Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not Enough Thinking Goin' On

THINKING A PARAMOUNT NECESSITY, Just not enough of it goin' on these days. Thinking can make the blood pressure rise. But it is good for all of us.

Former CIA analyst and distinguished scholar, Chalmers Johnson, has recently completed a trilogy on the economic and military overreach of the United States. The title of the third book is "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic."

The first two books, "Blowback" and "The Sorrows of Empire," argues that American clandestine and military activity overseas has led to a direct disaster here in the United States. Unintended, but harmful to the country's future.

Johnson used "Nemesis" for the title of the latest book because "Nemesis was the ancient Greek god of revenge, the punisher of hubris and arrogance in human beings."

If you recall your Greek mythology you know that she (Nemesis) is the one that led Narcissus to the pond and showed him his reflection, whereupon he jumped in and drowned.

This title to Johnson means she's present in our county right now, "just waiting to carry out her divine mission."

He continues his C-SPAN interview by stressing the subtitle, "The Last Days of the American Republic," "is not just hype to sell books. ...I'm here concerned with a very real, concrete problem in political analysis, namely that the political system of the United States today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable combinations there is --- domestic democracy and foreign empire. A nation can be one of the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but can't be both."

As illustrative of this thought, look at the former British Empire, upon which the sun never sat. After the defeat of the tyrannical German Nazi empire, it became evident that their world of money-making colonies were waking up. They found their voice and began seeking to keep their riches at home and to rule themselves.

Across the colonies of Africa and India, Britain's crown jewel of a colony, the masses would no longer be subjected to foreign masters. "They wanted their country back," to use a phrase now constantly misused in TAT sessions (Teabagger Astro-Turfers). (Same simplistic thought as the odd saying we will be hearing again in a couple of months: "Put Jesus back in Christmas." For the uninformed, Jesus never left.)

The Germans lost most of their colonies after World War I. But the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Vietnam, Spain in Cuba and the Philippines, and the British (everywhere) were slow to see the writing on the wall. None of these empires prepared their colonies how to rule themselves. Blame the empires, not the former colonies that continue to have dictators, revenge and war.

Kenya had one government official of lower rank when Britain fled. The French Foreign Legion had to be defeated on the battle field to leave Indo-China. Unfortunately, the US government sided with the Dutch, French and British during those years of transition. After Ho Chi minh defeated the French, pictures of Harry Truman were in their victory parades in Hanoi. They liked the USA in 1954.

These empire builders learned that to retain their colonies and economic paradises, they would have to become more imperial than democratic. They would have to dictate more and more to their far-flung money-makers. Democracy and dictators don't go good together.

For further reference look up the 1953 American-led covert ousting of Iran's freely elected Mossadegh and putting the Shah back on the throne which brought 25 years of terror for the Iranians.

America is in danger of becoming less democratic and more imperialistic with such an attitude as "we always know best." It is evident this did not begin with the 2008 presidential election. It has been building steam since the 1950s, from Iran to Guatemala and back again. We tried to save Korea by force from the Communist. Half a century later our Armed Forces are still there, as they are in 737 military bases on every continent.

Our government began placing military bases all over the world. Very few nations have ask us to leave. The "chosen" countries liked the income from Uncle Sam. These overseas bases, over the last half century have cost the tax payers umpteen trillions of dollars; while not adding not a single good thing to our overseas image.

To maintain an empire requires the making of munitions, machines, equipment and a lot of 18-year olds. The cost of today's huge military-industrial-congress complex is not known. A smattering of the government budget is known, but the complete totals will never be known.

We need to re-read President George Washington's farewell address. He said that the great enemy of the republic was a standing army. (This is read at the opening of the first session of every Congress. Doesn't seem to have made an impression on the politicians.)

The three powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government are meant to keep a check on each other. Oversight is impossible with an imperial presidency. President Dwight Eisenhower, with very undiplomatic language, gave the same message as George Washington. Lack of oversight has led to our present economic woes.

A friend at church urged me to continue writing these pieces. He confessed my writing sometimes causes his blood pressure to go up, but it makes him think. That is all I wish to accomplish, make us think more and more often.

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