems of governance.

Democracy as a mechanical system, that is that formal institution, only functions when it has a basis in existing social insitutions.  So in order for democracy to exist, first you must have supporting social institutions.  Call this the civil society argument.

International civil society doesn't exist.

Even in places where you do have something that comes close to that, like in the European Union, there's tremendous resistance to allowing international democratic institutions to make rules.

Remember, we aren't talking about domestic politics, we're talking about relations between states.  Are you seriously arguing that what's needed is a world parliament with elected representatives that determine the rules of the game?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:40:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you're quite right that the EU doesn't have a sizeable "public sphere" and is very unlikely to get one. It's essentially an elite exercise at this point.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:42:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet somehow the international community as a whole is a democracy?

Never has been, and not likely to be in the near future, if ever.

Different rules apply.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:53:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the US a democracy? The EU? Iran? It's not either-or. No-one is suggesting that the international community is a democracy. Just that it need not be under the domination of bullying authoritarian missionaries who have keeping everyone else down among their explicit aims.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just that it need not be under the domination of bullying authoritarian missionaries who have keeping everyone else down among their explicit aims.

Yes, and European nations have never, ever been guilty of this.  Be careful what you wish for.  

A world in which someone isn't enforcing the rules will almost certainly be a world in which rules do not exist.

 And that is a world in which might makes right means that instead of having one country randomly bombing others, you will have dozens.  Countries like India and Pakistan are constrained in their actions because of the belief that if they go all out and unleash bombers on each others cities, they will not only be retaliated against by the other party, but will be sanctioned by the international community. End the international system, and states believe that they won't face consequences for their actions, they are more likely to  take actions that are now taboo.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:46:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A world in which someone isn't enforcing the rules will almost certainly be a world in which rules do not exist.

We don't need no stinking World Policeman. The rules are enforced collectively, through the UN. There's no need for the US to act unilaterally through NATO and outside the UNSC. The US is breaking the rules, refusing to join the rest of the world in agreeing to new rules, and undermining the new rules by entering into bilateral agreements. This is happening not only in the area of security but also of economics: if the US cannot get its way in the WTO, it prefers to revert to bilateral agreements.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:53:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

It's essentially an elite exercise at this point.

It's called representative democracy. It's pretty much inevitable in multi hundred million people entities.

You're not excluded from that elite, are you? What gave you access?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:47:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The access is open but the European Public Sphere is an elite concern. Elite as in an interest of an exceedingly small fraction of the public.

Oh, and my participation in this very small Public Sphere is through ET, so you gave me the access ;-)

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:02:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i.e., those that care can join in. Sounds democratic enough to me.

Or do you mean those that know enough to care? In which case you presumably are accusing the elites of keeping things complex so that the plebe cannot understand it nor care? And implying further that the eucation system perpetuates the distinction?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:27:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I mean those who care enough.

If you want to assume that the lack of a European public sphere boils down to people not knowing the facts, I guess we're going to need to have another debate on facts vs. narratives.

Take Escolar.net. It has a traffic 5 to 10 times larger than ET for a target population of maybe 1/5 to 1/10 the size, so we're talking 25 to 100 times more penetration. So maybe the people who actually care enough are 1% to 4% of the population. Is that just a matter of education and information? Does that not make it an "elite" concern?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:34:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You cannot blame ET's lack of an audience to their lack of interest. They don't know of our existence yet, because we're not on their radar screen yet.

And comparing us to what I understand is one of the most popular Spanish blogs is silly.

We have not yet benefitted from the aggragator winner-takes-all magic.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:12:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So which is the most popular progressive blog in the European Public Sphere? What's its traffic?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
International civil society doesn't exist.

No? What is a civil society?

 Are you seriously arguing that what's needed is a world parliament with elected representatives that determine the rules of the game?

I'm perfectly content with (say) an international organisation with representatives of each government that can determine the rules of the game through treaties and enforcement mechanisms. I can't imagine what you'd call it though. Of course, it would require that the "powers" realise that their long-term interests are best served through co-operation and negotiation rather than power games and that ethical behaviour is not equivalent to emasculation.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 10:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Civil Society.

I like the LSE (London School of Economics) definition.

Civil society refers to the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, family and market, though in practice, the boundaries between state, civil society, family and market are often complex, blurred and negotiated. Civil society commonly embraces a diversity of spaces, actors and institutional forms, varying in their degree of formality, autonomy and power. Civil societies are often populated by organisations such as registered charities, development non-governmental organisations, community groups, women's organisations, faith-based organisations, professional associations, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy groups.

I have to take off soon, but my point is that in the absence of an international system, soon the whole edifice of globalization comes crashing down.  And so does the world economy that's been built around it.  The current system of globalization is seriously wanting, but I would still argue that it's better than what we'd have in the absence of a system. Thus, reform rather than revolution seems preferable.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:10:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the US becomes a pariah nation or excludes itself, does that collapse the international system?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

If a policeman starts molesting children does that make him less able enforce the law?

That's the problem with the Bush administration.  They simultaneously want strong rules, and not to be bound by them.  It's the cognitive dissonance between neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism.

The question I suppose is what replaces that US led system if the US is unable to reform itself through the 2008 election.  And to be totally honest, I doubt that 2008 will be about Iraq or even foreign policy. It's going to be about the neo-liberal onslaught on the American economy and the growth of inequality.

So if the US led system collapses, who will be able to provide the order to sustain the current system that's allowed national economies to integrate into a global economy?  And if no one can, does this mean that global trade collapses?  And in that case, what are the consequences.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:23:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The institutions exist. I don't think the US removing itself will kill them. The problem is the US actively undermining the institutions, which it has been doing from within and might do from without.

That is the real risk, that the US may put itself explicitly at odds with everyone else instead of pretending to operate within the institutions. WWIII would follow on short order.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:30:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One definition of institiutions is that they constrain actor's behavior.  So international institutions constrain the behavior of states.

Now I'm not saying that there's isn't some latent power to institutions even if coercion doesn't exist, but I'd argue that the first time that a state shows that they can break the rules and get away with it it opens the floodgates.

Institutions provide equilibrium.  

When states show that the rules no longer are enforced, soon the rules disappear.

I think that a return to a balance of power system is more likely than outright war.  So a cancer on the system instead of the mercy of a heart attack to kill it quickly.

I've got to take off now.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:36:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if the US is set on undermining the UN like it undermined the League of Nations, it will have two world wars to blame itself for.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:38:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hate to quibble, but I think you can look right there in Europe for all the reasons that you need for the 2nd World War.  England, France, Italy, Germany, and Russia played the major roles in this coming about, with able assists from Poland, Austria, Spain and the "neutral powers".  Not having the US in the League didn't help prevent the war any, and god knows the US industrialists were happy to sell war-making technology to whomever, but I think you can claim all the responsibility needed for 38-45 right there on the European Penninsula.  The primary responsibility being German, French, and British.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 03:54:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WWII was created by a complex mesh of reasons. The UK and France certainly played a big part. But if the US hadn't been playing the isolation game the League of Nations could have become a much stronger force and been much better able to deal with the Spanish War and the rise of Hitler.

And don't forget also that Hitler was given significant funding by industrialists from the US and from Germany, who were - quite simple - war mongers who were counting on making a profit from war.

But instead the US has chosen to act as a rogue state - not just by undermining the UN in practice, but by attempting to sabotage the idea of international law in theory. The US could have taken the lead in this, but because it preferred short-term hegemony to long term stability and prosperity, it has made it harder for the idea, never mind the reality, of international law to take root.

Bush has been the worst exponent of this, but he's part of a long tradition of lawless violent action in the US which stretches back at least as far as the first native massacres.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 08:10:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US also undermined the League's attempts to prevent Italy's misadventures in Ethiopia by refusing to honour economic sanctions.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 02:25:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm certainly not trying to get into a pissing match, but the idea that the US is to blame for WWII and that the nations of Europe were being used as pawns or something is not something that I find much support for in my understanding of that era, and I've tried to read other sources other than just US sources.  For Thatbritguy, notice that I pointed out the US industrialists contribution to the war, but there were plenty of people in the UK that were pro-german right up to the dismemberment of Poland.  For a real good look at that go to Churchill's The Gathering Storm.

As far as the US devestation of the Natives, well I believe it began as far back as the time we were a colony, so we sort of inherited it.  Further the huge percentage of the US population had nothing to do with it, a high percentage of us came here from Europe or elsewhere after that had happened.

Look, I am not trying to say that we are blameless, or should be the beacon on the hill or any of that crap.  I'm mainly just saying that Europeans are primarily responsible for WWII, not solely, but primarily.  Hardly a country there wasn't either recklessly careless or complicit.  And a terrible price was paid.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Sun Jul 15th, 2007 at 10:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Placing the burden of who's at fault aside, do we really want to live in a world where general war (i.e. world war) happens rather than go to the trouble of working to fix the current system?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The current system would work fine if only the US dropped American exceptionalism and deigned to play by the rules that it contributed to put in place.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally, a voice of reason in this diary.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, come on, the UNSC is designed to prevent war among the "world powers". If the US stopped acting unilaterally without UNSC authorisation there would be no real risk of a general war.

But pigs will fly before the US will let France, Russia or China tell it it cannot do something.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm really not arguing for American exeptionalism, I would have though that had been clear from what I've said.  

I'm saying that there have to be rules, and that moreso than anything else, American falure to acknowledge that they are subject to rules makes it impossible for rules to exist in the long term.  Which means that the current system needs to be reformed, not that there is no need for a system of rules that constrain state power to exist.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American [failure] to acknowledge that they are subject to rules makes it impossible for rules to exist in the long term.  Which means that the current system needs to be reformed

Surely it means that America needs to accept that they are subject to rules? What is the point in reforming the rules if America will still think it can flaunt them?

Most of the rest of the world is pretty happy with the rules as they are, and new rules keep getting negotiated and enacted all the time, with US hindrance or nonparticipation. Can the rest of the world have any confidence that by changing the rules they'll convince the US of the need to accept them?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:56:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I'm not saying that there's isn't some latent power to institutions even if coercion doesn't exist, but I'd argue that the first time that a state shows that they can break the rules and get away with it it opens the floodgates.

Institutions provide equilibrium.  

When states show that the rules no longer are enforced, soon the rules disappear.

Rogue states don't break the system. When one of the most powerful states becomes a rogue state, it can break the system.

Just like criminals able to operate with impunity don't undermine a society's institutions, but when the institutions become criminal they lose legitimacy and ultimately fail.

The problem is not that the US flaunts the rules, or (maybe) wants to isolate itself. The problem is that the US is the single most powerful state, and is set on undermining the system.

I don't believe the US will accept a "balance of power" situation.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:44:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

If a policeman starts molesting children does that make him less able enforce the law?

This is exactly the core of the problem we face. And, in a way, it's even worse, because the policeman is not just molesting children, it is doing it in front of the parents, in front of the crowd, and saying that it is "helping" the children and taunting everybody else to do something about it.

Again, this captures this well:

Bush is literally daring the rest of us to do anything about it. How toxic is that? And how toxic is it that those that could actually do something (US Democrats) are paralysed by fear and indecision?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:54:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:20:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush is literally daring the rest of us to do anything about it. How toxic is that? And how toxic is it that those that could actually do something (US Democrats) are paralysed by fear and indecision?

Democrats don't have ideas to fight back, and that's the problem.  Basically that position of the majority of the parties candidates has been that the Republican party has imploded, and that we can sit back and watch.  And step in once the Republicans have utterly destroyed the country.  Yet (with notable exceptions) they have been unwilling to provide a set of ideas to fight back with.

Ideas are weapons, and the position of many Democrats in reference to Bush.  And the rest of the world on the collapse of the international system headed by the US, has that there is no need to provide an alternative, just wait for the current system to collapse.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes again to all of that. Waiting for the other side to fail is not good enough. At all.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 06:09:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you seriously arguing that what's needed is a world parliament with elected representatives that determine the rules of the game?

yup, why not?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 06:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
George Monbiot has been advocating that for some time (see his The Age of Consent).

Monbiot.com: Let the People Rule the World (July 17, 2001)

The rich nations must surrender their power to a world parliament.

The leaders of the free world present a glowing example to the rest of the planet. Of the eight men meeting in Genoa this week, one seized the presidency of his country after losing the election. Another is pursuing a genocidal war in an annexed republic. A third is facing allegations of corruption. A fourth, the summit's host, has been convicted of illegal party financing, bribery and false accounting, while his righthand man is on trial for consorting with the Mafia. Needless to say, the major theme of this week's summit is "promoting democracy".

But were the G8 nations governed by angels, they would still be incapable of promoting global democracy. These eight hungry men represent just 13% of the world's population. They were all elected to pursue domestic imperatives: their global role is simply a by-product of their national mandate. The decisions they make are haphazard and ephemeral. Last year, for example, the G8 leaders announced that they were "determined ... to achieve the goals of the Kyoto Protocol" limiting climate change and that they would "preserv[e] and strengthen the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty." One man is replaced and all is lost.

No More Ventriloquists (April 24, 2007)

A world parliament allows the poor to speak for themselves

It was first proposed (as far as I can discover) in 1842, by Alfred Tennyson(1). Since then the idea has broken the surface and sunk again at least a dozen times. But this time it could start to swim. The demand for a world parliament is at last acquiring some serious political muscle.

The Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly is being launched this week in five continents(2). It is backed by nearly 400 MPs from 70 countries, a long and eclectic list of artists and intellectuals (among them Gunter Grass, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Alfred Brendel and Arthur C Clarke), several government ministers and party leaders (including our own Ming Campbell), six former foreign secretaries, the President of the Pan­African Parliament and a former UN Secretary-General. After 160 years of ridicule, Tennyson's crazy idea is beginning to look plausible.

While I disagree with some of the specifics of Monbiot's blueprint for a world parliament (for one thing, it seems too much of a copy of the Westminster Parliament, which is to be expected coming from an Englishman), the idea needs to be debated.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 07:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This plan is the only thing that can restore some measure of sanity to international relations.

It's probably going to take a war for it to happen. But it's really not something that should be considered optional.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 08:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rules of what game? With globalization one could argue that economic institutions have surpassed the power and leverage of most governments.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 09:40:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic integration causes social dislocations that require economic government on the scale of the integrated market, and economic government requires political government. Hence the ongoing transformation of the European Economic Communities into a European Union.

The free movement of capital is the key factor in causing these dislocations, hence the need for "Bretton Woods 2", the Tobin tax, etc.


Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 02:32:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that this is an evolution which is driven more by economic forces and reacted to by political forces to rectify any dislocations.

It is inevitable that there will be regional trading forces over time as certain countries find common economic interests.

The biggest challenge is inclusion into the economic system. There are still too many countries that are on the outside looking in. In 1967 who would have thought that China or any of the former USSR would today be a normal trading partner with Western countries?

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 08:20:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And incidentially, my reference to democracy above was to show the shape of your argument:

You claim that (not American Hegemony)=anarchy. That's equivalent to
(not Monarchy)=anarchy in a lot of ways. Both are bizarre arguments.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:02:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to speak of anarchy = chaos.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:06:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This, by the way, is an argument Marek has made repeatedly: be careful what you wish for.

I think that would essentially be his justification of Atlanticism, though I don't want to put words in his mouth.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:08:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marek is nothing if not determined to lay out why things happen.

I don't think he's been here for a long, long time.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:25:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest diary: January 11, 2007. Latest comment: May 10, 2007

Last time he disappeared it was because of personal problems off-site.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 11:32:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is if the previous states of chaos were that much worse than the states of order. Plenty of people got killed in proxy wars in the stable post WWII period. Plenty of people, likewise, were killed in the stable period of British hegomony.
What is the basis of world order?

What are the fundamentals of the international system?


These are questions normally posed and answered by an absolutist ideology. I give you credit for not going there, but still, these principal points need to be questioned. What is the 'World Order' and the 'International System' that we are talking about?

Is this the political system between nation states, that you are talking about, or the system of trade and finance, how does the latter influence the former, is it a real system that binds the partaking actors?

The 'International System' you are talking about is being corroded by the corporate and finance system and by the decentralisation of force (this is in part Ben Barber's thesis in Jihad vs. McWorld, a seminal essay that still reads as if it were written yesterday). These challenges will be more relevant, I think, than any changes in the system itself.

The current role of the US, as others have noted here and previously on Eutotrib, is no longer that of a shaping power which is driving the 'international system'. All that the power of the US is currently being used for is resisting and obstructing sensible changes and additions to the international system (e.g. Kyoto Protocol; International Criminal Court, various arms treaties). They can't get anything through, not even Doha, not even after they recently came to an agreement with the Europeans.

What the left should fight for is quite simple:

Transparant and democratic global governance through the UN and cooperation between other international and regional organisations; North-South solidarity in the allocation of resources and waste sinks, and finally, fair trade.

Once the Americans stop their obstructionism and get on board with the EU and other actors who want to realise this vision, this is not that unrealistic. If the US remains as hopeless as it is now, the EU should focus on other partners (Japan, India, ASEAN, Mercosur, the African Union, maybe Russia and China) to continue spreading its own order, without the US.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 08:18:07 AM EST
I agree with your third option as the direction the world is headed. In fact one could argue that the world was definitely headed in that direction until 9/11.

With the increasing global economic order there seemed to be a shift from power being based on political order and toward power being based on economic clout. A case in point is China. During the Cold War the strategy of the West toward China was to find ways to isolate it and force a change in political order. We don't seek that anymore and, in fact, the internal political order of China appears to be reforming and changing based on the clout of the larger economic order.

The problem of 9/11 and this war on terror is that Cheney/bush have reverted to a Cold War mentality which  will probably be a short term aberration in this long term development of a world economic order. I would agree that long-term (very long-term) traditional cultural difference will recede in importance as will nation state borders. Wars will be fought in board rooms and not on battle fields. The artillery will be currency and not bullets and bombs.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 12:10:33 PM EST
The "Problem of 9/11" was it gave a segment of the Ruling Class - label them 'Cheneyites' - the popular support they needed to institute an Imperium.  They gutted the legal, economic, and political balances countering the inherent power of the Presidency.  Once the balances were removed the Cheneyites went on a loot-and-shoot spree, both domestic and foreign.  

This is nothing new in US history.  The Cheneyites just took it further than has been normal (the Cold War mentality) since the Spanish/American War; a land grab with the express purpose of establishing the military infrastructure (coaling stations, etc.) required to project military power.  

The other factions of the ruling class, they depend on the same processes, don't want to see the system dismantled which is why there has been, and is, 'enabling' actions by Democrats and Republicans alike.  The Democrats are the poster kids for this: elected with a mandate to end the Iraq venture our elected representatives aren't.  None of the top three contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination have come out (1) for ending the Iraq occupation or (2) even starting to dismantle the mechanisms of plutocratic control over the economic and political structures of the US.  They can't as (1) they rose to power through those structures and (2) the maintainance of their power money, among other things) depends on those same plutocrats.

All of this is boringly familiar.  The same basic dance can be seen in the history of the city states in Ancient Greece.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:07:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This time it's different. The coaling stations are fighting back, and the looting spree is over before it's begun.

And worse than that, the natives have stopped accepting the beads and trinkets.

Of course Big Money went along with Cheney's Big Oil, they were going to make more money (literally) than anyone out of Iraqi oil.

But it's over, and it's damage limitation time now, IMHO, certainly no bombing of Iran, which the Chinese have probably told them would cause a response the only place it hurts: ie the $.

The music is ending, and we're about to see a different dance.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The coaling stations did try to fight back, admittedly without much success.  When one side has spears and the other has magazine fed bolt action rifles the victory usually went to the latter.  The AK-47, the RPG, and the IED have gone along way towards 'evening the battlefield' versus the days of "we have the Maxim gun and they have not."  

One difference between the EU and the US is the major powers of the EU were pretty much bankrupted by the end of the 'Struggle for European Domination', aka - Franco/Prussian War, WW1, and WW2.  The US ruling class did rather well out of WW1 and did really well out of WW2 and the following Cold War up until Viet Nam.  Viet Nam War damn near bankrupted the country but the re-equipping and re-building of the US military during the late 70s through the 80s, the fall in oil prices, through the power of the dollar, vast sums lent to/into the US, that made a come-back possible.  

But as you wrote, "It's over."  The Cheneyites have managed to gut the underpinnings of US power in less than seven years.  That takes skill!  Or something.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 05:40:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And is the current system of American hegemony such a grave danger to human life, that anarchy is preferable to order?

That is a false dichotomy, just as your title posits an order that no longer exists. The American empire, or hegemony as you would describe it, has passed. Like a dinosaur, it is mortally wounded but the message hasn't yet reached the body or the "brain". Just as the British Empire died and nobody told it for 50 years, the same will be true of the USA. Yet when the British empire died, the world didn't descend into anarchy, the bloated edifice slowly spiralled in pomp-filled delusions of grandeur into domestic ruin and international irrelevance whilst the rest of the world passed it by. The same will happen to the US.

Of course, the situation is different, as history never repeats itself. The USA can still make a splash, it can wreck any country or region of the world if it so chose, but its ability to make a constructive difference are now decades gone. Especially as following its economic mythologies to their ultimate conclusion has left it bankrupted and in debt to unsympathetic competitors whilst being militarily exposed as a fraud, beached like a whale in Iraq. Demonstrably incapable of bringing order to one country, let alone the world.

As commentators are now more widely realising, American  politicians who talk of leading the world as the indispensable nation are missing the lessons of the last few years. Glenn Greenwald said it best when he recognised that America once was an example of what a nation could be, but had degenerated into a nation no better than others and worse in a lot of aspects. A nation that tortures has no future being in the moral-leadership business.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 12:31:30 PM EST
Maybe we underestimate the massive human and material resources in the US.

I think that they constitute a potential power for good unrivalled anywhere.

Agreed, the United States as currently configured cannot lead a piss-up to a brewery. But I would not rule out a change of "mind"; of "purpose"  - a paradigm shift - once they see that the Dollar Emperor has no Clothes.

Maybe some will be unable to assimilate the new reality - I am irresistibly reminded of Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night" - but most will do just fine.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 12:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I might have agreed if Bush had lost in 2004, but the damage done to your economy and international standing have deteriorated to a point where returning to the status quo ante is no longer an option.

Yes, the US had tremendous potential for being a power for good; the Bill of rights and the example of the constitution were lessons the rest of the world looked to and admired. Another of the points that Greenwald made was that a lot of the anger now expressed is not that the US was never admired, but that it has fallen so far from its own professed standards. You are grubbily mortal after all, just like the rest of us, and can never again aspire to an exalted status.

The belief that you can provide an inspiration for good in the future will require, as Jerome has pointed out, you need to atone. A demonstration that this madness can never recur. That your government can become resistant in the future to this wholesale takeoever by the forces of nihilist destruction. I see no sign so far that anybody recognises this necessity, indeed I see hilary and Obama licking their lips at getting their hands on these new levers of Regal Might.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 01:15:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you way "you" here? Chris is not American.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 02:23:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, sorry. I dunno why but I'd always had this impression Chris was posting from the other side of the pond.

Anyway, being American is no bad thing but obviously my "you" was out of place.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 02:42:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris,

You mean the massive human and material resources in the US that were used to save New Orleans from the sea ?

It's not there. It's gone.

They have Nike, the shoe company that never manufactured a shoe. Nikification is ok for shoes, but it's the whole fucking country which is going that route.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 07:00:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The resources are still there.

But if it's not profitable, then they do not get deployed.

It's the system: not the people.

The system is not sustainable, and I give it 2 to 5 years.

But the people will still be there, and the resources will still be there.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 07:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Take this as pure speculation:

The US has decided it needs to control the world's economy for its own "strategic" purposes. These are, of course, cheap raw materials and imported goods as well as compliant client states.

For most of the 20th Century it used gunboat diplomacy in the rest of the Americas and in other selected places like the Philippines. Since WWII it has still been operating as if this approach was optimum, but it has mostly been a failure. The US has been able to control markets while weak states developed (Japan, Korea and now China and India), but failed to notice that these states are rapidly getting to the point where they can do without the US market if necessary.

In a last, desperate, attempt to keep control the US has begun to put into place a program of world intimidation using spaced-based weapons. There are two sides to this, the first is the creation of defensive weapons, notably Star Wars and the follow on programs. It is not necessary that these work, just that they appear that they "might" work and thus act as a deterrent to anyone considering starting an attack.

The second part is the creation of actual space-based weapons. This is the motivation behind the space station as well as the plan to build a permanent base on the Moon. Having weapons in space that can't be defended against or destroyed (at least without the US noticing well in advance) means that the US can operate by use of intimidation alone.

Recently Bush announced a policy that the US will "dominate" in space (in violation of existing treaties). A simple weapon like the "Rods from God" is all that is required.

Adjusting lifestyle in the US is not on the table, the public is not interested in giving up their SUV's. So support for this policy exists even if the public wishes to pretend otherwise to itself. Nobody wants to see the sausage made.

I don't know where this will lead, but international agreements and hope for an international legal body with enforcement powers are just not in the offing.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 02:23:31 PM EST
Hmmm...how many James Bond films have featured such technology? Normally private sector of course: Virgin Deathstar, maybe.

So these weapons from space are going to have the ability to stop conventional nukes being lobbed at the US in retaliation?

I don't think so: Mutual Assured Destruction remains.

Spy in the Sky we have: Die in the Sky is Pie in the Sky IMHO.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 03:07:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was wondering what the US could usefully do with weapons from space (such as the "rods from God") and the only thing I could come up with would be to disable the launch sites of other nations' space programs.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 03:21:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The mere building of them will greatly enrich the power brokers, whether the weapons work or not.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 03:58:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would make a good novel.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 04:00:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there's any serious evidence to support the idea that the Space Station is primarily a weapons testing platform.

It seems to be primarily a white elephant in search of a purpose. But there's enough international input to make it unlikely that its main purpose is military.

The Rods from God idea relies on hugely expensive booster launches, and may not be practical anyway.

While we're talking about empires and order, I think a key point has been missed, which is that the the ruling elites in the US are psychologically delusional.

They still believe in a Hollywood world of high tech military and economic supremacy. But this is 2007, and not 1967. Most of these military plans are pure pork, and they have absolutely no practical strategic significance. The ones that might have practical significance are so expensive that the dollar crash will make them unaffordable.

So what you have is the interesting spectacle of a nation spending half of its discretionary budget, which it can't afford, on 'defence', which doesn't work.

This is not a recipe for stability or order.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 at 08:28:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am late to the party, and most has already been debated.

However I find it a tad western-centric to assume that we can keep the hegemony within our comunity but no-one else can grab it.

China and India is getting increasing chunks of global GDP and more importantly the production capacity (the Maxim guns were made somewhere). What if the US has a financial meltdown and China and India decide to consume their production within Asia instead of sending it away? And then they declare TRIPS and other intellectual property rules to be null and void, because they no longer feel like sending stuff to the west in exchange for the rights to use ideas they can use for free. I am no economist, but from my perspective building stuff for others is less good then building stuff for yourself.

Is then the "Community of the West" supposed to uphold the rules (of WTO for example) by projecting military might? Or will hegemony over the world shift to the Chindia Union?

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

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 16th, 2007 at 10:25:54 AM EST
I think that India is on the path to being part of a "community of the west."  It's not so much about geography, it's about values.  And I think that India holds many of the same democratic values, and a committment to equality that marks what's best about the "West."  Plus, India is rapidly approaching the point where it will be developing intellectual property it wants protected.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Jul 16th, 2007 at 12:39:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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