America plays the hegemon while ruled by fear and machismo. FAIL.

Summary:  Machismo in its many forms has played a big role into geopolitics, but often with poor results. Today America has the exotic combination of a global hegemon — ruling by the usual methods, albeit with unprecedented global reach and power — whose elites rule at home by appeals to the fear AND machismo of their people. It seems to be working, but probably not for long.

“Most mainstream US foreign policy “debate” is over tactics of imperial management: how WH should be better controlling other countries, etc.”
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald), 1 September 2014

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood, the epitome of US foreign policy

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Contents

  1. Machismo as a grand strategy
  2. Daily fear-mongering. Wet your pants on command!
  3. Warnings about our mad rush to war
  4. For More Information

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(1)  Machismo as a grand strategy

There are many forms of realistic grand strategies. In American today we have the belligerent strategies of the neocons (and their allies) in both parties (Obama made his allegiance clear in 2008; Hillary recently reaffirmed her membership). There are the sugar-coated belligerence of the humanitarian militarists (social work with guns). There are a few advocates of rational grand strategies, of the kind that have worked in the past.

We also have emotional “strategies”, suitable for manipulating the pawns of the inner party and the wider audience among the proles. It appeals to men watching gender roles change, and a middle class watching its economic foundations wash away. War, especially violence against weaker powers, restores our self-esteem. Jeremy Egerer plays us well in “What kind of men are we?“, American Thinker, 31 August 2014 — Excerpt:

If we share anything with the Romans, it is their delinquency, laziness, and effeminacy right before they remembered who they were. But if the Romans were overrun with pirates, we’re overrun far worse with illegal immigrants; the former required a war, and we require only a wall. If Rome was embarrassed by Jugurtha {King of Numida, now Algeria; executed by Rome 104 BC) , we’re embarrassed far worse by the Islamic State {whose} advancement could be stopped with a faceless but insistent bombing campaign.

If Rome was infested with layabouts, we’re infested far worse with race-rioters; Romans rioted partially because their citizens were unjustly overrun with usury – as ours are currently by national and private bankers – and Americans riot not when innocents, but when known robbers, thugs, and menaces are shot by the police.

The question, then, may not be a matter of what kind of men we are. For unless men take stands in the Senate and remind us who we are before we become Mexico; unless preachers go to their pulpits and spur us into battle against an inexplicable yet stoppable Islamic evil; unless our fathers teach their sons that trials for citizens and not ignorant marches for robbers are the closest we’ll ever come to justice – a justice admittedly flawed, but the best we can manage outside Eden – then we are asking the wrong question entirely.

A challenge to our manhood composed mostly of falsehoods and fear-mongering. It’s the Right-wing world view. Consider this this confident statement:

“Islamic State’s advancement could be stopped with a faceless but insistent bombing campaign.”

How often have massive American bombing campaigns failed since WW2? Almost always. Also hear the echoes to 1914, another war fought amidst cries that it was necessary to prove our manhood. Consider this paragraph:

Sometimes they ruin themselves because they become so proud that they pick fights they shouldn’t, but more often they become so secure in their happiness that they forget that happiness is the result of reason, justice, labor, and war.

He’s speaking of America. A nation whose military and intel spending are almost half of the world’s total, and with its allies are most of the world’s total. A nation with hundreds of bases around the world, who this decade invaded and occupied two nations — fought in a dozen more — expanding into Africa in order to increase that number. Where’s this effeminacy Regerer speaks of?

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AFP: Defense Budgets Around The World
Narrow use of “military”, not including all US spending on intel, nukes, military pensions & health care

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(2)  Daily fear-mongering. Wet your pants on command!

Daily News, 31 August 2014
NY Daily News, 31 August 2014

Our allies watch us closely, as our children and pets do at home. They often understand us better than we understand ourselves, as they must see through our facades and illusions. Today that means seeing our gullibility and fearfulness. Here we see the Saudi Princes easily exploiting both.

Here we see the biff-baff played on us. Egerer’s article appeals to machismo as the Saudi’s fear-mongering.  “ISIS will be here soon“, New York Daily News, 31 August 2014 — Opening:

Saudi King Abdullah predicted that bloodthirsty jihadists will quickly spread throughout Europe and the United States if left unchecked, according to remarks reported Saturday by official Saudi media. On the same day Abdullah delivered his warning, U.S. fighter jets and unmanned drones launched five strikes against ISIS near Iraq’s Mosul Dam.

We’ve heard these incessant warnings since 9-11. They find a warm reception among those seeking to use our fear to manipulate us, so that we fund the ever-growing security state — fewer rights at home, more wars abroad.

For a useful context to these Saudi claims see “Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed: The Underrated Saudi Connection“, Patrick Cockburn, TomDispatch, 21 August 2014 — “How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate”.

(3)  Warnings about our mad rush to war

As we saw with the Syrian war-mongering, after 13 years of war the voices of reason respond more quickly than before — more loudly, more clearly. Will we listen?

(a)  About war and fear-mongering

Essential reading to understand the machinery that keeps us afraid and easily led: “Hoaxes, Hype, and Hysteria. The War Party never takes a holiday“, Justin Raimondo, AntiWar.com, 1 September 2014 — Raimondo is senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute, and an editor at AntiWar and The American Conservative.

(b)  About the new cold war

Recommended reading to understand the origins of the new cold war: “Return of the Evil Empire; The U.S. Owns the Narrative on Ukraine“, Jason Hirthler, Counterpunch, 1 September 2014

(c)  About the new chapter of our mad wars in the Middle East

  1. Obama and the Warmongers: The Politics of the ISIS Threat“, Charles M. Blow, op-ed in the New York Times, 31 August 2014
  2. ISIS in Perspective“, Paul Pillar, The National Interest, 25 August 2014 — Pillar is a 21-year CIA veteran; now a senior fellow at Brookings.
  3. On the Islamic State, the voices counseling panic grow louder“, Paul Waldman, blog of the Washington Post, 1 September 2014
  4. In Search of a Strategy“, Steve Coll (Dean of Columbia School of Journalism), The New Yorker, 8 September 2014 — Eager for the next war, with amnesia about past failures.

The best line is from Coll’s article: “The question about President Obama’s resumption of war in Iraq is not whether it can be justified but where it will lead.” The justification for war never need be questioned, no matter how often found to be lies! Our proud motto: Never Learn from Failure!

Truth Will Make You Free

(4)  For More Information

(a)  Posts about these subjects:

  1. About jihad
  2. Posts about Islam

(b)  Posts about grand strategy:

  1. The Myth of Grand Strategy , 31 January 2006
  2. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy , 1 March 2006
  3. One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? , 28 October 2007
  4. America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past , 30 June 2008  – chapter 1 in a series of notes
  5. President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris , 1 July 2008 – chapter 2
  6. America’s grand strategy, now in shambles , 2 July 2008 — chapter 3
  7. America’s grand strategy, insanity at work , 7 July 2008 — chapter 4
  8. Justifying the use of force, a key to success in 4GW , 8 July 2008 — chapter 5
  9. Geopolitical analysis need not be war-mongering , 9 July 2008 — chapter 7
  10. The King of Brobdingnag comments on America’s grand strategy, 18 November 2008
  11. Is America a destabilizing force in the world?, 23 January 2009
  12. The US Army brings us back to the future, returning to WWI’s “cult of the offense”, 13 February 2009
  13. Is America fighting the tide of history? Are we like the Czars in the 19th century?, 29 July 2010
  14. Realism and Realpolitik – Setting the Conditions for America’s Survival in the 21st Century, 23 February 2012
  15. The Obama Doctrine: we will attack and destroy all non-nuclear rivals, 31 March 2012
  16. Look at America’s grand strategy. Why do we believe this nonsense?, 5 March 2013
  17. How America can survive – even prosper – in the 21st century, 17 February 2014

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13 thoughts on “America plays the hegemon while ruled by fear and machismo. FAIL.

  1. I liked the part about usury. Lends a definite air of respectability. Nice touch. No bankers among those neocons. No sir. Definitely friends of the common man. They feel our pain. Quite comforting really.

  2. Chalmers Johnson went to some lengths to explain that we cannot have an empire abroad and a democracy at home. It saddens but doesn’t surprise me that we have ISIS in the Middle East and Ferguson MO at home.

    1. The history of voting rights in the UK is quite interesting.

      It is only in 1918 that all males aged 21 or more got the right to vote (about 40% of them could not vote before that date), universal voting rights for women was achieved in 1928, and only in 1948 was plural voting (for property owners and people affiliated with a University) abolished. Wikipedia has a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffrage#United_Kingdom

      By 1919, the British empire was fracturing: India was boiling, e.g. with the infamous Amritsar massacre; the dominions (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada) got their own representation at the SDN and signed as self-governing countries at the treaty of Versailles.

      It looks as if the history of the British empire tends to confirm Chalmers Johnson’s statement.

    2. Oh, I forgot: by 1919, Ireland was slipping away from the British empire — fast, violently and irretrievably.

  3. Fabius: Arguably, the franchise was extended to the hoi polloi quite late in British history. Largely after the Empire was well underway.

    However, I think he point was also that as the costs become apparant, dissent begins to arise. So even if the majority of the population supports the imperial project, suppressing the dissent and unhappiness (due also to economic decline) becomes unsustainable.

    Nonehetless, propaganda can ensure that the imperial project works for awhile. I think the propaganda is beginning to lose effectiveness a bit, but there is still so much “support the troops” rhetoric out there that it will be awhile.

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