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19 January 2018 will go down in history as the date of Washington's declaration of a new Cold War, delivered by Defense Secretary James Mattis in the course of a speech he gave at John Hopkins University, marking a new low in US foreign policy.
Mr. Mattis' speech confirms that any lingering idea or hope that the Trump administration will reorient relations with Russia on a more positive footing than before is as dead as the proverbial Dodo. Instead, it leaves those countries that refuse to accept the writ of the Empire no option but to draw closer in common cause against it -- economically, militarily, and geopolitically.
In his book 'Frontline Ukraine,' Richard Sakwa makes the salient point that the "Trotskyite roots of neocon thinking are well-known, and for them the world revolution was not cancelled but only transformed: the fight now was not for revolutionary socialism but for capitalist democracy -- to make the world safe for the US." Unabashed neocon scribe Thomas Friedman made the same point more succinctly when he infamously asserted, "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist -- McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps."
Whether wittingly or unwittingly, Mr. Friedman elided from his brutally forthright argument for US hard power as the harbinger of a new Enlightenment the third element in the Holy Trinity of US hegemony -- viz. that the projection of economic and military power requires its cultural adjunct in the shape of the domination of cultural ideas and the news narrative by which those ideas are shaped in the minds of peoples around the world. And those ideas, as well known, are loosed upon the world on a 24/7 basis by the New York Times, CNN, the BBC, Guardian newspaper, and so on.
This cultural imperialism -- for a species of imperialism is what it is -- is crucial, as upon it rests the ideological nostrums that underpin Western liberal democracy.
Daring to challenge and contest the West's cultural hegemony is the real reason Russian media has and continues to be subjected to a full-on assault. Indeed, how could it be otherwise considering that RT and Sputnik have effectively laid bare the hypocrisy, double standards, and mendacity of an empire that extends itself in trying to dress up the snarling beast of hegemony and domination in the garb of democracy.
As the African proverb has it, "Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter." With the emergence of Russian and other alternative media, we now live in a world in which lions -- i.e., countries, states and governments in the crosshairs of US imperialism -- finally do have their own "historians," effectively and doggedly making the case that while Western ideologues fixate on democracy "within" states as justification for regime change, they are less eager to champion democracy "between" states as the cornerstone of international law, as per the UN Charter.
Mr. Mattis in his speech also had the temerity to describe Russia and China as "revisionist powers," this for daring to refuse to bow to the diktat of a country, the United States, whose ruling class has long arrogated to itself the right to rule the world. Russia's real crime, to adopt the ideological lens of Western ideologues for a moment, began with its refusal to acquiesce to its designated status as yet another wholly owned subsidiary of Washington in the wake of the collapse of the USSR, successfully resisting the imposition of free market economic shock treatment, administered with the aim of keeping the country on its knees.
"Our military's role is to keep the peace," Mattis claims. That he spoke those words while managing to keep a straight face count as an impressive achievement.
Ask the people of Iraq about the role of the US military in keeping the peace. Or how about the people of Libya? Ask the people of Syria, given Washington's efforts and success in prolonging the conflict and chaos there. Then there's Afghanistan, where thousands of civilians have perished under US and NATO bombs over the past decade and more. Keep the peace? Mr Mattis, in the inimitable words of tennis legend John McEnroe, "you can't be serious."
Unless that is, Defense Secretary Mattis meant a Roman peace -- a Pax Americana, if you will -- one which in truth describes subjugation and domination. The essence of such a "peace" was most powerfully outlined by the Roman historian Tacitus.
In words that belong to the ages in their withering j'accuse of empire and imperialism, Tacitus averred: "Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace."
Mr. Mattis and those of his bent should pay more attention to history. For its one salient lesson is that empires rest on foundations of sand, and that those who seek to dominate merely succeed in precipitating their own demise.