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The Guns of August: Lowering the Flag on the American Century

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Posted on Aug 17, 2010

By Chalmers Johnson

(Page 2)

So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq?  Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless “targeted killings” which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations?  Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?

I wish I had a crystal ball to peer into and see what historians will make of our own guns of August in 2060. The fog of war, after all, is just a stand-in for what might be called “the fog of the future,” the inability of humans to peer with any accuracy far into the world to come.  Let me nonetheless try to offer a few glimpses of what that foggy landscape some years ahead might reveal, and even hazard a few predictions about what possibilities await still-imperial America.

Let me begin by asking: What harm would befall the United States if we actually decided, against all odds, to close those hundreds and hundreds of bases, large and small, that we garrison around the world?  What if we actually dismantled our empire, and came home? Would Genghis Khan-like hordes descend on us?  Not likely.  Neither a land nor a sea invasion of the U.S. is even conceivable.

Would 9/11-type attacks accelerate?  It seems far likelier to me that, as our overseas profile shrank, the possibility of such attacks would shrink with it.

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Would various countries we’ve invaded, sometimes occupied, and tried to set on the path of righteousness and democracy decline into “failed states?” Probably some would, and preventing or controlling this should be the function of the United Nations or of neighboring states. (It is well to remember that the murderous Cambodian regime of Pol Pot was finally brought to an end not by us, but by neighboring Vietnam.)

Sagging Empire

In other words, the main fears you might hear in Washington—if anyone even bothered to wonder what would happen, should we begin to dismantle our empire—would prove but chimeras.  They would, in fact, be remarkably similar to Washington’s dire predictions in the 1970s about states all over Asia, then Africa, and beyond falling, like so many dominoes, to communist domination if we did not win the war in Vietnam.

What, then, would the world be like if the U.S. lost control globally—Washington’s greatest fear and deepest reflection of its own overblown sense of self-worth—as is in fact happening now despite our best efforts?  What would that world be like if the U.S. just gave it all up? What would happen to us if we were no longer the “sole superpower” or the world’s self-appointed policeman?

In fact, we would still be a large and powerful nation-state with a host of internal and external problems. An immigration and drug crisis on our southern border, soaring health-care costs, a weakening education system, an aging population, an aging infrastructure, an unending recession—none of these are likely to go away soon, nor are any of them likely to be tackled in a serious or successful way as long as we continue to spend our wealth on armies, weapons, wars, global garrisons, and bribes for petty dictators.

Even without our interference, the Middle East would continue to export oil, and if China has been buying up an ever larger share of what remains underground in those lands, perhaps that should spur us into conserving more and moving more rapidly into the field of alternative energies.

Rising Power

Meanwhile, whether we dismantle our empire or not, China will become (if it isn’t already) the world’s next superpower. It, too, faces a host of internal problems, including many of the same ones we have. However, it has a booming economy, a favorable balance of payments vis-à-vis much of the rest of the world (particularly the U.S., which is currently running an annual trade deficit with China of $227 billion), and a government and population determined to develop the country into a powerful, economically dominant nation-state.

Fifty years ago, when I began my academic career as a scholar of China and Japan, I was fascinated by the modern history of both countries. My first book dealt with the way the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s spurred Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party he headed on a trajectory to power, thanks to its nationalist resistance to that foreign invader. Incidentally, it is not difficult to find many examples of this process in which a domestic political group gains power because it champions resistance to foreign troops.  In the immediate post-WWII period, it occurred in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia; with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, all over Eastern Europe; and today, it is surely occurring in Afghanistan and probably in Iraq as well.


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By ofersince72, August 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

Tropicgirl

  I doubt that I will read all that,  but wouldn’t
doubt it.  This presidency has consolidated power that
has republicans envyous.

  I truly believe that the U.S. is in full dictatorship
now.  Oh, they will give us our silly meaningless
elections, wow, they are impressive arn’t they.
No doubt, the CIA & MIC controll our governmet 100%.

Even if all the conspiracy is true about OH?bama,
we seem pretty powerless at this juncture.
I mean, we can’t even budge the 911 lie.

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By rico, suave, August 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

tropicgirl:

Are you sure you’re on the right thread?

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By tropicgirl, August 19, 2010 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is all very well and good to wring one’s hands about past CIA operations,
conveniently neglecting what is going on now… I encourage everyone to read
and digest and form your own opinion. This is just the intro to the stories that
are hitting the web this week on this…

““Far from being the mere ‘son of a goat herder’ (as he deceptively paraded
during and even before his candidacy), strong evidence has emerged that
President Barack Obama is the product of the intelligence community.
Investigative reporter and former NSA employee Wayne Madsen has put
together an extensive three-part (and growing) series with conclusive proof
and documentation that Barack Obama Sr., Stanley Ann Dunham, Lolo Soetoro
and President Barack Obama himself all hold deep ties to the CIA and larger
intelligence community. And that’s just the beginning.

After his election, President Obama quickly moved to seal off his records via an
executive order. Now, after two years of hints and clues, there is substantial
information to demonstrate that what Obama has omitted is that his rare rise
to power can only be explained by his intelligence roots. However, this is more
than the story of one man or his family. There is a long-term strategic plan to
recruit promising candidates into intelligence and steer these individuals and
their families into positions of influence and power.

Consider that it is now declassified former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was
recruited into MI5 before becoming a labour leader, or that George H. W. Bush
not only became CIA director in 1976 but had a deeper past in the
organization. While we may never know many pertinent details about these
matters, one thing that is certain is that the American people have never been
told the truth about who holds the real power, nor who this president– and
likely many others– really is. Thus, we urge everyone to read Wayne Madsen’s
deep report and seek the truth for yourself.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has discovered CIA files that document
the agency’s connections to institutions and individuals figuring prominently in
the lives of Barack Obama and his mother, father, grandmother, and stepfather.
The first part of his report highlights the connections between Barack Obama,
Sr. and the CIA-sponsored operations in Kenya to counter rising Soviet and
Chinese influence among student circles and, beyond, to create conditions
obstructing the emergence of independent African leaders.

From 1983-84, Barack Obama worked as Editor at Business Internation
Corporation, a Business International Corporation, a known CIA front company.
President Obama’s own work in 1983 for Business International Corporation, a
CIA front that conducted seminars with the world’s most powerful leaders and
used journalists as agents abroad, dovetails with CIA espionage activities
conducted by his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham in 1960s post-coup Indonesia
on behalf of a number of CIA front operations, including the East-West Center
at the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID), and the Ford Foundation. Dunham met and married Lolo Soetoro,
Obama’s stepfather, at the East-West Center in 1965. Soetoro was recalled to
Indonesia in 1965 to serve as a senior army officer and assist General Suharto
and the CIA in the bloody overthrow of President Sukarno.””

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By rico, suave, August 19, 2010 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

JD:

“Your premise seems to be that economic equality leads to destitution.”

Not quite. My contention is that enforcing economic equality eliminates the wealthy, but doesn’t eliminate the destitute; economic equality doesn’t make people rich, it just makes them economically equal.

I must disagree with your apparent belief that the existence of wealthy people creates more misery for poor people than they would otherwise have to endure: The mere existence of Bill Gates in no way makes the plight of an Appalachian coal miner more wretched than it was before Gates got rich. Likewise, a Chinese millionaire in no way makes the Chinese coal miner more miserable than he was before. The Capitalist millionaire “takes” nothing more from that miner (I contend that he takes much less) that had been taken from him by Mao. (I’ll use “Mao” as shorthand for the old communist system.) The creation of millionaires does NOT require the creation of new poor people. Just the opposite: The creation of one millionaire eliminates (at least) one poor person. Accumulating wealth is NOT a form of theft from poor people. It is NOT a zero sum game.

“the Capitalist reforms in China reduced protections for workers.”

Really? Protections existed before? From Mao’s OSHA? EPA? The Chinese UMW or SEIU? Do you really believe a Chinese coal miner of the past had it BETTER than today? (I wholeheartedly agree that being a Chinese coal miner must still TOTALLY suck, but your contention that they are more vulnerable today than before is very problematic for me.) The recent strikes for higher pay in those electronics factories resulted in increased pay for those workers, and would have been unheard of in the past. (They might have happened, followed by firing squads, but we in the West would not have “heard” of them.)

Your anecdotes from the NYT are presented in a vacuum. (The conclusion the NYT wants us to draw, of course, is that those problems didn’t exist before the new dispensation.) For instance, the “40,000 fingers lost” item. What if it is brought to light that 20 years ago, 80,000 fingers were being lost? Was there even a minimum wage under Mao? Did harmful chemicals and dangerous machinery not exist in the workplace under Mao? Were Mao’s HAZMAT suits better than today’s? The articles, conveniently, don’t say. Things MIGHT be worse today, but we don’t know from reading those items.

This was going to be short, but I got on a roll. Forgive me.

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By JDmysticDJ, August 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

Rico Suave

I’ll attempt to answer your questions.

As for your China statistics: Did those millionaires and billionaires become so by taking from other Chinese, or is it a matter of newly created wealth?

The crux of the matter is a classic argument between the right and left. I’ll argue that any business that has employees, profits from the labor of its employees, the only other alternatives would be operating as an altruistic non profit, or failing as a profitable business. So I’ll argue that the millionaires and billionaires became so by “taking [labor] from other Chinese.” The wealth created was new, but who created that wealth is the dispute. Generally speaking, the design of a better mouse trap has no value until that mousetrap is produced profitably. The cliché is, “Wealth is created by the strong arm of the worker.” Workers are generally demeaned in society, and their sacrifices and contributions are mostly unrecognized. Having recently seen a documentary about Chinese workers on PBS, it seems clear to me that Chinese millionaires and billionaires are “taking from other Chinese.” My own anecdotal experience, as well as the anecdotal evidence of this documentary, is backed up by documented evidence and reports that have been prevalent in the media.

From the New York Times January 8, 2008

“…some Chinese companies routinely shortchange their employees on wages, withhold health benefits and expose their workers to dangerous machinery and harmful chemicals, like lead, cadmium and mercury.”

“... Here in the Pearl River Delta region near Hong Kong, for example, factory workers lose or break about 40,000 fingers on the job every year, according to a study published a few years ago by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.” GUANGZHOU, China …”

“In 2007, factories that supplied more than a dozen corporations, including Wal-Mart, Disney and Dell, were accused of unfair labor practices, including using child labor, forcing employees to work 16-hour days on fast-moving assembly lines, and paying workers less than minimum wage. (Minimum wage in this part of China is about 55 cents an hour.)”

There’s more but it would only be redundant.

“Could those fortunate people have realized such fortune under the previous system”?

As I understand it, under the previous system, the fortunate were communist party officials, I’m sure that there were perks, some of them relatively lavish, but fortunes, as far as I know, were not allowed.

“Is the plight of the average urban worker worse under the current system than it was under the old system”?

As I understand it, the Capitalist reforms in China reduced protections for workers, with the intent of increasing productivity. Which gives rise to the question, who profited from the increased productivity? If the overall standard of living increased, then the plight of the average worker, in terms of economic standard of living, improved, but evaluating standard of living includes other considerations not economic in nature.

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By JDmysticDJ, August 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

Rico Suave (Cont.)

“Doesn’t he have a greater potential to break out of that predicament under the new dispensation than he did before, just like those millionaires”?

A very small select few, who had the necessary motivations, skills, and opportunity, were able to achieve an astounding upward economic mobility. I’ll suggest that others who lacked the necessary qualities and characteristics were disadvantaged. We saw similar upward mobility in the Soviet Union, some of it proved to be nefarious. You may have noticed that I have a philosophical lack of respect for those who are excessively motivated by economic self interest, and are willing to exploit and manipulate others to achieve selfish goals. Could it be that my philosophical belief has created in me a misconception, resulting in a character flaw or neurosis? I guess we’re all shaped by our beliefs, experiences, and observations; or perhaps my evaluation of certain “perceived profligate skills” is irrationally critical.

“There is no doubt that income disparity is widening in China, but is that a reason to go back to the old system where everyone was poor, but equal? Economic equality is a false god if it means equality of destitution.”

Your premise seems to be that economic equality leads to destitution. Based on my beliefs your contention is counter intuitive. I believe that economic inequality, in a global historical context has lead to destitution for many, to relatively affluent unrewarding subsistence levels for some, and an ever increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the undeserving very few. Supposing that my contention were true, imagining that things could have evolved differently can only be conjecture, but imagining that things can be different in the future, would simply be a matter of eliminating the inequities, and the acknowledged income disparities. I’m not imagining a utopian world, but advocating for my conception of a better world, a world unburdened from much of what has plagued us. Yes I know that my aspirations are arrogantly grandiose, and I have no illusions regarding my aspirations coming to fruition, but I will continue to advocate for what I believe, and to confront what I believe is counter productive for us all.

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By ofersince72, August 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Samo,  I believe I will get it.

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By samosamo, August 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

****************


By ofersince72, August 18 at 5:06 pm

He states in this that he may well just let it alone but his
participation at TomDispatch website makes me think he’ll stick
around doing reviews of other’s books and commenting from
time to time. As for more books on the subject, he may not write
another which for his Blowback trilogy I don’t think there is
much more to add since he is publishing this ‘Dismantling the
Empire’ book. Who knows, he is fiesty and knowledgeable, but I
feel his frustration and fear that our ‘eternal vigilance’ has or was
broken down and we have lost the democracy we once had that
is now, as Thomas Paine called it, the aristocracy.

I have a dvd interview of him, I belive Tom Englehart to be the
interviewer, where he stated something like, ‘that if you have a
condo in another country, it might be time to learn the
language’. He also so said that the america is really so close to
the edge that the american citizens don’t know what to do. But it
is worth the money ($17.99) for the 52 minute interview that is
really a synopsis of his trilogy.

http://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Freely-Vol-Chalmers-
American/dp/B0010AEQ1S

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By rico, suave, August 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

balkas: What are you talking about?

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By rico, suave, August 18, 2010 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

JD:

I’m happy you didn’t just press $$$$$$.

Please bear with me here, because I want to respond to your obviously well thought out response. First, the argument is NOT going nowhere! We disagree, but we’re talking.

Second, the thoughts I agree with:
1. “I don’t agree that Laissez faire Capitalism is the only possible wealth generator.”
2. “I believe that any political philosophy or economic system that is based on personal greed and not the common welfare is destined to failure, and will eventually lead to economic misery.”
3. “The elephant in the room is empire, and the wars associated with empire.”
4. “Historically, societies, cultures, and nations that have been motivated by self interest have become predatorily aggressive, and the rationales that were used were sometimes purely economic, or simply the result of a self righteous sense of philosophical, or inherent/ innate superiority, or derived from a false altruism, or from other fallacious rationales.”

As for your China statistics: Did those millionaires and billionaires become so by taking from other Chinese, or is it a matter of newly created wealth? Could those fortunate people have realized such fortune under the previous system? Is the plight of the average urban worker worse under the current system than it was under the old system? Doesn’t he have a greater potential to break out of that predicament under the new dispensation than he did before, just like those millionaires? There is no doubt that income disparity is widening in China, but is that a reason to go back to the old system where everyone was poor, but equal? Economic equality is a false god if it means equality of destitution.

I’d like to comment further on your post, but I’ll leave off for now and think about it some more.

Thanks.

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By JDmysticDJ, August 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Rico Suave

This argument is going nowhere, like you, I’ll agree to certain points; that I absolutely don’t believe, because the apparent evidence is too difficult to dispute effectively. For example, I’ll agree that Capitalism has generated wealth, but I don’t agree that Laissez faire Capitalism is the only possible wealth generator.  I believe that laissez faire Capitalism has created more negatives than positives, and I believe that any political philosophy or economic system that is based on personal greed and not the common welfare is destined to failure, and will eventually lead to economic misery.

The elephant in the room is empire, and the wars associated with empire. It seems to me that right-wing free marketers want to keep the elephant in the closet, and that they tacitly approve of war, and that this tacit approval comes from a variety of rationales. In addition to causing death and misery, war’s expenditures can not be recouped unless those wars result in acquired resources. I’ll concede that the concept of altruistic war could exist, but in order for the expenditures (economic and human,) of altruistic war to be justified, balanced altruistic outcomes must be achieved. I’ll argue that war, though sometimes altruistic in intention or justification, has very rarely, maybe never, resulted in sustainable altruistic outcomes. It’s necessary that societies, cultures, or nations that become aggressively predatory must be combated in order to assure survival, but it’s also necessary that societies, cultures, and nations have the moral and intellectual turpitude to distinguish between what is survival and what is merely a matter of self interest. Historically, societies, cultures, and nations that have been motivated by self interest have become predatorily aggressive, and the rationales that were used were sometimes purely economic, or simply the result of a self righteous sense of philosophical, or inherent/ innate superiority, or derived from a false altruism, or from other fallacious rationales.

Regarding China, China has roughly 50 households with incomes over a Billion dollars and roughly 500,000 households which have incomes over a million dollars, while the average urban worker makes $1,000 annually, from working 12, 14, or more hours a day. Is this the future workers have to look forward to under free market Capitalism? It’s been said that average workers in China have a caloric intake and nutritional health similar to “some places in Europe” but there is a very large part of China’s population that fall below the average worker status. It’s true that China has become a wealthy nation, but it’s the distribution of that wealth that determines the common welfare.

The history of the world is dominated by the existence of “haves and have nots,” and progressive thinkers have sought to eliminate these inequities. Progress has been made but inequities still exist. Many believe that our economic system is based on meritocracy, but I believe that the obscene wealth, and the political power that goes with it, can not be merited, and that this unmerited concentration of wealth and political power has resulted in a disenfranchisement that has subverted our democracy. The current frustration is palpable, and the potential for an ominous future is expressed by many, from all political perspectives. I don’t consider myself to be a profit of doom, but I don’t believe that, “it can’t happen here,” and I believe that it has already happened here, to a certain extent.

Hopefully this post won’t be perceived as too simplistic and inadequate to deal with the complexities involved. It’s only a brief analysis of my beliefs, and arguments. I suppose I could have just posted a whole series of dollar signs, but the “Root” (If you get my meaning) of our problems, seems obvious to me.

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By balkas, August 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

Rico,
What are you, yes u, talking about? If you don’t tell me i can’t talk to you or explain anything. S’mthing is ailing you, but it is s’mthing entirely inside your skin.
I know i ache, too, but never blame anyone for it! If you blame others you just add yourself and another ache. And some people never learn this truth!tnx

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By jkehoe, August 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A few thoughts from north of the border: To be sure the 20C was the “American Century.” And for reasons seldom mentioned in political discussions:  an abundant supply of cheap energy which fuelled industrial production and the unpresedented American technological innovations. Today,with something like 40%+ of the best engineers and technical people now working within the M-I-C making military equipment etc… imagine if these people had been available to work within the consumer-non military sectors after the Soviet fall… the innovations in greening, infrastructure, transportation…

IMO, the US is not a free market economy and never has been. Currently estimates place approximately 50% of the economy as “a free market,” with a huge “socialist” sector, and thats not the much needed public educational or government sectors. The socialist sector of the US economy is M-I-C. Here good paying jobs,excellent free healthcare coverage,all kinds of free educational opportunities, limited competition,and massive subsidies to related industries are the norm. If the wealthy are not paying their fair share of taxes who is paying for the M-I-C?   

Most of us Canadians hope the best for the US. We have relatives there, travel there, read your stuff-like here- admire people like HZinn, CJohnson, Harrington, RFK, et al, and we are tied to your decisions and future.

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By ofersince72, August 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Hey Samo, 

  Some of the posters to this same column over on
Common Dreams feel this is Chalmers’ good bye, You think?

I saw him being interviewed about 15 yrs ago, he made
the comment, “if you are in the position to get the hell
out of America, leave now, you might not get the chance
soon.”

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By samosamo, August 18, 2010 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

****************


Very glad to see that Chalmers Johnson is still sounding off
about the dangerously irrational imperial path the U.S. is being
taken down by the military industrial congressional financial
complex in an attempt to placate the plutocracy and their
financial gains and schemes, there is hardly a better person to
be in position to do it.

Certainly look forward to adding ‘Dismantling the Empire:
America’s Last Best Hope’ to my the rest of his Blowback trilogy.
He is truely the small voice in the storm that everybody should
be paying attention to, but are too enwrapped by the ever more
boisterous msm cultivating its ‘captive’ audience.

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By rico, suave, August 18, 2010 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

balkas, what are you talking about?

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By Alturn, August 18, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What if, upon closing, we transferred ownership to the United Nations for the explicit purpose of utilization for global food, education, healthcare and shelter programs.  Instead of giving back for commercialization, what if these resources set the standard for demonstrating ‘swords into ploughshares’?

Often we think public resources that are being used for malevolent purposes must be discarded - which usually means corrupt privatization.  We would be far better off to consider how to use them as places to strengthen the collective good and the restoration of the commons.

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By balkas, August 18, 2010 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

Same lies repeated ad infinitum: US in a war [or my nose fell into my finger, as i say for my wrong] doing.
US never invades, aggresses- it is always dragged into [by now 180]wars, incursions, battles, etc.

And ad infinitum lamenting how all these [by now sanitized ‘wars’] would cause US to slide from its top position.

Which means that asocialists [fascists] in US salivate at the prospect of beating a people to a pulp, but eventually lament when that doesn’t happen.

And the casuistry never ends even on socalled radical-dissentful sites and not only on LAT, WP, NYT,etc. tnx

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By rico, suave, August 18, 2010 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

JD:

Yes, the US was in great shape relative to Europe and Japan after the war. And our help put them back on their feet in a dramatic fashion. (The Marshall Plan probably could have been extended farther east, but Russia had their own ideas about that.) And the free market approach achieved that far more readily than a “command” approach, as residents on either side of the Berlin Wall would have verified.

Yes, I believe there is room for government intervention using Keynesian techniques, but only as it applies to fiscal policy, NOT picking and choosing which sectors or industries to favor or disfavor.

There is no question that China’s current economic boom is a result of loosening the reins of “command” central planning and letting market forces allocate resources and labor and capital. There are millions fewer people in poverty, and millions more people with extra money in their pockets as a result of this economic liberalization. These are easily demonstrable facts and you don’t have to be a conservative or “anti-progressive” to see that.

Again, China’s miracle is a result of moves TOWARD free market principles and AWAY FROM communist command principals. It is an amazing thing to watch.

And why do you think the US will have to go begging, hat in hand when their time is over?

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By ofersince72, August 18, 2010 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Really,  the best way to get

  Uranium Enrichment Technology

is to have a war with the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

after the war, the U.S. will give it to you, just as

they are doing for Viet Nam right now.
and Japan, Germany, Korea, started with Iran until those
durn revolutionaries messed up the program, Iraq will
have it soon, so Afghan, you are only about 200,000
deaths away from having free enrichment technology.

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By ofersince72, August 18, 2010 at 2:41 am Link to this comment

“be merciful and let all of us sink into the ocean so
  that humanity can live on without the accursed
            U.S. OF A.”

right on$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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By JDmysticDJ, August 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment

Rico Suave

Your post is interesting. Apparently you agree with Chalmer’s prognostications, and somehow, consider his prognostications, as demonstrating a victory for Free Market Capitalism.

Of course the U.S. was in an excellent economic position after the Second World War. U.S. Industry escaped the damage that ravaged Europe and Japan. U.S. Industry experienced a rapid growth during the Second World War. “GOVERNMENT SPENDING” on the War effort and the corresponding building of industrial capacity put us in a very good economic position after the War.

The Marshal Plan and the Truman Doctrine were very good for our economy. The 25,000,000 Billion (Chump change) our “GOVERNMENT SPENT” to “HELP” Europe and Japan rebuild came right back to us due to agreements. This “STIMULUS” to our economy was very beneficial, for our national industrial health.

“Keynesian economics advocates a MIXED ECONOMY—predominantly private sector, but WITH A LARGE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC SECTOR—and served as the economic model during the latter part of the Great Depression, World War II, and the POST WAR ECONOMIC EXPANSION (1945–1973),”

In 1945 the top marginal tax rate was 94%, it dropped down to over 80% from 1946 through 1950, went back up to 90% from 1951 to 1963, then it dropped to the ridiculously low rate of 70% from 1964 to 1982, then Reagan went nuts and dropped it down to 50%, and then to 28%. Then George H.W. (No new taxes) Bush raised the top marginal tax rate up 31%, and then Clinton, feeling our pain, raised it to 39%.

“The period from the end of World War II to the early 1970s was a golden era of American capitalism.” Do you see the correlation between top marginal tax rates and the “golden era”?

The Average ANNUAL wage for Chinese workers in urban areas is $1058.00, and $328.00 for rural workers, and they work long grueling hours. Go free market! I’m not sure if they’ve picked up on our liberal traditions, they seem to be a little on the repressive side don’t they? They have a mixed economy, Capitalism and Totalitarian Communism, right?


“A magnanimous America, in its dotage, must learn to live with that, as Britain did well over half a century ago.”
 

Given that our industrial base has been destroyed, the fact that we are the biggest debtor nation in the world, our balance of trade problems, and our war expenses, I’m thinking Britain about four centuries ago, not half a century ago.

After the magnanimous U.S. economy fails, and brings down the global economy, we’ll be going to China with an empty bowl asking “Please sir, can I have some more?”

Go free market! Go free market! Go free market! Go!

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By nemesis2010, August 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

By rico, suave, August 17 at 8:07 pm

“The American Century will be eclipsed by the China Century, there is no doubt. But it will not be as a result of war (let us hope) but as a result of an environment of economic competition and political liberalism made possible by the actions (yes, including war) of the United States, and its friends during the American Century.”

You had to go and do it, didn’t you Rico baby? You couldn’t help yourself, could you? You had to go and do it.

How dare you actually speak of the U.S.A. having been responsible for good in this world? Don’t you realize that if it weren’t for the U.S. of A. we could be living and basking in the glory that was the U.S.S.R.?

When I think of Mao’s Little Red Book and all those young Chinese gleefully running through the streets grabbing the elderly communists and publicly shaming them and murdering some and sending the majority to reeducation-reeducation camps I can feel one with the universal consciousness.

Oh… to return to the glory days of communist Ethiopia. All that misery and starvation due to American foreign aid.

Who cannot look at Viet Nam and North and South Korea and not pity South Korea for all those years of American occupation.

Accursed is the U.S.A. Accursed I tell you. 
I’m so depressed that I can’t type any more. Oh… that the FSM would be merciful and let us all sink into the ocean so that humanity can live on without the accursed U.S. of A.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, August 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Whether we want to admit it or not, the reason the 20th century WAS the “American Century” was because of America’s military involvement in, and victories in, WWI and WWII, wars NOT of our chosing. As a victor, America rebuilt Europe and Japan, allowing them to be politically free and economic collosi. Russia, in its sphere, enslaved millions in command economies which, “and the results are in”, could not compete with the West and Japan. Mao’s China, following the Marxist model and combined with its historic isolation, allowed countless thousands to starve. Only recently have “market forces” been countenanced, to stupendous success. China has rocketed past Japan economically and will pass the US soon.

This is a moment for the US to confront the notion, and accept the results of, “be careful what you wish for.” The entire point of our foreign policy has been to “spread the good news” about the power of the free market and political freedom. Now that so many nations have gotten the message, we should be happy, even if it means we’ll have to compete with a nation (two, if you include India’s billion) of 1.3 billion highly disciplined, determined people who are just now learning that it’s better to be fed than hungry, that it’s better to have a choice than settle for what’s begrudged to you by the state.

The American Century will be eclipsed by the China Century, there is no doubt. But it will not be as a result of war (let us hope) but as a result of an environment of economic competition and political liberalism made possible by the actions (yes, including war) of the United States, and its friends during the American Century.

A magnanimous America, in its dotage, must learn to live with that, as Britain did well over half a century ago.

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By gerard, August 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Why Is Johnson refusing to play Cassandra for the demise of the American empire?  Because he does not want to prophesy a probable future of military dictatorship—at least an interlude where the formerly democratic Constitution is sidestepped in favor of supporting a vast, expensive and unpopular worldwide military presence with all the repression that is necessary to maintain it?  This seems all too likely because at present the production and processing of war is our primary source of economic survival both in terms of corporate profits and of civilian employment?
  If the Democratic (less war-like) party does not take bold steps to resist this drift, I think such a future is all too likely. So far we have seen nothing from the Obama administration to indicate that there is hope for regaining civilian control of policy.

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By NYCartist, August 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

First, I was struck by Tom Engelhardt’s power in re to publish or not publish “Blowback” (at the publishing company where he was working).

I have really enjoyed Engelhardt’s work, and his interviews on radio…particularly on WBAI (I support http://www.takebackwbai.org ).

I read most of the trilogy: Blowback, Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson and think they are basic books, “must reads”.

Engelhardt’s intro is fascinating, as I started this comment about.  I am a bit older than Tom E. and was one of the young adults (now 7 0) who were protesting the Vietnam War from 1965 on.  (I felt guilty for awhile that it took me so long to get involved.  I was a young teacher…from age 20 to 25
and “unruly” - having been involved in the first teachers strikes in NYC to get the right to collective bargaining and then for the first contract, in successive years - 2nd strike in April, 1962.  I never voted for Al Shanker for UFT president - always for the other guy.)

  I often think of myself as a Cassand_a, but do not think big predictions re empire/US are a great idea, unless it’s looked at as policy suggestions.  Good luck to the young and their activism.

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