|HOW LONG DO EMPIRES LAST? William Bowles 26/04/03|
Barbarism is right on time
A good friend of mine in the US, not long after 911 wrote me and said, Its either socialism or barbarism. Now Im not sure what her timescale was but she was spot on, about the barbarism bit anyway. Methinks the socialism part is some way off however.
Of course, in modern times, theres no real parallel for the invasion of Iraq, we have to go back to Suez for an out and out land grab, although the US have had quite a few practice runs (Grenada and Panama come to mind). But one thing troubles me about the analysis of the US political class in the current context and thats the idea that somehow, installed somewhere in the White House theres a cabal of neo-conservatives, beavering away at taking over the world. If this were true, it would amount to a coup deetat and nothing could be further from the truth. After all, this is what the Cold War was all about, hence US global ambitions are at least as old, over fifty years.
And is it just me or are the liberal pundits of the western democracies so naïve that they havent been aware of US imperialist intentions all of these long years? Of course not, because for most of us, anti-communism has masked the essential reasons for the struggle.
The Empire strikes back
By contrast, the theorists have no such reluctance even if it is the new kind of imperialism theyre describing,
"What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. We can already discern its outline: an imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle."
I like the bit about order. What like Mussolini made the trains run on time? Or Hitlers order? Or indeed like the British Empire of old which brought order to the natives lives? And of course, articles in the Guardian where I first came across the invidious opinions of Robert Cooper as presented by another theorist of the new imperialists, Robert Kagan has no problem giving them a two-page spread.
And what of cosmopolitan values? How about a few rounds of cluster bombs on Piccadilly Circus during rush hour? Is that cosmopolitan enough for you? Itll definitely level (if youll excuse the pun) the field. But of course I forgot, cosmopolitan values are only for white folks.
Hand-wringing is good for the soul
Its the smugness that pisses me off and why, when I read Robert Fisks hand-wringing apologies for the terror we visit on the unfortunate inhabitants of Iraq (or a dozen other countries I can think of), I get so angry. Its all so easy isnt it, to divorce the actions from the reasons and adopt a moral position without ever get ones hands dirty. So maybe it should be a little more hand washing (after getting them dirty of course) and a little less hand wringing?
Moreover, whether its the Fisks or the Gung Hos of the journalistic world that are preaching at us about Western values, we must never lose sight of the fact that they make a living off the business of bringing order to those less fortunate than ourselves.
News versus information
Naively, I thought the IT revolution would enable us to challenge the hegemony of the corporate world and indeed, in some senses, it has. However, its not so simple for in spite of a Website like the Info Clearinghouse (and many others of course) to paraphrase the Man, its one thing to describe the world, and quite another to change it.
What is news?
If its Saddam and not the Halliburton Corp that leads, then well never get worked up about corporate control of events and how much it impacts on all our lives. Just look at the stunning piece of news and information on www.blackcommentator.com on the Halliburton corporation and just how central corporate power is to the direction of foreign and of course, domestic policy.
The connections that flow from that single piece of journalism are immense, embracing race, class and power, from the mainly poor, black and latino people who are recruited to do the fighting for the imperialists, to the imperative to wage war in order to make lots of money out of it and how one corporation shapes policy in order to rationalise going to war in the first place! Now this is news!
And its why well never see a cover on Time or Newsweek which over a picture of Dick Cheney says,
"Halliburton the corporation the US went to war for" with a sub that runs,
"Halliburton, the corporation Dick Cheney ran between serving Bush Sr. as Secretary of Defense and mentoring Bush Jr. as Vice President, is uniquely adapted to permanent, global warfare."
(Thanks to Blackcommentator.com)
All content on this site is copyright © 1987-2003 William Bowles unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved. You have the right to reproduce content if it is not-for-profit, non-commercial or fair use. For commercial reproduction, please contact the copyright owner.