Resistance is Futile

big picture stuff

I usually try to steer way clear of self-fulfilling prophecies, and so this is a subject that I’m hesitant to add any energy to, but it’s also important to be clear about it. Here’s a quiz:

Which presidential candidate said the following, on June 20:

The American military has done its job. Look what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the chance to begin to demonstrate that it understood its responsibilities to make the hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future. So the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions which are important for their own people.

Here’s a clue. It was a woman, and a Democrat. As William Blum writes in the Atlantic Free Press (loads slowly, be patient):

Right, it was the woman who wants to be president because … because she wants to be president … because she thinks it would be nice to be president … no other reason, no burning cause, no heartfelt desire for basic change in American society or to make a better world … she just thinks it would be nice, even great, to be president. And keep the American Empire in business, its routine generating of horror and misery being no problem; she wouldn’t want to be known as the president that hastened the decline of the empire.

And she spoke the above words at the "Take Back America" conference; she was speaking to liberals, committed liberal Democrats. She didn’t have to cater to them with any flag-waving pro-war rhetoric; they wanted to hear anti-war rhetoric (and she of course gave them a bit of that as well out of the other side of her mouth), so we can assume that this is how she really feels, if indeed the woman feels anything.

There’s more in Blum’s article about how conservatives are seeing Hillary as their best chance to get what they want:

Now we hear from America’s venerable conservative magazine, William Buckley’s "National Review", an editorial by Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan; treasury official under President George H.W. Bush; a fellow at two of the leading conservative think-tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute; you get the picture. Bartlett tells his readers that it’s almost certain that the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. So what to do? Support the most conservative Democrat. He writes: "To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative."

We also hear from America’s premier magazine for the corporate wealthy, "Fortune", whose recent cover features a picture of Clinton and the headline: "Business Loves Hillary".

Most of the liberal netroots doesn’t ♥ Hillary, and I hope I haven’t ruined your day. I want to talk a bit about Empire, which Blum briefly alluded to, above. It’s a vast subject, and one that the DC establishment struggles with, especially back when Bush and the neocons were in ascendance, although this discussion hasn’t really filtered down to the average American.

But oh, how we pay for it. We can’t have decent health care in this country, but we must have our stealth aircraft, our worldwide network of bases, and a permanent standing military. Military hardware is one of the few things our industries still make well, and service in the military has become an increasingly compelling venue for young people to advance themselves. Our media promotes fear, which discourages us from seeing any other choices in how we operate on this planet. It’s really the subject for another Michael Moore movie all by itself. Most of his films touch this theme on the way to making their main point. Chalmers Johnson has probably done the most work in popularizing the subject, and Can We End the American Empire Before It Ends Us? is a good introduction to his ideas.

It’s not that America hasn’t used its might as a benevolent force in the world, it has. These last six years however, have brought out the shadow side of our country, the monumentally bad consequences when its might is misused when placed in selfish and thuggish hands.

Empire has enormous costs, both in terms of dollars, and in terms of fidelity to the original principles of this country as laid out in the Constitution. We see this everyday in our country. It’s possible that a Hillary Clinton presidency will use our might for good in the world, but it’s also unlikely that she has any intention of scaling things back. As Mel Brooks famously stated, “It’s good to be King”. This is part of the reason why conservatives are warming to her.

Update: Pentagon Planet: How the Pentagon Came to Own the Earth, Seas, and Skies will amaze you with the vastness of our Empire:

…to begin to grasp the Pentagon’s global immensity, it helps to look, again, at its land holdings — all 120,191 square kilometers which are almost exactly the size of North Korea (120,538 square kilometers)…

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  1. sniflheim  •  Jul 11, 2007 @1:03 pm

    This is (half of) why I hope she’s the nominee. The other two big guys, from what I know of the kind of people they’ve got around them (and based on the history Democratic presidents), will not only not make any challenge to the general policy and institutional drift, they will actually sucker good and smart people into thinking something different is happening. That’s how we came to get Camp Bondsteel in its visible-from-space glory. With Hilary, there can be much less pretense about where we’re at and what more will have to be done.

  2. Donna  •  Jul 11, 2007 @3:01 pm

    So, the point of the post is that Hillary is unlikely to scale back the ‘Empire’ which the neocons have wrought because she is, according to right-wingers, the most conservative of Dem candidates and already a proven darling of big business, including military contractors. Reality check, do I have that point right?
    Then snifheim says this is (half of) why he hopes she’s the nominee.
    So, snifheim, instead of listening to any other candidates for the nomination who you have pre-judged as ‘suckering people’, we should just ‘suck up’ to the reality of “Empire’ that would be less dismantled by Hillary? I’m not sure I know where to place you on the scale of suckingness…….

  3. moonbat  •  Jul 11, 2007 @3:21 pm

    Reality check, do I have that point right?

    For the most part. It’s a little more accurate to say that our Empire has been in the making ever since we won WW2. For the next fifty or so years we had the Soviet Union (and sometimes China) as a foil, and someone else made the point (wish I could remember where/give you a link) that this somewhat kept us on our good behavior, because we had to be “better” than the Communists. After the USSR fell, and the right ascended in the US, they began to see the world as their oyster, and why not dominate it, for fun and profit.

    A point that Chalmers makes which I did not, is that regardless of whoever wins in 2008, none of the candidates is talking about scaling back our Empire. All of them want to use it for whatever they think is good. He spells this out in Can We End The American Empire Before It Ends Us? Thanks for letting me clarify this, it isn’t strictly a Hillary thing.

  4. Donna  •  Jul 11, 2007 @4:03 pm

    thanks, moonbat. I finally did read all the Chalmers piece. It surely does seem like the “Empire’ is about as symbolically monolithic a structure as the US embassy hopes to be in Baghdad, self-sustaining and holding its own in the midst of an ever hostile surrounding world. If it is true, as Chalmers seems to hint, that it matters not who is the next president, then that is a horribly dark picture of the future for America and the world.
    I’d like to see some group do a think tank detailed plan for ‘Empire’ deconstruction, but I fear that would be as plagued as a plan to get safely out of Iraq.

  5. sniflheim  •  Jul 11, 2007 @4:05 pm

    Whoever becomes president will all but automatically became the opponent of all serious peace activists and anti-imperialists. That is the nature of the modern presidency. If any major candidate means to reevalute our foreign policy as it has existed since WWII, it’s a well-kept secret, as pointed out in moonbat’s link above (which I confess I only have read the first page of so far). Some liberals, though, insist on projecting their own good intentions onto guys who have done nothing to deserve it.

  6. Donna  •  Jul 11, 2007 @7:13 pm

    snifheim, you must be glad that George W. has fumblingly done the most to expose the reality behind the curtain, glad, that is, if you do not subscribe to ‘Empire’ hegemony. For me, what I learned about the human spirit is that once we define the ‘box’, we begin to transcend that ‘box’. And, yes, inhering in my position is a belief in goodness as corollary to a belief that ultimately balance and order prevail in the universe. If you could conquer gravity as you walk around, then maybe you could achieve permanent imbalance of forces, but not otherwise.

  7. Sachem  •  Jul 11, 2007 @7:36 pm

    Chris Matthews has decided Hillary will win!

    He also gives us Bill Clinton’s tips on how to pick up girls.

  8. sniflheim  •  Jul 11, 2007 @8:17 pm

    I referred to illusions about Democrats specifically—Bush’s insanity, though, is going to be contagious for any incoming president. No one will want to look not as tough on Iran, speaking of boxes we’re in. And neither Edwards nor Obama seems to want out of that particular box….

  9. Swami  •  Jul 11, 2007 @8:40 pm

    Yeah, moonbat..I agree..resistence is futile. I hear that the majority of Americans oppose the concept of Empire, although that is a meaningless fact given the forces at play. For myself, I look back toward history and I see that Emipre goes nowhere. It’s just not a good pursuit, and America would do well to abandon that course.

  10. Swami  •  Jul 11, 2007 @8:49 pm

    Oh, Donna…what’s my password? I tried every one I could remember, but none of them worked.

  11. Donna  •  Jul 11, 2007 @9:47 pm

    Swami, what on earth… remember that I may know about twit filters, but, em, sorry, no info on passwords. Maybe moonbat has those keys???

    snifheim, are you female? There is something flirty-teasy about your statements, like an oldie female might play a ‘declarative’ line out as a hook.

  12. Marshall  •  Jul 11, 2007 @11:17 pm

    Reality Check for Hillary : In life, sometimes you win by losing. In the military, you don’t.

    Reality check for the rest of us : Resistance is never futile. I saw a great and vast empire (the USSR and its satellites), with tanks and wiretaps and concentration camps and a complete control of every official media, vanish in front of my eyes. Resistance is never futile.

  13. moonbat  •  Jul 11, 2007 @11:20 pm

    Donna, I went into the admin screen, and called up your post, and saw that you entered a password in the “Post Password” field (this is on the top line, near the center of the screen). I debated about whether to tell you all this and let you clear it, or just go ahead and clear it myself, and as you can see, I did the latter. Not having a password made the post available to all.

  14. moonbat  •  Jul 12, 2007 @12:22 am

    Marshall, comment 12: point taken.

  15. goatherd  •  Jul 12, 2007 @10:05 am

    For what it’s worth:

    I think you can look at the destruction of the Hawaiian monarchy, the seizure of Hawaii, the Spanish-American war and subsequent seizure of the Phillipines and Puerto Rico as evidence of the USA’s imperial aspirations earlier than the post WWII era. There were various military actions and even occupations of countries to our south that could be characterized as imperial as well.

    I read an interview with Simon Schama in which he supported the view of the USA as an empire and described the decline of empires as “death by a thousand cuts”. (I think this interview is available on “truthdig” IIRC) The observation that we have plenty of stealth bombers but no universal healthcare fits in with this phenomenon. To my mind, one of the stages of decline is a kind of “depleted state” (e.g. N. Korea) where the assets of a nation are increasingly fed into the military as the people starve and infrastructure deteriorates. Imagine how fast our resources can be trained as domestic intelligence programs, etc. continue to grow and suck up money and labor better expended elsewhere.

    Finally, for those who complain about immigrants:

    Empires are mechanisms for taking possession of the resources of their colonies and transporting it back to the “homeland”. This requires an efficient means of transporting the “booty” and an infrastructure for doing so. This infrastructure is tailor made to bring people as well and it inevitably does. The mixing of cultures is fertile ground for change and innovation, but as we see, some see it as a threat.

    Well, sorry to have gone on so long, just a few casual observations.

  16. sniflheim  •  Jul 12, 2007 @1:03 pm

    So you think you’re being flirted with by an old woman? Snark fails me.