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The financial scandal that emanated from Wall Street and which continues to embroil the whole world received, for better or worse, genuine, if panicked, attempts to intervene and prevent complete economic degeneration and catastrophe, something which could still happen, and may even be likely. One could argue whether some of the same predatory crocodiles who caused the problem should have been put in charge of 'fixing' it, but that's recent history now. The point is that the self-inflicted threat to the world economy was at least taken semi-seriously.

More abstract and less conspicuous than the financial abyss into which America may still be heading, is an even worse danger, worse because it is what inspired and allowed the former: America's political and moral degeneracy. It is the greatest evil, because it permits and enables all that follows. And on this front there seems to be no equivalent of the financial fixers, panicked as they may have been, or the equivalent of the trillions of dollars dumped into the system to try to avert disaster. Obama fiddles as America burns.

America is experiencing an unprecedented moral disaster that is by far Mr. Obama's greatest challenge, of which he seems oblivious. Money is important, but so is the rule of law, and that is based on ethics. Ignore that, and governance eventually becomes impossible. Chaos ensues. Violent anarchy prevails. And not only empires crumble, but nations fracture also. At huge cost in human suffering.

America smugly calls itself a (mostly) Christian nation even as it wages imperialistic invasions that are illegal by all human standards, international or domestic. It tortures people, even innocent people, even children, even to death and upwards of sixty percent of its citizens find no fault. The ex-Vice President, whose Administration destroyed evidence and then moved mountains to block and then strangle a proper investigation of 9/11, points to the latter as a justification for more torture, more illegal kidnapping, more murder. More military. More war. More madness. No apologies, just that permanent self-satisfied sneer. Contempt.

With more than a million dead in Iraq and millions more maimed and displaced, Americans, to the limited extent they think about it at all, wrap themselves in the red, white and blue illusion that they are spreading freedom and democracy, not terrorism and random death on a massive scale. Torture. Murder. Madness. Not a dream. American nightmare.

In Afghanistan the same myth may be comforting, but is as dishonest. America is supporting some of the most sickeningly savage warlords, druglords and is turning a blind eye to an ever burgeoning opium and heroin trade, from which the CIA always ends up with a healthy cut.

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And in Pakistan it has been made clear many times that the US has no more regard for innocent civilian life than it does in the other two hopeless countries, made so in the name of citizens who are as amorally indifferent as their leadership. America loves to hate, but mostly it just doesn't give a damn.

If this American ethical meltdown is allowed to continue it will simply not survive long as a nation, let alone an empire.

And when there is nothing left to 'look forward' to, maybe then Mr. Obama will look back in nostalgia for what might easily have been, and with regret that his actions could never speak louder than his grand but illusory, empty words. If the Obama Administration continues down the muddy low road navigated by the previous one, it will be as worthy of the contempt of history that the former one made inevitable. Perhaps even more so, because it began with such promise, and promises.

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I'm a Vancouver writer and film-maker. I have written extensively on political issues, mostly involving American foreign and domestic policy, and also issues in common with Canada such as the ongoing Omar Khadr case. My favorite outlets are OpEd (more...)

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"The gods didn't give man teeth or claws, they gav... by kwalsh on Sunday, Sep 13, 2009 at 9:20:54 PM