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U.S. Intel Chief's Shocking Warning

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(Posted on February 17, 2009, Printed on February 17, 2009)

We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgnger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork. Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington's new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the "violent extremism" of the 1920s and 1930s.

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. We will see accelerated plant and retail closures, inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines, unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears, social upheaval.

The United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary Fund's prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent--the worst since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed last year. And this number is set to rise in 2009, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold or were nationalized in 2008. There are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to shut down this year. Unemployment, when you add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment, is close to 14 percent.

And we have few tools left to dig our way out. The manufacturing sector in the United States has been destroyed by globalization. Consumers, thanks to credit card companies and easy lines of credit, are $14 trillion in debt. The government has pledged trillions toward the crisis, most of it borrowed or printed in the form of new money. It is borrowing trillions more to fund our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no one states the obvious: We will never be able to pay these loans back. We are supposed to somehow spend our way out of the crisis and maintain our imperial project on credit. Let our kids worry about it. There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around our severe limitations, to stanch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens. Contrast this with the national security state's strategies to crush potential civil unrest and you get a glimpse of the future. It doesn't look good.

"The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications," Blair told the Senate. "The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism."

The specter of social unrest was raised at the U.S. Army War College in November in a monograph [click on Policypointers' pdf link to see the report] titled "Known Unknowns: Unconventional 'Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development." The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a "violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States," which could be provoked by "unforeseen economic collapse," "purposeful domestic resistance," "pervasive public health emergencies" or "loss of functioning political and legal order." The "widespread civil violence," the document said, "would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security."

"An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home," it went on.

"Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance," the document read.

In plain English, something bureaucrats and the military seem incapable of employing, this translates into the imposition of martial law and a de facto government being run out of the Department of Defense. They are considering it. So should you.

Adm. Blair warned the Senate that "roughly a quarter of the countries in the world have already experienced low-level instability such as government changes because of the current slowdown." He noted that the "bulk of anti-state demonstrations" internationally have been seen in Europe and the former Soviet Union, but this did not mean they could not spread to the United States. He told the senators that the collapse of the global financial system is "likely to produce a wave of economic crises in emerging market nations over the next year." He added that "much of Latin America, former Soviet Union states and sub-Saharan Africa lack sufficient cash reserves, access to international aid or credit, or other coping mechanism."

"When those growth rates go down, my gut tells me that there are going to be problems coming out of that, and we're looking for that," he said. He referred to "statistical modeling" showing that "economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period."

Blair articulated the newest narrative of fear. As the economic unraveling accelerates we will be told it is not the bearded Islamic extremists, although those in power will drag them out of the Halloween closet when they need to give us an exotic shock, but instead the domestic riffraff, environmentalists, anarchists, unions and enraged members of our dispossessed working class who threaten us. Crime, as it always does in times of turmoil, will grow. Those who oppose the iron fist of the state security apparatus will be lumped together in slick, corporate news reports with the growing criminal underclass.

The committee's Republican vice chairman, Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri, not quite knowing what to make of Blair's testimony, said he was concerned that Blair was making the "conditions in the country" and the global economic crisis "the primary focus of the intelligence community."

The economic collapse has exposed the stupidity of our collective faith in a free market and the absurdity of an economy based on the goals of endless growth, consumption, borrowing and expansion. The ideology of unlimited growth failed to take into account the massive depletion of the world's resources, from fossil fuels to clean water to fish stocks to erosion, as well as overpopulation, global warming and climate change. The huge international flows of unregulated capital have wrecked the global financial system. An overvalued dollar (which will soon deflate), wild tech, stock and housing financial bubbles, unchecked greed, the decimation of our manufacturing sector, the empowerment of an oligarchic class, the corruption of our political elite, the impoverishment of workers, a bloated military and defense budget and unrestrained credit binges have conspired to bring us down. The financial crisis will soon become a currency crisis. This second shock will threaten our financial viability. We let the market rule. Now we are paying for it.

The corporate thieves, those who insisted they be paid tens of millions of dollars because they were the best and the brightest, have been exposed as con artists. Our elected officials, along with the press, have been exposed as corrupt and spineless corporate lackeys. Our business schools and intellectual elite have been exposed as frauds. The age of the West has ended. Look to China. Laissez-faire capitalism has destroyed itself. It is time to dust off your copies of Marx.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, is a Senior Fellow at the Nation Institute. His latest book is Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians.
© 2009 Truthdig All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/127252/

 

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of (more...)
 

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"...It turns out that Wall Street, rather tha... by Richard Mynick on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 1:12:33 PM
The "widespread civil violence," the doc... by Jason Paz on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 1:34:01 PM
A fine summary.... by Jack Flanders on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 2:07:09 PM
?... by GLloyd Rowsey on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 2:34:01 PM
THey PLAN for us to react badly....they WANT for u... by tinakang on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 2:06:47 PM
In the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 2005 ... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 10:45:25 AM
 but writing about it.   We are alr... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 2:09:40 PM
      I'm with Richar... by io on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 3:29:57 PM
up to your (final) dig at nationalism.  ... by GLloyd Rowsey on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:05:29 PM
second that.  Bad times tend to create more h... by sometimes blinded on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 7:06:00 AM
The UN supports national sovereignty and inte... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 10:50:13 AM
Ive come to respect over 75% of what I read in you... by GLloyd Rowsey on Saturday, Feb 21, 2009 at 4:49:12 PM
"Under the most extreme circumstances, this m... by William Whitten on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 3:35:17 PM
I'm not so sure the military is going to side ... by Joe Vignolo on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 4:02:49 PM
"Remember that we have an all volunteer milit... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:09:35 PM
They are taking non-citizens who are serving becau... by Dennis Kaiser on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 8:56:51 AM
You mean people who haven't been propagandized... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 10:54:18 AM
.....those that volunteer know what the constituti... by mikel paul on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:11:04 PM
Americans have identified subversive ideas such as... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 10:57:53 AM
"Remember that we have an all volunteer milit... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:12:51 PM
How little support has actually been given the Ira... by GLloyd Rowsey on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:14:35 PM
MR M SAID THESE SAME THINGS HERE LONG AGO--AND THE... by TRADESMAN on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 7:23:02 PM
the orders they're given. If they're told ... by Richard Mynick on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:27:19 PM
... for a mindless sociopath killing machine. For ... by Mr M on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 7:24:25 AM
From what I see by this great essay is that a &quo... by William Cormier on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:27:49 PM
"I fully agree with you regarding the dilemma... by richard on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 7:25:56 PM
You seem to be preparing for violence to protect y... by Aaron Aarons on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 8:19:39 PM
"In other words, study asymmetric warfare and... by William Whitten on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:00:09 PM
We are not the first ones to go through economic b... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:05:21 AM
Unfortunately, the corporate state seems intent on... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Feb 19, 2009 at 5:20:05 AM
"From what I see by this great essay is that ... by William Whitten on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 6:45:40 PM
I surely agree with "....it must be understoo... by richard on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 7:33:50 PM
wow richard we were both writing about the same th... by tinakang on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 7:39:36 PM
Coalition of the Obvious... by Mr M on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 7:36:30 AM
 This is how they plan to "CONquer "... by tinakang on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 7:36:44 PM
Yeah, the Iraqis were uniting in opposing US occup... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 2:01:02 PM
Well, I've never heard of "all mean are c... by SuvRah Rajee on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 8:00:19 PM
    Yes....men.    T... by mikel paul on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 8:14:08 PM
all "meanies" are created equal.. would ... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:16:38 PM
Food, transportation...all of it.I wrote an articl... by Patrick Lafferty on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 8:39:29 PM
"Some smarter people I communicate with&... by jersey girl on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:33:48 PM
String theorists we are not ;) But some of the boy... by Patrick Lafferty on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 10:12:06 PM
That is one weird phenomena.   I saw a v... by jersey girl on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:37:44 AM
How about stepping back from political advocacy fo... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 8:53:57 AM
"Something big is about to happen and very so... by Perry Logan on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 6:12:50 AM
Is it any wonder that you're so clueless? If y... by Mr M on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 8:08:29 AM
A Jones DID predict 9/11 in july of 01 on his radi... by jersey girl on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 9:55:59 AM
Perry, every year the US CDC tries to predict in t... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:15:18 AM
"8 Years Without a Leader"....... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:30:15 AM
Obviously you have been asleep since days of psilo... by Patrick Lafferty on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:32:46 AM
Did you even read this article by Hedges ?? &... by jersey girl on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 11:47:12 AM
namely, why Perry isn't embarrassed to post mi... by Richard Mynick on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 12:36:30 PM
Thanks for the feedback, my friends.I'm very f... by Perry Logan on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 1:15:13 PM
I actually wasn't speaking about Alex Jones. &... by wagelaborer on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 2:14:33 PM
"Since I haven't badmouthed any of these ... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 3:32:17 PM
Your self important displays of clownish behavior ... by Mr M on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 5:02:38 PM
Hey Patrick, I have had Terrance McKinna's Tim... by William Whitten on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 10:13:29 PM
Not to worry. If violence broke out in the homelan... by TomK on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 8:43:21 PM
There are people who stand up strait and tall, and... by Tom Johnson on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:22:36 PM
I take you don't appreciate my sarcasism, humo... by TomK on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 2:06:30 PM
I got it ;)... by jersey girl on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 6:52:26 PM
They didn't win in either Iraq or Afghanistan ... by William Whitten on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 10:24:16 PM
This is back in 2005 article and there might be so... by MARGARET BASET on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 3:07:10 AM
"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do eve... by MARGARET BASET on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 4:54:02 AM
In addition to the incredible scenerios and d... by Michael McCoy on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 4:30:35 AM
Halflife2.net Forums > Off-Topic Forums > Th... by MARGARET BASET on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 5:06:06 AM
I began forming a theory of why the unmitigated gr... by William Cormier on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 9:38:09 AM
So he, with his sources and staff and great pay, &... by Flak Stopper on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 1:38:01 PM
I mainly started investigating this about three mo... by richard on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 at 7:57:04 PM
Richard, Look up Project Blue Beam.... by William Whitten on Friday, Feb 20, 2009 at 5:53:04 AM
While I agree with Hedges' concerns about a mi... by Peter Duveen on Thursday, Feb 19, 2009 at 7:05:20 PM
There is no free market in the United States to ra... by William Whitten on Friday, Feb 20, 2009 at 5:44:35 AM
Please see my comment-with-request, above about ha... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 23, 2009 at 9:01:00 AM