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Glenn Greenwald Is on Collapsing Empire Watch

Posted on Oct 11, 2010
Flickr / hobvias sudoneighm (CC-BY)

As the Salon scribe points out, it can be “quite difficult to really internalize” America’s superpower implosion, but the numbers don’t lie. Our life expectancy ranking is dropping like a rock, while we’re getting better and better at imprisoning, executing and selling guns to people. USA! USA!

Glenn Greenwald on Salon:

Just to underscore the rapidity of the decline, as recently as 1999, the U.S. was ranked by the World Health Organization as 24th in life expectancy.  It’s now 49th.  There are other similarly potent indicators.  In 2009, the National Center for Health Statistics ranked the U.S. in 30th place in global infant mortality rates.  Out of 20 “rich countries” measured by UNICEF, the U.S. ranks 19th in “child well-being.”  Out of 33 nations measured by the OECD, the U.S. ranks 27th for student math literacy and 22nd for student science literacy.  In 2009, the World Economic Forum ranked 133 nations in terms of “soundness” of their banks, and the U.S. was ranked in 108th place, just behind Tanzania and just ahead of Venezuela. 


There is, however, some good news:  the U.S. is now in fifth place in total number of executions, behind only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and comfortably ahead of Yemen and Sudan, while there are two categories in which the U.S. has been and remains the undisputed champion of the worldthis one and this one.  And, of course, the U.S. is not just objectively the greatest country on the planet, but the greatest country ever to exist in all of human history—as Dave Roberts put it in response to these life expectancy numbers:  “but we’re No. 1 in bestness!”—so we’re every bit as exceptional as ever.

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, October 13, 2010 at 9:46 am Link to this comment


I have no inside view as I have never met and talked with Fidel.

But I do consider him to be one of the most intelligent folks on the planet, and have found his insights are generally very apt.

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, October 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment


I am fortunate to be old, too, but saddened by the lack of any future for the four kids I’ve been a second mother to for more than 10 years here in Mexico.

Fidel Castro talked in a recent interview with Carmen Lira about being too old, probably, to see how this disaster plays out—but nevertheless wanting to.

That’s pretty much where I am.

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By REDHORSE, October 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

In the midst of obvious total American cultural/social/political/financial disintegration, Journalists and their readers continue to discuss the horror soaked detritus of our catastophic National decline, as though indignant intellectual observation might provide salvation, from the consequence of total moral bankruptcy.

    The best Ideals of the American Revolution, the Bill of Rights and the American Constitution have been betrayed. Our corrupt political leadership has joined hands with the same International Criminal Families and Cartels our founders fought to free themselves from. There is no law. What ever remains of the Ideals of American Freedom, God and Human Moral Decency lives only in you.

    I tell you plainly: Only a fool is honorable with dishonorable men.

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, October 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

As I said before, you folks just





There will be no heroes molded from the toxic waste you jokers have made of a beautiful land mass.

You are history.

Please go quietly.

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By berniem, October 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

The shining beacon has proven itself to be nothing more than a flash in the pan! A nation built on towering rhetoric supported by a foundation of hypocrisy buttressed by delusion can not stand for long! Maybe that whole Atlantis thing was a prediction and we’re actually it!

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By gerard, October 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

Very apparently here, there are quite a number of people who would rather self-destruct than reconstruct the country (and I know that word may gag you, but it does have more than just a negative meaning).
  As a country we have become an oligarchy because of our history of violence, self-satisfaction, laziness and greed.  Reconstruction necessarily involves stopping the violence, the selfishness and greed and rebuilding a healthy society where all the people are treated as valuable human beings with the “inaliaeable” rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
  That we have not had the guts to take command before now does not mean we will not have the guts to ultimately rise to the current need for heroism and creativity.  Those who will do the heavy lifting are not those who preach defeat. 
  Non-violence is the new way.  Liberty and justice for all are the watchwords.  Peace is the key.
It cannot happen overnight, but I believe it can happen simply because the alternative is too deadly dark to appeal to the best efforts of truly human beings.

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By Maani, October 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment


Hear, hear!


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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, October 12, 2010 at 10:51 am Link to this comment


Sorry if I am too optimistic for you.

The planet will not be destroyed.

Just most of the life forms on it.

The planet will shake us off like fleas.

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By glider, October 12, 2010 at 10:44 am Link to this comment


What are you talking about, we haven’t finished destroying the planet yet!

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, October 12, 2010 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

You folks just do NOT get it.

How can anyone with an IQ in double digits come to the conclusion

that a “nation” founded on genocide and slavery, and dedicated to the proposition that all resources on the planet should be exploited and wasted by its people at the expense of all other life forms

should be allowed to continue?

Grow up.

Stop kidding yourselves.

It’s over.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, October 12, 2010 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

One would think this little plot twist in the American Exceptionalism Narrative
might be enough to convince some that its genre is fantasy. But that would
assume that the idea of American Exceptionalism was once based on something
more substantial than collective ego and entitlement.

The fact that any advantage America may have once had was due in no small
measure to the biggest land grab since Alexander conquered Persia, the rise of
cheap and plentiful oil, and an unprecedented supply of exploitable immigrant
labor—all of which have long passed their heyday—wouldn’t give the
exceptionalists pause either.

As America is slowly forced to abandon it’s arrested adolescence, we can expect
to hear a lot more stomping of spoiled feet. And while the party winds down,
that siphoning sound you hear is your money moving on to the parties starting
in China and India.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, October 12, 2010 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The US fell 20 places in life expectancy during the Bush years alone!  Unbelieveable.  Every republican administration is a disaster for the common man.

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By DavidByron, October 12, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

For that matter why not take out the black kids from the calculation of how well the schools are doing (as Daily Howler did recently) and then the US ranks really well on education!

I bet if you ignore the black and hispanics then American life expectancy would look better too.  Why should the American empire only be allowed to exclude statistics on poor brown people from occupied Iraq?  Exclude the poor brown people in continental US too and America is back on top!

(Well, no, but at least they’d be in the top 20 again).

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By DavidByron, October 12, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

This con again.

“the U.S. is now in fifth place in total number of executions, behind only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia”

If Greenwald had bothered to check historic rankings on this he’d see that 5th place is lower down than the US usually is because the US is typically in the top three with China and Iran the other two.  But then the US isn’t really 5th is it?  The US executions and Iraqi executions are both US executions so you need to total them to get America’s actual total which means the normal top three behaviour is still going on.

This con of separating out the bad statistics for US and Israeli occupied territories and counting and ranking them independently is used every year with the rankings on journalist civil rights too.

USA!  USA!  We’re not so crap if you don’t count the parts where we are extra crap!

(I would not be allowed to make this comment at Glen Greenwald’s blog due to censorship policies there.)

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By Maani, October 12, 2010 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

Actually, Greenwald is right.  This country has been going down the tubes steadily since at least Carter and Reagan (economically, re financial and other deregulation).  And after Clinton left us with a balanced budget and a budget surplus (though he added to the deregulation problem), GWB wrecked this country not only economically (including the tax cuts), but by cynically using 9/11 to ram through the neocon agenda both globally - two wars (one an illegal, unprovoked, pre-emptive regime change), a never-ending “global war on terror” that drained dollars and human lives, torture, extraordinary rendition, etc. - and domestically: the shredding of the Constitution re freedoms, civil liberties and privacy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act (which eviscerated habeas corpus and posse comitatus), illegal wiretapping of American citizens, and the list goes on.

We have become a country ruled and controlled through fear (from color-coded “terror alerts” to nonstop iterations of “al Qaeda”) and division.  Our elections are actually worse than third-world elections, in so far as both parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of the transnational corporations and lobbyists, and the elections themselves have been highly suspect, including the 2000 debacle (in which Gore won the popular vote and the Supreme Court “coronated” Bush) and the 2004 election (in which there is evidence that the vote in Ohio was stolen outright).

Americans are right to be angry.  However, that anger is not being channeled to the right places and issues.  Indeed, so cynical are some U.S. policians (primarily on the right) that they have even co-opted Americans’ anger for their own purposes.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?  And if so, is it an oncoming train?

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By Fat Freddy, October 12, 2010 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

Yes, while some sit on their asses and complain, and try to justify taking from some to give to others, there are organizations trying to promote empowerment.!

and new ideas

and, of course, there’s Molyneux

Liberals are old news, even Chomsky is washed up.

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By historian, October 12, 2010 at 1:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

everything about ameriKa is a lie,

always was,

always has been.

just hollywood make believe.

Now the lie is just impossible to conceal (though they still try).

It’s just reality catching up.

the sooner the total collapse, the better.

Is it gonna hurt?

I hope so, and even more than that.

Call it payback for all your crimes since forever.

There is not one single thing at anytime in its short history that, in effect, anyone can point to that does not reveal ameriKa’s imperialistic and domineering bend.  You may regurgitate whole your hollywood fine-tuned rationales for slaughtering… first Indians… and all others after them…  but deep down, if you are honest, you cannot refute this thesis.

Yes, there were a couple of idealistic and worthy men at its inception…  but the reality is that the ameriKan state has never been anything but a scamming thief and murderer, at all levels and with everyone.

Of course the rethugs are nuts, but it is clear the democraps are the other side of the same neocon coin.

So…  let the rethugs “retake” congress,

it will hasten the fall,

the european and Asian vassals will jump ship in a flash.

and then, when the beast goes for broke, recoils and starts one more desperate attempt at all-consuming total war, as we can all see is coming, the people of the world will effect true change to ensue.  Even if their “Gladio”-infiltrated “allied” (read traitor) governments try otherwise, the people will stand up and truly become the finest generation of modern times.

Everybody knows the tale that before Aquarius, there will first be great disruptions, great pain and destruction.

Long live Liberty !

Death to tyranny !

Revolutions are messy.  Brace yourselves. Most of us won’t make it.

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By Hammond Eggs, October 11, 2010 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

USA!  USA!  USA!  Ooooooooo -rah!  When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  Give 110% every day.  We’re still The Greatest!

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