Monday, October 20, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

The title of this post was penned by Michael Stipe of REM and I have always wondered if it was in reference to the end of the Soviet Empire. Today we could be watching the dissolution of the American Empire and I find the possibility of it's demise raises my spirits.

This article by Aziz Huq at TomDispatch makes many good points about how the military disasters of Iraq & Afghanistan combined with the current financial melt down may spell if the end of the American Empire if the next President does not handle the situation correctly.

We must chose how we will retreat from our hegemonic military position around the globe. And the consequences of our choice will be drastic. Will we do it on our terms in a gradual orderly way and thereby retain some influence in the world, or will our international creditors pull the plug on our financial system thereby making our nation's debt servitude plain to all? Unless our economy, and it's manufacturing capability rebound soon, the choice of maintaining our current hegemony is not a possibility.

Aziz points to the Suez canal and it's effect on Britain's role as the leader of the free world.

As was true in the Britain of those years, so today, even as the U.S. position in the world undergoes a radical diminishment, the extent to which this is being grasped by a policy making establishment in Washington unused to dealing with uncertainty remains unclear.

In foreign policy terms, the overextended nature of British imperial power only struck home in 1956, nine years after the world war ended. That was the moment when British Prime Minister Anthony Eden fundamentally miscalculated British power in response to Egyptian President Abdul Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. With the French and Israelis at his back, Eden reckoned that Nasser was overreaching and saw an opportunity to undermine the Egyptian regime in an area where British power had long been dominant.

Eden reckoned, however, without a newly dominant United States. American President Dwight D. Eisenhower, angry at being cut out of Middle Eastern affairs, threatened Eden. He would, he indicated, "pull the plug" on the British pound by withdrawing American fiscal support for the recovering British economy. The country's monetary weakness led directly to its military collapse in the crisis. The Suez fiasco not only destroyed Eden's prime ministership, it also marked the end of British imperial ambitions.

I believe we have reached the same position. Without the world's financial credit we cannot maintain our imperial military. As much as I would like to live out my days in material comfort. I have to say, the internationalist in me believes that for the sake of the world, the end of the American Empire cannot come soon enough.

Indeed it may be the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

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