Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tom Engelhardt: These two great centers of power are draining the US

Tom Engelhardt wondered recently, why the United States, an empire which possesses an unchallengeable might, everywhere in the world, seems completely incapable of enacting its foreign policies abroad, or using its wealth and power to solve its problems at home.  While the corporate/military/security state rises; the nation falls deeper into decline and, ultimately, poverty.

This is essentially the result of corporatism; which subordinates individual rights/freedoms to the exigencies and the dictates of the corporate state. That is the future of the United States.  America has not always existed as a corporate/military state.  Not even close.
 
"At this moment, Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia."
– George Orwell
Is your memory under control?


Two great power centers have been engorging themselves in twenty-first-century America: there was an ever-expanding national security state, ever less accountable to anyone, ever less overseen by anyone, ever more deeply enveloped in secrecy, ever more able to see others and less transparent itself, ever more empowered by a secret court system and a body of secret law whose judgments no one else could be privy to; and there was an increasingly militarized corporate state, ever less accountable to anyone, ever less overseen by outside forces, ever more sure that the law was its possession.  These two power centers are now triumphant in our world.  They command the landscape against what may be less effective opposition than at any moment in our history.

The more successful those two sectors become, the less the U.S. seems capable of wielding its power effectively in any traditional sense, domestically or abroad.  The power centers remain, but in some still-hard-to-grasp way, the power to accomplish anything seems to be draining from a country that was once the great can-do nation on the planet.

Recent history is clear: that military has proven incapable of winning its wars against minor (and minority) insurgencies globally, just as Washington, for all its firepower, military and economic, has had a remarkably difficult time imposing its desires just about anywhere on the planet.  Though it may still look like a superpower and though the power of its national security state may still be growing, Washington seems to have lost the ability to translate that power into anything resembling success.

Today, the U.S. looks less like a functioning and effective empire than an imperial basket case, unable to bring its massive power to bear effectively from Germany to Syria, Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya to the South China Sea, the Crimea to Africa.  And stranger yet, this remains true even though it has no imperial competitors to challenge it.  Russia is a rickety energy state, capable of achieving its version of imperial success only along its own borders, and China, clearly the rising economic power on the planet, though flexing its military muscles locally in disputed oil-rich waters, visibly has no wish to challenge the U.S. military anywhere far from home.
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Tom Engelhardt, July 13, 2014
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175867/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_age_of_impunity/