America was long known and envied at the country of the new rich, is it on its way to becoming the country of the new Reich? Hitler’s design for its own new Reich was based on the one hand on German feelings of humiliation after years of submission to the Treaty of Versailles, on the other hand on the revival of the Teutonic myth of a pure and wild people who followed only Nature’s laws, a myth that could become real again if they purged the land of the weak, the bloodsuckers and the bankers, aka the Jews. The parallel with the Islamic State philosophy is obvious, both in terms of centuries of humiliation and longing for a return to a past greatness. But America?
America today is clearly a humiliated country, despite the (very) few rays of hope of the Obama presidency. Since WWII, it’s hour of glory, it has lost all the wars that it either started or joined, and the more it spends on arms the weaker it gets, hardly defeating wild bearded men running around in pick-up trucks with AK-45s, despite billions spent in Terminator-level technology.
Russia, with less than a 10th of the US annual defense budget and a GDP a bit above a 20th that of America, projects power that looks as strong and, for many around the world, way more stable and trustworthy. The ridicule of losing it all in the past 15 years, besides eventually helping to get ISIS out of Iraq, must be taking its toll on the US military morale! Though really we all know that the point of US-made wars is not to win, but to keep the militaro-industrial establishment in business. We all presume that when Donald Trump ordered a Tomahawk strike on a Syrian airbase, it was mostly to get rid of obsolete equipment and get a share price hike for Raytheon, of which is a shareholder. Indeed the next day the Syrian airbase was already back in action, and Raytheon shareholders richer.
America has a low official unemployment rate, but the population is split between those, about 20%, enjoying the strong economics of the technology and finance sectors, and 80% on shitty jobs barely making ends meet. Corruption is everywhere, from the house loans and foreclosure scandal to the opioids epidemics killing 175 américans per day, to the NRA paying politicians to keep up the gun business despite the horrors of school shootings and an average death toll of 25 people a day, to the Trump administration itself rife with special interests.
As Umair Hague puts it in his January article Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse – The Strange New Pathologies of the World’s First Rich Failed State (1), the US of A is failing as a society, and that failure has its roots in the takeover of the State by special interests. Billion-dollar election campaigns have to be paid back. This takeover was already documented 10 years ago, notably in a book by economist James K. Galbraight called The Predator State, where he describes how public institutions have been subverted to serve private profit: the « predators » being corporate elites.
Multiple reports explain how the United States is becoming a third-world country, albeit one that has the power to destroy the whole world many times over. As in typical third world countries, an elite runs things for itself whilst keeping the population under control with mind-numbing propaganda, violent police and a highly developped surveillance state. The FBI, the CIA and the NSA are essentially tools to protect a corrupt elite, they make together with the military and related sectors the infamous Deep State which is effectively pulling the strings.
This, many americains have come to understand and that is why they voted Trump in the first place. But Trump is part and parcel of the elite and the US factory-floor voters have been screwed . He is the US equivalent to Kim Jong-un, less smart but more powerful, making him all the more dangerous. His ability to do do insane things was, up to now, somewhat constrained by the presence within the administration of cold-headed professionals to keep him in line, but these talents have been draining from the Trump swamp. As the NY Times wrote today, The former Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell left in January. Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, announced his resignation on March 6. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was terminated by tweet on Tuesday. (2)
And it ain’t over yet: National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster will reportedly be among the next to go, and Trump may soon fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, possibly as a prelude to shutting down the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Adding to the tumult, a parade of lesser officials have either quit or been fired, including the White House communications director Hope Hicks, staff secretary Rob Porter and Trump’s personal aide John McEntee.
These people are being replaced with incompetent boot-lickers and facists: Mike Pompeo wants war with Iran, the CIA is now run by a nazi-style torture addict who wouldn’t walk free out of the Nuremberg trial. The Intercept this week had a piece on Gina Haspel and the (not so) new immorality of the US establishment (3): Well guys, Gina was only following orders, nothing wrong with that!
Well, in fact there is plenty wrong with that, a basic tenet of international law – dating from the Nuremberg trial – stating that the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him. Torture, as it happens, is forbidden under international law. Haspel’s travels abroad will be limited, as she may be caught and put on trial in various countries for breaking this basic law.
So here we have a country with a crumbling civil society but the biggest – by far – military budget in the world, run by a bunch of self-serving ideologues with nazi-level mentality. A place that needs constant wars to feed its huge militaro-industrial complex, against which Einsenhower warned us all back in the 50s. A country which, just like Hitler’s Germany, is both frustrated and dreaming of being great again.
Is America about to become the new Reich? Will the institutions and the representatives of the Nation, of which a few are probably still honest, simply follow the leader or will someone wake up? The US institutions are said to be strong and capable of averting such a disaster, but seen from this window nothing was done when G.W. Bush and his clique of corrupt warmongers imposed the Patriot Act, nobody was charged with the lies and manipulations that led to the Iraq war and the death of hundreds of thousands of people, nothing happened when the illegal surveillance of US citizens by the NSA was revealed by Edward Snowden, and everyone seems to think that a good whistle-blower is a dead whistle-blower. Shout « Russia » into a room and everybody runs for their guns, jumping around hysterically. So pardon my doubts, but the very sanity of the US establishment, and society, is in question.
Things may yet turn for the better, but there’s a bunch of worried people out here.