It is well to note that during the post-war peacetime years before 1970, no American soldiers were killed in the middle east. After 1990, however, virtually all US serviceman who were killed or wounded in combat were stationed in the greater middle east.
It is also worth remembering that the Persian Gulf is not an American lake and that the answer to high oil prices is high prices, not the Fifth Fleet.
In fact, global oil production today has doubled since 1973 owing to price, technology and the worldwide quest for profits by state and private oil companies alike—-even as constant dollar prices per barrel today stand far below all prior peaks.
So the entire three-decade long US occupation of the Middle East has been a complete folly. There never was any economic imperative to bring the American armada into the region, and self-evidently none of the squabbling nations which occupy the region are any military threat whatsoever to the American homeland.
So when candidate Trump said the Iraq invasion was a stupid mistake, that Hillary’s war on Khadafy was misbegotten, that he would like to cooperate with Putin on pacifying Syria and that NATO was obsolete, he was actually calling into question the fundamental predicates of the American Imperium.
And that gets us to the Russian threat bogeyman, the War Party’s risible demonization of Vladimir Putin and the cocked-up narrative about the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 election—-all of which the Donald could have knocked into a cocked hat had the Imperial City not erupted into a ferocious 24/7 attack mode on him for blurting out the truth.
Yet the latter was par for the course. When Trump captured the GOP nomination against all odds and expectations in the spring of 2016, the War Party went into hyper-drive and it has not desisted since then in its efforts first to derail his candidacy; and then, after the fact, to delegitimize and imperil his presidency.
As we indicated in Part 1, in the case of the election meddling meme, there are few more hypocritical instances of the pot-calling-the-kettle-black than this one—given that a big part of the US intelligence community’s $80 billion budget goes to meddling, hacking and sabotage of foreign nations!
The recently renamed Targeted Access Operations (TAO) unit inside NSA alone has a multi-billion budget. It funds thousands of in-house and contractor personnel who spend day and night hacking the communications channels of virtually every government in the world, friend, foe and enemy alike.
It goes without saying, of course, that the very purpose of these intrusions is to interfere with the domestic politics and governance of most of the planet’s population, and in some cases to actually sabotage perfectly appropriate and legal operations, such as the Natanz uranium centrifuges in Iran which were destroyed by the Washington’s stuxnet virus.
Thus, if you are not caught up in the War party’s self-serving groupthink, it seems entirely plausible that in the face of these massive Washington cyber-assaults that targeted nations might indeed seek to counterattack, as apparently the Russian security services have done
After all, what the whole Russian meddling meme boils down to is an assertion that Kremlin operatives have been attacking America in plain sight. That is, they hacked the DNC’s gossip and intrigue-ridden computers and breached the content of Podesta’s password protected political skull-duggery—apparently helped by the fact that his password was, well, “password”.
But airing intra-party dirty laundry is neither a national security matter nor does its disclosure jeopardize American democracy in the slightest.
The very idea that these two alleged hacks—the DNC and Podesta emails— amounted to some grand assault on American democracy has been just plain laughable from the very beginning; and it surely didn’t take a dozen congressional investigations and the rogue Mueller witch-hunt to prove what has now been shown to be the actual fact of the matter.
Russia got nothing out of the St Petersburg troll farm or any of the other related allegations of “meddling”.
At the end of the day, we are supposed to believe that a country with a puny $1.5 trillion GDP, which is just 7% of the United States’ $21.0 trillion GDP, and which consists largely of aged hydrocarbon provinces, endless wheat fields, modest industrial capacities and a shrinking Vodka-favoring workforce, is actually a threat to America’s security.
And we are also supposed to fear the military capacity of a country that has no blue water Navy to speak of and no conventional air-lift and air-attack capacity which could remotely threaten the New Jersey shores? Or one that spends less in a full year than the Pentagon consumes every 35 days?
Oh, yes, and this midget military is run with an apparent iron-hand by the Cool Hand Luke of the modern world. So the last thing Putin is going to do is commit Russian national suicide by launching a nuclear attack on America.
Yet that’s all he’s got: To wit, a non-existent military threat and a justifiable desire to protect the Russian-speaking populations on his doorstep in Crimea and the Donbas from the depredations of the civil war that Washington itself instigated.
Like the case of Rome before it, the Empire is bankrupting America. The true fiscal cost is upwards of $1.1 trillion per year (counting $200 billion for veterans and debt service for past wars), but there is no way to pay for it.
More importantly, the generation which marched on the Pentagon in 1968 against the insanity and barbarism of LBJ’s Vietnam War has long since abandoned the cause of peace. So doing, boomers have acquiesced in the final ascendancy of the Warfare State, which grew like topsy once the US became the world’s sole superpower after the Soviet Union vanished from the scene in 1991.
Yet there is a reason why the end of the 77-years world war which incepted with the “guns of August” did not enable the world to resume the pre-1914 status quo ante of relative peace and capitalism-fueled global prosperity.
To wit, the hoary ideology of American exceptionalism and the Indispensable Nation was also, ironically, liberated from the constraints of cold war realism when the iron curtain came tumbling down.
Consequently, Washington burst into a quest for unadulterated global hegemony. In short order (under Bush the Elder and the Clintons) it morphed into the Imperial City, and became a beehive not only of militarism, but of an endless complex of think-tanks, NGOs, advisories and consultancies, “law firms”, lobbies and racketeers.
The unspeakable prosperity of Washington flows from that Imperial beehive. And it is the Indispensable Nation meme that provides the political adhesive that binds the Imperial City to the works of Empire and to provisioning the massive fiscal appetites of the Warfare State.
Needless to say, Empire is a terrible thing because it is the health of the state and the profound enemy of capitalist prosperity and constitutional liberty.
It thrives and metastasizes by abandoning the republican verities of non-intervention abroad and peaceful commerce with all the nations of the world in favor of the self-appointed role of global policeman. Rather than homeland defense, the policy of Empire is that of international busybody, military hegemon and brutal enforcer of Washington’s writs, sanctions, red lines and outlawed regimes.
There is nothing more emblematic of that betrayal of republican non-interventionism than the sundry hot spots which dog the Empire today. These include the Ukraine/Crimea confrontation with Russia, the regime change fiasco in Syria, the US sponsored genocide in Yemen, the failed, bloody 18-year occupation of Afghanistan, the meddling of the US Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea, and, most especially, the swiftly intensifying contretemps in Iran.
As to the latter, there is absolutely no reason for the Empire’s attack on Iran. The proverbial Martian, in fact, would be sorely perplexed about why Washington is marching toward war with its puritanical and authoritarian but relatively powerless religious rulers.
After all, prior to the Donald’s unilateral renunciation of the nuke deal, Iran hadn’t violated either the letter or the spirit of the JPAOC by the lights of any credible authority or by even less than credible ones like the CIA. Nor by the same consensus of authorities has it even had a research program for nuclear weaponization since 2003.
Likewise, its modest GDP of $45o billion is equal to just eight days of US output, thereby hardly constituting an industrial platform from which its theocratic rulers could plausibly menace America’s homeland.
Nor could its tiny $15 billion defense budget—which amounts to just seven days worth of DOD outlays—inflict any military harm on American citizens.
In fact, Iran has no blue water navy that could effectively operate outside of the Persian Gulf; its longest range warplanes can barely get to Rome without refueling; and its array of mainly defensive medium and intermediate range missiles cannot strike most of NATO, to say nothing of the North American continent.
The answer to the Martian’s question, of course, is that Iran is no threat whatsoever to the safety and security of the US homeland, but it has run badly afoul of the dictates of the American Empire.
That is to say, it has presumed to have an independent foreign policy involving Washington proscribed alliances with the sovereign state of Syria, the leading political party of Lebanon (Hezbollah), the ruling authorities in Baghdad and the reining power in the Yemen capital of Sana’a (the Houthis).
All these regimes except the puppet state of Iraq are deemed by Washington to be sources of unsanctioned “regional instability” and Iran’s alliances with them have been capriciously labeled as acts of state sponsored terrorism.
The same goes for Washington’s demarche against Iran’s modest array of short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles. These weapons are palpably instruments of self-defense, but Imperial Washington insists their purpose is aggression—unlike the case of practically every other nation which offers its custom to American arms merchants for like and similar weapons.
For example, Iran’s arch-rival across the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, has more advanced NATO supplied ballistic missiles with even greater range (2,600 km range). So does Israel, Pakistan, India and a half-dozen other nations, which are either Washington allies or have been given a hall-pass in order to bolster US arms exports.
In short, Washington’s escalating war on Iran is an exercise in global hegemony, not territorial self-defense. It is a testament to the manner in which the historic notion of national defense has morphed into Washington’s arrogant claim that it constitutes the “Indispensable Nation” which purportedly stands as mankind’s bulwark against global disorder and chaos among nations.
Needless to say, Iran is just the case de jure of the Indispensable Nation in action. Yet the other hot spots of the moment are no less exercises in the hegemonic aggression which inexorably flows from it.
Thus, Washington started the Ukrainian confrontation by sponsoring, funding and instantly recognizing the February 2014 coup that overthrew a Russia-friendly government, replacing it with one that is militantly nationalistic and bitterly antagonistic to Russia. And it did so for the most superficial and historically ignorant reason imaginable.
Namely, it objected to the decision of Ukraine’s prior government in late 2013 to align itself economically and politically with its historic hegemon in Moscow rather than the EU and NATO. Yet the fairly elected and constitutionally legitimate government of Ukraine then led by Viktor Yanukovych had gone that route mainly because it got a better deal from Moscow than was being demanded by the fiscal torture artists of the IMF.