The Issue is Empire

Question: from essayist Cullen Murphy:

Are We Rome? — as in “the glory that was…,” and, of course, “decline and fall…”

Answer: from political economist Alice Amsden, in Escape from Empire:

Notice rather that there have been two American Empires since World War 2. The first was an improvisational Golden Age from 1944 to 1980 (FDR through Jimmy Carter) that worked growth wonders for pretty much everybody, including Latin America and Africa. Our post-Vietnam, tight-money Second Empire from 1980 to the present (Reagan to Bush II) could well be remembered, like the British Empire, as a place where “the sun never sets and wages never rise,” and it could be the ruin of all but Asia.

The motto of Amsden’s first American Empire was “get smart”; the instruction to developing economies was “use your own brains and run your own show.” The motto of the second empire is “get tough,” and the effective rule is roughly: Washington’s way or the highway.

The first lifted all boats; the second lifted all yachts. In one case prosperity and growth were graced by Heaven. In the other, inequality and stagnation were squired by Hell.

Alice Amsden, Escape from Empire

Cullen Murphy’s Are We Rome? feels more like an evening in Edward Gibbon’s study, or in Murphy’s own life-library. Murphy was an editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and he wrote this book in a nook of the Boston Athenaeum, glancing back and forth from the classical authorities on Rome to the digital chronicles of Late Bush. Here’s a taste of Murphy:

The Roman historian Titus Livius, better known to us as Livy… explained that what makes a society strong is the well-being of its people — basic justice, basic opportunity, a modicum of spiritual reward — and the people’s conviction that “the system” is set up to produce it. As Livy wrote, “An empire remains powerful so long as its subjects rejoice in it.”

So here’s the Titus Livius Hundred-Year Workout Plan:

First, instill an appreciation of the wider world. Start teaching it round instead of flat. Immigration helps us here. The influx of foreign students does too. And so does — seriously — America’s entry, at last, into the world of soccer-playing countries. Colonial America defined itself as a nation as it advanced into an unknown interior; in a globalizing age the unknown world is as close to us as it was to any seventeenth-century settler. To drive home the idea that “we are not alone,” there is no substitute for fluency in another language. Every educated person in the Roman Empire spoke at least two languages, and so did the strivers among the, uh, immigrant hordes. Americans have their priorities backward. They worry needlessly about the second part: whether the immigrants will ever learn English. They should be worrying about the first: whether the elites will ever speak anything else…

Cullen Murphy, Are We Rome?

There are two wonderfully distilled small books here on what has seemed to me the underlying choice of our time: Empire or Republic? The oldest warning from our Founders, who knew their Roman history, is that the republic was ours only, as Franklin said, “if you can keep it.” Furthermore, it seems that the broadest underlying consensus off the presidential blarney trail is that Empire is the name of what has gone wrong in our country. My consensus ranges back to the warnings of George Washington and John Adams but also Mark Twain and William James. Among contemporaries it includes opposite figures like Pat Buchanan and the late Susan Sontag, the repentant Niall Ferguson and the left-conservative Norman Mailer, not to mention Chalmers Johnson and Gore Vidal.

Empire as a debating theme may not be ripe yet for presidential politics, but let us make it the stuff of a radio hour and this open thread, please.

Extra Credit Reading

Fareed Zakaria, The Arrogant Empire, Newsweek, March 24, 2003.

Bryn Lloyd-Ballard, Imperial America?, The Uncapitalist Journal, June 15, 2007:

“The US is not an empire in the sense that it wields *direct*political control over foreign populations and territories, but it is an empire by merit of its unparalleled military, economic, and financial supremacy. American hegemony rests on the perpetual exploitation of an economically-dependent periphery in order to feed its metropolitan core, and uses its hegemonic position within the international economy to prevent countries from opting out of its imperial fold. In these respects, the United States resembles the most powerful empires of past epochs.”

New American Century, Statement of Principles: “We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.”

James Shikwati, For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!, Der Spiegel, July 04, 2005: “Why do we get these mountains of clothes? No one is freezing here. Instead, our tailors lose their livlihoods. Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.”

John Perkins, Interview with Amy Goodman, on Democracy Now, June 05, 2007: I think it’s fair to say that since World War II, we economic hit men have managed to create the world’s first truly global empire, and we’ve done it primarily without the military, unlike other empires in history. We’ve done it through economics very subtly.”

razib’s comment to Open Source, June 25th, 2007: “america itself is an empire, our influence around the globe is that of a hegemon.”

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  • hurley

    Gibbon endlessly quotable, and his Roman enterprise (first volume, it’s worth mentioning, published in 1776) so imbued with prophecy that we’re still examining it for portents some 300-plus years later. It’s better than the I Ching. I opened my copy at random and came upon his discussion of the Persian War:

    The armies soon encountered each other in the plains of Mesapotamia, and two battles were fought with various and doubtful success; but the third engagement was of a more decisive nature, and the Roman army received a total overthrow, which is attributed to the rashness of Galerius, who with an inconsiderable body of troops attacked the innumerable host of the Persians.

    Of course, that wasn’t the end of it, and the Romans managed to secure what Gibbon terms their “last triumph”:

    In the eyes of posterity this triumph is remarkable by a distinction of a less honorable kind. It was the last that Rome ever beheld. Soon after this period the emperors ceased to vanquish, and Rome ceased to be the capital of the empire […] But the sovereignty of the capital was gradually annihilated in the extent of conquest, the provinces rose to the same level, and the vanquished nations acquired the name and privileges, without imbibing the partial affections, of Romans.

  • hurley

    Pardon my ritmitic.

  • Man, if the US is an empire it’s not very good at it. S. Vietnam, S. Korea, Cuba, Phillipines, Panama… Oops, forgot, we still have the Marianna Islands and US Virgin Islands. Hell, we barely recognize Hawaii never mind Puerto Rico. And the US picked up more real estate on the moon.

    Yes, we recognize that the real estate issue is what ultimately done in Rome. No, those crazy Ceasars, if they had just kept plundering and sending back the aureus, we’d all be speaking Latin right now … vernacular not classical.

    The real question is: Republic or Democratic Republic? But that’s admittedly not as sexy and maybe a tad too obvious seeing as the democratic component is as much as pfft. Oy vey! Jefferson would be rending his waistcoat.

  • zeke

    I am nervous about imprecision in the use of the term “empire.” Is it becoming a shorthand term that means different things depending on the speaker’s agenda?

    So what exactly do we mean by empire: cultural hegemony? political influence whether overt or covert? Far flung military bases (or missile systems) enforcing “stability?” Or is it the traditional enforced commercial relationship in which raw products from the “colony” are sent to the imperial power to be converted to consumer goods and, sometimes, sold back at a premium?

    Beyond what Chris calls the “presidential blarney trail,” on the talk show circuit empire seems to mean little more than American over-reach of whatever sort the critic wishes to castigate. Can the ROS conversation sharpen this and return the word from a flabby abstraction to a useful historical-political definition?

  • Not to mention eating all manner of exotic foods while sprawled out on couches before widescreens with 55 channels worth of entertainments.

  • Oh… Hell… I’m the wet blanket here…

    This could be a very good show. But to be good, I don’t think it can be easy. Easy would be an intellectual circle jerk where we sit back and bash Republicans from Reagan through Bush for turning our “Jedi” republic into a Darth Cheney empire. The best that gets is entertainment, depending on the cleverness of the folks doing the bashing.

    Instead, I’m more interested in really diving into some difficult questions. I don’t find Niall Ferguson “repentant at all. He still thinks empire–in the UK mold of course–is a terrific thing and that the problem with Iraq was not the overreach of American power, but our unwillingness to accept our power and follow through on the responsibilities of empire. Well, does the experience in Iraq–or Vietnam for that matter–bear Ferguson out? Is it possible to have an empire of democracy?

    What about Simon Schama’s contention that Iraq failed becuase of our inability to understand the importance of establishing pluralism first and above all? Is he saying Iraq could have been a success if we’d worried less about elections and more about tolerance and creating civil society? What would that have looked like?

    Finally and most importantly, what about George Packer’s big question in the Assassin’s Gate? What is our role in the world as the only superpower? What responsibilities do we have? And how do we deal with governments–our own included perhaps–who abuse their people and their power.

    As a believer in democracy and pluralism, I hope the show addresses the arguments of the neo-cons and the “muscular” liberals, so that I can think better about alternatives!

  • zeke

    Another thing I am struggling with is how the meaning of the term “emprie” may be changed in a world where increasingly nation-states are becoming proxies for multinational corporations. Whether advocating or criticizing the purported American empire, perhaps we are missing the point of what is really going on.

  • Paul Massari,

    Surly you are not suggesting that Iraq or Vietnam benefited from US intervention?

    you say…

    “And how do we deal with governments–our own included perhaps–who abuse their people and their power”

    I see no “perhaps” about it. Look at all the people in prison in this country. Prison labor is an extension of slavery just to name one “perhaps”.

    you ask…

    “What responsibilities do we have?”

    I would say at a bare minimum we need to give every American decent food, clean air & water, good health care and an excellent education, clean up our own ecological messes and cooperate with other nations when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint and at least quit torturing people (or arranging for them to be tortured) before we make any audacious claims to be the world’s so-called “Good Cop”.

    Zeke,

    I agree, corporate globalization is a huge concern. As a republic and a democracy we alone are responsible to clean up our political system so that our government is not just a rubber stamp for corporate lobbyists and instead takes a leading role in constraining lawless corporate entities that violate international environmental laws and abuse human rights and dignity worldwide.

  • rc21

    I’m not sure you could ever call the US an empire. We certainly do not rule any other nations. And with the exception of Iraq we occupy no county. And If the people of Iraq would stop killing each other we could leave that country also.

    Paul is right this is just another bash the republicans topic and by extension bash the USA for all the worlds troubles. Tiresome at best,

  • plnelson

    I am nervous about imprecision in the use of the term “empire.” Is it becoming a shorthand term that means different things depending on the speaker’s agenda?

    I agree. Any application of the term “empire” as it’s applied to geopolitical institutions of the Roman, Byzantine, Persian, etc, worlds would have to be stretched past the breaking point to have any applicability to today’s world.

    The Roman world had nothing resembling today’s corporations, for one thing. It also had nothing resembling world financial and commodities markets. Nor was there anything like the complex set of interdependencies involving manufacturing in China, software development in India, oil from the mideast and Africa, etc, all of which reinforce and depend on each other, and NONE of which are under our (or anyone else’s) sole control.

    Another HUGE difference between the days of empire and today is that this interdependency exists not just between kingdoms and nation-states, but all the way down to the individual. Prior to the industrial revolution it’s remarkable how independent the average small village almost anywhere in the world was. The vast majority of the food they ate, clothes they wore, building materials in their houses and carts and furniture, even nails and horseshoes and simple tools, were all sourced locally. Trade has existed forever, of course, but for the average person it didn’t account for a big part of their daily lives. That’s all changed. Today we are dependent on thousands of strangers thousands of miles away for almost everything in our lives.

    Today’s world is, in many ways, unlike anything that ever existed before and old words like “empire” just won’t do.

  • Potter

    We have suffered such unwise and immature leadership and it has taken it’s toll…

    Fareed Zakaria in his essay The Arrogant Empire attempts to answer the question why for five decades after WW2 there was no rush to “gang up against the United States” for it’s supremacy:

    “When America had the world at its feet, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman chose not to create an American imperium, but to build a world of alliances and multilateral institutions. They formed the United Nations, the Bretton Woods system of economic cooperation and dozens of other international organizations. America helped get the rest of the world back on its feet by pumping out vast amounts of aid and private investment. The centerpiece of this effort, the Marshall Plan, amounted to $120 billion in today’s dollars.

    Not least of these efforts was the special attention given to diplomacy. Consider what it must have meant for Franklin Roosevelt–at the pinnacle of power–to go halfway across the world to Tehran and Yalta to meet with Churchill and Stalin in 1943 and 1945. Roosevelt was a sick man, paralyzed from the waist down, hauling 10 pounds of steel braces on his legs. Traveling for 40 hours by sea and air took the life out of him. He did not have to go. He had plenty of deputies–Marshall, Eisenhower–who could have done the job. And he certainly could have summoned the others closer to him. But FDR understood that American power had to be coupled with a generosity of spirit. He insisted that British commanders like Montgomery be given their fair share of glory in the war. He brought China into the United Nations Security Council, even though it was a poor peasant society, because he believed that it was important to have the largest Asian country properly represented within a world body.

    The standard set by Roosevelt and his generation endured. When George Marshall devised the Marshall Plan, he insisted that America should not dictate how its money be spent, but rather that the initiatives and control should lie with Europeans. For decades thereafter, the United States has provided aid, technical know-how and assistance across the world. It has built dams, funded magazines and sent scholars and students abroad so that people got to know America and Americans. It has paid great deference to its allies who were in no sense equals. It has conducted joint military exercises, even when they added little to U.S. readiness. For half a century, American presidents and secretaries of State have circled the globe and hosted their counterparts in a never-ending cycle of diplomacy.

    Of course, all these exertions served our interests, too. They produced a pro-American world that was rich and secure. They laid the foundations for a booming global economy in which America thrives. But it was an enlightened self-interest that took into account the interests of others. Above all, it reassured countries–through word and deed, style and substance–that America’s mammoth power need not be feared.

  • Potter

    I should have closed that quote at the end – and bolded generosity of spirit

  • As this seems to be a recurring theme over the last few months. I am restating some previous comments. I fear, that such is the natural history of any empire: to inevitably peak in its power and influence, then to equally inevitably decline, as it becomes internally decadent, its good citizens convinced of its inherent superiority and goodness, both for themselves, and therefore by its own internal logic, good for the rest of the world ( The “Whats good for General Motors is good for the country mentality. Why wouldn’t everyone worldwide want to experince truth, justice, and the American Way, imposed by our very own Superman). In the penultimate phase of decline, undoubtedly we will proceed believing that we are inerrent in motive and judgement, our leaders tempted into imperial overstretch, with all of the horrors and pitfalls so entailed……

    Is it possible that when Pat Buchanans call our attention to these imperial characteristics/inclinations of ours country they become easier to digest and internalize than when stated by commie pinkos such as Chalmers johnson and Noam Chomsky, who just can’t help themselves?

    December 28th, 2006 at 4:37 am

    Thucydides was indeed incredibly modern. 2 examples have remained with me since my college days, over 25 years ago.

    The first was his description of the plague which struck Athens during the Spartan siege. He noted that no amount of hommage payed to the Gods or similar superstitous activity seemed to have any affect at all on the ravages of the disease.

    Secondly, in a brilliant stroke of insight, he sums up the ultimate cause of this great conflict in one pithy observation: that Sparta was fearful of expanding Athenian power as a threat to its independence, and acted pre-emptively in an attempt to preserve its own traditions and way of life.

    He is modern becuase his observations and insights are rational, reasonable, and enduring.

    Notice that even though today, since we have so many of the Athenian contributions to western culture in areas such as politics, philosophy, art, literature, and mathematics to name a few, and no such legacy from the militaristic Spartans, one tends to view the ostensibly democratic Athenians as the ” good guys” and the Spartans , with their deplorable system of helotry, as the “bad guys’ of the conflict.

    Thucydides’ genius lay in his ability to describe, observe, and analyze, the conflict, and to none the less make us aware of the oppresive and threatening nature of the imperial rule of the cultured Athenians.

    We may want to ask ourselves the same question today, when, in the wake of Vietnam,Iran in 1953,Chile in 1972, and of course, most recently in Iraq, we, the cultured, freedom loving Americans wonder , ” why do they hate us?”

    Mark Borowsky, M.D.

    stridedude Says:

    February 8th, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Empire is a dirty word for most Americans. Other countries have colonies and empires: Spain,Britain, France, Russia, …….Rome. Not us. We are better than that, have transcended that vulgar model, or so we like to think.

    We, of course , gained our independence from one of these, thankfully, probably the most benign empire in history. We, and many other of Britain’s former colonial have fared much better post independence than the rest. We tend to see ourselves almost unequivocally as a force for good in the world, and until the debacle in Iraq, could claim that we did not physically occupy another country and its people. This is of course technically/literally true, however, the modern notion of empire needs to be updated to fit the realities of the world that we live in. Boots on the ground are far less important in the 21st century than navies, ICBM’s, economies, and mass culture, each of which help a nation to influence/control events around the world,and guarantee access to overseas markets and energy supplies. Whether we acknowledge this fact or not, most of the rest of the world tends to see us as the 2 thousand pound gorilla, unable to resist the temptation of throwing its weight around, meddling in affairs of other countries of which we and many of our elected/unelected officials know little or nothing.

    Sadly, the days of the respected/benevolent empire as embodied by the Marshall Plan seem to be far behind us.The earned good will that resulted therefrom has been nearly completely dissipated/squandered through the clumsy missteps of our current cabal of neoconservative empire builders, who as

    Chalmers Johnson would argure, have done much to hasten the demise of the Imperium that they so cherish.

    Mark Borowsky, M.D.

  • i have not read alice amsden’s book, but i am inclined to wonder if her distinction between the first & second american empires is a joke? i was born in bangladesh, and i can tell that though inequalities are increasing, the first period she speaks of (before 1980) was not one where all boats were rising. nor was it rising in india, with its ‘hindu rate of growth.’ or in china which went through the cultural revolution and the great leap forward. nor, from what i know, in africa, after all there is the famous fact that in 1960 ghana and south korea had the same per capital GDP. now, there were some regions that experienced great growth. europe, japan & south korea, and to a lesser extent (in that the growth was only rising, not cresting) southeast asia. now during the second empire we see that growth is hitting china, india, etc. yes, there are inequalities, but awful easy to say that when you’re sitting in a consumer society where plentitude is the norm (i can say with confidence that the “middle class” in bangladesh lives with more comfort than the “upper class” of 1975, my family was upper class back then, and some still are, but others are middle class).

    on the second, culleen murphy states:

    Every educated person in the Roman Empire spoke at least two languages, and so did the strivers among the, uh, immigrant hordes.

    this is manifestly false. the elites of the eastern roman empire spoke greek and likely had little fluency in latin because they did not participate in the administration of the empire until rather late (anastasius in the late 5th century was the first native greek speaking emperor of any longevity). rather, their focus was on the public arena of their polises. the latin speaking elites had to learn greek because there were areas of learning where discourse was purely in greek. philosophy for example. on the other hand, latin was the language of government, military and had its own literature (virgil) and histories. what you see in the roman empire is a division of spheres in regards to latin and greek, and this plays out in the christian church fathers. tertullian and st. augustine were latin fathers whose expertise was in law and rhetoric. the greek fathers on the other hand formulated the philosophical underpinning of the faith. i only restate this because ‘bilingualism’ in the roman empire wasn’t exactly like bilingualism as we might understand it in the united states. to speak philosophy well one would have to know greek because so much of the terminology was in greek. to address the senate one would have to speak latin. there were many individuals who likely spoke syriac, punic, armenian, gaulish, etc., in their home who if they rose to positions of importance, or were members of the local aristocracy, would still speak in latin and write in greek when the need arose. the other languages were thoroughly marginalized (in the west only basque survived the march of latin, though in the east the greek elites remained distant enough from the non-greek masses in much of anatolia, syria and egypt that large majorities of non-greek speaking peasants were extant when the arabs conquests began).

    this brings me to the point of ’empire’ and definition. if empires are large territories encompassing difference ethnicities and cultures, america is already an empire in the boundaries of the 50 states. a substantial minority of the population speaks spanish as its first language. many americans have hyphenated identities. our races are varied. americans are 80% christian, but that leaves a substantial 20% of various non-christian faiths or none. and, the 80% is fractured between many denominations. and so on. america itself is an empire. our influence around the globe is that of a hegemon.

  • Potter

    Razib!

    George Kennan, summing up his points (in third person)- in “Around the Cragged Hill”, I believe his last book, written in 1993:

    “Regarding the condition of American society…. the views offered were dominated by the author’s impression that the country was in bad and even critical shape: that there were a number of serious domestic problems with which this government had shown itself unable to cope successfully, and that for this and other reasons the nation’s affairs were seriously out of control. To have such thoughts about one’s own country posed a challenge to the author’s sense of identity….… he still thought of himself as an American ( what else could he be!) and felt some responsibility in that capacity.

    Consideration was given to some long-term factors which lay heavily on the country’s chances for working itself out of these difficulties. First- it’s very size. It seemed, looking around the world. That great countries- the so-called monster countries ( the United States, the Soviet Union, China, India, Brazil) were problems to themselves even where they were not problems to others. And I had begin to doubt whether the sound principles of American representative government could operate in so great a framework- whether, that is, they did not require, for their successful application, a more intimate geographical setting, a less remote relationship between the ruler and the ruled.”

    Kennan goes on to suggest that we reorganize into regions rather than states with little hope that this suggestion would be taken seriously.

    For me, reading this again, evokes a feeling that we as a country have too often avoided and neglected our own difficult problems by going elsewhere and militarily, thereby diverting our attention, and this has gone on for so long that it has reached a point where we can no longer do much good in the world and much of the world no longer sees us as a benevolent or harmless power and no example with the one exception of being admirably multicultural.

    Kennan pleads for a more “modest and relatively self-effacing foreign policy” as we work out our own internal reforms. In accord with that he urges : “a military policy which, while taking due account of the dangers presented by a highly unstable world environment, would fit with a role in world affairs considerably less ambitious and grandiloquent than that which the experiences of the last half century had led many Americans to take for granted.”

    Zakaria looks back with nostalgia to the last half century as years in which the US had a mostly positive effect in the world. Kennan seems to suggest that that 50 years went to our collective head.

  • Potter,

    “Kennan goes on to suggest that we reorganize into regions rather than states with little hope that this suggestion would be taken seriously.”

    We called it bioregionalism and it was about separating regions by natural watershed instead of arbitrary political lines on a map. I live in either Columbiana or Cascadia. In reality these were just the names of hippie back-to-the-land publications that by now probably do not exist. But it seemed like a great idea to me at the time.

  • Well, here’s a cautionary tale about reading two ROS threads at once. Sometimes you post a comment in the wrong spot:

    I just finished reading (well listening to on a trip to Vegas) Orson Scott Card’s Empire. Probably not a book I would have picked up if I hadn’t been going to Vegas and needed something light to read.

    It is near future fiction, so maybe out of bounds for this discussion, but it makes a central point that the United States is not yet and empire, but rather in the last movements of the republic. To totally follow Rome, the US would need to have a tragic event (in this case the assassination of the President and Vice President, an aborted military coup and an attempted progressive coup).

    At that point, a hero would appear that would restore order and respect the ceremony of the republic, but rule as an emperor.

  • peggysue:

    The idea of watershed democracies is traced back to explorer John Wesley Powell, who said that western resources would be better managed on a watershed scale.

    That idea has been revived by Donald Worster and, more to my liking, Daniel Kemmis, who had actually covered the machinations of moving towards watershed democracy in “This Sovereign Land.”

  • Colin

    Emmett: I like where that post was going. Fiction (even scifi) is usually just on the wings, if not a little ahead of the trends, and this has always been the case. Could you (or anyone else reading the site) offer some comments or examples of literature along these lines?

    Here’s my Question: Are today’s author’s responding to the “threat of empire” (be it real or imagined) in ways similar to the authors of the UK, of Napoleonic France, or of Rome?

  • plnelson

    Fiction (even scifi) is usually just on the wings, if not a little ahead of the trends, and this has always been the case. Could you (or anyone else reading the site) offer some comments or examples of literature along these lines?

    Fiction is more often than not out in the weeds with no prescient quality whatsoever; it’s just that when we see something that DOES turn out to be close to the mark we take note of it.

    And while we’re on the subject, have you ever noticed how infatuated science fiction is with NON-democratic forms of government – empires and kingdoms and high priesthoods and whatnot? The whole trend of history has been toward democratic forms of government and more inclusiveness, but science fiction writers keep positing futures with medieval forms of government.

  • rahbuhbuh

    someone told me that empires traditionally fall due to barbarians invading from the north. that means, if the US is an empire in the Roman model, that means we’re getting taken out by the Canadians.

  • Potter

    Peggy Sue- your post made me think of that quote “we must think anew and act anew” because we are so crystallized- or stuck in this groove that is self-destructive. So many have used the phrase beyond Lincoln it’s become simply rhetoric and empty. But the whole quote is so relevant especially if we accept that what is in front of us is saving the planet. It’s not about this whole game of being a superpower and then being superceded by the next superpower anymore in the sense that it was, if it ever really was.

    “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our

    country. We can not escape history. We will be remembered, in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the last generation. We shall nobly

    save, or meanly lose our last best hope of Earth.”

    Annual Message to

    Congress, Concluding

    Remarks, December 1, 1862

    President Abraham Lincoln

  • I’m about ready for the Canadians (rahbuhbuh) but if it were to take the course Emmett (and thanks by the way for the watershed resources) suggestes it would be a Progressive coup from Canada that assasinates Bush & Cheney then takes over as if to restore the Republic but instead puts an Emporer in place. Someone like Pierre Trudeau. (I know, he’s dead but if we were going to have a Progressive Canadian for Emporer he’d be a fitting candidate).

    It may be just as fanciful but I find separating out into watershed democracies a very appealing alternative to Empire. The Soviet Union fell apart fast. Things change. And speaking of Lincoln, I remember after that last Presidential election quite a few people expressing the thought that maybe we should have just let the South succeed and forgone the civil war. (Hey Potter – maybe it wasn’t Nader’s fault. Maybe it was Lincoln’s! Did you see those maps? Red States = Pre-Civil War Slave States)

  • I wish we had more time for discussion before this show. It’s a rich topic!

    I find myself heading right back to those definitions: empire vs. republic. And I’m wondering if we have either. Empire, as I understand it, means one nation having political power over another or others. Republic is a nation where every citizen has political power through voting.

    Our voting power seems diluted. The electoral college, voting corruption, and monied campaigns limiting our choices have all made voting look like a sham – an opiate for the masses.

    We don’t directly have political power over others, I suppose. But we get to name the President of the World Bank, we’re one of few powerful votes at the UN, we have the most powerful military – which we are, apparently, willing to use at our whim – and our corporations (but, also, corporations from other countries) exercise a lot of control with their resources. Someone already stated this, but the advent of the international corporation has changed the playing field dramatically. So, I don’t know how to assess whether we are an empire.

    that said, I think the question is whether the US, as a power structure of any kind, is on the rise or even sustainable. It seems that, historically, political boundaries always revert to smaller areas. It’s simply too much to manage. It may sound fanciful in this thread, here and now, to talk about the US breaking up into regions, but I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. When there was a smaller population which didn’t put such a resource demand on the land and didn’t have enough financial resources to provide all the necessary services for itself, it was easier to exercise control. Things have changed. And it seems to be human nature to recoil at the idea that some remote entity has control over major aspects of your life. Look at New Orleans. The rest of us are so far away, that, while we wish the best for New Orleans, we are too busy with our own needs to really stand up and make something happen down there. If I lived there, I’d want to secede.

    We certainly can’t do much more militarily. I hear all this talk about invading Iran and I wonder how our miliatary could even execute a single action. It’s already stretched so thin.

    In the end, the winners are individual corporations, who have the agility to negotiate terms for themselves wherever they want to go and to shut down any piece of their operations whenever they feel the need, as they have no voting constituent to worry about, except the shareholders who only care about profit. In a weird way, it may be that the laws recognizing corporations as legal entities separate from the people who ran them may have been the downfall of the US. Social accountability was lost and the corporations only have to act in their own best interests, not necessarily that of the US.

    Perhaps, we’ll see the end of geographic states. Though, that’s hard to imagine, because people still have to live geographically together and protect the common interests. Has there been any fantasy fiction yet about virtual states that are islands of communities around corporate offices?

  • plnelson

    someone told me that empires traditionally fall due to barbarians invading from the north. that means, if the US is an empire in the Roman model, that means we’re getting taken out by the Canadians.

    That would be cool. I like the Canadians.

    BTW, a few years ago at my work, at the suggestion of a Canadian friend, I asked my co-workers – all smart, college-educated people, to name the capitol of Canada. The results were, shall we say, disappointing. (but not surprising given Americans’ grasp of geography)

  • someone told me that empires traditionally fall due to barbarians invading from the north. that means, if the US is an empire in the Roman model, that means we’re getting taken out by the Canadians.

    this was a pattern before the gunpowder empires in the 17th century. after this point nomad and transhumant peoples couldn’t conquer mass societies. also, there is one major exception: the arabs.

  • Kennan goes on to suggest that we reorganize into regions rather than states with little hope that this suggestion would be taken seriously.

    well, there are those who would offer that republican institutions do not “scale.” we started off as a nation with a few hundred thousand eligible voters (property owning white males). now we’ve got 100 million voters. the roman republic was an empire in name by the time augustus ushered in the principate, which was a republic in name though empire in fact. are we in the age of augustus?

  • DreadfulBastard
  • Sir Otto

    It seems the world does want it. It would be hard, in my opinion, to find someone in the third world or elsewhere who would not want to be an American colony and citizen along with it’s benefits. The world is more than willing to be part of “Greater America”.

  • Zeke raises an important note of concern in his June 24th, 2007 at 7:05 pm post above about the power of business and corporatate executives to control nation-states, including writing government policy.

    I am wondering… Can there be such a thing as an empire under a near global Capitalist political-economic system?

    Where the owners of capital cooperate, though compete, world-wide, are we not talking more about class warfare than imperial adventure? And is the US not just the war-lord, so to speak, in that capital interests there are most effective at using the state to do their bidding, such as opening up and securing markets and access to resources?

  • viator

    Great topic tonight. Very timely as I just booked a trip to Rome in August (yes I know it’s hot there in August) specifically to show my son (11) the ruins of an empire. Now, the interesting thing I took away from the conversations was Ms. Amsdens argument that there is life after empire. I intuitively felt this but never heard anyone articulate this. After all, look at Florence – the locus of the renaissance. Italy thrived after Rome.

    These days I feel I have more in common with the Europeans than I do with my countrymen in Wichita. Now I know why. I’ve been decrying the loss of high value jobs (and thought) in our local Boston (and Silicon Valley) area for some time. All the while looking whistfully at Europe thinking they have evolved gracefully. There is a future model for the US post-empire and it’s not that bad. I think it’s even better than the Europa model. Innovation in both technology and culture will proceed.

    One thought that crossed my mind is whether the power of an empire really will continue to be asserted in the traditional sense meaning military projections – OR – should power be projected via memes…ideas that take root and grow. They are difficult to stop by fundamentalism or barbarians. They just need a meduium to grow, ie the internet. Our culture and buying power represent a far larger and more effective force than our military. I guess this has all been done before as the barbarians that sacked Rome were assimilated in the end.

  • Potter

    I meant to commend plnelson on his comment before the show and I was glad that Chris picked it out. I am getting tired of the Rome comaprison. No question we should study Rome and take lessons but we are in a much different world now.

    As well by the end of the show- and I admit I have to listen again to “get” some of the concepts that whizzed by my slow brain- I was glad to hear others express some optimism that post “empire”, if that’s what we are, things will be not so bad- perhaps better.In fact we should feel relieved, our relationship with the rest of the world more normal-more brotherly.

  • 1st/14th

    I would second that. The Rome analogy I see constantly used draws many comparisons, but neglects the most important factor in Rome’s ultimate demise: political instability. After Julius Caesar took power, very few successions took place peacefully. Every decade or so, Rome’s most powerful generals would meet on the field with their armies and cut each other to pieces to decide who would be the next emperor. This wasted thousands of lives, the lives of Rome’s best soldiers and defenders, and destroyed the kind of prosperity that comes with stability. Civil war did Rome in more than anything.

  • The notion of two different eras of the U.S. empire, before and after 1980, is too simple; moreover, this idea that the first of these two empires was a largely benign force I would call absurd if it was not morally and intellectually deranged. The U.S. was more able to impose itself on foreign nations in the wake of the Second World War, and it did so – in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia. Our actions in Guatemala in 1954 were only the beginning of a turn towards outright support of military dictatorships in Latin America, which took place during the Kennedy administration (ironic, because of his announced policy of an “alliance for progress”) and continued until Jimmy Carter reversed it (indeed, Latin America was the only region where Carter thoroughlly pursued his pro-democracy, human rights-centered policy). In Bolivia, U.S. financial support to the military often dwarfed the entire budget of the government. I could go on, but you get the point.

  • Potter

    Good article by Ian Buruma in Haaretz:

    Embracing the Empire

    If it were really true that the fundamental existence of our democratic Western world were about to be destroyed by an Islamist revolution, it would only make sense to seek protection in the full force of the U.S. informal empire. But if one sees our current problems in less apocalyptic terms, then another kind of trahison des clercs (treason of the intellectuals) comes into view: the blind cheering-on of a sometimes foolish military power embarked on unnecessary wars that cost more lives than they were intended to save.

  • The concept of describing such brief periods as distinct eras is problematic. History books will likely lump the last half of the 20th century into a single post-ww-2 era. The US is still empire building but the real estate is virtual and technological. mr. closets

  • Pingback: US incrementalism — a substitute for meaningful change « Carson’s Post()

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    America has, through military deterrent and in some cases intervention, the responsibility of maintaining its global investments by securing peace and stability to those NATO and NATO allied countries that have economic interests with us. On the other side of town we have Russian and Chinese communists and atheists whose world view is the inverse of our own, who have concluded that a ‘lack’ of peace and stability – in those typical parts of the globe where proxy wars are fought (from Vietnam to Iraq), and also, obviously, in the Middle East – is to their economic benefit i.e. by opposing what the West does. By creating chaos in the Middle East and selling advanced weaponry to regimes who oppose the West, they feel that they are preventing our values and lifestyle from encroaching upon them.

    Why don’t we try to focus on what is ‘different’ about our “empire” so we can, with some luck, analyze it ‘objectively’ and see it for what it really is, instead of the worn out arguments provided by the usual left wing bias? Unlike the empires of old our “empire” does not require us to occupy the territories of those countries that have willingly become a part of it. We provide military protection to those regimes who gain wealth through the rule of law and democratic reform; not because we say so, but because history proves that it works. In this context Iraq, which is a military issue, is an exception. Our “empire” is economic in nature and therefore does not necessarily require the presence of troops to hold on to territory. It is therefore a mistake to equate American military hegemony with resurgent “imperialism” or with what is happening in Iraq – unlike the empires of old that primarily used occupation and force to achieve their goals. Our strength lies, in part, in our ability to mobilize our military to any point on the globe in a relatively short period of time – and to use our strength to create peace by preventing further destruction. We do not “create evil”, we contain it.

  • GodzillavsBambi, the portrait you paint would be well and good if the U.S. had kept its efforts to “secure peace and stability” in nations which, as you said, “willingly became a part of” our empire. But before I continue… empires are not about the economic interests of the elites of other nations; they are foremost meant to defend the economic interests of the elites of the empire itself. If the empire is a republic like ours is, with at least remnants of a social democratic system, the benefits of imperialism spread out quite far into the populace. That’s why the U.S. empire, especially in its reactionary phase from Regan onward, has received a fair amount of support from people like you.

    The principal question about U.S. imperialism is not what’s different about it, but how it’s the same – after all, we have to counter the the kind of illogical claims you’ve put worth. Your argument assumes (one) that there’s a clear historical break between European empires that hold formal colonies, and the U.S. empire that mostly engages in informal imperialism. Such a perspective is completely untenable. Go study the history of past empires.

    (Two) Your notion that the U.S. is usually invited to intervene, and that Iraq is thus an exception, only works for Europe. In fact, defenders of U.S. imperialism often have a case of myopia where all they see is Europe. You could just as well use Latin America as a basis. Doing so would result in an opinion far less kind to the U.S. And yet, critics of U.S. imperialism invariably take a broad perspective; indeed, given that they’re automatically assumed by many to be outside mainstream discourse, they have to make distinctions between areas where the U.S. has acted rashly, unilaterally, and often in a depraved, vile manner and areas where the U.S. has had a positive effect. Defenders of the U.S. meanwhile get away with a limited viewpoint.

    So then, let’s talk about your right-wing bias….

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    J Kaw,

    May I oversimplify a correction to your claim that empires are “Not about the economic interests of the elites of other nations”? Thanks. If America is the “empire” (more specifically the military and managerial wing of the empire) and Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are a part of it, then what you are suggesting here cannot be true based on the mutual dependency and economic growth of the “empire”. In other words if what you are saying is true, then ‘only’ the elites in America stand something to gain. But any topical review of the subject clearly reveals the ‘interdependency’ of these economic ties; that the elites in ‘all’ said locals stand something to gain, not just in America. When you say “The Empire itself”, please understand that it is not just the American elites who stand to gain, it is everyone involved.

    You said “That’s why the U.S. Empire, especially in its reactionary phase from Regan onward, has received a fair amount of support from people like you”. Fair enough. I must add here that if I thought or sensed that the American leadership (from Regan onward) did not have the interests of the American people at heart, I would be the first one yelling foul! The debate over whether or not the next democratic administration is capable of defending the interests – military and economic – of our great country, and Empire, will ‘not’ be oversimplified in any way. As liberal as she is, Hillary Clinton has shown signs lately that she understands America’s “Interests abroad”. This must be done in such a way that oil tycoons, rich republicans and democrats, and the good old boys in North Carolina (Blackwater is funded solely by republican donations) and elsewhere, are convinced that whomever takes hold of the rains in ‘08 has ‘everyone’s’ best interest at heart, and not just some special interest group or socialist agenda.

    Part one.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    J Kaw,

    You said “The principal question about U.S. imperialism is not what’s different about it, but how it’s the same”, and that “Such a perspective is completely untenable”.

    My friend – you simply do not understand the subject in the present tense. I will now illustrate more clearly how our Empire has broken new ground i.e. diverging from the classic 19th century definition. The distinction between liberal ideology and liberalism as in state power and individual rights is duly noted. It is to the latter definition that the following brief analysis is based.

    For example, Countries such as China, India, and Russia must undergo some form of constitutional breakthrough based on liberal styled democracy and the rule of law if they are to succeed in a global economy. The wheel will not be reinvented here, only hybrid economies and quasi democratic regimes will emerge, and they will use the rule based system of the West. In order for these countries to survive they must continue to maintain economic ties with the West. According to Samuel Huntington, “The essence of Western culture is the Magna Carta”. In 1215, King John agreed to grant his nobility certain rights he promised not to violate, which he violated a short time later. It wasn’t until about five hundred years later that the ownership of private property and individual rights became institutionalized. See Calvin and his ‘free examination”.

    Part two.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    J Kaw,

    Here is a summary of the nature of the New Empire. “Its scope and diversity are unprecedented in history and not always recognized as a loosely integrated political, economic, and military system. In fact, it marks a qualitative change in the kind of hegemonic regimes that the world had seen as empires. It is sui generis regime-type: uni-polar, based on ideology rather than territorial control, voluntary in membership, and economically advantageous to all countries within it”. Americas Inadvertent Empire, P. 36. William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric, 2004, Yale University Press.

    See also Geir Lundestad’s articles Empire by invitation, and “Empire” by integration: the United States and European integration 1945-1997. See also Lipset’s American Exceptionalism, Hartz’ Liberal Tradition, Huntington’s American Politics and Clash of Civilizations, and Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard.

    Part three.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    J Kaw,

    When you say that I need to “Study the history of past empires”, I say I have. Now, you need to study the reality of our current empire and update your outdated definition. You have revealed here that you let your emotions get the best of you by providing only sentiment as a qualifier. You say that “Such a perspective is completely untenable”. I say you have already made a fool of yourself and now is the time to back out gracefully. I challenge you to put down your ego and take the evidence I provide here into consideration.

    Thank you.

    PS: I have one or two more parts I would like to add. But I will wait and see if it is worth the effort.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    J Kaw,

    Perhaps the foremost reason from which all other details of the new Empire can be delineated is the fact that the Empire is ‘ideological’ in nature, not territorial.

    Other reasons that indicate how we are unlike the empires of the past include the idea that the U.S. was ‘invited’ into Europe and East Asia, primarily to keep them from warring against each other, and, to ensure that the post WW ll ratification of the NATO pact lived up to its promises. Next we have the historically unique situation of our Empire generating lots of capitol, unlike the empires of old which were economic failures. See Ben Wattenberg’s First Universal Nation. We do not bully countries into submission. They ‘demand’ entry into the Empire.

    Another way to illustrate the difference between the contemporary American Empire and the historical empires is to understand how the principles of liberal constitutional democracy and the rule of law have been applied on a global scale; that the leaders and managers of the Empire must abide by the very same principles that make it possible for fledgling democracies to flourish.

    Our republic is exporting, managing, and protecting liberal democratic values on a global scale, and the progressive left who (theoretically) support human rights have embraced authoritarian dictators and despots the world over. Too bad we never actually agreed to such an arrangement. It is a good thing that the street wise knows how to offer up the opposition – for it is then that we move in for the kill. What a beautiful system!

    Part four.

    Thank you.

  • GodzillaVsBambi writes: Next we have the historically unique situation of our Empire generating lots of capitol, unlike the empires of old which were economic failures.

    What happens to the capital generated? When you say we are generating lots of capitol, how does it flow back into our empire?

    Part One.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Is there any relationship between the profitability of our empire and the current condition of domestic infrastructure?

    The headline in my morning paper reads: “Bridge peril: Nearly 200 spans need repair, replacement or have structural worries. With nearly 100 bridges already deemed in need of crucial repairs or replacement and another 100 identified as having structural issues.

    And that is just one state! All 200 of the bridges “in peril” are part of the interstate highway system.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    flow,

    You asked “What happens to the capital generated?’ When you say we are generating lots of capitol, how does it flow back into our empire”?

    It flows directly into my bank account! I give most of it back to the military because I am a war monger, and I use the remainder for limousines, prostitutes, and trips to Atlantic City. But I’m on your side so don’t worry about it.

  • Zilla

    do you recognize the people in this limo?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    flow,

    Do I recognize the people in the limo?

    Yeah, the man has a big nose, he’s bald, and the woman is wearing a lampshade on her head — they look Jewish.

  • GodzillavsBambi,

    I won’t respond in detail to your many posts because they’re too poorly written to make it worth my time.

    It does seem that you’re emphasizing the differences between the US empire and past European empires. Those differences are real; I did not doubt them. I said that there was no clear break between the US empire and the European empires, and that the fundamental question in understanding US foreign policy addresses the extent to which it is similar to the policies of past empires. This is ideology, not necessarily sentiment or emotion, but perhaps a little.

    Any progressive left I’m part has not embraced foreign dictators; it has simply not wanted to intervene against them. Unlike imperialist loons like yourself, who want to intervene against them, and then support right-wing dictatorships.

    Imperialist and liberal democracy/rule of law are inherently opposed. Either way, US leaders, even those quite good at respecting the standards of democracy and civilian rule within US national borders, have rarely been interested in extending democracy or the rule of law. Nominal republics maybe. Capitalism surely. But, as I said before, outside Europe the historical argument you’re making is untenable.

    I’ll assume for your sake that you’re not suggesting that the past European empires could be characterized as non-ideological.

    As for the question of which elites the empire is looking out for, I don’t disagree with your perspective entirely – just your notion of the centrality of a supposed generosity on the part of US leaders, and of the US for the most part having been invited to intervene.

  • Arthur Silber has said his last word on the impending war with Iran — and a mighty blast it is too, summing up almost a year and a half of bell-clanging witness to America’s inexorable sleepwalk toward another monstrous conflict. (A sleepwalk that’s now breaking into a headlong gallop.) Arthur rightly despairs of finding any way to stop this war crime now — especially given the fact that the Democrats have “already approved the critical rationales for an attack.” As Arthur notes:

    The Senate approved — by a vote of 97 to nothing — an amendment that accuses Iran of committing acts of war against the United States. Thus, if we were to attack to Iran, we would purportedly only be acting defensively, and in response to what Iran has already done…

    The Democrats don’t object and they completely fail to mount serious opposition to our inevitable course toward widening war and an attack on Iran, not because they are cowards, not because they’re afraid of being portrayed as “weak” in the fight against terrorism, and not because of any of the other excuses that are regularly offered by their defenders. They don’t object because — they don’t object. That is: they agree — they agree that the United States is the “indispensable” nation, that we have the “right” to tell every other country how it is “permitted” to act, that we must pursue a policy of aggressive interventionism supported by an empire of military bases. They agree about all of it; moreover, in most critical respects, they devised these policies in the first instance, and they implemented and defended them more vigorously and more consistently than Republicans, with the exception of the criminal now residing in the White House…

    The administration would immediately blame “Iranian interference” and “Iranian meddling.” They do that now. Every major media outlet would repeat the charge; almost no one would question it. Pictures of the slaughtered Americans would be played on television 24 hours a day. The outrage would grow by the minute. Within a day, and probably within hours, certain parties would be calling for nuclear weapons to be dropped on Tehran. Almost everyone would be baying for blood, and for the blood of Iran in particular.

    http://www.chris-floyd.com/

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Liberals are like kids who get beat up by their peers and can’t figure out why. So they get beat up again. I will make what will probably turn out to be a crude attempt to outline ‘liberal blindness’. I believe that when certain personality types learn something new, especially where logic is involved, they internalize it as if they have just discovered the “truth”: a kind of “revelation” or “epiphany”. It may in fact be an epiphany to that person, but not necessarily “the objective truth”. It may just be a fresh understanding or introduction to an idea – or what I call a “pocket of consciousness”. The problem is when this “truth” is externalized as “the way things are”, while we traverse from one delusion to the next.

    Conservatives are more often guilty of being overly rational and seemingly incapable of understanding that problems of a human dimension cannot always be solved by some inductive/deductive formula. And their liberal counterparts are as equally guilty of allowing themselves to become seduced by abstractions.

    In cognitive psychology it is well known that certain individuals can become addicted to the reasoning process. We are here referring not to the addiction itself that both liberals and conservatives are subject to, but to the peculiarities and specific nature of the liberal addiction to the abstract. When Arthur Silber says “We have the “right” to tell every other country how it is “permitted” to act, that we must pursue a policy of aggressive interventionism supported by an empire of military bases”. The ‘blindness’ of this comment is so multifold that it is laughable. In my previous posts on this thread I provide a lot of evidence to support my claim of Empire, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Our Empire is economic, not territorial.

    Flow’s post of Arthur Silber is well written, but incorrect. When the preaching of gloom and doom is combined with a classic rebellion against authority – wrapped in a hazy neurotic mist of attempted prophecy, it makes for a seductive concoction of defensive thinking that self centered and hedonistic people are attracted to. This kind of scheme is destructive when applied to politics, because it lists what is ‘not’ possible and what we should ‘not’ do, while requiring no self sacrifice. We are asked to contribute nothing. Only that we tear down what we see. There is no linear motion in this sort of reasoning, only circles. It is inept, barren, and useless.

  • As a point of clarification, I did not “write” anything in my prior post. The entire post consists of material extracted from the work of Chris Floyd. I attempted to make this clear by wrapping the quoted material with blockquote markers and providing a link to the source.

  • U.S. actions against Iran raise war risk, many fear. By Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

  • Cheney urging strikes on Iran By Warren P. Strobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

  • Pentagon Paid $998,798 to Ship Two 19-Cent Washers By Tony Capaccio

    Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) — A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas, U.S. officials said.

    GodzillaVsBambi is this a fair representation of the “economic” nature of our empire?

  • U.S. to give Israel record military aid By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 16, 6:02 PM ET

    JERUSALEM – The United States offered Israel an unprecedented $30 billion of military aid over 10 years on Thursday, bolstering its closest Mideast ally and ensuring the state’s military edge over its neighbors long into the future.

    GodzillaVsBambi I think I’m beginning to see what is meant by the economic nature of “our empire”

  • Iraqi Women: Prostituting Ourselves to Feed Our Children By Arwa Damon, CNN

    Baghdad, Iraq – The women are too afraid and ashamed to show their faces or have their real names used. They have been driven to sell their bodies to put food on the table for their children – for as little as $8 a day.

    GodzillaVsBambi is this indicative of the economics of empire? Or is this better characterized as an example of the liberal democracy and freedom the USA is exporting to Iraq?

  • GodzillaVsBambi when you refer to a classic rebellion against authority are you referring to the American revolutionaries rising up against the British “authority”? or something else?

  • The War as We Saw It

    VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

    GodzillaVsBambi Were we “invited in”? Have we overstayed our welcome? What in your opinion is the reasonable, logical thing to do concerning Iraq?

  • China threatens ‘nuclear option’ of dollar sales

    The Telegraph UK – Britain’s No. 1 quality newspaper website

    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

    Last Updated: 8:39pm BST 10/08/2007

    The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

    Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies have given interviews in recent days warning – for the first time – that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion (£658bn) of foreign reserves as a political weapon to counter pressure from the US Congress.

    Shifts in Chinese policy are often announced through key think tanks and academies.

    Described as China’s “nuclear option” in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels.

    It would also cause a spike in US bond yields, hammering the US housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession. It is estimated that China holds over $900bn in a mix of US bonds.

    GodzillaVsBambi Given that our empire is economic, what effect might confronting the “nuclear option” have? Are the Chinese serious? Is this something we should concern ourselves with?

  • Entering the Tough Oil Era

    “Michael Klare’s latest piece offers perhaps the crucial context within which to consider Cheney’s urge to launch an air assault on Iran.”

    “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran…”

    The New Energy Pessimism

    By Michael T. Klare

    When “peak oil” theory was first widely publicized in such path breaking books as Kenneth Deffeyes’ Hubbert’s Peak (2001), Richard Heinberg’s The Party’s Over (2002), David Goodstein’s Out of Gas (2004), and Paul Robert’s The End of Oil (2004), energy industry officials and their government associates largely ridiculed the notion…

    The Missing Trillions

    A very similar prognosis emerges from a careful reading of “Facing the Hard Truths About Energy,” the second major report to be released in July. Submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil-industrial association, this report encapsulated the view of both industry officials and academic analysts. It was widely praised for providing a “balanced” approach to the energy dilemma. It called for both increased fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and increased oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Contributing to the buzz around its release was the identity of the report’s principal sponsor, former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond. Having previously expressed skepticism about global warming, he now embraced the report’s call for the taking of significant steps to curb carbon-dioxide emissions.

    Like the IEA report, the NPC study does claim that — with the perfect mix of policies and an adequate level of investment — the energy industry would be capable of satisfying oil and gas demand for some years to come. “Fortunately, the world is not running out of energy resources,” the report bravely asserts. Read deep into the report, though, and these optimistic words begin to dissolve as its emphasis switches to the growing difficulties (and costs) of extracting oil and gas from less-than-favorable locations and the geopolitical risks associated with a growing global reliance on potentially hostile, unstable suppliers.

    Again, the numbers involved are staggering. According to the NPC, an estimated $20 trillion in new investment (that’s trillion, not billion) will be needed between now and 2030 to ensure sufficient energy for anticipated demand. This works out to “$3,000 per person alive today” in a world in which a good half of humanity earns substantially less than that each year.

    GodzillaVsBambi I always knew that Lee Raymond guy was a closet liberal, what a flip-flopper. If there is one thing I can not stand it’s a bleeding liberal that was against global warming before he was for global warming. Right Zilla?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    Forgive me for being so redundant but didn’t you excerpt and quote Silber directly in your August 18th post? What do you mean by “As Arthur [Silber] notes”? I said your posting ‘of’ Silber is well written, not that ‘you’ “wrote it”. And then you say “Extracted from the work of Chris Floyd”. Surly this is not to imply that “Chris Floyd wrote it”. Or is it? Did Chris write it, or did Silber write it? Maybe they both wrote it. Or maybe it was plagiarized. Since when does “As Arthur notes”, ‘not’ mean that it is the person you are referencing, but in fact is someone else? This reminds me of a spelling error Christopher Lydon once condescended that he eventually corrected, as he put it, to “Rescue a bad pun” … so others can step in and ‘rescue’ you from something you said someone else said. LOL.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You asked, referring to the Bloomberg report “Is this a fair representation of the “economic” nature of our empire”? Yes, it shows that no matter how high the cost of shipping we can darn well afford it. But seriously, when someone isolates an exception to the rule and then tries to replace the rule with that exception, I don’t consider it a legitimate attempt to debate. It is simply dope peddling. If for instance you said that we are wasting money training New Zealanders to operate satellite jamming equipment, then you may have a case. But what the Carolinas want, the Carolinas get!

    Why don’t you have a cream soda or something? Take a load off.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    America is a democracy. Israel is a democracy. And America gives Israel lots of money to maintain a military edge. Hmm … well then, I guess Israel better do what we say. The Jews are not ‘that’ stupid.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You said, in reference to The Whores of Baghdad, “Is this indicative of the economics of empire? Or is this better characterized as an example of the liberal democracy and freedom the USA is exporting to Iraq”? Forget about democracy for a minute. As I said right here on ROS months ago ‘we are in Iraq to prevent Putin from signing oil contracts with the fickle Arab regimes’, and, to prevent Russian and Chinese expansionism from infiltrating the southern portion of the Middle East, and, so all that history we grew up with (you know, the birth place of Jesus and the New Testament and all that) does not fall into the hands of communists and atheists, and, by doing so we get to keep food on the plate. What could be clearer than this? The Russians and Chinese support Syria and Iran from the north, and we support Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait from the south. Saddam Hussein was in debt to Putin for over 9 billion dollars during the first gulf war when Russia supplied the Iraqis with satellite jamming equipment and anti-tank weaponry. Saddam was once upon a time on our payroll and then all of a sudden he decided to go it alone by invading Kuwait and threatening to “Burn half of Israel”. Gee … I wonder why we set up shop in Iraq. Yeah, I wonder. Maybe one day I’ll get it. But for now I’ll just continue sleepwalking my way through reality.

    Read the debate between myself and J Kaw on this thread as background to the military occupation of Iraq being an exception to the question of Empire, ‘before’ you attempt to tackle the subtleties of the geopolitical struggle for natural resources, military expansionism, and conflict ideology.

    Take a deep breath and relax before you hurt yourself. Do a little yoga maybe.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You asked if I “Refer to a classic rebellion against authority are you referring to the American revolutionaries rising up against the British “authority”? Or something else”?

    I didn’t think this would require clarification, but here goes. I am referring to people who use inaccurate analogies to “illustrate a point”, as you have here. I am referring to people who pontificate about (as I have said on ROS months ago) ‘things they know nothing about’. I am referring to the far left mindset that believes that the personal privacy of one individual outweighs the safety and security of an entire country. I am referring to those who have not as yet come of age intellectually who have lots of creative things to say that do not match the context of the debate. And last but not least I am referring to people who fall through the cracks of our system and end up in places not to their choosing. I don’t pass judgment on any of these people. All I am saying is that when those who are clearly unqualified on a subject – no matter what walk of life they are from – who attempt to wing it with pseudo cohesion and other such decontextualized vagrancies of English, it just looks funny. I think even you would admit that. Right Flow?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You said “What in your opinion is the reasonable, logical thing to do concerning Iraq”? To listen to young people who are coming of age during this time, and how what they have to say to the rest of us may influence the way we view the future. Since 2004 most of the retired upper military brass that you see on CNN and Fox News have been saying that we will be in Iraq (or for the sake of argument let’s say a military presence in the Middle East) for at least a generation. Others murmur even longer. Henry Kissinger has echoed these same sentiments, and Ted Koppel continued the theme with a report entitled Our Children’s Children’s War back in March of this year for the Discovery Channel. It is not I who made it this way. Nor did I design the geographical vortex in Central Asia. ‘Tis not ‘my’ head that you want my Lord, but this is the reality on the ground. Don’t shoot the messenger! You can pound your fists until they bleed, but our world is changing. And most of us who live in the midst of it do not recognize it for what it is. It is neither good nor bad. It is what it is. Like Joseph Campbell used to say … you can “Follow your bliss”, or you can sit back and complain about it from the safety of your living room. You have the freedom to do either, or perhaps both. Isn’t that priceless?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You asked “Are the Chinese serious? Is this something we should concern ourselves with”?

    I have no comment on the Chinese at this time other than to say that a Chinese transition to a free market economy is impossible given their current political structure.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    “we are in Iraq to prevent Putin from signing oil contracts with the fickle Arab regimes’, and, to prevent Russian and Chinese expansionism from infiltrating the southern portion of the Middle East, and, so all that history we grew up with (you know, the birth place of Jesus and the New Testament and all that) does not fall into the hands of communists and atheists, and, by doing so we get to keep food on the plate. What could be clearer than this? The Russians and Chinese support Syria and Iran from the north, and we support Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait from the south.”…

    Read the debate between myself and J Kaw on this thread as background to the military occupation of Iraq being an exception to the question of Empire, ‘before’ you attempt to tackle the subtleties of the geopolitical struggle for natural resources, military expansionism, and conflict ideology…

    All I am saying is that when those who are clearly unqualified on a subject – no matter what walk of life they are from – who attempt to wing it with pseudo cohesion and other such decontextualized vagrancies of English, it just looks funny. I think even you would admit that. Right Flow?

    Right. And this brings us to the crux of discrepancy between our respective points of view. It is not that I fail to see the “subtleties of the geopolitical struggle for natural resources, military expansionism, and conflict ideology” it is that I see beyond them. What is plainly, clearly, even blatantly obvious from the language you use to characterize “the world” is your paradigm. Your paradigm is rooted in, and informed by the perception of competition. And this indeed reflects reality at a certain superficial level, and to a certain shallow degree. However, it misses the deeper thing, the essential thing, the quintessence, the absolute, undeniable reality of the interconnectedness of all being. What we can not see we are condemned to ignore, thus the manifest ignorance of your POV. It is not wrong, it is superficial. For those that have eyes to see let them see. For those that have ears to hear, let them hear. What you have done unto the least of these you have done unto me. As long as we look externally for reality, we will be ignorant of that which animates our being. Look deep inside, and tell me what you see? Your paradigm is rooted in the concepts of scarcity and competition, and so ultimately in the fear of death. How delightfully primitive and tribal. You suggest “our world” is “changing”. When was “our world” not changing? You are unreconciled to the ultimate reality. I am condemning the sin, not the sinner. I like you GodzillaVsBambi, even your screen name is entertaining. Fear not, we are all here to ascend the learning curve and surf the waves of changes, this may be difficult to imagine while stranded inside the walls of your empire – free your mind and paradigm will follow. Some see us and them, some creation and destruction, some light and dark, look beyond death and tell me what you see? Would you care to trade your empire for a kingdom? Then embrace the advice of the seers and sages of all ages, and harmonize with the glorious chorus that resonates everywhere with the same resounding tone. Be at one. Seek at-one-ment. Look within, give up your rational and find it all. Tell Godzilla and Bambi to chill out. Send them to their corners, or over to my place for a cream soda. Cheers, my brother!

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    When you claim to “See beyond” those subtleties I mentioned, I say, great. Someone has to do that stuff because I’m not very good at it.

    Did you ever notice that in most debates people talk past each other? Do you know why? It is because some people chose not to recognize the other guy’s perception of reality as being real, to him. When people disagree with one another it is rude to give off the impression that someone else’s view of reality doesn’t exist. On the internet where people can stay safe and avoid physical contact, they say all kinds of things they would never say in person. I appreciate the fact that at least you acknowledge that my reality exists! You say it is “Shallow”, and that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that. You acknowledge that my reality is in fact ‘there’, and that it is real, not only to me, but also objectively. I know that your reality is also real. I don’t just know it intellectually either. I used to be a liberal. I used to think along these lines and even poetically like you do. So I know how the other half thinks.

    Like I used to tell Jazzman here on ROS, poetic thinking does not work in all contexts. This is not to say that it cannot be applied in all contexts. It is good for religion, music, creative writing, meditation, women, or poetry itself, but surly not within the context of maintaining the Empire, at least not contemporaneously. One can always look back at Rome and romanticize and write a poem about it. Or one can pick up a copy of some old James Baldwin book on the street for two dollars and quickly become very impressed at how he wields the power of the cosmological poet, with those rhymes and chimes, and then reminds White people what hypocrites they are because he doesn’t understand their reality. I’ve been through it all before. I live in NY, and there’s plenty of that crap around here. Moreover, with regard to timing … what I mean is that the reality of our contemporary Empire requires immediate attention. It requires pro-active hands on approach. Poetry does not work in this context. It is too generic and non-descript for the precise and a posteriori responsibilities of running an Empire.

    I am the first to admit that the two sides (liberal and conservative) need each other to survive. They balance each other as positive and negative forces in nature. And since people are products of nature, those forces manifest in our thoughts and behavior.

    Thanks

  • Thank you, for your graciousness, consideration and generosity. I feel nourished and edified by our exchange. I respect your opinion, and I admire your insight and wisdom concerning the subtleties of conflict ideology.

    In an earlier post you wrote, “When the preaching of gloom and doom is combined with a classic rebellion against authority – wrapped in a hazy neurotic mist of attempted prophecy, it makes for a seductive concoction of defensive thinking that self centered and hedonistic people are attracted to” so it is with apology that I offer what I deduce you may find as an unpalatable communiqué and scenario.

    The prologue is complete, we stand poised for the crescendo. The previous six years (in retrospective) will prove only the prelude. The crescendo will take the form of massive conflict and be characterized by a force so destructive it challenges the rational mind to comprehend it. It will begin in earnest before the nights begin again to grow to short (winter solstice). Its destruction will be on a scale so massive it is difficult to imagine, in terms of magnitude it will be greater than any of the 8 prior cataclysmic destructions, but its duration will be relatively short (several months or a couple of years at best). Historically, it will be known as the ascent of the morning star, the final movement of Lucifer, the light bringer. When the dust settles and calm is restored a great melancholy will befall us collectively. And this will act as the agent of change (the catalyst) at the collective level of consciousness. The events that are to follow will be noted and regarded as history, but their effect will be collective, the affect personal. That which obstructs will be dissolved, Anthropos will be resurrected, and the Anointed One’s reign will arise spontaneously as if inscribed indelibly on the hearts of man. Where before six billion stood confused and conflicted, there will be only one, and we will know again the fruits of wisdom, of wise-dominion. There be a thousand years of peace and time for healing. The waters will be restored, the earth replenished and we will dwell in an unimaginable abundance, together as one, in a garden of earthly delights.

    Of course the conflicted part could be avoided, but the out come is pre-determined. In order to avoid the conflict it would require something like the square root of 1% of the world’s human population to imagine simultaneously the desired eventuality as if it exists a priori. Just as there are many paths for a river to choose in its descent to the sea, we indeed are bound for appointment with destiny. The path we choose in order to arrive there will be determined by our free agency (i.e. a function of free will), but the place and time of arrival is foreordained in the script each of us is acting out.

    I do not intend this to disturb or frighten, you need not even take it seriously, it is just food for thought. I am simply conveying that which I am compelled by my nature to say. For a further discussion on the subject (for anyone interested) please see The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness by Dr. Carl Calleman. Just as the Mayans accurately predicted, or one may say prophesied, the arrival of the Europeans, the industrial revolution, WW I and WW II, so too did they predict WW III. For a further discussion on this see Ian Lundgold’s DVD presentation The Condor Flies to the Eagle or any of the Hopi prophesies.

    I raise the issue only because it represents an instance of sublime irony that at the very moment anticipated so precisely by indigenous cultures (the 5th night of the ninth Aeon) so many centuries ago, The Bush Administration is threatening escalation in the middle east. The very spot predicted as the location of the initial “flare up” that is expected to become global in scope. Under this hypothesis, the Apocalypse (which literally means “a revealing” or “the revealing”) began in earnest in 1905 the very year Einstein published his paper on the particulate nature of light, and lords knows a bunch as been “revealed” to us since then. Right? And we all know what follows the Apocalypse. Thanks again, GodzillaVsBambi, I’ve truly enjoyed our dialogue. I will leave it with this final question, how did the Mayans know the exact age of the universe (since the Big Bang) so many centuries ago? And is it pure coincidence that their creation story is composed of seven days too? Peace.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1654188,00.html

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    I’m beginning to get the impression that you love to hear yourself talk. We connected momentarily a couple of posts ago, and then you started to hallucinate, again. It is an escape mechanism against reality.

    You said “I do not intend this to disturb or frighten, you need not even take it seriously, it is just food for thought”.

    Yes but, in yesterdays post you forgot the quotes. Anyway, it would be presumptuous of me to deny that cosmic patterns exist. More on this later. But as I opened my mind to the words you reformulated I realized something. If I were uneducated and superstitious, or educated and superstitious (the latter of which in my view is a much, much bigger problem) I might think you were on to something; or perhaps trying to manipulate a certain set of base tropes and emotions. Thank you for reminding me that they are there, but I must turn down this “free membership”, of sorts, not only because I am convinced for over a decade now that it is the *wrong language* and that it doesn’t work, but also because I chose to accept reality for what it is – and to not be victimized by some crude Religio Romana, or for that matter by some washed up mercenary from Ur – who doesn’t take no for an answer. Burn them both!

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You said “I am simply conveying that which I am compelled by my nature to say”.

    My condolences. And little did you know that you would someday be plagiarizing the concept (oh wait, there are no laws pursuant to Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law specifying that “a concept cannot be plagiarized”, only that there is no such thing). You’re safe. However, “There’s always trouble waiting when you leave your own backyard”. Hawkwind. Just leave the poison at home. You wouldn’t want to turn into A Pillar of Salt now, would you?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You said “I raise the issue only because it represents an instance of sublime irony that at the very moment anticipated so precisely by indigenous cultures (the 5th night of the ninth Aeon) so many centuries ago, The Bush Administration is threatening escalation in the Middle East”.

    You’ll need to recuperate your faculties by getting some more rest to stay sane during the encore.

    Aquinas’ ontological dualism and the question of “free will” were not tested until two hundred and fifty years after his death. And then finally straightened out after another two hundred and fifty years with the existential discovery of immanence. Therefore, when you say “Sublime irony” and “5th nights” or whatever, and refer to me in a previous post as “Delightfully primitive and tribal” – I must remind myself that if you wait long enough some people will eventually accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of, in this case, ‘primitive thinking’: by suggesting that there is a relationship between two events, in two different locations, at two different times. Or even between two simultaneous events. What the uneducated and unenlightened mind does not comprehend it blames on the motions of stars and planets … it doggerels, it rhymes and it dashes, it beckons and enthralls – like a monkey in a Church, in Rome.

    Have a nice day.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    Sorry, I forgot something.

    You said in an earlier post, in reference to your own intolerance to accept other people’s point of view and lack of understanding of global events, “I am condemning the sin, not the sinner”.

    To that I say – if worshiping a dead Jew on a stick prevents you from eating my flesh – who am I to complain?

    Thanks again

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    This inability of yours to acknowledge reality is quite common. It comes from the New Testament. Huh? Yes – the New Testament. In the New Testament there is scarcely a mention of a Roman presence in Judaea. Sure there is a centurion here and a guard there, but it is absolutely DEVOID of the REALITY of life, Jewish life, in Judaea during Jesus’ time. In other words your problem, Flow, stems from what the New Testament has NOT taught you in terms of how you view the world. You see the world through rose colored glasses because you only got HALF of the story, HALF of the REALITY, from The Monkeys of the Danube. As a result, you see REALITY as fiction and fiction as REALITY. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Pun intended!!

    Think there’s a connection between how the [Catholic] Church protects and hides pedophile priests from justice, and how they hid the REALITY of the occupation of Judaea from the people? Answer the question! Think there’s a connection between the Pope and the Mufti so far as money from Italy is pouring into Iraq to Support the Baath Party, responsible for many American deaths? Answer the question! What is your opinion of the Vatican’s role in helping Nazis through Peron’s Argentina? Answer the question! And last but not least what is your opinion of the Vatican being one of the world’s top ten money laundering destinations? Answer the question! Too much REALITY flow?

    You know what you can do with your lies and your poison, right?!!

  • ”This inability of yours to acknowledge reality is quite common. It comes from the New Testament. Huh? Yes – the New Testament.”

    I understand how you may conflate certain references contained in my “scenario” with elements proffered in the New Testament. Yes, there are certain correspondences, but just because a couple of power hungry, pseudo-scholarly, sackcloth clad monks made a deal with a certain Emperor in the middle of the 4th century and appropriated certain mythogems unto themselves, announced a creed and published a book, doesn’t mean they own the material, does it? Sure, it may appear that way to the “faithful” who join the “flock” but you and I know differently. I think we can agree on that, right?

    Take the “Apocalypse” for instance, I am interested in the “revealing” only to the degree that it is corollary to other historical mythogems and provides correspondence with observable events. I am suggesting that since 1905, the rate at which “new information” concerning the planet, its history and inhabitants has been revealed at an unprecedented and astonishing rate. Right or wrong? Have you heard very many church fathers (from any church) suggesting the “revealing” began in 1905? Besides, all I really know about the Book of Revelation is that it predicts a bunch of wars, rumors of wars and natural disasters. You are a TV guy, heard any news about wars, rumors of wars or natural disasters lately? Just in case they aren’t covering it on TV, here is a link that arrived in my inbox yesterday. The other little bit that I find interesting is the bit about destroying the world by fire, isn’t that in there somewhere? Been out west lately? Do you have any idea about what is happening out here? Take a look. Also in my inbox yesterday, news concerning Earthquakes in Latin America and floods in Asia.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17746

    What roll would you guess technology is playing in the “revealing”? What role might there be in it for nuclear weapons?

    Yes there is a bit in the new testament concerning the scenario I was alluding to, but the much more compelling and interesting stuff is being unearthed here in the Americas by scientist. Not coming from the Vatican and men wearing funny hats.

    I pay little attention to what Christians “authorities” have to say. I’m more interested in heresy. Specifically, why certain gospels and doctrines were declared heresy and others became “canon”. I’m especially interested to know under what authority these determinations were made 350 years after the life and crucifixion of the alchemist of Nazareth. Also of interest to me is why the “church fathers” felt compelled to send the Roman army forth to eliminate both the texts and adherents pertaining to any persuasion and perspective lacking correspondence with their own. Interesting how the first inquisition resulted in a sort of cannibalization of a significant portion of the “Christian community” and ended in the establishment of a central authority where previously there had been none.

    ”In the New Testament there is scarcely a mention of a Roman presence in Judaea. Sure there is a centurion here and a guard there, but it is absolutely DEVOID of the REALITY of life, Jewish life, in Judaea during Jesus’ time. In other words your problem, Flow, stems from what the New Testament has NOT taught you in terms of how you view the world. You see the world through rose colored glasses because you only got HALF of the story, HALF of the REALITY, from The Monkeys of the Danube. As a result, you see REALITY as fiction and fiction as REALITY. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Pun intended!!

    Yeah, I think it is pretty interesting that a hippie in the backwater of the Roman Empire could make the splash he did. I think it is worth noting that he seems to have barely showed up on anybodies radar screen during his lifetime. Concerning boots on the ground and what is required to keep the ass end of the empire in line, I defer to your expertise. You can take that up with the scholarship concerned with such things. My understanding is that as long as the local boys squelched dissent and paid tribute they could pretty keep the rest of the spoils for themselves. Concerning my view, I’m interested in consciousness and its transformation through time. If you care to discuss that I suggest you begin by going back to my prior post and addressing the questions posted at the end.

    ”Think there’s a connection between how the [Catholic] Church protects and hides pedophile priests from justice, and how they hid the REALITY of the occupation of Judaea from the people? Answer the question!”

    probably.

    ”Think there’s a connection between the Pope and the Mufti so far as money from Italy is pouring into Iraq to Support the Baath Party, responsible for many American deaths? Answer the question!”

    I don’t know. I don’t concern myself with the cash flow and accounting practices of the Vatican, the mob, the Baathtub party, the CIA, the CPA, KBR, Blackwater, Dynacorp, the Pentagon or any other of the related parties. What do you think?

    ”What is your opinion of the Vatican’s role in helping Nazis through Peron’s Argentina? Answer the question!”

    I try not to hold opinions on things I don’t know anything about. What is your opinion?

    ”And last but not least what is your opinion of the Vatican being one of the world’s top ten money laundering destinations? Answer the question! Too much REALITY flow?”

    Well, I don’t really have an opinion, but I can say from my personal experience, ya gotta do laundry somewhere!

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You asked “I’m more interested in heresy. Specifically, why certain gospels and doctrines were declared heresy and others became “canon”. I’m especially interested to know under what authority these determinations were made 350 years after the life and crucifixion of the alchemist of Nazareth”.

    The rational for this is as follows. In order for the people to ‘believe’, in a God, the God’s appearance on the earthly stage had to have an aura of mystery, or rather an aura of mythological significance: such as the Roman Mithras and Romulus and Remus, etc. The manger, the water, and being raised or cared for by caretakers not biologically related to the “God” to be, all add to mystify the origins and childhood. While Herod was attempting to recapitulate the slayings of the male babies in Egypt, in Bethlehem, no census was taken in that part of the country, to obscure the origins of his human birth and future status as a “God”. The “authority” is the liars and criminals of the early [Pagan] Church who kept the truth of the history of the region from the largely illiterate masses.

    I think it is highly interesting that the progeny of Rome are, in disproportionate number to the rest of us, pedophiles, professional criminals, and Mafia types. Is not the leadership structure used by the Italian Mafia today the same as the political hierarchy of the leadership of ancient Rome? Their culture may have disappeared, but they didn’t. It’s kind of ironic how Italians and Jews reunited in America two thousand years later in Nevada building casinos, running drugs and pimping whores. These two losers of the Enlightenment will tear your country apart if you don’t keep an eye on them.

    PS: Your last post was excellent, very strong. I will post more in response to it Wednesday, August 29th. And if that date doesn’t pan out, then the following Saturday.

  • The Republic Militant at War, Then and Now by Juan Cole.

    Thursday 23 August 2007

    French Egypt and American Iraq can be considered bookends on the history of modern imperialism in the Middle East.

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174831

  • Bush League War Drums Beating Louder on Iran By Ray McGovern

    In short, it seems possible that Rove, who is no one’s dummy and would not want to be required to “spin” an unnecessary war on Iran, may have lost the battle with Cheney over the merits of a military strike on Iran, and only then decided – or was urged – to spend more time with his family. As for administration spokesperson Tony Snow, it seems equally possible that, before deciding he had to leave the White House to make more money, he concluded that his stomach could not withstand the challenge of conjuring up yet another Snow job to explain why Bush/Cheney needed to attack Iran. There is recent precedent for this kind of thing.

    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/082407L.shtml

  • Why Cheney Really Is That Bad by Scott Ridder

    Being the Brain of the most vapid, intellectually shallow president ever creates an apt epitaph for Rove’s tenure at the White House. The Bush administration has never won accolades for its substance. Its best frontman, Colin Powell, self-destructed in front of the U.N. Security Council in February 2003. Powell’s nemesis, Donald Rumsfeld, followed suit shortly thereafter, unable to coherently explain where Saddam Hussein had hidden all those WMD we went to war for, and ultimately telling the average foot soldier to pound sand when it came to the lack of adequate equipment needed to fight and survive in occupied Iraq. Bush’s singular appeal has been the impression of steadfastness in the eye of the storm, even if the storm is for the most part self-created. For this we must look not to “Bush’s Brain,” but instead peer deep into the dark recesses of the White House, where we can glimpse the awful “soul” of the president—Dick Cheney.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070821_why_cheney_really_is_that_bad/

    “Scott Ritter has had an extensive and distinguished career in government service. He is an intelligence specialist with a 12-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps including assignments in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Rising to the rank of Major, Ritter spent several months of the Gulf War serving under General Norman Schwarzkopf with US Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia, where he played an instrumental role in formulating and implementing combat operations targeting Iraqi mobile missile launchers which threatened Israel.

    In 1991, Ritter joined the United Nations weapons inspections team, or UNSCOM. He participated in 34 inspection missions, 14 of them as chief inspector. Ritter resigned from UNSCOM in August 1998, citing US interference in the work of the inspections.”

  • Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his 27 years as a CIA analyst, he chaired NIEs: he is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

  • Though the Spanish conquest interrupted the Mayan tradition of elite literacy and destroyed the large majority of Mayan codices, the stories and traditions of the Maya continued to be handed down to succeeding generations, albeit much influenced and restricted by the influx of European practices and beliefs, Roman Catholicism in particular. The majority of the Maya codices were burned by Europeans like Bishop Diego de Landa during their conquest of Mesoamerica and subsequent efforts to convert the Maya peoples to Christianity.

    The maintenance of these traditions can be seen in the relics and products of those centers which flourished during the Post-Classic phase, such as in the northern Yucatán Peninsula, occasionally combined with other influences more characteristic of the Gulf coast and central Mexican regions.

    The Maya shared many traditions and rituals with the other civilizations and cultures in the Mesoamerican region, both preceding and contemporary societies, and in general the entire region formed an interrelated mosaic of belief systems and conceptions on the nature of the world and human existence. However, the various Maya peoples over time developed a unique and continuous set of traditions which are particularly associated with their societies, and their achievements. [including an accurate assessment of the age of the universe and the evolutionary “stages” related to the emergence of life and the development of human civilization]

    In Maya mythology, Huracan (also Hurakan) was a wind, storm and fire god and one of the creator deities who participated in all three attempts at creating humanity. He also caused the Great Flood. His name is also responsible for the English word hurricane.

    Karl Taube and Mary Miller, specialists in Mesoamerican religion, writes that “More than anything Tezcatlipoca [Huracan’s name in Aztec] appears to be the embodiment of change through conflict”

    -source wikipedia (edited for conciseness)

    When Dean (the “9th” strongest hurricane ever recorded) hits the Yucatan Peninsula at precisely the moment anticipated in the “myths” of the Mayan Codices, how should we regard this? Only the simple minded and superstitious would regard this as a deity returning to his temple to declare his intention. What could this possibly portend? Will someone please send Scott Ridder to the White House to extract Cheney from his bunker as quickly as possible, please? Pretty please?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    I said I wouldn’t post until the 29th, but I got some free time this morning.

    When I asked you what is your opinion of the Vatican’s role in helping Nazis through Peron’s Argentina, the Baath Party, and the Vatican, you said “I try not to hold opinions on things I don’t know anything about. What is your opinion”?

    This answer is quite ridiculous, and unacceptable. It would take you less than five minutes to look up Peron’s Argentina. The reason why you won’t answer the question is because you have a selective conscience. You have to save face with those who expect you here on ROS to say and not say certain things, and, in retrospect of this thread, it also drives home the point of The New Testament short circuiting your ability to interpret present and past tense events accurately and honestly. You know that Jews were killed by Nazis [I don’t want to see anybody write “Jews were not the only ones” and Blah Blah Blah with some incongruent Boston vernacular or revisionist history about the Holocaust, etc. Give it a rest!], yes, Jews. I am asking you about how you feel MORALLY about members of the Catholic Clergy who helped Nazis escape through Argentina. I am not asking you about ‘Jews’ in particular – I am asking only about the Catholic Scum who helped the Nazis escape after the war. Can you do it? Or are you not quite the warrior you thought you were?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You said “Concerning my view, I’m interested in consciousness and its transformation through time”.

    It is easy to get dizzy traversing the intersecting lines of imminence and transcendence with an undisciplined mind. It paints a beautiful panorama of synesthesia and self intoxication. You must be well read. But what purpose does it serve other than to see how many times you can bang your head against the wall without feeling any pain or making a fool of yourself? My opinion is that since you possess such a critical disability to interpret present and past tenses; facts and reality so poorly, that it is impossible for you to succeed at such a task.

    There is a mountain. On one side we have someone who has climbed many mountains in the past and has all the latest equipment. On the other side of the mountain we have someone who is almost completely naked and has no equipment at all. What are the odds?

    Thanks

  • Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County,

    down by the Green River where paradise lay.

    Well I’m sorry my son but you are too late in askin’

    Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

    – John Prine

    Empires in reality are the manifestation of energy regimes. They are composed of the socio-economic institutions implicit in the regimes. A careful reading of “history” shows that as “civilization” has evolved from one regime to the next, the attendant empire has morphed to reflect the new efficiencies. Since the time of Prometheus we have endured (for the infinitesimally small amount of time homo sapiens have wandered on this planet) a series carbon based regimes: wood, coal, steam, fossil fuels (and nuclear).

    Each regime establishes a certain threshold of agriculture production and thus defines the structure and distribution of “civilization”. Some are inclined to regard history as a “steady-stream” of progress, others are inclined to conceive of it as a series of plateaus punctuated by a series of sudden and radical change. The first eyeball, the disappearance of dinosaurs or Neanderthals, the first view of earth from space to name but a few. I am of this latter camp. I am also convinced that what we are witness to the transition from a series of carbon-based regimes to a hydrogen-based regime. This marks a beguiling moment of currency in the supreme movement – a defining moment in the unfathomable and timeless struggle between the two titans: chaos and order.

    If you look closely and follow the thread of imagination back in time past Virgil and Cicero and Plato and Socrates, past Pythagoras and Nebuchadnezzar and Lao tzu and Confucius to Hesiod and Homer and David and Solomon, you will arrive then at the “point in time” where history begins to emerge from mystery (i.e. order gets a leg up on chaos in human affairs). This movement is symbolized by the Star of David, where we see the two triangles combining, one ascending, one descending. Implicit in the duplicity of this movement has always been the promise: the singularity (Christ consciousness, Buddha consciousness, Krishna consciousness) .

    If you behold the Star of David you will see clearly the six points. Note the correspondence with atomic number of carbon? The Seven Wise Men of Greece, of whom the poets spoke, instructed us to “know thyself”. Since that time there has not been one syllable of wisdom added to human understanding that elaborates what is required to “bring forth that which is inside you” (i.e. to extract the essence). Only recitations. To extract the essence is to remove the oil from the olive, with this oil you may be anointed. Perhaps you have heard of the poets and prophets of old speak of the anointed one? Failure to “know thyself” results in i-gnosis – ignorance – the source of suffering and the very thing that causes us to go against the tide, to move against the current, to struggle, to not see (consider the etymology of the word “devil”; to obstruct, to obscure to cast in our path).

    At this moment an inspired, self-reliant child is working to extract energy from hydrogen, at precisely the right moment, she will meet with success, and a new energy regime will emerge, and all this fuss about “our empire” will be irrelevant. We will become as one. Note the correspondence with the atomic mass of hydrogen? Energy will be free. There will be no need to struggle and we will come to truly know our selves. This is the age old story, as pronounced by Sophia from her throne and inscribed on the great tome of life. It has always been known and I only recite it here. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, may we open them. If not, hell hath no furry like a woman scorned. Let us sit back and relax as we await the next report from the world tree. Or better yet, let us imagine that we are already free from our dark history.

  • Preflight

    Athens, why are you burning?

    Oh, children of Jerusalem, must ye bicker like rabid dogs?

    See ye not the night sky?

    Mars, the mighty-armed, draws nigh.

    Dear Mercury, take this, our entreaty,

    And Move swiftly:

    Have Mercy, We, the children of men,

    Who suffer the pangs of fiery passions,

    And are subsumed by internal combustion,

    Have lost our way.

    A shadow occupies of the House of Light

    And day seems as night.

    We have stumbled in pursuit of the golden calf,

    And at the feasting table of the money-changer,

    We are made fat.

    Spare us, and we a swear a change of heart and mind.

    Odin’s dogs bay for blood.

    And Huracan sounds his mighty conch.

    Hear this, a humble prayer,

    A rhythm for a stitch in time,

    If you need blood, take mine.

    We have one more river to cross,

    And when we get to the other side,

    We are going to put on our wings and fly.

  • oops, that should read:

    A shadow occupies the House of Light

    And day seems as night.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    You have been caught in an act of plagiarism!

    These words in your poetry above:

    “We have one more river to cross,

    And when we get to the other side,

    We are going to put on our wings and fly” …

    are not yours!!

    They belong to the group Walela. And here is where it can be found: walela.com/LTwalela.html”

    ESPN.COM

    Please don’t say that you did not make any claims one way or the other. When you post something and you do not put it in quotes or provide a citation, that means you are telling reader that you wrote it. Except in this case you stole it! I thought I noticed something funny about your style way back, but I shrugged it off and didn’t look into it. Can’t say I’m surprised. What a low life!!

    I had more to contribute to this “dialogue”, but it has just come to an end.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    Ignore the ESPN.COM link, sorry.

  • How the neoliberals stitched up the wealth of nations for themselves

    George Monbiot

    Tuesday August 28, 2007

    The Guardian

    A cabal of intellectuals and elitists hijacked the economic debate, and now we are dealing with the catastrophic effects

    For the first time the UK’s consumer debt exceeds the total of its gross national product: a new report shows that we owe £1.35 trillion. Inspectors in the United States have discovered that 77,000 road bridges are in the same perilous state as the one which collapsed into the Mississippi. Two years after Hurricane Katrina struck, 120,000 people from New Orleans are still living in trailer homes and temporary lodgings. As runaway climate change approaches, governments refuse to take the necessary action. Booming inequality threatens to create the most divided societies the world has seen since before the first world war. Now a financial crisis caused by unregulated lending could turf hundreds of thousands out of their homes and trigger a cascade of economic troubles.

    These problems appear unrelated, but they all have something in common. They arise in large part from a meeting that took place 60 years ago in a Swiss spa resort.

    http://business.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2157199,00.html

  • Rolling Stone

    The Great Iraq Swindle By Matt Taibbi

    How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury

    […] But getting there wasn’t easy. To travel to Iraq, would-be contractors needed permission from the Bush administration, which was far from blind in its appraisal of applicants. In a much-ballyhooed example of favoritism, the White House originally installed a clown named Jim O’Beirne at the relevant evaluation desk in the Department of Defense. O’Beirne proved to be a classic Bush villain, a moron’s moron who judged applicants not on their Arabic skills or their relevant expertise but on their Republican bona fides; he sent a twenty-four-year-old who had never worked in finance to manage the reopening of the Iraqi stock exchange, and appointed a recent graduate of an evangelical university for home-schooled kids who had no accounting experience to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget. James K. Haveman, who had served as Michigan’s community-health director under a GOP governor, was put in charge of rehabilitating Iraq’s health-care system and decided that what this war-ravaged, malnourished, sanitation-deficient country most urgently needed was . . . an anti-smoking campaign. […]

    In short, some $8.8 billion of the $12 billion proved impossible to find. “Who in their right mind would send 360 tons of cash into a war zone?” asked Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee. “But that’s exactly what our government did.”

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16076312/the_great_iraq_swindle

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Flow,

    I caught you in an act of plagiarism! You stole lyrics from the group Walela!!

    These words in your poetry a few posts ago on this thread are NOT YOUR WORDS:

    “We have one more river to cross,

    And when we get to the other side,

    We are going to put on our wings and fly”.

    They belong to the group Walela. And here is where it can be found: WALELA.COM

    What a dirt-bag!!

  • Great Interview: From Empire to Earth Community: Author David Korten on “The Great Turning”

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/14/1421257