As Paul Craig Roberts cogently points out in his new article, Americans didn't get any extractive benefits from our multi-trillion dollar efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What follows here is my interpretation, spin (on), and understanding of what Paul said. Comments and disagreements about my interpretation are welcome.
After eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. After 10 years of trillion-dollar struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except possibly some part of the drug trade (!) that can be used to fund covert CIA operations. (What a damned joke!)
America's wars are very expensive. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have doubled the national debt, and quite incredibly the American people have derived no benefits from it. No riches and no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington's wars. So what was it all about?
The answer is that Washington's empire extracts resources FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THEMSELVES -- for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. This deserves reiteration: The military-security complex, Wall Street, agribusiness and the Israel lobby use "our' government to extract resources from Americans themselves, to increase their profits and power.
In addition, the U.S. Constitution itself has been "extracted' in the interests of the security state, and a good portion of Americans' incomes have been (and are being) redirected to the pockets of the top 1 percent. This is the peculiar and perverse way in which the American empire functions. And it happens without ever achieving conquest over a foreign country. The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out politically by the puppet government that Washington established. There is no victory in Afghanistan, and the American military does not control the country after a decade of war. But our top 1% does own and control the bottom 99% of our country, and exploits them and milks us instead.
In this new kind of empire, traditional success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place BY BEING at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers' money have flowed into the American armaments industries, and huge amounts of power have flowed into the Department of Homeland Security, which now employs nearly a million people! Simply stated, the American empire works by systematically stripping our country's citizens of much of the wealth they would otherwise have, as well as much of the liberty they would otherwise acquire.
This is why the wars cannot and will not end and why if one of them does end, another starts. Remember when Obama came into office and was asked what the U.S. mission was in Afghanistan? He replied that he did not know what the mission was and that the mission needed to be defined. But he never defined the mission. Instead he renewed the Afghan war without telling us its purpose. Why not tell us the purpose? Because he soon came to realize that he could not allow himself to tell us the real truth, i.e. that the only purpose of the war was to build the power and profits of the military/industrial/security complex (that he soon came to see was in a position to allow his re-election if he stooped to serving their interests). (-- a parasitical military/industrial/security complex that exists at the expense of, and feeds off of, the American citizenry.)
This truth doesn't mean that the objects of American military aggression have escaped without cost. Large numbers of Muslims have of course been bombed and murdered and their economies and infrastructure ruined -- but not in order to extract resources from them.
It is ironic that under "the new empire," it is the citizens OF THE EMPIRE who are robbed of their wealth and liberty. Just like the bombed and murdered Muslims, the American people are also victims of the American empire, but they are victims of a new and distinctly different kind.