was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a
recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.
Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.
was writing about what he correctly observes as the end of “American
hegemony” in the global political sphere.
Krauthammer lays this “grim” picture out, six years of President
Obama’s weak-kneed foreign policy, “compounded by” his
“proposed massive cuts in defense spending, down (sic) to pre-Pearl
Harbor levels,” have allowed a revanchist Russia and a newly
aggressive China to make “an open challenge to the post-Cold War,
US-dominated world that Obama inherited and then weakened beyond
cites as his main evidence of this “major alternation in the global
balance of power” the deal just struck between Russian President
Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, during a visit
to Shanghai last week by the Russian leader, inked an agreement for
Russia to tell some $400 billion worth of its natural gas to China
over the next 30 years. The deal would include the building of a
$70-billion pipeline from Russian gas fields in Siberia to China’s
industrial heartland, and would “deflate” a threat made by the US
and Europe during the current Ukrainian crisis to end Europe’s
reliance on Russian gas.
also pointed to President Xi’s call for a new Asian region security
system that would link China, Russia and (gasp) Iran — an
arrangement which, if implemented, he warns could “mark the end of
a quarter-century of unipolarity and … herald a return to a form of
bipolarity — two global coalitions: one free, one not — though
with communism dead, not as structurally rigid or ideologically
dangerous as Cold War bipolarity. Not a fight to the finish, but a
struggle nonetheless — for dominion and domination.”
aside Krauthammer’s breathless horror at this new “bi-polar”
global political environment, and his ideologically-blinded
description of the US/NATO “side” as “free” as opposed to the
Russia/China “side’s” being “not free” (and adding a note
that actually, a $400 billion deal over 30 years is really not that
big a thing, working out to just some $13 billion a year), there is
much here that does accurately portray what is happening.
from Krauthammer’s analysis, of course, is the history behind this
global domination, which could be said to have begun with the
collapse in the early 1990s of the former Soviet Union, was destined
to be a short-lived affair. By 1990, the Soviet Union had been
bankrupted by President Reagan’s massive military spending
campaign, and the USSR’s political and economic implosion did leave
the US, by default, as the world’s last and only “superpower,”
but left unremarked was that this country’s massive military
spending had also effectively hollowed out the US economy, too. And
instead of turning inward at the end of the Cold War, and investing
in a revitalization of America’s crumbling physical, social and
educational infrastructure, which might have rectified things, the
problem was made worse by two more decades of continuous war economy,
driven by the very neoconservative ideology that Krauthammer still
were launched: first the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990-1
(which continued until the 2003 invasion of Iraq with the maintenance
of “no-fly zones” over parts of Iraq), then the Bosnian and
Kosovo wars in the mid and late ‘90s, followed by the 2001 invasion
of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And when that was
not enough, a fake “War on Terror” was launched to convince the
gullible American public of the need of continued massive military
of shrinking the bloated US military, successive presidents —
George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and finally Barack
Obama — all kept increasing military spending to the point that
this country under President Obama has been spending as much on its
military as the rest of the world combined. And to make things
worse, the US has been losing its wars. that is not the kind of thing
designed to instill fear in potential adversaries.
the same time that the US empire was bankrupting itself through
extravagant military spending, it has been relentlessly pushing its
weight around everywhere in the world, subverting or trying to
subvert democratically elected governments in places like Nicaragua,
Panama, Grenada, Haiti and Venezuela, and even seeking to undermine
governments in states like Russia, Ukraine and Iran.
had to give, and as Krauthammer correctly notes, something finally
bluff is being called.
up with the clumsy bullying of American foreign and economic policy,
angered by the imperial over-reach of America’s National Security
Agency, and emboldened by the weakness of both the American dollar
and America’s bloated, bureaucratic and over-stretched military (as
evidenced by its inability to defeat minimally armed and trained
patriotic forces in Afghanistan and Iraq), Russia and China, and
perhaps Iran too, are realizing that they “don’t have to take it
Krauthammer didn’t mention it, even NATO, that Cold War relic that
the US had been using as a fig leaf since the fall of the Berlin Wall
in 1990 to cover its aggressive policy of encirclement and gradual
subversion of Russia, is now showing signs of collapse. The
European public and their elected officials are angry at Edward
Snowden’s revelations about massive NSA spying on it’s purported
“allies,” and the latest effort to enlist Europe in a program of
economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea have
fallen flat, with France refusing to stop selling advanced military
equipment to Russia and with Germany balking at any serious economic
sanctions against one of its largest trading partners.
Russia, China, Brazil and other large developing economies are
separating themselves from the dollar-based global financial system,
undermining the last mainstay of US hegemony — the dollar as the
world’s reserve currency.
correctly sees the US in “retreat” and “decline” as a global
he goes wrong is in seeing this as “Obama’s choice.”
really had no choice. The decline of America as global hegemon has
been the result of choices made by Washington leaders dating back
really to the 1960s and the disastrous war against the people of
Vietnam, or perhaps even earlier, to the US-orchestrated Korean War.
is replete with empires that crumbled under their own hubris and
ambition, and the United States is no different.
only real disagreement I have with Krauthammer is in seeing this
decline of US empire as a tragedy. Looking at the incredible death,
destruction and grotesque waste of resources that can be directly
attributed to the US and its imperialist program since the end of the
Second World War, I can only see its demise as a positive thing.