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The Fall of the American Empire

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by speed, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. speed

    speed Member

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    Yes I believe they have. A number of banks have started switching, or diversifying their investments. I know Malaysia just switched to the Euro, and I do believe most Middle Eastern countries hold Euros not dollars. After WWII and up to the time we left the gold standard, US currency was the baseline currency for the entire world (The British had it before us). Even when we stopped the gold standard Central banks filled their coffers with US bills not gold; now with so much uncertainty and the high value of the Euro, this is rapidly changing. One can see what an economic advantage a country would have when its currency has such a monopoly.

    Another extremely troubling phenomenom is our savings rate dipped into the negatives this summer. The average American now spends more than they have. All of these are troubling signs for the future. I expect in fifteen or twenty years the bubble so to speak will burst, and we will be in major trouble. However, if this happens, the whole world will be thrown into a major recession as well--we do spend more than a third of the money in the world.

    Really Economics is the religion/philosophy of America, and it's foundation is of clay, as no one really understand much of anything macroeconomically other than Volcker and Friedman's display of monetary policy we are still successfully using.
     
  2. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

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    I'm a bit more relaxed in my views. I think alot of what you have said makes sense, but i am not sure whether that is all entirely inevitable.

    But would i be wrong in saying perhaps the world needs a kick in the ass, especially America?
     
  3. speed

    speed Member

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    Every Empire has fallen from within. What's to stop ours from doing the same? Not only are economics soon not to be on our side, but shit, we may be a majority, low-skill, no education, Hispanic population in fifty years. Hispanic citizens in the US have lower educational attainment rates than African Americans. We are fat, hated by the rest of the world, totally insular and xenophobic, our public schools are a shambles, we have no healthcare, even when most idiotic americans dont realize they are still paying for the poor to visit the hospital via their much bigger hospital bills. The wages for the common american have fallen relatively over the last twenty years. In fact, last year poverty increased. Hell, even Forbes ran an article this month that blamed corporations for keeping non executive salaries down when they should have gone up due to higher productivity, education and skills. I could go on.

    And yet, I think we all believe in America--or once did.
     
  4. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

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    its tragic, I suppose. I really like the points you have made, i'm a layman, but they seem very interesting and convincing to me.
     
  5. speed

    speed Member

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    On the issues of Spenglerian decline and economics I feel very comfortable. You dont have to agree with me, and I could be very very wrong.
     
  6. derek

    derek Grey Eminence

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    well, i never said i agreed...necessarily, only that they seem to make a great deal of sense to someone who has no background in the topic.
     
  7. speed

    speed Member

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    Our fall seems ever more evident with each passing day.

    We're discovering just how much power the once all-powerful White House had, and still has; and we're discovering just how hard it is to challenge this power. Our entire political system is unravelling, much like 100-30 BC in Rome, when Rome started coming to grips with an empire that could not been run through the Republic's political structure.

    And our environment gets worse...

    And our people have more and more psychological disorders every year....

    And more and more applebees, tv shows, toothbrushes, etc are introduced...

    And our people have the lowest levels of happiness on record...

    And we dont care.
     
  8. Patrick R.

    Patrick R. Member

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    It is very difficult to compare Rome and the United States, one it is to early to see how the United States will fall if it ever does, and two historians are still in a debate on just how Rome fell. Also the United States, federal government, mass media, and academia etc are run by people like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Alan Dershowitz…some of our heads of state include people like Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, and George Bush (the father and son.) Romans had people like Pompy, Julius Caesar, Octavian , and Nero as their masters. Can we really compare the former with the latter?

    France is a tiny nation, they have limited resources, but their decline along with the rest of European civilizations all over the world is the liberal acceptance of non Europeans in many cases forced upon us by the post war powers. The British may not have a world wide empire (all thanks to the money and material they wasted on trying to destroy the Third Reich), I do consider that a decline but I don‘t see that as total British destruction…when I see London turn into the Middle East and Africa I consider that a serious decline and ultimately destruction.

    My point is this, ALL nations and people’s have faced the following.

    1. Economic hardship.

    2. Massive loss of life.

    3. Poor educational systems.

    4. Savage behavior that isn’t considered moral.

    5. Ruthless ruling bodies that weren’t loyal to the masses.

    ETC.

    But yet, some of these nations are still around today, despite going through all the above. Look at Europe as a fine example, we have been consumed by all the above for most of our existence. The dark ages, there was a reason why it was called the dark ages…Europeans were forced into Christianity by the Franks under Charlemagne and the latter the Teutonic Knights. Charlemagne had over 5000 Saxons beheaded for their practice of the older pre Christian European religions. The Inquisition could have had you burnt at the stake for suggesting astronomical facts such as the earth rotates around the sun. That goes for geographical facts such as the world being round rather then flat as the church (the dominant powers through the dark ages) suggested.

    In an nutshell, the dominant powers of America and all of the West are causing much of the problems we have today just how the dominant powers of the European middle ages caused most of the problems back then, (the Church and the Pope aided the false ‘Donation of Constantine’). By despite this, the death grip of the church was finally broken after centuries of political supremacy and the Renaissance brought together some of the best and brightest thinkers in Europe who set up Western civilization…but the West and America is declining but all isn’t lost and we can stop the dominant powers. This isn’t a refutation, this is simply another perspective., but I’m going to stop now to not burden you with a long message
     
  9. OldScratch

    OldScratch Member

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    "If I were to be born again, I would wish to be born in the United States. Your Country is the future of the world...Great Britain has passed its zenith."
    (Winston Churchill - 1946)

    America probably isn't going to fall, in the complete sense of the word, so much as it will likely fade from its singular position of dominance - just as the British Empire did after the second World War. It seems we are likely past our "zenith" as well.
    America, however, has taken a uniquely stupid approach to its pseudo-empire building, that has hastened the process. Instead of openly acting in our own obvious interest, we have long hidden behind all manner of missions and occupations of "liberation" "freedom" "humanitarian intervention" "drug wars" and the like. Most of our adventures abroad have benefitted the nation as a whole very little. Yes, domestic and international corporate interests, world bankers, military industrialists, and similarly murky organizations, have reaped benefits galore. But what has all this incessant "intervention" done for the American people? Other than a lot of childish nonsense about how we'd all be "goosestepping about and speaking German" and similar hysterical foolishness (were it not for our perpetually active martial campaiging around the globe)what have we gained? Better what have we lost - or never achieved because we lost sight of what this nation might have been?

    America, a country defined almost entirely at this point by its wealth alone, is little more than an idea and a land-mass, with an increasingly disparate population that is naturally more divided than ever. How long can that last?
    I happen to have frequent contact with many "old school" Americans - flag-waving uber-patriot types, who simply cannot, nay, will not see this impending decomposition right before their eyes! This same mentality is reflected among the neocon set as well. So long as we continue to repeat our mantra about how America is the greatest nation on earth(as if the suggestion that it were otherwise is blasphemy - even insanity), and hide behind our military(hence the neocon military/soldier-worship phenomenon)everything will be fine.

    In short time, perhaps a deposed American leader will be repeating Churchill's words to another...probably a Chinese at this rate. One thing is certain - If and when America falls or fades, we will have no one but ourselves to blame.
     
  10. MetalBooger

    MetalBooger Member

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    The united states of american is the strongest, most powerful state and possibly nation that has every existed in all of the known history of the world. It has the oldest constitution, the strongest military, a pool of the worlds business and intellectual elites(despite the current administration), the american economy is also the strongest in the world, which probably in this day and age of globalization and transnational business is the most important aspect.

    I have no doubt that they will fall one day, because history proves that world powers eventually dissolve, but due to their steadily powerful economy, and military might, i dont think this will be anytime soon.

    As to who will take their place? I dont think it will be china, because even though they have the worlds largest economy and purchasing power, a billion people cannot survive a nuclear bomb, nor more significantly a western allegiance. So on one side you have counties like Russia, Iran, China, etc, but more sigificantly you have north america and perhaps all of the americas, and the european union, two bodies that are fundamentally connected by heritage, religion, and culture. You just have to look at New york to show this connection.

    In my opinion, this potential, and probably existant western alliance is far more powerful than China, Russia, and their croonies. You probably can also link counties in the east such as India and Japan to this western force as well. The west is also far superior to the east in a variety of ways, standard of living, human rights, etc.

    Basically i think that America's empire will dissolve and be replaced by a western eurocentric power, and probably one of the more benevolent nations, who knows, canada has alot of potential and it could become the central authority of the west. I see war in the future between the possibly evil eastrn nations like russia and china and the west, and either the world will be destroyed or we once again survive and go on living, but this is prolly 400 years off into the future, but im prolly wrong, i cant predict the fucking future.
     
  11. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    There have been lots of really good posts on this thread. I want to ask a question - which may be a silly question, or may be a kind of "emperor has got no clothes" observation.

    When will America ever be rich enough that it doesn't have to borrow money from supposedly poorer countries?

    Just think of how the Chinese prefer to spend their money lending it to the US, rather than using it more to help their own population out of poverty. I suppose they could be said to be looking at a long-term plan, that will bring in more wealth eventually to improve living standards there for the poorer people. Mind you, can we even assume that the rulers of China give a damn about their poor masses? Another factor is that they are trying to reduce their population. It is still growing - but not as fast as it used to, despite the one child policy.

    I doubt the US can ever get out of a $50 trillion debt, the amount that Speed earlier suggested the US was heading for.

    If I borrowed a billion dollars I would seem really rich, but arguably, with debts like that, I would be poorer than a destitute Indian.

    If the debt the US owes was ever forced to be paid back - the country would be the poorest on Earth...
     
  12. speed

    speed Member

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    Kissinger was on Charlie Rose this week, and he was actually making some fantastic points (kissinger is a strange fellow, brilliant intellectually, but his actual record was pretty pathetic). Anyway, he was saying one, globalization does not benefit everyone; in fact it hurts the top tier countries, and it places power in the hands of multi-national corporations and away from nations and the people. Two, the Chinese are going to pass us in the near future, and its how we react to the Chinese (hostile, or friendly) that will determine the outcome of the next century. Three, democracy is not a cure all, and in multi-ethnic countries with deep traditions, democracy may further the divide between religions/ethnic peoples, as has happened in Iraq, and many places around the world. Four, culture is becoming ever more important, as nations become ever less important.



    For 60 years. The Romans had 1,000 years, from 300 BC, to the 8th century AD Byzantine Empire (the final years of their great power). The Brits had a hell of a long period of empire as well, say 1720-50's up to the 1920's. And the Chinese were strong on and off, for all of history.

    And our power is soft. We've lost, or strategically lost, every major engagement since we became an empire (korea, Vietnam, Iraq). Not to mention, despite our overwhelming military force, we're seeing occupation has become impossible in modern society; military power is really not terribly effective. Why, look at the Israelis. they probably have the best trained and most efficient army in the world, and yet, we see how military force only strenghtens their enemies, and fails to resolve any of their problems.
     
  13. OldScratch

    OldScratch Member

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    The power of the US, militarily speaking, is soft because we cannot get past the "old-world" ideas of using huge infantries, massed heavy-armor and major group support units on the ground - regardless of the conflict. This is the military of the post WW2, Cold War mind-set. America was prepared to wage large-scale ground and air warfare with the Soviets and their territories, etc. We did not anticipate these unconventional squabbles and occupations from the jungles of Nam to the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan.
    It is hugely expensive and a logistical nightmare to keep a large, fully supported infantry on the ground long term.(hence the $400-billion plus pricetag in Iraq)

    Germany learned this lesson on the Eastern Front in WW2. While they would routinely squash Soviet forces, often many times their size, it was the unconventional Partisan warfare, that caused them thr greatest irritation. And ultimately, this ate away at manpower and equipment that should have been committed to the major battles. Over time - the whole war-machine is worn down. The US dealt with this in Viet Nam as well.

    Israel also knows that, short of unleashing Nukes, in a conventional war with Iran, Lebanon, Syria, etc. stacked against them...things would quickly grow ugly for their very well-trained and well supplied(thank you American taxpayer), but ultimately small conventional armed forces.

    It is also worth noting that we are trying to wage "war" in a completely different fashion than we did in WW2, for instance. The Allies leveled much of Germany in order to both strike at the armament and supply industry - but also to intentionally "demoralize" the civilian populace...which effectively meant, kill them. And kill them they did! The British bombing of German towns and cities accounted for some 500,000+ civilain casualties - though actual numbers are still not fully known-some place the figure much higher.(The American Air Corp. participated only in the "strategic" bombing of non-civilian targets in Europe - this all changed when the focus moved to Japan, however which added another roughly 350,000 civilian deaths.)
    Today, waging wars against "regimes" and ideologies, we cannot quite get away with this mass killing of civilians, etc.
    I don't think we can ever win "wars" like this at all - a century of modern military history certainly suggests we will not. Attrition and eroding morale are cancers for armed forces and the nations who deploy them.
     
  14. speed

    speed Member

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    I concur. Our soft power is economic, social, and idealistic-- and its not military power for these reasons. The great upholder of democracy and freedom cannot go about killing millions of citizens, unless its a major war like WWII.

    And now that you've got me thinking about history, there's only two ways to defeat a resistant foe or group of people: annihilate and terrorize, or grant them citizenship/make them autonomous but still dependent on host country. Alexander did both, the Romans did both, the Mongols annihilated, Napoleon took route two, as did the US in the Civil War, the US in Germany and Japan, etc.
     
  15. speed

    speed Member

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    Empire v. Democracy: Why Nemesis Is at Our Door
    by Chalmers Johnson

    History tells us that one of the most unstable political combinations is a country – like the United States today – that tries to be a domestic democracy and a foreign imperialist. Why this is so can be a very abstract subject. Perhaps the best way to offer my thoughts on this is to say a few words about my new book, Nemesis, and explain why I gave it the subtitle, "The Last Days of the American Republic." Nemesis is the third book to have grown out of my research over the past eight years. I never set out to write a trilogy on our increasingly endangered democracy, but as I kept stumbling on ever more evidence of the legacy of the imperialist pressures we put on many other countries as well as the nature and size of our military empire, one book led to another.

    Professionally, I am a specialist in the history and politics of East Asia. In 2000, I published Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, because my research on China, Japan, and the two Koreas persuaded me that our policies there would have serious future consequences. The book was noticed at the time, but only after 9/11 did the CIA term I adapted for the title – "blowback" – become a household word and my volume a bestseller.

    I had set out to explain how exactly our government came to be so hated around the world. As a CIA term of tradecraft, "blowback" does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to, and in, foreign countries. It refers specifically to retaliation for illegal operations carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. These operations have included the clandestine overthrow of governments various administrations did not like, the training of foreign militaries in the techniques of state terrorism, the rigging of elections in foreign countries, interference with the economic viability of countries that seemed to threaten the interests of influential American corporations, as well as the torture or assassination of selected foreigners. The fact that these actions were, at least originally, secret meant that when retaliation does come – as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 – the American public is incapable of putting the events in context. Not surprisingly, then, Americans tend to support speedy acts of revenge intended to punish the actual, or alleged, perpetrators. These moments of lashing out, of course, only prepare the ground for yet another cycle of blowback.

    A World of Bases

    As a continuation of my own analytical odyssey, I then began doing research on the network of 737 American military bases we maintained around the world (according to the Pentagon's own 2005 official inventory). Not including the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, we now station over half a million US troops, spies, contractors, dependents, and others on military bases located in more than 130 countries, many of them presided over by dictatorial regimes that have given their citizens no say in the decision to let us in.

    As but one striking example of imperial basing policy: For the past sixty-one years, the US military has garrisoned the small Japanese island of Okinawa with 37 bases. Smaller than Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, Okinawa is home to 1.3 million people who live cheek-by-jowl with 17,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Division and the largest US installation in East Asia – Kadena Air Force Base. There have been many Okinawan protests against the rapes, crimes, accidents, and pollution caused by this sort of concentration of American troops and weaponry, but so far the US military – in collusion with the Japanese government – has ignored them. My research into our base world resulted in The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, written during the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

    As our occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq turned into major fiascoes, discrediting our military leadership, ruining our public finances, and bringing death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of civilians in those countries, I continued to ponder the issue of empire. In these years, it became ever clearer that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their supporters were claiming, and actively assuming, powers specifically denied to a president by our Constitution. It became no less clear that Congress had almost completely abdicated its responsibilities to balance the power of the executive branch. Despite the Democratic sweep in the 2006 election, it remains to be seen whether these tendencies can, in the long run, be controlled, let alone reversed.

    Until the 2004 presidential election, ordinary citizens of the United States could at least claim that our foreign policy, including our illegal invasion of Iraq, was the work of George Bush's administration and that we had not put him in office. After all, in 2000, Bush lost the popular vote and was appointed president thanks to the intervention of the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. But in November 2004, regardless of claims about voter fraud, Bush actually won the popular vote by over 3.5 million ballots, making his regime and his wars ours.

    Whether Americans intended it or not, we are now seen around the world as approving the torture of captives at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at a global network of secret CIA prisons, as well as having endorsed Bush's claim that, as commander-in-chief in "wartime," he is beyond all constraints of the Constitution or international law. We are now saddled with a rigged economy based on record-setting trade and fiscal deficits, the most secretive and intrusive government in our country's memory, and the pursuit of "preventive" war as a basis for foreign policy. Don't forget as well the potential epidemic of nuclear proliferation as other nations attempt to adjust to and defend themselves against Bush's preventive wars, while our own already staggering nuclear arsenal expands toward first-strike primacy and we expend unimaginable billions on futuristic ideas for warfare in outer space.

    The Choice Ahead

    By the time I came to write Nemesis, I no longer doubted that maintaining our empire abroad required resources and commitments that would inevitably undercut, or simply skirt, what was left of our domestic democracy and that might, in the end, produce a military dictatorship or – far more likely – its civilian equivalent. The combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, an ever growing economic dependence on the military-industrial complex and the making of weaponry, and ruinous military expenses as well as a vast, bloated "defense" budget, not to speak of the creation of a whole second Defense Department (known as the Department of Homeland Security) has been destroying our republican structure of governing in favor of an imperial presidency. By republican structure, of course, I mean the separation of powers and the elaborate checks and balances that the founders of our country wrote into the Constitution as the main bulwarks against dictatorship and tyranny, which they greatly feared.

    We are on the brink of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation starts down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play – isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy.

    History is instructive on this dilemma. If we choose to keep our empire, as the Roman republic did, we will certainly lose our democracy and grimly await the eventual blowback that imperialism generates. There is an alternative, however. We could, like the British Empire after World War II, keep our democracy by giving up our empire. The British did not do a particularly brilliant job of liquidating their empire and there were several clear cases where British imperialists defied their nation's commitment to democracy in order to hang on to foreign privileges. The war against the Kikuyu in Kenya in the 1950s and the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956 are particularly savage examples of that. But the overall thrust of postwar British history is clear: the people of the British Isles chose democracy over imperialism.

    In her book The Origins of Totalitarianism, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt offered the following summary of British imperialism and its fate:

    "On the whole it was a failure because of the dichotomy between the nation-state's legal principles and the methods needed to oppress other people permanently. This failure was neither necessary nor due to ignorance or incompetence. British imperialists knew very well that 'administrative massacres' could keep India in bondage, but they also knew that public opinion at home would not stand for such measures. Imperialism could have been a success if the nation-state had been willing to pay the price, to commit suicide and transform itself into a tyranny. It is one of the glories of Europe, and especially of Great Britain, that she preferred to liquidate the empire."

    I agree with this judgment. When one looks at Prime Minister Tony Blair's unnecessary and futile support of Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, one can only conclude that it was an atavistic response, that it represented a British longing to relive the glories – and cruelties – of a past that should have been ancient history.

    As a form of government, imperialism does not seek or require the consent of the governed. It is a pure form of tyranny. The American attempt to combine domestic democracy with such tyrannical control over foreigners is hopelessly contradictory and hypocritical. A country can be democratic or it can be imperialistic, but it cannot be both.

    The Road to Imperial Bankruptcy

    The American political system failed to prevent this combination from developing – and may now be incapable of correcting it. The evidence strongly suggests that the legislative and judicial branches of our government have become so servile in the presence of the imperial Presidency that they have largely lost the ability to respond in a principled and independent manner. Even in the present moment of congressional stirring, there seems to be a deep sense of helplessness. Various members of Congress have already attempted to explain how the one clear power they retain – to cut off funds for a disastrous program – is not one they are currently prepared to use.

    So the question becomes, if not Congress, could the people themselves restore Constitutional government? A grassroots movement to abolish secret government, to bring the CIA and other illegal spying operations and private armies out of the closet of imperial power and into the light, to break the hold of the military-industrial complex, and to establish genuine public financing of elections may be at least theoretically conceivable. But given the conglomerate control of our mass media and the difficulties of mobilizing our large and diverse population, such an opting for popular democracy, as we remember it from our past, seems unlikely.

    It is possible that, at some future moment, the US military could actually take over the government and declare a dictatorship (though its commanders would undoubtedly find a gentler, more user-friendly name for it). That is, after all, how the Roman republic ended – by being turned over to a populist general, Julius Caesar, who had just been declared dictator for life. After his assassination and a short interregnum, it was his grandnephew Octavian who succeeded him and became the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar. The American military is unlikely to go that route. But one cannot ignore the fact that professional military officers seem to have played a considerable role in getting rid of their civilian overlord, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The new directors of the CIA, its main internal branches, the National Security Agency, and many other key organs of the "defense establishment" are now military (or ex-military) officers, strongly suggesting that the military does not need to take over the government in order to control it. Meanwhile, the all-volunteer army has emerged as an ever more separate institution in our society, its profile less and less like that of the general populace.

    Nonetheless, military coups, however decorous, are not part of the American tradition, nor that of the officer corps, which might well worry about how the citizenry would react to a move toward open military dictatorship. Moreover, prosecutions of low-level military torturers from Abu Ghraib prison and killers of civilians in Iraq have demonstrated to enlisted troops that obedience to illegal orders can result in dire punishment in a situation where those of higher rank go free. No one knows whether ordinary soldiers, even from what is no longer in any normal sense a citizen army, would obey clearly illegal orders to oust an elected government or whether the officer corps would ever have sufficient confidence to issue such orders. In addition, the present system already offers the military high command so much – in funds, prestige, and future employment via the famed "revolving door" of the military-industrial complex – that a perilous transition to anything like direct military rule would make little sense under reasonably normal conditions.

    Whatever future developments may prove to be, my best guess is that the US will continue to maintain a façade of Constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it. Of course, bankruptcy will not mean the literal end of the US any more than it did for Germany in 1923, China in 1948, or Argentina in 2001-2002. It might, in fact, open the way for an unexpected restoration of the American system – or for military rule, revolution, or simply some new development we cannot yet imagine.

    Certainly, such a bankruptcy would mean a drastic lowering of our standard of living, a further loss of control over international affairs, a sudden need to adjust to the rise of other powers, including China and India, and a further discrediting of the notion that the United States is somehow exceptional compared to other nations. We will have to learn what it means to be a far poorer country – and the attitudes and manners that go with it. As Anatol Lieven, author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, observes:

    "US global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the US establishment, is unsustainable. . . The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted, and key vassal states are no longer reliable. . . The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks."

    In February 2006, the Bush administration submitted to Congress a $439 billion defense appropriation budget for fiscal year 2007. As the country enters 2007, the administration is about to present a nearly $100 billion supplementary request to Congress just for the Iraq and Afghan wars. At the same time, the deficit in the country's current account – the imbalance in the trading of goods and services as well as the shortfall in all other cross-border payments from interest income and rents to dividends and profits on direct investments – underwent its fastest ever quarterly deterioration. For 2005, the current account deficit was $805 billion, 6.4% of national income. In 2005, the US trade deficit, the largest component of the current account deficit, soared to an all-time high of $725.8 billion, the fourth consecutive year that America's trade debts set records. The trade deficit with China alone rose to $201.6 billion, the highest imbalance ever recorded with any country. Meanwhile, since mid-2000, the country has lost nearly three million manufacturing jobs.

    To try to cope with these imbalances, on March 16, 2006, Congress raised the national debt limit from $8.2 trillion to $8.96 trillion. This was the fourth time since George W. Bush took office that it had to be raised. The national debt is the total amount owed by the government and should not be confused with the federal budget deficit, the annual amount by which federal spending exceeds revenue. Had Congress not raised the debt limit, the US government would not have been able to borrow more money and would have had to default on its massive debts.

    Among the creditors that finance these unprecedented sums, the two largest are the central banks of China (with $853.7 billion in reserves) and Japan (with $831.58 billion in reserves), both of which are the managers of the huge trade surpluses these countries enjoy with the United States. This helps explain why our debt burden has not yet triggered what standard economic theory would dictate: a steep decline in the value of the US dollar followed by a severe contraction of the American economy when we found we could no longer afford the foreign goods we like so much. So far, both the Chinese and Japanese governments continue to be willing to be paid in dollars in order to sustain American purchases of their exports.

    For the sake of their own domestic employment, both countries lend huge amounts to the American treasury, but there is no guarantee of how long they will want to, or be able to do so. Marshall Auerback, an international financial strategist, says we have become a "Blanche Dubois economy" (so named after the leading character in the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire) heavily dependent on "the kindness of strangers." Unfortunately, in our case, as in Blanche's, there are ever fewer strangers willing to support our illusions.

    So my own hope is that – if the American people do not find a way to choose democracy over empire – at least our imperial venture will end not with a nuclear bang but a financial whimper. From the present vantage point, it certainly seems a daunting challenge for any president (or Congress) from either party even to begin the task of dismantling the military-industrial complex, ending the pall of "national security" secrecy and the "black budgets" that make public oversight of what our government does impossible, and bringing the president's secret army, the CIA, under democratic control. It's evident that Nemesis – in Greek mythology the goddess of vengeance, the punisher of hubris and arrogance – is already a visitor in our country, simply biding her time before she makes her presence known.
     
  16. Anvil

    Anvil Brain Bubbled

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    I realized the decline of the American Economy through my work. The demand for building products is at an all-time low. Hundreds were laid off. Here in Canada, we see the decline just as anyone else. What bothers me most is that Canada will be directly affected, due to the amount of American trade and investment in our current economy. over 89% of our economy is owned by the US of A, and as a steady decline occurs, we will be hit hard as investors begin to pull out of our economy.

    Call it what you want, this is a North American problem, not just american.
     
  17. infoterror

    infoterror Member

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    I believe in what America was: an Indo-European colony dedicated to individual freedom.

    But the price of freedom is excluding parasites, as they'll destroy it, and they have.

    Our leaders try to be popular and ignore reality.

    Our people watch TV and ignore reality.

    Newcomers who share no culture, and in fact hate IE culture, have come pouring in and as we all can see if we think about it, cultures don't mix -- either one or both is destroyed, because two cultures cannot occupy the same values system.
     
  18. Scourge of God

    Scourge of God New Metal Member

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    Not to mention the same patch of soil.
     
  19. infoterror

    infoterror Member

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    That too.

    On Rome-USA comparisons, I find Tom Wolfe's critique of status the most enlightening. Status was a Roman concept that defined the difference between indigenous, slightly dumber people and their blonde/blue (or red/blue) rulers. Plebes versus patricians. Poor/minority versus middle class/white, with the aid of the city quasi-middle class who work easy jobs, have apartments, and never own anything of real value except nostalgic objects.

    I don't see the USA -- or any democracy -- lasting for long. Democracy means you can pick fantasy over reality. That's not a good sign...

    :zombie:
     
  20. MurderForProfit

    MurderForProfit Obscene

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    Ehh its my belief that we've already been attacked and its continuing. I know we have all seen it int he news, ecol i in peanut butter, the dog food poisoned, and the taco restaurants having spoiled onions. Its the beginning of an end of us. I also believe that electing Hillary Clinton as good as a leader as she may be (I disagree) but the middle east countries view women as not equals and the "infidels" that we have become are being run by a woman.
    There is no denying it we are in a downfall. I don't remember whether it was the Aztec or Inca calendar that ended at 2015. Keep that in mind.
    As for the Asian powers I believe you guys are concerned about north Korea rather than chine. Either way that is not a situation I think should be taken lightly.
     

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