Category Archives: Election

We the People: a Grim Fairytale

[a short story by  ~ burning woman~ ]

Once upon a time (well, that is the usual opening for a fairy tale, is it not?) there was an empire that covered an entire world. It was not a peaceful empire, in fact it was terribly dysfunctional. However, the kings and other rulers of the various kingdoms, duchies and quaint inventions called “nations” liked it that way.

There were endless wars which greatly benefited the elites and allowed the peasants and serfs or citizens to pretend at being “somebodies” by fighting and killing each other on a regular basis. For that world such behaviour was considered entirely normal. People who thought otherwise and who refused to fight and kill their neighbours were classed as traitors and in some periods, were executed, in others simply jailed. One thing for sure, at all times they were mocked and called cowards.

Such conditions are conducive to bringing forth cowardly and corrupt leadership and at times some group of people would overthrow such leaders and change the status of their land from, say, a kingdom or a colony to, say, a democracy. None of them actually understood what a democracy was since there had never been any to learn from, but they made it up as they went along and lo and behold, before they knew what had happened, their “democracy” had become a totalitarian regime quite identical to what their history books told them of the times before their revolution.

But, they cried, how can this be when it is “We the People” who decide how things should be run? So they talked, loud and vociferously about the role that “We the People” played in this drama and why things had turned on them. They blamed one-another for failing to vote, or for supporting the wrong party and those who were blamed, blamed right back. They blamed the politicians, well, of course! They blamed their elites, just as their forebears did. The problem was that now the elites operated with impunity within the democracy that “We the People” had presumably set up precisely to prevent such a thing from happening.

As things heated up, there even began talk of another revolution. It was a lot of angry talk and no one really knew how to bring about a revolution. It seemed that would require much organization and really, no one was up to jump starting such an irrevocable step. They needed the support of “We the People.”

In keeping with the propaganda relating to the previous revolution, it seemed logical that once again it would be “We the People” who would have to rise up, overthrow the entire corrupt system of religion, government and finance/business, and establish a new system. That made sense, so those with the loudest voices decided to bring “We the People” together.

And children, that is when those who wanted a revolution discovered that “We the People” was a complete chimera. There was no such thing as “We the People.” The idea that a majority core group held the real power of the democracy had always been pure propaganda by the two-party system of government so that the people would continue to believe that at the heart of it a legitimate, patriotic, educated, aware watchdog group of citizens kept tab on its government and had a tight leash on its politicians.

It was a terrible blow to the ego of those who would stop the corruption to discover that there had never been a “We the People” force in the land but exactly the opposite: a ragtag collection of people who distrusted one-another and often hated one-another for being of the wrong skin colour, or from the wrong ethnic background, economic level or religion. Instead of unity, they saw mass shootings and mass incarcerations of innocent individuals. They saw greed, hubris, abuse, violations of every known human rights and widespread destruction of the environment. They also saw that the masses, those who should have been “We the People,” identified with these destructive ways and participated in them, often with gusto while supporting and defending their blatantly corrupt leadership.

“Sadly children, they did not live happily ever after.”

“What happened to that world teacher?” asked a small boy.

“As to be expected, it destroyed itself and all the people on it died.”

“Oh!” echoed the children in horror.

“But it’s only a fairy tale, isn’t it?” Ventured an older girl in the back row.

“Well… no, it’s not really a fairy tale at all.”

The Age of the Dictators

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of an intervention that not only saved my physical life but sent me off on a 180 degree tangent from what I had been. That can only have meaning to myself, of course, or perhaps to anyone who may have been touched by some of the thoughts and ideas on expressing life which I have spouted quite regularly and annoyingly. After all, who wants change that turns all the known and relative comfortable on its head? Better to stick with the tried and failed, follow tradition. Tomorrow is “Good Friday” as declared by the Roman Church many years ago and subsequently adhered to by all of Christendom. That the concept was stolen from the very “pagans” the Church despised and massacred is of little consequence: we have a TRADITION!

That out of my way, I want to write a bit about some recent observations of the global political processes. Lots of noise and bloody foolishness bandied about as the overcrowded numbties of Earth increasingly go for the jugular over their beliefs and traditions. Not so different than previous slices of historical drama except that now we can “participate” in the processes globally through satellite feeds and the quasi-ubiquitous Internet.

I have noticed a serious difference however, and I call it ‘The Age of the Dictators.’

Man’s civilization is of course familiar with, and his history replete with, dictators but what makes this age different is the global and successful wave of political power grabbing by psychopathic and sociopathic billionaires or military leaders able to circumvent democratic constitutions written to prevent this sort of thing from “ever happening again.” Fledgling democracies established through compromise with totalitarian powers of business, banking and the social security state in the last couple hundred years are being systematically dis-empowered and disarmed by the returning totalitarians.

Temporarily sidetracked, the forces of dictatorship slowly but systematically burrowed into the democratic forms of government, buying stooges, corrupting ideals, installing preferred leaders, developing armies of constitutional lawyers to challenge existing laws that protected the people, particularly the most vulnerable: women, children, the working poor, racial minorities and changing rules that allowed all and sundry to vote, thus in a small way making their voices heard. The stooges of totalitarian power are now overtly active in eliminating free speech and destroying all vestiges of a so-called free press. More: in the USA in particular, 50% of the nation’s income is now barrelling like a train without brakes into the military and much of the rest finds its way into the pockets of its billionaires while a flaming racist and sexual predator rules the country from the White House.

War criminals, torturers, sexual predators, perverts, corrupt billionaires, these it would appear, form the preferred choice of voters in most democracies yet we know that it is ownership of the propaganda apparatus and manipulation of polls that have made this possible. Well, some of us know this but of course those who are trained to react to a ‘score’ as if an election was nothing more than a playoff take it at face value that their team won or lost the game and they’ll have to wait another four years to attend another playoff in which their team with better management, stronger or sexier players and richer sponsors, will have a chance to win.

That’s what democracy and the “popular vote” has become: sports teams, playoffs and a final score.

The conclusion was foregone when this began happening decades ago. No one can change the course of events now all hope and talk to the contrary. Unknown to the spectators of the democratic playoff game was a much more powerful team some have labelled “the New World Order” to be politically correct, to be sprung upon the bewildered spectators. It was funded and manned to crush all opposition and usher in the Age of the Totalitarian Dictators. It’s team consisted of the most mentally weak and morally corrupt psychopaths and the owners made the rules for the final playoff.

The people never clued in that “participatory democracy” did not begin and end at the polling booth but had to be a 24/7 commitment to an ideal. Too bad and so sad: goodbye democracies. Now we lose everything. Now we go to war against one-another and against our natural environment. Now we bleed, suffer and die. Now we pay the price for our apathy and woeful ignorance of the kind of forces that have always manipulated us to kill and die for their enrichment and entertainment.

Let’s follow the leaders and go out on the streets to cheer the final winners, our Dictators.

Am I Driving?

[thoughts from     ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

There’s an old joke that goes something like this: two old ladies, Amy and Blanche, are out for a Sunday afternoon drive in Amy’s mint 1958 Caddy. As they push on down Main Street, Amy, who’s the passenger today, notices they drove through a red light. She cringes, says nothing and they proceed to go through two more red lights, at which point Amy can’t stand it any longer and says, “Blanche, do you realize you just drove through three red lights in a row?” Blanche looks around and says, “Oh my, am I driving?”

Am I driving? When one is in a car it seems that such a question would be of paramount importance. The funny, or sad, part of this story is, we’re all born ‘in a car’ or maybe better put, in a ship, and really, we’re all supposed to be driving, or piloting. Except for children and those of severely diminished mental capacity, there are no passengers on spaceship earth.

So why are so many of us continually going through red lights and paying no attention? Well, because we’ve come to believe that we could delegate the job of piloting the ship to certain individuals who claimed some sort of right to that position and we’ve grown used to the idea that it isn’t “me” who is driving through that red light, but the one I voted for. If the ship manages to survive as it blasts its way through shoals of meteorites and no real damage ensues, we hail our elected captain as a hero. If there is damage, we can always blame the guy. I’m not driving the ship of state, he is, or she is.

If you voted for those people and put them in power, doesn’t that make you responsible? The answer usually is, well, yes, but only at voting time. After that I’ve got no say in the matter. That’s the deal, you see? If I don’t like the job they’re doing in piloting the ship I get to vote them out next time around.

What if by then they’ve turned the ship into a hulk floating through space with hardly any life support systems working?

Not to worry, it’s never been that bad. It’s a big ship. It’s made it through billions of years, it’s got a lot of mileage left in it.

So, what’s all the bitching about then? What about changing circumstances in and around the ship which some claim could mean the ship is going to run out of fuel; the shielding could fail; life support systems shut down?

I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ve always had the doomsayers and conspiracy theorists. The problem is the Internet and speeded up communication that allows these fear mongerers to spread their sick ideas. There’s nothing wrong with the ship. Those in control say we’re on course and all is well. I for one believe them. I got to believe in something, right?

But isn’t it true that there is a lot more chaos and conflict aboard the ship recently than there was, say, a hundred years ago?

It’s all relative. More people, more conflict. It’s natural see? Nothing to worry about.

If you were voted in as captain of your section of the ship what would you do differently?

Oh, I don’t know. I’d like to see those in power given more power to do what they want to do. As things stand, there’s too much emphasis on diversity. We need more centralized power. More power gives you more control. That’s what I’d want.

I see. More of what you already have, right? Can I quote you on that last bit?

You bet, and you’ve given me an idea: maybe I should take a stab at becoming the driver.

Send in the Clowns

 

In the midst of the other stuff, like writing rants, poems and a novel (thoroughly enjoying that part) I’ve also been reading many, many blogs and gaining more insight along the way.

This write is, first of all, a thank you to those of you who post that great stuff on your blogs and often also take the time to comment here.

While I’m at it, a sincere thank you for the many “Likes” and the re-blogs. There’s a feel good about getting those, kind of like a hug, or a kiss!

Now then, to some of those blogs I read. There are still quite a few that express, rightfully so, some great and deep concerns about Donald Trump as the president of the United States.

Very briefly, using that insight I mentioned, here’s how I currently see Mr. Trump.

For those of you old enough to have seen a real circus, some of those acts involved a trainer working with lions or other dangerous man-eating predators. It has happened that these predators, for whatever reason, revert to their natural proclivity to eat a human, and turn upon their trainer.

In the wings are clowns, trained to jump into the caged arena, to distract, disrupt, confuse the attacking lion, or lions. That’s where the expression, “Send in the clowns” comes from, not from “Barbra” Streisand’s song.

I see “The Donald” as the clown. He wasn’t actually supposed to get to centre stage, that spot had been earmarked for Hillary Clinton but somehow she blew it and the Clown was sent in.

The problem is that he was never meant to be anything else but a clown. He wasn’t trainer material. He didn’t have the body moves; he didn’t have the language; he didn’t even know the difference between a whip and a tweet. He wasn’t actually good at anything at all except being annoying and brutish. But he liked the idea of being centre stage and instead of blushing all over, apologizing and quickly making an exit stage left, he decided to go on with the show.

Sad, really.

Here are a couple of links to YouTube videos that go a long way to explain what’s currently going on, not just in Washington, but in Canada and in the world; describing in some clear details why things are as they are.

The first, 50 minutes long, is our own Paul Hellyer, once Canadian minister of defence.

The second, a bit long at 2 hours, is Dr. Steven Greer.

If you can take the time, these two “speeches” are worth their weight of wisdom to listen to. Conveniently for those hard of hearing both have reasonably good closed captions.

Paul Hellyer speaks on 9/11, the banking cartel, global warming and Roswell – 50 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=833&v=YmkTuH8nxG4

Dr. Steven Greer speaks on the Deep Deep State and explains why our democracies are in a shambles today.  – 2 hours.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NpkckISywA 

Why do we need to Define our Terms?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Sometimes, in trying to explain things, I know that I come across as annoying, or worse, dissing those wonderful time-honoured traditions and beliefs and “undefined” concepts that bring mental comfort in troubling times of discomfort. But why insist on well-worn concepts being defined, and re-defined, particularly at this time?

Which particular concepts? The standard “big” ones: faith, hope, love, miracles, peace, brotherhood, charity. There is never any lack of extolling of these “virtues” or events. Why can’t I go along with that?

Was it Plato who said, ‘The unexamined life isn’t worth living’? Why don’t we apply this to our great “positive” concepts we like so much to talk about, to bandy about, to shout from the streets in demonstrations, to paint on a sash or use as mission statements? How would that read? “The Unexamined Virtue isn’t worth Proclaiming!”

That to me is a truism. Why don’t we examine our virtues? Why don’t we demand of them that they function according to the claims we make of them, or for them? Take this time, somewhere between Christmas and New Year: peace is the leading contender in unexamined concepts. Peace, peace, peace, we write and say to one another.

Many years ago, I studied the Bible. As the world’s #1 best seller, I thought it deserved my time since so many people purportedly studied it. Here’s a passage guaranteed not to be called upon to illustrate any modern sermon. Harsh, more than harsh, but illustrative, oh yes! They call these “Jeremiads” remember? The ranting prophet, only problem is, he was right. Is the following truthful? Does it apply to us today?

Je. 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so that they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Je. 6:11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in. “Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years.

Je. 6:12 Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,” declares the LORD.

Je. 6:13 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practise deceit.

Je. 6:14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Je. 6:15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.

Whether it is “the LORD” or a corrupt and decadent system that brings “punishment” we know from history that said “punishment” is unavoidable, unless there is a collective 180 degree turn away from the current way of conducting “business” between people and the planet. Pay particular heed to Jeremiah’s complaint: “Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.” Isn’t that exactly the case right now? When someone wishes me “peace” in the tradition of this time, I feel sick at heart, knowing the greeting is not analyzed, not defined, not ground up in the crucible of awareness to be offered as a priceless and unblemished gem. In fact it comes in the opposite guise because it is unexamined in the light of current reality. To me, it is a curse.

For who are those so quick to offer ‘peace’ to each other or their neighbours? Those who would never define it for themselves. Those who use it as a feel good thing, a sort of dessert. A sort of magic formula. That traditional wave of the hand by the queen as she rattles by on the street in her fancy carriage and the exploited sheeple happily wave back in glowing subservience.

But there is another reality: that of wars of resources, exploitation, profit, extortion, lust; of racism and bigotry. From those wars come millions of refugees, and how easy it is to see how those who promote the wars, support the wars and do not suffer from the wars but rather profit from them, hardening themselves against the dispossessed. How easy it is to see how ‘the haves’ choose to make themselves comfortable with their world; to overlook the growing intensity of its evil agenda, perhaps hoping against hope that if they make deals with an evil system, the system in turn will leave them have their fake bit of peace.

Understand that when I use the term ‘the world’ I don’t mean this planet or its natural environment. What I mean (properly defined) is man’s global civilization. So, unless one has made a “public” statement of non-collusion with that civilization (I have, by the way, because I know what “the world” consists of) everyone is a bona fide member of ‘the world’ and functions as a representative, a promoter, a worshipper, an agent, a member, at the very least, an adjunct of said ‘world.’

Because they are unexamined in the light of today’s reality, all the great virtues bandied about become nothing but curses. What good does it do when passing by a starving child to wish her health and well-being; to say, “be fed and clothe and praise God for your life”? But when the relatively rich give each other wishes of health, happiness, peace and love, aren’t they in fact cursing the rest of the world that stares at a life they can never have; a life taken from them and that slips away from them in excruciating pain and sorrow? But not to worry, when it comes time to vote, it will always be “the rich” who will garner the majority votes and predictably in a fake system nothing will ever change except for the worse.  And predictably there will be a collective sigh of comfort when it is discovered it is the rich “Democrats” who won.  We can go back to ruling our Empire through hypocrisy and feel good about ourselves.

In closing, another very annoying biblical quote: Brother James, have at it!

Ja. 2:15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

Ja. 2:16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Ja. 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Here’s another from James:

“Ja. 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

Ja. 5:2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

Ja. 5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Ja. 5:4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Ja. 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. [Or yourselves as in a day of feasting]

Ja. 5:6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”

Any truth in this yet? You see, it’s really all about definitions. The world creates illusions to suit every need and desire. Whatever you want, it will proffer. For a price, of course, but it will also offer the credit card if you don’t have the cash. Conversely, if you don’t play the game, it will find ways to punish, some subtle, like being unemployed and forced out of your home, and some kept hidden in Guantanamo. Which makes me want to define the word: torture – another time.

Definitions. A life lived without being defined (or examined); when its virtuous or feel-good notions aren’t constantly re-defined against the light of the day, is a life, I wouldn’t say ‘not worth living’ but rather carefully faked. A life lived in an entertainment centre surrounded by images on wide screens, on cathedral tapestries, or wandering through museums and mausoleums.

Definitions. I had a recurring dream a few nights ago, of two very large, obviously GMO designed fanged and slavering black dog-like beasts chasing after unarmed people who, in terror, tried to run away from them. Some got away but only at the cost of others being caught and torn to pieces. You have to hear the screams, see the blood, experience such a thing to understand.

Defined: these are the dogs of war. And they are currently running loose throughout the Greater Middle East, much of Africa and wherever drugs are being grown or manufactured. They are also active in refugee camps; in worker slave camps; in sweat shops and in countries the US Empire holds as “non conforming” and a threat to its claims of planetary hegemony. The bits and pieces of the torn bodies I saw in my dreams are being sold at a discount at Walmart and on Amazon. Where do you shop, and do business? Where it’s cheaper and most convenient?

The real world doesn’t have to fear forgetfulness.
It’s a tough customer.
It sits on our shoulders,
weighs on our hearts,
tumbles to our feet.
There’s no escaping it,
it tags along each time we flee.
And there’s no stop
along our escape route
where reality isn’t expecting us. — Wisława Szymborska, from “The Real World”

 

 

The Mob Wars

The Mob Wars
[short story from   ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

What do you think, when you look upon a mob?  Or worse, you encounter one?  That had been the lesson of the day and the cadets in the class, all five of them, 3 girls and 2 boys, could barely restrain their yawns.  They really wanted to laugh at the instructor but there were rules at the Academy, and laughing at an instructor was bad business.  Punishments varied but they weren’t something you wanted to think about.

“A mob is dangerous.” droned on the talking head instructor, a short dark-skinned female who spoke the lingua franca as if she’d learned it from a computer.  Hardly surprising since she had learned it that way.  She wasn’t from the Clayborne worlds but from another galaxy altogether.  Still, she was human and you could relate to her as long as you remained totally mechanical, never betraying any emotion towards her, or her course material.  “A mob has no leader, that’s what makes it dangerous,” she carried on.  “If you see a mob coming towards you, purposefully march in another direction and as soon as you can, find a safe place to hide until it passes by.  Any grouping of ten or more individuals walking together and sharing information, or making loud statements constitute a mob by legal definition.  It is your sworn duty to the Imperium to report any observed mob activity, noting its coordinates and direction.  Anyone who observes a mob formation and does not report it is de-facto part of a conspiracy and liable to a charge of sedition.  The penalty, as you know, is ten years in the mines, the location of the punishment to be determined by the courts but always outside your home worlds.”  

We may be cadets but we weren’t born last night, or even the year before.  The Claybornes, a grouping of three planets orbiting their sun practically equidistantly, thus making each world almost a mirror image of the others climate-wise, were a relatively recent addition to an expanding Imperium.  “Space, the final frontier” boldly claimed a cartoon character from a series of funny little anecdotes that had been transcribed upon holos and would sometimes be available for viewing.  The quaint language and costumes and the posturing would bring out waves of rollicking laughter wherever they happen to be projected.  Final frontier indeed: the abysmal ignorance and hubris of our ancestors makes us wonder that we ever got off the ground of our original world at all. Too quirky.

I was writing about that line, the final frontier.  Even now with everything we’ve discovered and learned, most of it at great cost and unnecessary loss, we still cling to our ancient xenophobia and bigotry.  Once we “know” a thing, we believe that we’ve found the truth, or at the very least, some truth, something we can hang on and build upon.  Our awareness, our ideas, we believe, can be stacked up one upon another, like the modules we fabricate then build living units or space ships with.  It’s as if we choose to forget that no matter how long these modules fit together they must eventually disintegrate, starting with the oldest ones, but we don’t notice the rot and rust, and we keep on building on top.  There comes a point of attrition and entropy and whatever is, soon is no longer.  Simply put, the base collapses.  We accept that but we never see to apply the obvious lesson in it to our interaction with what can only be called the nature of things.

Which brings me back to my story about the mob.  Whatever the Cirillian teacher says about mobs, she really knows nothing at all about them.  But we Clayborners do know about mobs.  Our own societies were basically evolved from a mob mentality.  You see, the Claybornes were chosen by the Imperium as a dumping ground for all sorts of individuals who could not be coerced into the herd mentality, or group-think that serves the Imperium’s aims so well.  We are recent descendants of “deplorables” and “undesirables”  Our grand parents were those who could not be cured.  Many were anarchists.  Some were judged with criminal mentality because they openly defied and called down the Imperium.  And oh yes, we had more than a sprinkling of lower class criminals, the murderers, rapists, bank robbers, psychopaths.  As a fourth generation myself, I say good for them.  It’s here, on our own Clayborne world which we call Armistice, that you can really see the evil that is the Imperium. 

I discovered subsequently that the Imperium had hoped we would not only “break” open these worlds and extract every ounce of resources that could fuel their space economy and finance their Earth-based economy, bolstering ever-expanding wars of conquest, but that once the worlds were bled dry, that we would destroy ourselves, with a little destabilizing help from Imperial guards. Considering the make-up of our local civilization, it seemed inevitable that we would destroy each other when times got tough, a time when the resources ran dry and the Imperium ceased supporting us with the necessities of civilization that could not be manufactured locally.

Even early on in the colonization of the Clayborne worlds, that is exactly what happened.  Unwisely, to say the least, the Imperium representatives gave the game away too soon, when dreams of independence rode high in the minds and hearts of the colonizers.  Conflict ensued.  But at first it wasn’t against the Imperium.  That seemed too big a slice to tackle.  In anger and frustration, various groups, and towns led by gang lords, armed themselves by whatever means, mostly clubs, compound bows and arrows, long handled barbed spears and long knives or machetes, as well as agricultural implements which had reluctantly been allocated to them, and began to attack each other for control of the worlds.

That wasn’t according to plan since by now little or no effort was being made to mine the planets.  Everybody was too busy strengthening their defences and protecting their fields and other food supplies while attempting to lay waste to “the enemy’s” fields and food supplies, transports and storehouses and stealing resources and useful labour and women.

We could almost hear the screams of anger from stock market and “trading houses” all the way though space from an incensed earth, home base of the Imperium, as resources from the Claybornes’ came to a quasi-standstill.  Fortunes in speculation were being lost by the month, the week, even by the hour.  Action was demanded of Arch Imperator, Junes Kohlmadir.  She did what her kind do best: responded by massive force of arms against the wayward planets.

The Imperium intervened  with iron fist and jack boots.  Martial law and a general ban on every sort of weaponry was declared.  Walls around fortified towns were dismantled, sometimes with explosives, more often with slave labour from those arrested for disturbing Imperium-mandated peace; those that is who hadn’t been publicly executed in the first reactionary wave of the new military dictatorship.  They executed thousands of individuals, including women and young children – as an example.  As any thinking person would know and expect, more violence ensued, now directly aimed at the Imperium troopers and subsequent governors sent to negotiate and re-establish a working peace.  Adding insult to injury, the Imperium representatives decreed that any existing facility that could produce a space-faring vessel was to be utterly destroyed, not simply mothballed.  The Imperium set up its own space station to repair and upgrade its own ships.  All merchant ships had to have (and pay for) a complement of Imperium troopers on board, and an Imperium representative to accompany the captain at all times whenever it landed on one of our worlds.

This is the tipping point, where the Imperium, instead of subduing us, only succeeded in uniting the entire planet against the Imperium.

These people, my people, learned through bitter and bloody experience to hate the Imperium with passionate fury and vowed never to let the predators get their resources as cheaply as they had in the past.  We vowed to fight the Imperium to the last man, woman and child on our world.  There would be no free interference in our affairs.  Autonomy or death, was our slogan and war cry.  In the morning the call to arms and resistance would show up, painted on walls, fences, and even on the side of Imperial armoured personel carriers and tanks.  So the people began to organize; to create larger and larger political groups and legally challenge the Imperium’s manipulations.  We lived in wave after wave of bloody crackdowns and brutal repression but any talk of surrendering resulted in another body hanging from a pole, or tree, for the troopers to cut down and dispose of.  We would no longer be the Imperium’s “hewers of wood and drawers of water” forever, or until our worlds became unable to sustain life due to heavy extraction of natural resources and unchecked man-made pollution and we were abandoned to perish in the depths of space, with no hope of ever seeing rescue transportation off our dying rock.

Whenever the Imperium landed a detachment of Guard troopers, mobs formed and there was the inevitable bloodbath.  It is said that half of the population of Armistice died in the anti-Imperium “mob wars” that had already lasted two generations when, at sixteen, I found myself fighting for freedom.

So, ask me, do we know what to do if we encounter a mob?  Sure, if it’s from our side, join in.  If it’s from the enemy side, slink away and report its movements to our side, then form our own defensive counter-mob and attack.  To hesitate is to loose.  Now we are solidly united with our own spilled blood against the Imperium.  There would be no quarter from our side, for we are the legitimate people of this world.  

“Let me repeat:  a mob is a leaderless group of ten or more people bent on destruction and murder.  Report any mob to the nearest Guard post.”  Yes ma’am, thank you ma’am and why don’t you pack up your stupid course materials and return home by the first shuttle, with no due respect, ma’am?  Take some Star Trek holos back with you and base your next history course on them.  Maybe your students won’t turn into zombies on the first day. 

Meanwhile, what’s the real mob? There can be but one answer to that: it’s the Imperium.  The real Mob is always the largest, most powerful predatory group, for a mob takes what it wants because it has the power to do so.  Smaller groups, or “mobs” serve but to justify the real Mob’s oppression, or to do some of its dirtiest “wet” work.  Think “terrorists” as the vanguard of the Mob.  Oh yes, I have read quite a bit of the home world’s history to understand why here, on Armistice, we do what we do, and why we call our world by that meaningless term.  A mob, leaderless?  Never, no such thing.  The “leader” may not be a human being, it may be injustice, hunger, oppression, enslavement, but oh yes, a mob always has a leader.  In fact such a leader is the most powerful and motivational if it isn’t human, but an irresistible force, when choice is no longer choice.  Where, or when, anger and hate fill the collective vat of despair and feet begin to walk; hands grab sticks, stones, anything defensive or offensive, and charge down the street.

There came the inevitable bloody clash between Armisticians and troopers.  I was wounded in it and captured.  I was then seventeen earth years of age.  I am now an old but still strong woman from the hard labour I have performed my entire captive life.  I survived the mandatory torture and gang rapes, solitary confinement, sub-standard food fare and damp, cold, filthy accomodations.  Today, from my life imprisonment cell on Rebus, one of several Imperium prison planets, I write this for the “counselors” to read and ponder: “Down with the Imperium!  I still hope to see its final downfall.  How dare you call yourselves “civilized” and us “savages” and “terrorists.”   You are nothing but cowards who starve and kill women and children so your elites can wine and dine, get richer and brag.  Your lives are as hollow as the insides of our tiger reed.  I could almost pity you but will never: I vowed eternal hate and enmity between us and so it shall be.

Signed:  Selinia Armstrong of the free world of Armistice

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Trumping the Empire

NOTE:  I’m posting this copy of a “Tomgram” article for 2 reasons.  

One, this particular article (I’ve read many others with a similar theme but none as clearly stated) “validates” what I said about Donald Trump as a potential POTUS when he first entered the race for president of the US of A.  What I said then, and have repeated so many times since that it feels this has been going on for years, is this:  Were I an American citizen entitled to vote I’d vote for Donald Trump.  For one reason only.  I see Trump as the perfect architect of the irrecoverable downfall of the American military-industrial corporate empire and attendant hegemonic powers.  I would vote for Trump as the instrument millions of America’s victims of US-based corporate exploitation and USA military oppression have been waiting and praying for since that empire’s military defeat in Vietnam.  My thoughts were never meant as any kind of anti-American people statement but as an anti-hegemon dream fulfillment. 

Two, for the “2020” scenario of US military debacle in the Middle East at the end of this article.  Not only is it quite entertaining, to some of us who “live” our current history in mind and heart, it is a prophecy.   (Sha’Tara) 
____________________________________________________________________________

Posted by Alfred McCoy at 4:23pm, July 16, 2017.
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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: In September, Dispatch Books will publish the next in our line-up of explorations of imperial America: Alfred McCoy’s remarkable In the Shadows of the American CenturyKirkus Reviews has praised it as “sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike, offering no likely path beyond decline and fall.” Among the impressive range of comments we’ve gotten on it come two from Pulitzer Prize winners. Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer, writes that McCoy “persuasively argues for the inevitable decline of the American empire and the rise of China… Let’s hope that Americans will listen to his powerful arguments.” And historian John Dower states that the book “joins the essential short list of scrupulous historical and comparative studies of the United States as an awesome, conflicted, technologically innovative, routinely atrocious, and ultimately hubristic imperial power.” As with all his work since the CIA tried to stifle his classic first book, The Politics of Heroin, back in the early 1970s, McCoy’s is leading-edge stuff and a must-read, so reserve your copy early by clicking here. Tom]

I was 12. It was 1956. I lived in New York City and was a youthful history buff. (I should have kept my collection of American Heritage magazines!) Undoubtedly, I was also some kind of classic nerd. In any case, at some point during the Suez crisis of that year, I can remember going to the U.N. by myself and sitting in the gallery of the General Assembly, where I undoubtedly heard imperial Britain denounced for its attempt to retake the Suez Canal (in league with the French and Israelis). I must admit that it was a moment in my life I had totally forgotten about until historian Alfred McCoy, whose new Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, is due out in September, brought it to mind again. And I certainly hadn’t imagined that Suez might have any applicability to this moment. But almost 16 years after this country’s disastrous “war on terror” was launched and with yet another major Middle Eastern city in rubble, we are undoubtedly witnessing a change in the balance (or imbalance) of power on this unruly planet of ours — and who better to make sense of it than historian McCoy?

Think of him as a modern Edward Gibbon, writing in the twenty-first century on the decline and fall of a great empire. However, unlike Gibbon, who wrote his classic book on Rome centuries after its empire had disappeared from the face of the earth, McCoy has no choice but to deal with American decline contemporaneously — in, that is, the very act of its happening.

I had a canny friend who assured me a couple of decades ago that when European countries finally started saying no to Washington, I’d have a signal that I was on another planet. So we must now be on Mars. I was struck, for instance, by a recent piece in the Guardian describing the G20 summit as “the ‘G1’ versus the ‘G19.’” In other words, it’s increasingly Donald Trump’s Washington against the world, which is the definition of how not to make an empire work. Since imperial decline may, in fact, have been a significant factor in bringing Donald Trump to power, think of him as both its harbinger and — as McCoy so vividly describes today — its architect. Tom

The Demolition of U.S. Global Power 
Donald Trump’s Road to Debacle in the Greater Middle East 
By Alfred W. McCoy

The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.

From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, canceling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since the end of World War II.  However unwittingly, Trump is ensuring the accelerated collapse of American global hegemony.

Stunned by his succession of foreign policy blunders, commentators — left and right, domestic and foreign — have raised their voices in a veritable chorus of criticism. A Los Angeles Times editorial typically called him “so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality” that he threatened to “weaken this country’s moral standing in the world” and “imperil the planet” through his “appalling” policy choices. “He’s a sucker who’s shrinking U.S. influence in [Asia] and helping make China great again,” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman after surveying the damage to the country’s Asian alliances from the president’s “decision to tear up the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal in his first week in office.”

The international press has been no less harsh. Reeling from Trump’s denunciation of South Korea’s free-trade agreement as “horrible” and his bizarre claim that the country had once been “a part of China,” Seoul’s leading newspaper, Chosun Ilboexpressed the “shock, betrayal, and anger many South Koreans have felt.” Assessing his first 100 days in office, Britain’s venerable Observer commented: “Trump’s crudely intimidatory, violent, know-nothing approach to sensitive international issues has encircled the globe from Moscow to the Middle East to Beijing, plunging foes and allies alike into a dark vortex of expanding strategic instability.”

For an American president to virtually walk out of his grand inaugural celebrations into such a hailstorm of criticism is beyond extraordinary. Having more or less exhausted their lexicon of condemnatory rhetoric, the usual crew of commentators is now struggling to understand how an American president could be quite so willfully self-destructive.

Britain’s Suez Crisis

Blitzed by an incessant stream of bizarre tweets and White House conspiracy theories, observers worldwide seem to have concluded that Donald Trump is a president like no other, that the situation he’s creating is without parallel, and that his foreign policy is already a disaster without precedent. After rummaging around in history’s capacious closet for some old suit that might fit him, analysts have failed to find any antecedent or analogue to adequately explain him.

Yet just 60 years ago, a crisis in the ever-volatile Middle East overseen by a bumbling, mistake-prone British leader helped create a great power debacle that offers insight into the Trumpian moment, a glimpse into possible futures, and a sense of the kind of decline that could lie in the imperial future of the United States.

In the early 1950s, Britain’s international position had many parallels with America’s today. After a difficult postwar recovery from the devastation of World War II, that country was enjoying robust employment, lucrative international investments, and the prestige of the pound sterling’s stature as the world’s reserve currency. Thanks to a careful withdrawal from its far-flung, global empire and its close alliance with Washington, London still enjoyed a sense of international influence exceptional for a small island nation of just 50 million people. On balance, Britain seemed poised for many more years of world leadership with all the accompanying economic rewards and perks.

Then came the Suez crisis. After a decade of giving up one colony after another, the accumulated stress of imperial retreat pushed British conservatives into a disastrous military intervention to reclaim Egypt’s Suez Canal.  This, in turn, caused a “deep moral crisis in London” and what one British diplomat would term the “dying convulsion of British imperialism.” In a clear instance of what historians call “micro-militarism” — that is, a bold military strike designed to recover fading imperial influence — Britain joined France and Israel in a misbegotten military invasion of Egypt that transformed slow imperial retreat into a precipitous collapse.

Just as the Panama Canal had once been a shining example for Americans of their nation’s global prowess, so British conservatives treasured the Suez Canal as a vital lifeline that tied their small island to its sprawling empire in Asia and Africa. A few years after the canal’s grand opening in 1869, London did the deal of the century, scooping up Egypt’s shares in it for a bargain basement price of £4 million.  Then, in 1882, Britain consolidated its control over the canal through a military occupation of Egypt, reducing that ancient land to little more than an informal colony.

As late as 1950, in fact, Britain still maintained 80,000 soldiers and a string of military bases astride the canal. The bulk of its oil and gasoline, produced at the enormous Abadan refinery in the Persian Gulf, transited through Suez, fueling its navy, its domestic transportation system, and much of its industry.

After British troops completed a negotiated withdrawal from Suez in 1955, the charismatic nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser asserted Egypt’s neutrality in the Cold War by purchasing Soviet bloc arms, raising eyebrows in Washington. In July 1956, after the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower had in response reneged on its promise to finance construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Upper Nile, Nasser sought alternative financing for this critical infrastructure by nationalizing the Suez Canal.  In doing so, he electrified the Arab world and elevated himself to the top rank of world leaders.

Although British ships still passed freely through the canal and Washington insisted on a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, Britain’s conservative leadership reacted with irrational outrage. Behind a smokescreen of sham diplomacy designed to deceive Washington, their closest ally, the British foreign secretary met secretly with the prime ministers of France and Israel near Paris to work out an elaborately deceptive two-stage invasion of Egypt by 250,000 allied troops, backed by 500 aircraft and 130 warships.  Its aim, of course, was to secure the canal.

On October 29, 1956, the Israeli army led by the dashing General Moshe Dayan swept across the Sinai Peninsula, destroying Egyptian tanks and bringing his troops to within 10 miles of the canal. Using this fighting as a pretext for an intervention to restore peace, Anglo-French amphibious and airborne forces quickly joined the attack, backed by a devastating bombardment from six aircraft carriers that destroyed the Egyptian air forceincluding over a hundred of its new MiG jet fighters. As Egypt’s military collapsed with some 3,000 of its troops killed and 30,000 captured, Nasser deployed a defense brilliant in its simplicity by scuttling dozens of rusting cargo ships filled with rocks and concrete at the entrance to the Suez Canal.  In this way, he closed Europe’s oil lifeline to the Persian Gulf.

Simultaneously, U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, backed by Washington, imposed a cease-fire after just nine days of war, stopping the Anglo-French attack far short of capturing the entire canal. President Eisenhower’s blunt refusal to back his allies with either oil or money and the threat of condemnation before the U.N. soon forced Britain into a humiliating withdrawal. With its finances collapsing from the invasion’s soaring costs, the British government could not maintain the pound’s official exchange rate, degrading its stature as a global reserve currency.

The author of this extraordinary debacle was Sir Anthony Eden, a problematic prime minister whose career offers some striking parallels with Donald Trump’s. Born into privilege as the son of a landholder, Eden enjoyed a good education at a private school and an elite university. After inheriting a substantial fortune from his father, he entered politics as a conservative, using his political connections to dabble in finance. Chafing under Winston Churchill’s postwar leadership of the Conservative Party, Eden, who styled himself a rebel against hidebound institutions, used incessant infighting and his handsome head of hair to push the great man aside and become prime minister in 1955.

When Nasser nationalized the canal, Eden erupted with egotism, bluster, and outrage. “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser,” Eden berated his foreign affairs minister. “I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered, and if you and the Foreign Office don’t agree, then you’d better come to the cabinet and explain why.” Convinced that Britain was still the globe’s great power, Eden rejected sound advice that he consult fully with Washington, the country’s closest ally. As his bold intervention plunged toward diplomatic disaster, the prime minister became focused on manipulating the British media, in the process confusing favorable domestic coverage with international support.

When Washington demanded a ceasefire as the price of a billion-dollar bailout for a British economy unable to sustain such a costly war, Eden’s bluster quickly crumbled and he denied his troops a certain victory, arousing a storm of protest in Parliament. Humiliated by the forced withdrawal, Eden compensated psychologically by ordering MI-6, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, to launch its second ill-fated assassination attempt on Nasser. Since its chief local agent was actually a double-agent loyal to Nasser, Egyptian security had, however, already rounded up the British operatives and the weapons delivered for the contract killers proved duds.

Confronted with a barrage of angry questions in Parliament about his collusion with the Israelis, Eden lied repeatedly, swearing that there was no “foreknowledge that Israel would attack Egypt.” Protesters denounced him as “too stupid to be a prime minister,” opposition members of parliament laughed openly when he appeared before Parliament, and his own foreign affairs minister damned him as “an enraged elephant charging senselessly at… imaginary enemies.”

Just weeks after the last British soldier left Egypt, Eden, discredited and disgraced, was forced to resign after only 21 months in office. Led into this unimaginably misbegotten operation by his delusions of omnipotence, he left the once-mighty British lion a toothless circus animal that would henceforth roll over whenever Washington cracked the whip.

Trump’s Demolition Job

Despite the obvious differences in their economic circumstances, there remain some telling resonances between Britain’s postwar politics and America’s troubles today. Both of these fading global hegemons suffered a slow erosion of economic power in a fast-changing world, producing severe social tensions and stunted political leaders. Britain’s Conservative Party leadership had declined from the skilled diplomacy of Disraeli, Salisbury, and Churchill to Eden’s bluster and blunder.  Similarly, the Republican Party has descended from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and George H.W. Bush to a field of 17 primary candidates in 2016 who promised to resolve an infinitely complex crisis in the Middle East through a set of incendiary policies that included making desert sands glow from carpet-bombing and forcing terrorists to capitulate through torture. Confronted with daunting international challenges, the voters of both countries supported appealing but unstable leaders whose delusions of omnipotence inclined them to military misadventures.

Like British citizens of the 1950s, most Americans today do not fully grasp the fragility of their status as “the leader of the free world.” Indeed, Washington has been standing astride the globe as a superpower for so long that most of its leaders have almost no understanding of the delicate design of their country’s global power built so carefully by two post-World War II presidents.

Under Democratic President Harry Truman, Congress created the key instruments for Washington’s emerging national security state and its future global dominion by passing the National Security Act of 1947 that established the Air Force, the CIA, and two new executive agencies, the Defense Department and the National Security Council. To rebuild a devastated, war-torn Europe, Washington launched the Marshall Plan and then turned such thinking into a worldwide aid program through the U.S. Agency for International Development meant to embed American power globally and support pro-American elites across the planet. Under Truman as well, U.S. diplomats forged the NATO alliance (which Washington would dominate until the Trump moment), advanced European unity, and signed a parallel string of mutual-defense treaties with key Asian allies along the Pacific littoral, making Washington the first power in two millennia to controlboth “axial ends” of the strategic Eurasian continent.

During the 1950s, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower deployed this national security apparatus to secure Washington’s global dominion with a nuclear triad (bombers, ballistic missiles, and submarines), a chain of military bases that ringed Eurasia, and a staggering number of highly militarized covert operations to assure the ascent of loyal allies worldwide. Above all, he oversaw the integration of the latest in scientific and technological research into the Pentagon’s weapons procurement system through the forging of the famed “military-industrial complex” (against which he would end up warning Americans as he left office in 1961).   All this, in turn, fostered an aura of American power so formidable that Washington could re-order significant parts of the world almost at will, enforcing peace, setting the international agenda, and toppling governments on four continents.

While it’s reasonable to argue that Washington had by then become history’s greatest global power, its hegemony, like that of all the world empires that preceded it, remained surprisingly fragile. Skilled leadership was required to maintain the system’s balance of diplomacy, military power, economic strength, and technological innovation.

By the time President Trump took his oath of office, negative, long-term trends had already started to limit the influence of any American leader on the world stage.  These included a declining share of the global economy, an erosion of U.S. technological primacy, an inability to apply its overwhelming military power in a way that achieved expected policy goals on an ever more recalcitrant planet, and a generation of increasingly independent national leaders, whether in Europe, Asia, or Latin America.

Apart from such adverse trends, Washington’s global power rested on such strategic fundamentals that its leaders might still have managed carefully enough to maintain a reasonable semblance of American hegemony: notably, the NATO alliance and Asian mutual-security treaties at the strategic antipodes of Eurasia, trade treaties that reinforced such alliances, scientific research to sustain its military’s technological edge, and leadership on international issues like climate change.

In just five short months, however, the Trump White House has done a remarkable job of demolishing these very pillars of U.S. global power. During his first overseas trip in May 2017, President Trump chastised stone-faced NATO leaders for failure to pay their “fair share” into the military part of the alliance and refused to affirm its core principle of collective defense. Ignoring the pleas of these close allies, he then forfeited America’s historic diplomatic leadership by announcing Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord with all the drama of a reality television show. After watching his striking repudiation of Washington’s role as world leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told voters in her country that “we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

Along the strategic Pacific littoral, Trump cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact on taking office and gratuitously alienated allies by cutting short a courtesy phone call to Australia’s prime minister and insulting South Korea to the point where its new president won office, in part, on a platform of “say no” to America. When President Moon Jae-in visited Washington in June, determined to heal the breach between the two countries, he was, as the New York Times reported, blindsided by “the harshness of Mr. Trump’s critique of South Korea on trade.”

Just days after Trump dismissed Moon’s suggestion that the two countries engage in actual diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang, North Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching Alaska or possibly Hawaii with a nuclear warhead (though experts believe Pyongyang may still be years away from effectively fitting such a warhead to the missile).  It was an act that made those same negotiations Washington’s only viable option — apart from a second Korean War, which would potentially devastate both the region and the U.S. position as the preeminent international leader.

In other words, after 70 years of global dominion, America’s geopolitical command of the axial ends of Eurasia — the central pillars of its world power seems to be crumbling in a matter of months.

Instead of the diplomacy of presidents past, Trump and his advisers, especially his military men, have reacted to his first modest foreign crises as well as the everyday power questions of empire with outbursts akin to Anthony Eden’s.  Since January, the White House has erupted in sudden displays of raw military power that included a drone blitz of unprecedented intensity in Yemen to destroy what the president called a “network of lawless savages,” the bombardment of a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles, and the detonation of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on a terrorist refuge in eastern Afghanistan.

While reveling in the use of such weaponry, Trump, by slashing federal funding for critical scientific research, is already demolishing the foundations for the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower’s successors, Republican and Democratic alike, so sedulously maintained for the last half-century. While China is ramping up its scientific research across the board, Trump has proposed what the American Association for Advancement of Science called “deep cuts to numerous research agencies” that will mean the eventual loss of the country’s technological edge. In the emerging field of artificial intelligence that will soon drive space warfare and cyber-warfare, the White House wants to reduce the 2018 budget for this critical research at the National Science Foundation to a paltry $175 million, even as Beijing is launching “a new multi-billion-dollar initiative” linked to building “military robots.”

A Future Debacle in the Greater Middle East

With a president who shares Sir Anthony Eden’s penchant for bravura, self-delusion, and impulsiveness, the U.S. seems primed for a twenty-first-century Suez of its own, a debacle in the Greater Middle East (or possibly elsewhere). From the disastrous expedition that ancient Athens sent to Sicily in 413 BCE to Britain’s invasion of Suez in 1956, embattled empires throughout the ages have often suffered an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle, a misuse of armed force known technically among historians as micro-militarism. With the hubris that has marked empires over the millennia, the Trump administration is, for instance, now committed to extending indefinitely Washington’s failing war of pacification in Afghanistan with a new mini-surge of U.S. troops (and air power) in that classic “graveyard of empires.

So irrational, so unpredictable is such micro-militarism that even the most fanciful of scenarios can be outpaced by actual events, as was true at Suez. With the U.S. military stretched thin from North Africa to South Korea, with no lasting successes in its post-9/11 wars, and with tensions rising from the Persian Gulf and Syria to the South China Sea and the Koreas, the possibilities for a disastrous military crisis abroad seem almost unending. So let me pick just one possible scenario for a future Trumpian military misadventure in the Greater Middle East.  (I’m sure you’ll think of other candidates immediately.)

It’s the late spring of 2020, the start of the traditional Afghan fighting season, and a U.S. garrison in the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is unexpectedly overrun by an ad hoc alliance of Taliban and Islamic State guerrillas. While U.S. aircraft are grounded in a blinding sand storm, the militants summarily execute their American captives, filming the gruesome event for immediate upload on the Internet. Speaking to an international television audience, President Trump thunders against “disgusting Muslim murderers” and swears he will “make the desert sands run red with their blood.” In fulfillment of that promise, an angry American theater commander sends B-1 bombers and F-35 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of Kandahar believed to be under Taliban control. In an aerial coup de grâce, AC-130-U “Spooky” gunships then rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire. The civilian casualties are beyond counting.

Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques across Afghanistan and far beyond. Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse. In isolated posts across the country, clusters of Afghan soldiers open fire on their American advisers in what are termed “insider” or “green-on-blue” attacks. Meanwhile, Taliban fighters launch a series of assaults on scattered U.S. garrisons elsewhere in the country, suddenly sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, U.S. helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops not just in Kandahar, but in several other provincial capitals and even Kabul.

Meanwhile, angry over the massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the anti-Muslim diatribes tweeted almost daily from the Oval Office, and years of depressed energy prices, OPEC’s leaders impose a harsh new oil embargo aimed at the United States and its allies. With refineries running dry in Europe and Asia, the world economy trembling at the brink of recession, and gas prices soaring, Washington flails about for a solution. The first call is to NATO, but the alliance is near collapse after four years of President Trump’s erratic behavior. Even the British, alienated by his inattention to their concerns, rebuff his appeals for support.

Facing an uncertain reelection in November 2020, the Trump White House makes its move, sending Marines and Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf. Flying from the Fifth Fleet’s base in Bahrain, Navy Seals and Army Rangers occupy the Ras Tanura refinery in Saudi Arabia, the ninth largest in the world; Kuwait’s main oil port at Shuaiba; and Iraq’s at Um Qasr.

Simultaneously, the light carrier USS Iwo Jima steams south at the head of a task force that launches helicopters carrying 6,000 Special Operations forces tasked with seizing the al-Ruwais refinery in Abu Dhabi, the world’s fourth largest, and the megaport at Jebel Ali in Dubai, a 20-square-mile complex so massive that the Americans can only occupy its oil facilities. When Teheran vehemently protests the U.S. escalation in the Persian Gulf and hints at retaliation, Defense Secretary James Mattis, reviving a plan from his days as CENTCOM commander, orders preemptive Tomahawk missile strikes on Iran’s flagship oil refinery at Abadan.

From its first hours, the operation goes badly wrong. The troops seem lost inside the unmapped mazes of pipes that honeycomb the oil ports.  Meanwhile, refinery staff prove stubbornly uncooperative, sensing that the occupation will be short-lived and disastrous. On day three, Iranian Revolutionary Guard commandos, who have been training for this moment since the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear accord with the U.S., storm ashore at the Kuwaiti and Emirate refineries with remote-controlled charges. Unable to use their superior firepower in such a volatile environment, American troops are reduced to firing futile bursts at the departing speed boats as oil storage tanks and gas pipes explode spectacularly.

Three days later, as the USS Gerald Ford approaches an Iranian island, more than 100 speedboats suddenly appear, swarming the carrier in a practiced pattern of high-speed crisscrosses. Every time lethal bursts from the carrier’s MK-38 chain guns rip through the lead boats, others emerge from the flames coming closer and closer. Concealed by clouds of smoke, one finally reaches an undefended spot beneath the conning tower near enough for a Revolutionary guardsman to attach a magnetic charge to the hull with a fateful click. There is a deafening roar and a gaping hole erupts at the waterline of the first aircraft carrier to be crippled in battle since World War II.  As things go from bad to worse, the Pentagon is finally forced to accept that a debacle is underway and withdraws its capital ships from the Persian Gulf.

As black clouds billow skyward from the Gulf’s oil ports and diplomats rise at the U.N. to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of imperial Britain to brand this “America’s Suez.” The empire has been trumped.

Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the now-classic book The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, which probed the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over 50 years, and the forthcoming In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, out in September from Dispatch Books.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Alfred W. McCoy