Food Shortage: Is This America Or Ethiopia?


by Kalvoks





This post includes 3 articles. The last 2 articles are By Pepe Escobar and were first published in 2002. It is really worth revisiting these articles for an in-depth analysis of current events and understanding the fundamentals and the driving force behind these events.




Kalvoks daily Dombalan - (VLAD'S DAILY GLOAT)



Food Shortage: Is This America Or Ethiopia? 

Vlad Kalashnikov ( Email ) on April 21, 2008

American bastards used to think they were so great saying that Russia is "Burkino Faso with the nuclear weapons."

Well, that was a clever put-down. But now, the cruel reality of
Collapsing America has an even crueler put-down: according to a New York Sun article, Americans now threatened with food shortages and massive starvation:

Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World

BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun

April 21, 2008

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing. Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England,
and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and
cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal
reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.

At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif.,
yesterday, shoppers grew frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives
as they searched in vain for the large sacks of rice they usually buy.

"Where's the rice?" an engineer from Palo Alto, Calif., Yajun Liu, said. "You should be able to buy something like rice. This is ridiculous."

Spiking food prices have led to riots in recent weeks in Haiti, Indonesia, and several African nations.

Hey, dumbfuckers, you reading this? You are now in a category with Haiti, Indonesia, and "several African nations"! Thanks for making me laugh today. What is more funny than imagining the fattest gluttonous fuckers on a planet earth, Americans, having to live on food rations.

Poor Haiti people, I can understand why they always are so poor, always have American putsches that put beasts into power in order to enrich sleazy American businessmen. I can understand Africans problems, they never had a chance after centuries of exploitation by American slave holders, and Western European colonialists. But what are your fucking excuses for needing food aid, Americans?

I can tell you why dumbfuckers about to starve to death: America can no longer steal everything from other countries--can't steal the world's oil, their gas, their food, because they elected a dumbfucker twice, who destroyed your mighty empire in just a few years. So now, days of stealing from other countries are over! You now stuck having to make your own goods, to produce your own wealth.

What? You don't manufacture? You don't have a shit in your country that is worth anything? You only have the financial markets to trade (I mean "steal") other people's goods and commodities?

Oh, so that why you collapsing like a shitty African country!
Won't be long before the collapse reveals the true America to the world, and everyone sees, America is nothing but a nation of plotting thieves, stealing oil and bribing people from around the world, including top Russian scientists, to come to America and keep the empire afloat. Well, the house of cards is collapsing, and all must now regret leaving to a failed empire.

Man, I thought it was almost getting boring watching America collapse. But the news today proved that it can be really fun watching the nation of savage retards digging they own graves. Every day, price of Russian oil soars to new high against pathetic collapsing U.S.

dollar, every day, dumbshits Americans think that the war in Iraq is going great.
Now, you gluttonous pigs will learn how to diet, and it will be fun (and ecologicallygood for rest of the world) to watch you fat ugly fuckers get

really skinny.
--Vlad Kalashnikov



Part 1: Theatrical militarism
By Pepe Escobar

Dec 4, 2002


RIO DE JANEIRO - At the end of his autobiography
"Interesting Times - a Twentieth-Century Life", British
historian Eric Hobsbawm notes that today nobody controls
the United States and for this reason its enormous power
is capable of destabilizing the world. The world has
indeed become unstable since US foreign policy was
hijacked by a group of neo-conservatives - a kind of
neo-imperialist school.

Washington has tried by
any means necessary to portray al-Qaeda as a
well-established, ubiquitous Ultimate Evil Power,
responsible for terrorism from the Philippines to
Palestine, from Kashmir to Chechnya, from Afghanistan to
Yemen, from Lebanon to Bali. This enthronement of
terrorism as a Universal Force has institutionalized
nothing less than a state of permanent global war. Some
extremist American pundits like Norman Podhoretz already
consider this to be the Fourth World War, the Third
being the Cold War. But the current situation is rather
what The Nation's Katrina van den Heuvel describes as
"perpetual war fever used for political purposes".

The expected US war against Iraq is being
packaged and sold as an episode in the non-stop war
against terrorism. But the fact is, most of the planet
is largely peaceful. There are only a few hot spots: the
Middle East, Chechnya, Kashmir, Colombia, Ivory Coast,
Sudan, Congo, Nepal, and the Philippines.

allies and client-states are extremely uneasy in the
brave new world dominated by the interventionist,
preemptive Bush Doctrine, where "either you are with us,
or you are with the terrorists" and international
treaties are regarded as subversive documents. South
Korea has constantly reiterated that it does not feel
threatened by the North's archaic Stalinism. And since
the Beirut Arab summit last March, Kuwait has made clear
that it has solved its problems with Iraq. As far as US
strategic competitors are concerned, the absolute
priority for Russia and China - and also for a regional
power like Iran - is economic development. Their
exclusive strategic imperative is to resist provocations
by Washington's hawks - the Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld,
Wolfowitz, Perle club.

All over Latin America,
Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the US after
September 11 is increasingly perceived as a dangerous,
aggressive, narcissistic imperial power, and no longer
as the "indispensable nation" (copyright 1998, then-US
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, justifying a
200-missile attack on - who else? - Iraq).

recent string of US financial scandals - Enron, Tyco,
WorldCom, etc - has revealed the true face of the "greed
is good" ethic, and the moral weakness associated with
unbridled greed. And this is the key question the world
is now asking the US: Why is it that no-holds-barred
liberalism can only conceive and promote an ethic by
which Good coincides with Greed? Could America - and the
liberal West - live by values other than Greed?

As the Bush administration's propaganda machine
went into overdrive after September 11, it was clever
enough to present war not as a conflict of material
interests, but as a struggle between irreconcilable
worldviews - while taking pains to emphasize at every
available opportunity it was not a war against Islam.
This may sound paradoxical, but it was an offer many
could not refuse. More than one year after September 11,
and after a string of corporate scandals, war is now
also being sold as a demonstration that America, in
spite of greed, still has values to promote and uphold.
The Bush administration is selling war as moral
behavior: US idealism will lead to a world that is freer
and safer.

The rest of the world is not
convinced of this idealism, and large sections of the
Muslim world are not convinced this is not a war against
Islam. Hobsbawm believes that "there will be a period of
great instability, because Americans believe they can
engage in aggressive wars in any part of the world which
will be won under any circumstances". Due to the US's
undisputed military, political, economic and cultural
preeminence, any criticism of Washington's policies,
especially in the Anglo-American media, is immediately
branded as "anti-American". So we set out to check what
those in power in Washington are up to by examining the
thoughts of key authors and personalities of the
American Establishment, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel
Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, Paul Kennedy and Henry

The result is surprising: these
eminences all have their nuances, but they present the
same view of a US that is not invincible. On the
contrary: the US now has to deal with the irreversible
loss of its power in an increasingly developing world.
These authors do not diagnose an empire at its apex, but
rather a reluctant empire, increasingly fragile and
threatened. Washington's geopolitical bible is still
"The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its
Geostrategic Imperatives" (Basic Books, 1997), in which
former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski
stresses the necessity and the means for the US to
establish an asymmetrical domination over Eurasia.

In a January 1998 interview to the respected
French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski went on
record to confirm that the US in fact created the jihad
in Afghanistan against the former Soviet Union on July
3, 1979, almost six months before the Soviet invasion of
December 24, 1979 (according to the official version,
the CIA only started helping the mujahideen in 1980).

Pakistani intelligence sources also remember
that when Pakistani military intelligence wanted a Saudi
prince to direct the Afghan jihad, there were no takers.
Saudi Arabia's rulers then recommended one of the heirs
of a rich family very close to the monarchy - none other
than Osama bin Laden. Osama arrived in Peshawar just in
time to listen to Zbig - then Jimmy Carter's National
Security Adviser - manifest his full support for the
jihad. Brzezinski's intuitions that Uzbekistan and
Ukraine were vital for the US may be debatable: he
believed it was crucial to annex Ukraine to the West and
to use Uzbekistan to detach Central Asia from Russian
influence. But he was right on the mark on Eurasia: it
is the center of the economy and population in the
developed world in the 21st century, and he was
positively alarmed by the fact that the US, isolated by
two oceans, was so far away from the action. At the time
his book was published in 1997, Brzezinski knew for sure
that the goods and money essential for maintaining the
US's very high standard of living came from Eurasia.

* * *

Perhaps the crucial myth of
America is that it pursued a completely different road
to development from a corrupted and cynical Europe. But
America's isolation in the 19th century was only
military and diplomatic: its whole economic development
was based on two vectors imported from Europe: capital
and labor. Europe invested heavily in America - by
exporting cargos of literate and cheap overseas
immigrants. At the end of the 19th century, America was
largely self-sufficient, a massive producer of raw
materials with a large trade surplus.

century later the picture is completely different. The
US current-account deficit - the broadest measure of the
US foreign-trade gap - shot up in the go-go '90s and
reached $417 billion in 2001. To balance its external
debt, the US needs to swallow foreign capital. The US
today cannot live on its own production. As we move to a
more stable world in terms of more democracy, more
educational opportunities, and more demographic control,
we are confronted by a frightening possibility: the
world might find out that it can live without the US,
while the US discovers it cannot live without the world.

For all the talk about the merits of
globalization, economists like Brazil's Jose Fiori would
say globalization in the end is little else than a
technique for profit optimization in a
historically-specific world environment, ie, the
situation today of a relative abundance of literate
workforces outside the main industrialized countries.

Washington's hawks certainly know that their
main objective is not to defend a liberal and democratic
order that is becoming meaningless inside the US itself.
Nothing much changed since State Department planner
George Kennan set out the basic framework for
understanding US foreign policy in 1948: "We have about
50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent
of its population … In this situation, we cannot fail to
be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in
the coming period is to devise a pattern of
relationships which will permit us to maintain this
position of disparity without positive detriment to our
national security. To do so, we will have to dispense
with all sentimentality and day-dreaming: and our
attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our
immediate national objectives." (State Department Policy
Planning Study, cited by Noam Chomsky in On Power and
Ideology: the Managua Lectures

In the
Middle East, Kennan's "pattern of relationships" has
included a stream of client regimes serving US interests
- Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (before Osama). US
interests were also handsomely served by Iraq before
fateful August 2, 1990, the day Saddam Hussein, from a
trusted ally and friend of Washington and London,
instantly became "the new Hitler" (in George Bush
senior's phrase). CNN may find in its archives splendid
footage of a beaming Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with
Saddam Hussein in 1983 (a photograph of the event exists
in the Globo Network archives).

America of
course will always need staggering provisions of goods
and capital. To make this happen, the strategic
objective was long ago amplified to exercising total
political control over the world's resources. But how to
control these resources and eliminate competition when
there are too many literate people and too many
democracies around? The US is not really threatened by
the Axis of Evil: Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il or the
intolerant mullahs faithful to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
have only rhetorical firepower. The real strategic
competitors are in fact the European Union, Russia and
Japan in the short term, and China in the long term.
It's unthinkable to apply the preemptive Bush doctrine
against these players. In each of these cases, the US
has to negotiate.

The problem of its economic
dependency remains, but the US also has to find a way to
be at the center of the world - at least symbolically -
to convince all of its "hyperpower". This mechanism is
what French historian Emmanuel Todd describes as
"theatrical militarism".

The strategy means that
Washington should never come up with a definitive
solution for any geopolitical problem, because
instability is the only thing that would justify
military action ad infinitum by the only superpower,
anytime, anywhere. In practical terms, this means there
is no real initiative to find an acceptable solution for
both parties of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This
means there will be no comprehensive solution for
Afghanistan - where the US is now confronted by a jihad
launched by disgruntled Pashtuns to kick out foreign
invaders. This means no American push for a definitive
solution in Kashmir. This means the usual, endless
litany of "special envoys" playing for the cameras in
assorted trouble spots with off-the-cuff "peace plans".

Washington knows it is unable to confront the
real players in the world - Europe, Russia, Japan,
China. Thus it seeks to remain politically on top by
bullying minor players like the Axis of Evil, or even
more minor players like Cuba. The US propaganda machine
will always be warning of tremendous threats (Iraq has
the fourth-largest army in the world, its renewed
nuclear program will incinerate us all, etc). And to
keep the illusion going, Washington continues to develop
new weapons designed to increase its already smashing
military supremacy, fuelled by the Pentagon's
astronomical budget and benefiting the US
military-industrial complex. Gore Vidal is one of the
few US insiders to deconstruct the process which feeds
on the logic of an unending, unstoppable arms race.

Does all of this constitute an American Empire?
Hardly. A little more than a decade after the implosion
of the Soviet Empire, the world may be confronted by the
possibility that the American Empire is beginning to

Empire or republic?

the beginning of the Iranian Revolution, Shi'ite
ideology was starkly denouncing the injustices of the
world. This had tremendous revolutionary potential -
just like the original Protestant metaphysics which
considered Man and Society as corrupted. Luther and
Calvin were in fact the Western ayatollahs of the 16th
century. And they were instrumental in the birth of a
pure society: America.

America was as much an
offspring of religious exaltation as was Ayatollah
Khomeini's Iran. The similarities don't stop there.
Samuel Huntington - an expert in counter-insurgency in
Vietnam during the Johnson administration - came up with
a theory of the clash of civilizations that is
essentially affiliated to the concept of jihad. The
theory is nothing but a conceptual double of Khomeini's
belief in the clash of civilizations.

religious terms, the US is indeed involved in a jihad to
purify an evil world. In military terms, it's more
complicated. Until Pearl Harbor, the US was basically a
naval power, like Athens was. It was certainly an
isolationist power. It could never be accused of being
imperialist in a Roman way. America's world came into
being in 1945 - a consequence of overwhelming military
and industrial supremacy. The two main prizes were what
could only be named "protectorates" - Germany and Japan.
Germany was the second largest industrial power before
World War II, and Japan is the second economic power
today. The US established its power by military means -
absolutely essential for controlling the world economic
system. In this context there are indeed similarities
with the Roman Empire.

After its victory over
Carthage, Rome took over the Middle East and the
Mediterranean. Rome had unlimited resources, land, money
and slaves. If we study the social history of Rome, we
learn that peasants and artisans in Italy lost their
value in the new "globalized" Mediterranean economy - a
process that increased the social polarization between
an economically worthless plebeian mob and a predatory
plutocracy. This process caused the implosion of the
Roman middle class. As the mob could not be eliminated,
Rome came up with the sublime concept of panem et
- bread and circuses - to keep them

Modern American-led globalization also
is not an apolitical phenomenon. A liberalized economic
world with no nation, no state, no military power simply
does not exist. Whether we study it through a pattern
based on Athens or on Rome, the modern globalized
economy is the result of a political-military process.

The Goddess of the Market remains the supreme
myth in the great US universities. It's one of the major
cultural exports of the US. But just like another major
export - the Hollywood movie - it's not exactly
realistic. The basic principle of globalization is
asymmetrical: the rest of the world produces so the US
can consume. There's no balance between exports and
imports in the US. The new economy bubble burst, and
there are plenty of traffic jams on the information
highway. The general atmosphere is more like panem et
- this sublime concept implemented by Rome
to pacify the empire's unruly mob.

* * *

Strategically, it was Russia that won World War
II on the European front. Russian human sacrifice -
before, during and after the siege of Stalingrad - was
lethal to the Nazis. The invasion of Normandy in June
1944 happened when the Russians had already reversed the
tide and were on the brink of invading Germany. It may
be difficult for Americans - and Asians - to understand
that for countless Europeans, Europe's liberation was
due to the fact that Russian communism had defeated
German Nazism.

Observers like British military
expert Liddell Hart in his History of the Second
World War
pointed out that in the European theater,
US troops were too slow and too bureaucratic. In
military terms, on the ground the US is not Athens, and
much less Rome. The US, by contrast, has recently
adopted the concept of zero-death war: war with minimal
casualties for its own forces, and maximum damage for an
enemy helpless to combat massive air power - as seen in
the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. The result of
such a war implies no occupation by ground troops, and
so no expansion of territorial empire as we know it. All
that is needed are compact military bases - like the
ones in the Gulf and now all over Central Asia - and
strategically-positioned aircraft carriers.

People tend to forget that the distribution of
US forces before September 11 was still mired in Cold
War mentality. There were more than 60,000 US soldiers
in Germany, more than 40,000 in Japan, and more than
35,000 in South Korea - followed by a little more than
10,000 each in Italy and the UK, and less than 10,000
scattered around Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland,
Greece and Turkey.

So the really important
possessions of the so-called American Empire are really
what could be defined as the European and East Asian
"protectorates". Without them, there would be no US
world power. Before the increasing likelihood of an
attack against Iraq, there were only 10,000 US troops in
the Middle East - almost 13,000 if we include Turkey.
Recently they have been also moving to the borders of
the old communist empire: around 10,000 are in
Afghanistan and no more than 1,500 in Uzbekistan. But
the crucial point remains that 85 percent of American
military personnel abroad were getting their bed and
breakfast from the crucial "protectorates" of Germany,
Japan and South Korea.

* * *

euphoria on Wall Street, while it lasted, was totally
disproportionate to the real growth of the American
economy. It was a sort of rich man's inflation. The
actual exploitation of people in the developed world and
the over-exploitation of people in the developing world
would never pose a problem to the balance of a
globalized society if ruling classes - especially in
Europe and Japan - were benefiting. But the US's
vulnerability to the regulatory mechanism of the whole
thing is now a threat to these classes, in Europe and
Japan as well as in developing countries.

we know that a significant part of the world's profits
goes to Wall Street, and when we know that the US
economy is not exactly productive - hooked as it is on
increasingly massive imports of consumer goods - Wall
Street starts looking like a fiction. Money injected
into the US falls literally into a mirage. In a Merlin
the Magician syndrome, what for the privileged few
living in America's orbit means capital investment, for
Americans themselves means a blank cheque enabling them
to consume goods bought from all over the world. Nobody
knows the consequences in the long run. No economist can
predict when and how the implosion of the whole system
will happen.

Unbridled neoliberalism is now
being acknowledged by economists from Asia to Latin
America as a deterrence to growth. Professor Hobsbawm
observed that the recent election of the former
metalworker Lula as president of Brazil, with 53 million
votes, "is a direct consequence of the application of
IMF reforms, of market fundamentalism, to Brazil. It was
the response of Brazilians from all social classes to
what used to be called the Washington consensus. This is
the proof Washington-styled globalization originates a
massive, contrary political and social reaction."

In the short term, this type of globalization
allows the US to perform the role of indispensable
consumer, while the rise of social inequalities
everywhere - a key consequence of the system - allows
profits to swell. These profits feed the US with fresh
funds necessary to finance all the consuming.

America's military power cannot be compared to
the brute force of Rome's. America's power is
fundamentally based on the consent of the ruling classes
of allies, who duly pay their dues. But if the system
moves beyond an acceptable level of financial
insecurity, the voluntary servitude to the US imperial
project becomes inevitably meaningless.

prevent this from happening, Washington could do worse
than to treat its partners as equals. A universalist
America would have to convince the world - rhetorically
and economically - that "we are all Americans". But in a
Washington controlled by fundamentalist hawks,
practically everybody else is now getting no more than
second or third-class treatment.

To a certain
extent, Anglo-Saxons respect differences. The British
Empire was an overseas empire, established because of
immense technological superiority. It never tried to
integrate the conquered, to turn Indians, Africans or
Malays into perfect British specimens. The key to the
system was indirect rule. So no wonder the
decolonization process was relatively easy.

French, on the other hand, wanted to turn Vietnamese,
Senegalese and Algerians into perfect French specimens.
No wonder France went through enormous pains accepting
the end of its empire. The French are eminent

The US, when it was really an
empire - after the end of the World War II - had a lot
of curiosity and respect for the diversity of the
outside world. There was a time when the US mixed its
military and economic power with a heart-warming
intellectual and cultural tolerance.

The US
after September 11 is far from tolerant. Its capacity
for tolerance has always been limited: it stops when
other countries start posing challenges, or are becoming
potential opponents. The elite in power in Washington
right now seek to incarnate an exclusive ideal, and to
possess the key to any form of economic success.
Narcissistic expansion and social and cultural hegemony
betray a sign of fear. Incapable of de facto dominating
the world, this version of America has unfortunately
retreated to a negation of any form of autonomous
existence. And it has retreated to a negation of the
amazing diversity of worldviews in different societies
everywhere. "Either you are with us, or you are with the

The obsession with Islam

The model of contemporary American behavior in
international relations was set by Bush senior's Gulf
War. Yet nobody has told the real story behind Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait in August 2, 1990.

The US
might have encouraged Saddam Hussein to fall into the
abyss, as he understood that the invasion was
"acceptable" to Washington. April Glaspie, the American
ambassador in Baghdad and the last American official to
see Saddam Hussein eye-to-eye five days before the
invasion of Kuwait, was "retired" by the State
Department, and has flatly refused to talk ever since.

Kuwait was involved in slant-drilling. In Texas,
people get shot for slant-drilling. Kuwait was simply
pumping out something like $14 billion in oil from Iraqi
territory. When Ambassador Glaspie visited Saddam, CIA
photos were revealing a massive presence of Iraqi troops
on Kuwait's border. Glaspie told Saddam that the US was
neutral. But a few days later, Kuwait's foreign minister
- encouraged by the US - was saying "Let them occupy our
territory … We are going to bring in the Americans".
Since late 1989, while the CIA was advising Kuwait to
put pressure on Iraq, a CIA-affiliated think tank was
advising Saddam to put pressure on Kuwait.

European Union intelligence sources confirm that
in November 1989 there was a secret pact between the CIA
and General Fahd, Kuwait's chief of internal security.
The plan was to profit from Iraq's economic
deterioration due to the staggering cost of the
Iran-Iraq war, to keep up the pressure, and to force
Iraq to accept a final border agreement with Kuwait. The
CIA engaged itself to protect the Emir of Kuwait, Jaber
al Sabah - under any circumstances. At the same time
Saddam Hussein was convinced that the US understood his
own strategy - which was to increase pressure to force
Kuwait to negotiate. On July 31, 1990, only two days
before the invasion, under-secretary of state for the
Middle East John Kelly told Congress that the US had not
ratified a treaty including the use of US forces in case
of trouble between Iraq and Kuwait. This seemed to
confirm what April Glaspie had told Saddam three days
earlier. The outcome of the whole saga - the
"liberation" of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation - sent a
message to any Third World leader daring to step out of
the US line. It also opened a new chapter in US history:
it led to the engagement in a sequence of conflicts with
military midgets, all of them categorized as "rogue
states", so US might could be demonstrated for all to

Any rogue state is weak by definition. It's
interesting to note that communist Vietnam has been left
alone. Vietnam has real military capabilities, as it
showed the last time the US got involved there. So, no
messing with Vietnam. Now, North Korea opens an even
more interesting front: it's a rogue state alright, but
it has a nuclear arms program: it could possibly flatten
Seoul or Tokyo. So, no messing with North Korea either:
let's talk.

Iraq, on the other hand, is the
ideal rogue state. Apart from the crucial economic fact
that it literally floats over a sea of oil, its
government is universally despised, it "may" have
weapons of mass destruction, and it is located in the
Arab world - which, for Washington Islamophobes, is a
world of losers.

The post-September 11 New
Afghan War certainly followed Bush senior's model. And
the model is what historian Todd describes as
"theatrical micro-militarism": "To demonstrate America's
necessity in the world by slowly smashing insignificant
enemies." Nothing more apt as far as the Taliban were
concerned: their version of "command and control center"
was two turbaned fellows holding walkie-talkies. All the
props of theatrical micro-militarism, though, were not
enough to apprehend or kill Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar
or any of al-Qaeda's top commanders.

Afghanistan, the US demonstrated that Hell is airborne
for any country that does not have good anti-aircraft
defenses, or some kind of nuclear program (like Pakistan
or North Korea). When it comes to a ground battle, it's
another story. All US operations in Afghanistan from
Tora Bora onward were a failure. On the ground, the US
relied on local warlords (usually the wrong ones, or the
wiliest ones, who handed a few poor souls to their US

The real structure of the so-called
American Empire can be perceived by the distribution of
American forces around the world. Until September 11,
they were predominantly in Germany, Japan and South
Korea. After Afghanistan, most of America's military
force is now concentrated in the Muslim world - a
prelude to the atttack against Iraq. This concentration
is officially due to the "war against terrorism". But if
we accept Todd's concept, we conclude that "war against
terrorism" is nothing less than the latest official
formalization of "theatrical micro-militarism". Which
leads us to America's obsession with Islam.

US is obsessed with Islam for a number of interelated
reasons. Islam was considered by Samuel Huntington to be
the number one menace because most of the world's oil
production is in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. As the US
is not a paradigm of economic efficiency anymore, it has
to be increasingly obsessed with Arab oil: so the US
suddenly "discovered" that its Saudi Arabian ally was a
focus of radical Wahhabism, that this state religion
plus tons of petrodollars were exported to finance all
kinds of extremism all over the world, and that most of
the September 11 kamikazes were Saudis. As the US is not
a paradigm of military efficiency on the ground, nothing
better than to attack a weak enemy - the militarily
impaired Arab world. And as the US is not a paradigm of
tolerance anymore, nothing better than to manifest its
newfound crusader intolerance toward a civilization and
culture that, according to Islamophobes, has lost its

If this US manipulated by Washington's
hawks is more and more intolerant toward the rest of the
world, it positively hates the Arab world. This is a
primitive, visceral antagonism. It goes much deeper than
Huntington's clash of civilizations. The problem is,
this irrational confrontation has been catapulted to the
core of international relations.

The war against
terrorism - as conducted by the Pentagon propaganda
machine - instilled a kind of Final Judgment in
Americans against the Afghan, and then the Arab,
anthropological systems. As the US loses its
universalist perspective, it becomes increasingly
difficult for average Americans to try to understand the
motivations, expectations and frustrations of the Arab
and Muslim world.

The US military presence in
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the pathological obsession on
attacking Iraq (Bush junior: "He tried to kill my Dad")
and endless confrontation with Iran may constitute what
passes for America's oil strategy. But contrary to
received wisdom, this is not about controlling oil for
the US. It's about controlling the world's sources of
energy - and most of all the sources of energy for
Europe and Japan, the two key "protectorates" essential
for America's world power. So in this aspect at least,
the US is definitely behaving as an empire.

historian Chalmers Johnson in Blowback compares
the $50 billion spent on "defending" the Persian Gulf
from Saddam Hussein in roughly 8 months from 1990 to
1991 with the $11 billion spent by the US on imported
Middle Eastern oil which represented at the time only 10
percent of US consumption. But the same amount of oil
represented 25 percent of Europe's consumption during
the same period, and 50 percent of Japan's
consumption.The average US citizen may not register the
implications, but the rest of the world does.

This is never mentioned in plain English by the
US media: but the US has in fact lost control over Iran
since Khomeini's revolution, and over Iraq since Desert
Storm. And the US now runs the risk of losing Saudi
Arabia as well. One day the Saudi military base will
have to go - and it will probably be under Prince
Abdullah's orders. No number of aircraft carriers can
sustain military bases so far away from the US without
the consent of the nations of the region. The Saudi land
base and most of all the Turkish land base at Incirlik
are much more important for the US than a collection of
billion-dollar aircraft carriers.

So maybe we're
not confronted with an expansion of the American Empire,
but rather with the fear of the would-be empire of
losing key bases. We see a lot of angst, not a
demonstration of power. The US may be afraid of becoming
economically dependent on the rest of the world: lack of
oil is just part of the equation. And the US may be
afraid of losing control of its two key "protectorates"
- Europe and Japan.

The Muslim and especially
the Arab world could not be a more convenient target of
theatrical militarism and for the US to demonstrate its
geopolitical omnipotence. The Arab world is being pushed
into the role of sacrifical lamb. The reasons can be
found as we read Samuel Huntington. He pointed out that
there is no Muslim core state. Neither Saudi Arabia nor
Egypt, Iraq, Iran or Pakistan are capable of resisting
the US in terms of population, military power or
industrial power. For the US military-industrial
complex, nothing is more convenient than the familiar
territory of videogame victories against weak foes
deprived of anti-aircraft defenses - Iraq, the Taliban
in Afghanistan - and the constant menace of totally
asymmetrical war against anyone daring to cross the US.

This is the easiest and cheapest solution in
terms of economic, military and even conceptual
investment. To put it in the crudest way, from the US
hawks' perspective Arabs have oil and no military
capabilities. And the myth of oil is strong enough for
anybody to forget about what really matters - the fact
that the US is globally dependent for its supplies of
practically any type of goods. And to top it all,
there's no reasonably efficient Arab lobby inside the US
- while even CNN is now on a public relations drive,
broadcasting in Arabic.

©2002 Asia Times Online
Co, Ltd. All rights reserved.





Part 2: Eurasia strikes

By Pepe Escobar

Dec 5, 2002

euphoria that followed the end of the Soviet Empire, it
was easy for United States planners to enjoy the
benefits of a Russian knockout, the emergence of the US
as the sole superpower, torrents of foreign capital
flowing in, and the prospect of an everlasting life of
leisure without a worry about a mounting trade deficit.

But there were plenty of risks. Nobody could
tell whether Russia was dead and buried. Nobody thought
that the US might become economically dependent on the
rest of the world.

Nobody could imagine that a
certain Vladimir Putin would one day go to Berlin and
deliver - in German - an extraordinary speech stating
that Europe would only consolidate itself as a really
independent world power by associating its capacities
with a Russia full of human, territorial and natural
resources, and full of economic, cultural and defense

Nobody could possibly imagine that
from Europe to Latin America, from Asia to Africa, the
perception of the US's relationship to the world would
switch from protection to virtual aggression, as
perception of Russia's relationship to the world would
switch from aggression to a possibility of protection.

This is not what Washington wanted - but with
the new fundamentalist ethic put in place by the Bush
Doctrine, the result was pretty much inevitable. To
examine what happened, we should go back to Brzezinski's
geopolitical opus, The Grand Chessboard: American
Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives
. In 1997 he
was sure the only threat to the American Empire was
Russia. So Russia had to be isolated and defanged.
Brzezinski's advice was for the US to follow a
conciliatory foreign policy with everybody except
Russia. He perfectly understood that the US grip over
Eurasia would depend on the consent of the
"protectorates" - Europe and Japan. So the US had to
care about the solidification and expansion of the
European Union, and should attribute to Japan a global,
and not only Asian, role.

Brzezinski also
understood that the Franco-German axis was the major
strategic player in Europe. So his vision seemed
surefire: as long as Europe and Japan were satisfied
with US leadership, the American Empire was invulnerable
- an empire taking over Eurasia and concentrating the
essence of the economic and technological power of the

Brzezinski was also clever enough to
understand that China had to be appeased. He saw rivalry
with China as being far in the future. And he
recommended conciliation toward Iran, because its
democratic evolution would not lead to confrontation
with the US. By following all these precepts, Russia -
the only imminent military threat to the US - would be
squeezed between Europe and Japan, cut off from China
and Iran, and in fact be excluded from any major role in

The problem is, Bush's Washington did
not implement Brzezinski's vision. The US in fact
expanded NATO to eastern Europe, courted Ukraine, and
extended its influence in the Caucausus and Central
Asia. But then came the war against terrorism. There are
now between 10,000 and 12,000 US troops in Afghanistan,
1,500 in Uzbekistan, a few hundred in Kyrgyzstan and a
little more than a hundred in Georgia. But this is far
from representing a destabilization of Russia.

Bush's Washington - as any diplomat in Brussels
will tell us - engaged in a catalogue of actions
humiliating or snubbing the European Union. They
despised Japan, provoked China, and put Iran into the
Axis of Evil. The result is that different poles in
Eurasia are now joining forces against the US. To top it
all, Washington hawks guided Bush in supporting Israel
against the Palestinians, thus antagonizing the Muslim

As we have seen, the US's military,
economic and ideological capacities are limited. The
only way for the US to affirm its global role is to
confront and attack military midgets. This is not empire
but simulation of empire, manifested by maintaining
absolutely useless tensions with Cuba, North Korea and
Iraq, and the usual provocations of China. Hostility
toward Iran is in fact absurd, because any US senator or
congressman, with a simple visit to Tehran, might see
for himself how the country is yearning and already
striving for democracy. If the US was really an empire,
it would be striving for Pax Americana - a series of
relations of patient condescension toward regimes that
will not last very much longer. Kim Jong-il and Saddam
Hussein might fall without a shot being fired.

But so much Washington-engendered tension
entails no military risk for the US and reinforces the
perception that the US is everywhere. The whole process
feeds a larger-than-life illusion of an unstable and
dangerous planet which needs US protection.

reconstituted al-Qaeda has already ruined this
perception. Al-Qaeda, a deadly mutant virus interlinked
with myriad groups, has just rendered the planet really
unstable and dangerous - and no one can rely on the US
for protection.

The showdown with Iraq, threats
against North Korea, provocations against China: this is
all theatrical micro-militarism, able to distract the
media and cause apprehension all over Eurasia.
Meanwhile, the only real military adversary, Russia, is
left alone. An increasingly stable Russia and the
increasing autonomy of both the European Union and Japan
imply only one thing: a deadly blow to US hegemony.
Strategic major players Japan, Russia and the EU are
drawing together. Eurasia is starting the drive for a
balance without the US.

Russia is far from being
isolated by the US. Bush plays for the galleries,
lip-synching about cooperation with Russia. For Moscow,
on the other hand, the name of the game is Europe.

Russia is beginning to wake up to the fact that
it can live without the US but it cannot afford to be
estranged from Europe. Trade between Russia and the EU
is almost eight times bigger than between Russia and the
US. Russia is capable of making an offer the EU simply
cannot refuse: loads of oil and a counterweight to US
military influence. Russia can always slip back into
anarchy or Soviet-style autocracy. But make no mistake,
Russia is back - much earlier than anybody thought. No
wonder UN diplomats are happy. Russia is a very strong
nation but it does not harbor hegemonic designs. It's
fundamentally egalitarian. And economically - unlike the
US - it does not depend on anybody else's oil or supply
of goods. The US may keep floating the illusion of
financial power by means of political and ideological
control of the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank. But because of its trade surpluses, Russia does
not need either of these institutions, unlike Argentina,
Brazil, Turkey or Indonesia. One of the most
extraordinary after-effects of September 11 was, in the
long run, to drive a wedge between Europe and US. The
Axis of Evil hysteria, US support for Ariel Sharon and
contempt for Palestinians, all led to a widespread
European perception of the US as irresponsible and
extremely dangerous.

The US media simply cannot
digest the fact that for any European ruling class, each
national history in each European country is much
richer, more relevant, more complex and more interesting
than three-century-old American history. Western Europe
now enjoys a standard of living and a quality of life
similar and in many regions superior to America's. No
wonder there are widespread doubts over the legitimacy
of US leadership.

Cultural differences between
the US and Europe are infinite. US society is the recent
product of a very successful colonial experience.
America had an immensely productive soil, because it was
all virgin soil. America did not create riches - rather,
the original, natural wealth was exploited by an
immigrant population, most of it literate.

very long, centuries-old peasant history explains why
Eurasians as a whole feel the absolute necessity of an
ecological balance and a manageable trade balance. For
so long, Europeans, Chinese, Indians all had to fight
the exhaustion of their soil. In America, people were
liberated from the past: they had unlimited access to
nature as lush as paradise. The US really changed the
definition of economics. All over Eurasia, economics is
understood as the optimization of rare resources. In the
US it is the exploitation of plentiful resources.

Europe feels threatened by the American social
model. European society is far from being as mobile as
American society: it is deeply rooted. And unlike the
US, Europe has no problems with the outside world.
Europe wants and needs peace to increase its already
voluminous trade. The US, on the other hand, is now
conditioned by two conflicts: one against Russia, the
main obstacle to total American hegemony, and the other
against the Muslim world, the universe of theatrical

Europe and Japan are the two key
contemporary industrial powers. Russia remains a
nuclear-military power. The US cannot control any of
these three. So the US chooses to fight non-powers: the
Axis of Evil and the Arab world. That's the ultimate
reason for the Iraq obsession. Iraq is at the
intersection of this non-power mini-universe.

Europe, Russia and Japan are two-and-a-half
times stronger than the US. And US hostility toward the
Muslim and especially Arab world is forcing these three
powers into a long-term alliance.

So we are not
marching toward an American Empire. We are evolving
toward an extremely complex system - a balance among
clusters of nations, disposed relatively equally. Russia
will be one of the poles. Japan will be another. China,
after 2020, will be another. And most of all there will
be the EU - soon to be a congregation of 25 nations, and

The core of Europe will remain the
Franco-German couple, finally to be enriched by
America's Trojan Horse in the European Union, Britain
(otherwise Britain will only survive as one more state
of the US).

In South America, the pole will be
Brazil - now embarked on finding the Third Way for
social development that Tony Blair was not capable of
conjuring. No wonder the election of former metalworker
Lula as Brazil's president has generated so much
attention in the developing world. Hobsbawm notes that
"Lula received more votes than any other
democratically-elected president, with the exception of
Ronald Reagan in the '80s, and this is very significant
for the world."

Britain's Will Hutton, the
economist and journalist author of The World I'm
, says Russia, China, Brazil and India are crucial
allies of the European Union in the struggle to uphold a
multipolar model capable of offering to the world an
alternative to the predatory, financial-markets-ruled,
unilateralist US model.

A different US
administration might be able to realize that no country
in the 20th century became more powerful by waging war -
or by a major increase in its defense budget. France,
Germany, Japan and Russia all lost in this game. The
20th century was the American century because of the
US's reluctance to get involved in military conflicts in
the Old World. Today, legions around the world now see
the war against terrorism as nothing but a
spin-concocted denomination for the maintenance of a US
hegemony that may no longer exist.

Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved.


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