Since the end of the Cold War arms race, lacking any credible opponent, we have created an overheated race with ourselves.
Since Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man, it’s been a dicey thing to forecast the end of anything. Still . . .
- A war with China? Unthinkable for both nations.
- Russia? Not a chance.
- Muslim jihadists? No doubt, but one can hardly call that a war. That we have elected to call it one has cost us dearly.
Until we and our Arab allies make fundamental changes in the way we see and treat and relate to the massive neglect and impoverishment of native populations, we can expect the terrorist incidents to increase. But that's hardly unique in the world and hardly something amenable to force of arms, that’s a difficulty we share within our own society.
But it’s not a problem solvable by increasing our arsenal of aircraft carriers, sophisticated jet aircraft, nuclear submarines or Bradley fighting vehicles. Ronald Reagan’s and Donald Rumsfeld’s vision of the control of space has no purpose in the discredited (and ineffective) vision of Shock and Awe changing world politics.
Yet that kind of mindless and wasteful military spending is an enormous liability to the United States. We're seemingly devoted to scaring to death the remaining powers in a world of diminishing major powers. Our military budget equals that of the rest of the world and doubles it. What the hell is in our head? Is this a Jeffersonian vision of America? One would hardly think so, but it’s agonizingly close to the Hitlerian model.
Having finally (and at untold expense) escaped the Cold War, is there a purpose (other than the enrichment of McDonnel Douglas and Lockheed) in spurring China to an arms race? Consider the proposition;
- That China or Russia was frantically engaged in the business of anti-missile screens that included radar bases in Toronto or Cuba (anyone remember the Cuban missile crisis?)
- That either of those countries unilaterally rescinded their nuclear treaties with us in order to begin a Star Wars project of unknown cost and purpose
- That one or the other (or both) publicly stated their aim to dominate space and monitor all other nations’ satellite and space-based activity
- That one or the other (or both combined) had a military budget 20 or 30 times the size of ours
- That either (or both) had declared a policy of pre-emptive attack on sovereign nations (strictly on the basis of their own perception of threat) and then used that false claim to attack and ravage a client Arab nation.
It’s possible under those circumstances, just possible, that we might feel threatened, a tad nervous, somewhat concerned about intent.
There isn’t a rational reason in the world to be doing what we are doing, other than world dominance by military threat and conquest. As a nation, we espouse democratic ideals and practice a barely disguised form of colonialism.
Maybe we’ve given up on idealistic democracy.
Disaster Capitalism failed us.
The world is turning its back on the IMF and World Bank. Perhaps after devastating democracy in Central and South America in the 70’s and 80’s, wrecking the emerging Russian and Asian democracies in the 90’s and the current all-out destruction of what was to have been the Islamic democratic experiment in Iraq, the world no longer trusts the American brand.
U.S. democracy in the export version; How do I dominate thee? Let me count the ways.
If an export loses market-share, the Harvard Business School model suggests changing the design and marketing of the export. The marketing still claims to be the spread of democracy, but the design is radar bases in the Czech Republic and Poland.
(Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker) Regime change was one of the stated goals of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Unlike cleansing the place of weapons of mass destruction and breaking up the alleged Baghdad-Al Qaeda nexus, it was a reality-based goal; and, unlike the other two (which were as unattainable and unnecessary as ridding the moon of green cheese), it was actually accomplished. Saddam Hussein’s regime has indeed been changed—though what it has been changed into, of course, is not quite what was intended.
And regime change, it turns out, is infectious—a militarily transmittable disease, almost invariably fatal, so far, to any political party or head of government so careless of hygiene as to have had intimate relations with the Bush Administration’s Mesopotamian misadventure.