Weekend Open Thread: A Breathtaking Manifesto for American Hegemony




Boot on the neck

Technically, this isn’t a “boot on the neck” — but it’ll do.  Photo from www.inedc.com/1-5559.htmlj

An essay has come out by the ironically surnamed Reihan Salam of Slate that everyone who cares about U.S. economic policy and global foreign policy needs to read.  It’s breathtaking in its clarity and honesty — up to a point — in explaining why the U.S. is and must be the “cop of the world.”  I disagree with much of it, but I appreciate the contribution to our collective understanding of what and where we are in the world.

[Note: because some people don’t know the word “hegemony” and apparently hate the idea of typing “define: <WORD>” into Google, I’ll make it easy for you.]

My fellow peace activists really need to read this. It’s not that I think that it should convince anyone to support substantially increased military spending, but that it clearly and persuasively presents the mindset of generally rational people who think that way. And that’s worth understanding.

Among the ideas is that the U.S. absolutely IS, and SHOULD BE, the “cop of the world” because we’re the only ones who can do it and it needs to be done (because the alternative is chaos.)

“Who elected us to do this?”, we critics might ask. No one. We’re either self-appointed or, if you’re inclined this way, appointed by God or by History and Fate.

“Why can we be trusted with this power?” Don’t think about it too hard — we just can, because we have the right economic and political system. If there are abuses as a result of our hegemony, they are mild compared to the consequences of its absence.

“Who is ‘we’?” That’s the question that is raised implicitly by a thoughtful reading of this piece, but never really asked out loud. Our poorer citizens become, under this model, fodder for propping up a system that will (inevitably) support injustices, with the benefits going to those whom our political systems favor. (That is, wealthy traders who can buy influence.)

When it comes to the differences between Bernie Sanders (who would oppose this view) and Hillary Clinton (who, while hiding it where she thinks appropriate, supports it) in foreign policy, you can’t get much clearer than this.  (I don’t know Salam’s party affiliation, but this might as well be labeled as the “personal essay” in his application to become the next National Security Advisor.)  And for Democrats who prefer Bernie but endorse Hillary, this explains their reasoning more clearly than they do themselves: as with Rand Paul on the Republican side, the theory is that the “deep government” within the U.S. — which is private as well as public — simply won’t allow someone opposed to these views to become President, or at least to ACT as President.

If Sanders or Paul were lucky, in this view, they’d be subverted; if unlucky, they’d be removed from office, either by scandal, impeachment, or violence.  This is what the country’s leaders (public and private) really believe — and they believe it with more conviction and less self-reflection than you or I or anyone else who subject our our political conclusions to the tortures of self-criticism and self-doubt believe anything.  They are desperate not to see the role of the U.S., of its “command of the commons,” change.  So everyone — primarily, those who can be pushed further into desperation — had better go along or get out of the way.  As I said: it’s breathtaking.

Salam offers a brilliant, stark, and horrifying analysis in which “we” of the USA are somewhere between Rome and Orwell’s Oceania — and in which that’s good. You need to read it because critics need to understand what the other side really believes. And, when loathsome enemies such as ISIL and Al Qaeda attack us, this is in part what they attack us over. The rest of the world understands that; so must we.

This is your Weekend Open Thread; talk about that, or anything else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of discretion and decorum.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)