No. of Recommendations: 2

Voters know well in advance of election results who are the hawks and who are the doves, who promises the glory of empire, and who promises domestic fiscal restraint. The American voting public could vote for peace, but they really don't want it, if their actions are an accurate indication of their values and intentions. Forget the morality of killing thousand of the world's other peoples. Just focus on the costs. How much, really, are we paying to kill nine children gathering firewood in a Pakistani forest, and what benefits do we receive?

Years ago, some economists did a study of the costs to Britain of running its empire. Yes, it seemed as if they were able to extract raw materials from their colonies quite cheaply until the costs of occupying armies were backed in. Then, those same raw materials cost more than it would have if they had been bought on the open market. The situation is no different with the US and its attempts to control oil as a resource and oil as a pricing weapon. ("How did our oil get under their sand, anyway?) To the nearly $4 per gallon Americans are now paying at the gas pump, they need to add the $1.2 trillion dollars that will be spent this year on our foreign follies, making the real price a gallon closer to $10 (or whatever).

Again, where is the price of crude today? How much of that $111 per barrel is the costs of extraction and transportation and how much is the price due to a depreciating dollar plus the price of US-induced geo-political instability? In other words, Americans, through their foreign policies, are enriching exactly the countries we have defined as our enemies: Iran, Venezuela, etc. Sometime, when you want a glimpse of just how backward the US is, pick up any of the volumes Chalmer Johnson's Blowback trilogy.

"In Blowback, I set out to explain why we are hated around the world. The concept "blowback" does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to and in foreign countries. It refers to retaliation for the numerous illegal operations we have carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. This means that when the retaliation comes -- as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 -- the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback. In the first book in this trilogy, I tried to provide some of the historical background for understanding the dilemmas we as a nation confront today, although I focused more on Asia -- the area of my academic training -- than on the Middle East."[9]

"The Sorrows of Empire was written during the American preparations for and launching of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. I began to study our continuous military buildup since World War II and the 737 military bases we currently maintain in other people's countries. This empire of bases is the concrete manifestation of our global hegemony, and many of the blowback-inducing wars we have conducted had as their true purpose the sustaining and expanding of this network. We do not think of these overseas deployments as a form of empire; in fact, most Americans do not give them any thought at all until something truly shocking, such as the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, brings them to our attention. But the people living next door to these bases and dealing with the swaggering soldiers who brawl and sometimes rape their women certainly think of them as imperial enclaves, just as the people of ancient Iberia or nineteenth-century India knew that they were victims of foreign colonization."[9]

“In Nemesis, I have tried to present historical, political, economic, and philosophical evidence of where our current behavior is likely to lead. Specifically, I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and in the end produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent. The founders of our nation understood this well and tried to create a form of government – a republic – that would prevent this from occurring. But the combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play – isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialism, and bankruptcy. Nemesis stalks our life as a free nation.”[9]

Again, it isn't the ethics of our foreign policies that concerns me, but the costs. The US is beggaring itself, and the rest of the world is waiting impatiently until we defeat ourselves with our own stupidity. To paraphrase an overused quote, "We have meet the enemy, but we keep denying it is us."

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