‘Goodbye to America’ and ‘Hegemony’s Cost’
by Paul Craig Roberts
November 28, 2007
Pat Buchanan is too patriotic to come right out and say it, but the message of his new book, “Day of Reckoning,” is that America as we have known her is finished. Moreover, Naomi Wolf agrees with him. These two writers of different political persuasions arrive at America’s demise from different directions.
Buchanan explains how hubris, ideology and greed have torn America apart. A neoconservative cabal with an alien agenda captured the Bush administration and committed American blood, energy and money to aggression against Muslim countries in the Middle East, while permitting America’s domestic borders to be overrun by immigrants and exporting the jobs that had made the United States an opportunity society. War and offshoring have taken a savage economic toll, while open borders and diversity have created social and political division.
In her new book, “End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,” Wolf explains America’s demise in terms of the erosion of freedoms. She writes that the 10 classic steps that are used to close open societies are currently being taken in the United States. Martial law is only a declaration away.
The Bush administration responded to Sept. 11 by initiating military aggression in the Middle East and by using fear and the “war on terror” to implement police state measures at home with legislation, presidential directives and executive orders.
Overnight, the United States became a tyranny in which people could be arrested and incarcerated on the basis of unsubstantiated accusation. Both U.S. citizens and non-citizens were denied habeas corpus, due process, and access to attorneys and courts. Congress gave Bush legislation establishing military tribunals, the procedures of which permit people to be condemned to death on the basis of secret evidence, hearsay and confessions extracted by torture. Nothing of the like has ever been seen before in the United States.
The cancer might have metastasized if the Guantánamo detainees had actually been the dangerous terrorists and enemy combatants that the Bush regime declared them to be. Had the administration actually possessed evidence against the detainees, the Bush regime might have succeeded in dispensing with the Constitution. Conviction of the detainees could have led to what Wolf calls a “fascist expansion.” Following the exercise of its new powers, the regime could have broadened the definition of terrorist to include the regime’s critics, thus pulling citizens in general into tribunals devoid of civil liberty protections.
It could still turn out this way in the event of another 9-11 attack, whether real or orchestrated. But momentarily, the drive toward tyranny has been blunted because the vast majority of detainees turned out to be hapless individuals sold into American captivity by warlords responding to the bounty the United States paid for “terrorists.” Any unprotected individual was vulnerable to being captured by Afghan and Pakistani warlords and sold as a “terrorist.” The Americans needed to show results, and the Bush regime needed “terrorists” in order to feed the fear its propaganda had generated.
In Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, the absence of evidence would not have mattered, as the judicial system produced the results demanded by the tyrants. However, the U.S. military had not been sufficiently corrupted for the Bush regime’s Guantánamo agenda to succeed.
Honorable officers, such as Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, were able to discern that the U.S. government had no information on the detainees and used interrogations in order to rubber stamp the a priori determination that a detainee was a terrorist or enemy combatant. Military officers made these revelations known to real courts before the tribunal process could establish itself.
Andy Worthington’s recently published book, “The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 759 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison,” proves that the regime’s claim that it had hundreds of dangerous terrorists at Guantánamo was just another Bush administration lie.
Currently, support for Bush, Cheney and the neoconservative agenda is low. However, Congress, the press and elections have proven to be feeble opponents of the Bush regime’s drive toward war and tyranny. It remains to be seen whether the regime has sufficient credibility or audacity to initiate war with Iran or a false flag attack that would revive the fascist expansion of which Wolf warns.
The Bush administration has been a catastrophe. Its failures are unprecedented. Energy prices are at all-time highs. The United States is deeply in debt and dependent on foreign creditors. The dollar has lost 60 percent of its value against other tradable currencies, and its reserve currency status, the basis of American power, is in doubt.
The United States has lost millions of middle-class jobs, which have been replaced with low-paid domestic service jobs. Except for the very rich, Americans have experienced no gains in real income in the 21st century.
As the ladders of upward mobility are dismantled and the middle class struggles and fails, America is left with a few rich and many poor. America’s reputation and credibility are damaged perhaps beyond repair. Congress and the press have enabled the executive branch’s disregard of the Constitution and civil liberty. The United States is mired in two lost wars, which are pushing Lebanon and nuclear-armed Pakistan into deepening political crises.
As Buchanan concludes, “Our day of reckoning is at hand.”
To find out more about Paul Craig Roberts, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.
Ed.: And one more here from Mr. Roberts, one of the few writers willing to write what we all know…
by Paul Craig Roberts
November 2, 2007
“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
— President George Bush on May 24, 2005, at the Athena Performing Arts Center at Greece Athena Middle and High School in Rochester, N.Y.
When he departs the White House on Jan. 20, 2009, the current resident will bequeath to the American people and the next administration an interminable war in the Middle East and a depreciated currency.
And that’s the good news. It assumes there is a successor administration and that no Dick Cheney-contrived “national emergency” will make it possible for Bush to test drive National Security Presidential Directive 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 to cancel the 2008 election.
Neoconservatives led by Cheney remain determined to effect “regime change” in Iran. The allegation of weapons of mass destruction falsely brought against Iraq is now being deployed against Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. The IAEA is the institution that polices the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty by inspecting the nuclear facilities of the signatories to the treaty, of which Iran is one. The neocon-Cheney-Bush regime, however, is prepared to bomb Iran on the basis of fibs alone.
Faithfully repeated by the propaganda ministry that masquerades as the “mainstream media,” those fibs have been trotted out so many times in recent months that significant numbers of Americans now believe themselves to be in peril from nonexistent Iranian nukes.
In this way, the regime gains the complicity of the American people and their representatives in Congress for what will be unprovoked aggression against a third Middle Eastern country, a third war crime under the Nuremberg standard.
The “war on terror” is a hoax. It serves as a cover for the drive for U.S. and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. Iraq, Iran and Syria became neoconservative targets because they were the only Middle Eastern countries that are not American puppet states or dependencies.
Afghanistan was attacked because the Taliban was uniting the country under the banner of Islam, a development that, if successful, could lead to the overthrow of the governments in America’s puppet states and dependencies.
The war rhetoric against Iran ratcheted up when the White House belatedly realized that the result of “bringing democracy to Iraq” was to empower the majority Shiites, thereby creating a Shiite crescent from Iran to southern Lebanon and alarming America’s Sunni Saudi Arabian dependent.
Israel’s goal is to have the Americans eliminate the Muslim states that support Hamas and Hezbollah’s opposition to Israel’s theft of the remainder of Palestine and southern Lebanon, whose water resources Israel covets. Israel’s goal thus precisely coincides with that of the Cheney regime.
The “Cakewalk War” in Iraq was supposed to be over in a few weeks and pay for itself out of Iraqi oil revenues. The war is now five years old and has cost American taxpayers, and those left dependent on government programs by decades of a welfare state, $1 trillion in out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs.
As large and troublesome as this cost is, it pales in comparison to the damage the war has done to the value of the dollar and its role as reserve currency. Since 2001, the Euro has risen 60 percent against the dollar.
This means much more to Americans than the higher cost of a European vacation and status symbol German cars. The U.S. dollar is losing its reserve currency role when the euro, the currency of a nonexistent country — Europe — becomes so much more desirable than the dollar that it rises 60 percent in value.
The euro is a monetary unit that has run far ahead of the political entity whose currency it is. Europe still consists of separate sovereign states, and many of them are unhappy with the euro. Yet, since 2001, people throughout the world have been shifting from dollars to euros.
It is not normal for people to flee from the reserve currency. It only happens when people believe it cannot continue to fill that role.
The U.S. dollar is under double assault. One assault is from the offshoring of American jobs, which turns U.S. gross domestic product into foreign GDP and worsens the U.S. trade deficit. It is not possible to achieve a trade balance when the production of goods and services for the U.S. market is being moved offshore by U.S. corporations.
The other assault is from the U.S. budget deficit. Americans have become so hard-pressed that their savings rate is negligible. The U.S. government has to rely on foreigners to lend it money for its annual expenditures. Washington’s two biggest bankers are China and Japan, the countries with the largest trade surpluses with the United States.
The transformation of the Iraq “cakewalk” into an interminable war has run up a $1 trillion price tag, and an even larger war with Iran is looming. U.S. generals and neoconservative ideologues predict a decade or multi- decade-long war in the Middle East. Washington’s bankers are waking up to the reality that they will not be repaid.
The only reason the dollar has not already lost its reserve currency role is that the only alternative is the euro. Yet even the euro, a virtual currency, may have taken the dollar’s role by the end of 2008.
Full of hegemonic hubris, the U.S. government does not understand that U.S. power and hegemony have always depended not on missiles and military force, but on the financial power conveyed by the dollar’s role as reserve currency.
The reserve currency is world money, good in any country to pay any bill. The reserve currency country is not a debtor in the usual sense. As the reserve currency can be used to settle international accounts, the reserve currency country can borrow at will until lenders lose confidence in the currency.
There is abundant evidence that the loss of confidence in the dollar is underway. When it is complete, the United States will no longer be a superpower.
The decline in American power and influence could be dramatic. Part of America’s power results from European countries going along with Washington. The sharp rise in the euro’s value has hurt European exports, however, squeezing profit margins and wages, and encouraging offshore production. Fights over monetary policy between European capitals could doom both the European Union and the euro, leaving the world with no reserve currency and America with embittered former allies.
By going to war for hegemony, the Bush regime has brought about American decline. While the neocons have spent two administrations trying to deracinate Islam, real threats to America’s power have been neglected. Offshoring, which turns U.S. GDP into imports and larger trade deficits, together with war debts, has eroded the dollar’s status as reserve currency, undermining the foundation of American power.