Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Is This The End of Empire?
I've said many, many times that the period we're in is not the End of Empire, it is the much closer to the beginning of a Neo-Imperialist Era. It was inevitable given the Neo-Con and Neo-Lib triumph over the Boogey-Man of "Socialism."
Now we're hearing lots and lots of chatter in the system about an accelerated withdrawal from the Afghanistan clusterfuck, thanks in large measure to the Latest Massacre, and there is an almost overwhelming inevitability factor to all the Pull Out Now! yakkity-yak. This is more propaganda, make no mistake. The Busheviks didn't pioneer the tactic, but they certainly made their own, and it worked for them through their whole dismal reign. The Obamanauts are no slouches when it comes to using "inevitability" tactics, either (they did it to Hillary masterfully, for example.)
There is considerable push back on the Pull Out Now! faction, however. Today's Propaganda installment from the WaPo seems to be saying what I suggested in a comment yesterday: since the Natives aren't too restless over this little "accident," it will all blow over, no harm, no foul. The Occupation and Plunder will continue unchanged. Killing and plundering the Natives is all in a day's Imperial Work. Burning of Holy Writ, however, is a capital offense according to Native standards, and in the future, our Warriors will want to watch that shit.
What we are probably witnessing is the outward appearance of an internal squabble between gung-ho Warriors in the Pentagon and Pragmatists in the White House. The Warriors never seem to want to leave the Battle Space (which has metastasized to include Everywhere Around the World) within which to kill and destroy at pleasure. The Warriors seem to have no other mentality at all. On the other hand, the Pragmatists say, 1) it's too costly to keep troops on the ground overseas in large numbers; 2) it's not necessary to do so in order to maintain hegemony; 3) the Warriors fuck up too much to ensure the efficient exploitation of colonial outposts.
On an elemental emotional level, it's likely that what drove this Massacre -- among so many massacres -- was vengeance, pure, stark, blood soaked revenge. The Natives took it upon their foolish selves to protest the "accidental" burning of the Korans; some of the more uppity of them took it upon themselves to kill a number of American troops and officers in (apparent) retaliation for this "accident." Several dozen of the riotous Afghans were shot during protests, but the troop and officer killings were not avenged -- the way any such action by colonial populations must be. It is the way Empires work and have worked from the first. Imperial Overlords cannot allow the Natives to recognize that they do have considerable power over their captors and exploiters. Any sign of Native threat to Imperial power must be put down swiftly and brutally, and any deadly act of Native resistance must be avenged, with blood and fire. This did not look like the act of a madman gone berserk. It had all the earmarks of a punitive raid.
Back in the day, Imperial forces were generally up front about what was going on, why they were punishing resistance, and the necessity of "Teaching those Wogs a Lesson." It didn't matter a whit if innocents were slaughtered in their beds. Better it should be so. That's how Empire is done. There are so many Natives and so few Imperial forces. The only way to keep the Wogs in their Place is to come down on them with immense cruelty and suffering every time they get out of line. It's the only way. Do it enough, and the Wogs learn their Place and stay in it.
I remember during the earlier years of the Iraq Occupation, horrible things were happening to innocent Iraqis all the time. There were numerous incidents of Iraqis being shot to pieces at checkpoints for not being sufficiently ...something. It was never really clear why all these hundreds of Iraqis were being shot at checkpoints -- except that the troops at the checkpoints were scared of them, and they could shoot them with impunity as long as they said they were "scared." The military justification was that the Wogs needed to learn to follow commands at these checkpoints, and if enough of them were killed for not doing so, they'd get the idea.
Something that happened all too often was that military convoys would charge through traffic jams (which were frequent because of all the checkpoints) by literally crashing into and driving over occupied vehicles caught in the jam, killing and injuring who knows how many people inside the vehicles. Iraqis were horrified at this consistent behavior of their occupiers -- the Turks and the British were never this cruel. Of course, the indifference of the Imperial American Occupiers was routine.
Sometimes when a convoy encountered traffic, they'd just start shooting. They've done it in Afghanistan as well. No doubt thousands of innocents have been killed through these actions.
But that's how Empires work. There is no interest in or concern for the well being of the subject peoples. At all.
In our latest forays, there is hardly any recognition that they are "people" -- they're barely considered to be objects.
Withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan is likely to occur sooner rather than later, simply because it's not worth the aggravation to keep them there. Killing and exploitation can be done by remote control and through surrogates these days.
It will not be a withdrawal like the one from Vietnam. Afghanistan will not be abandoned, any more than Iraq has been abandoned. No, it will be operated as a colonial outpost from the blast-wall-surrounded "diplomatic" facilities in Kabul, much as the British did after they "withdrew" from Afghanistan back in the day, and the killing and exploitation will continue with somewhat less annoyance from and by the Warriors.
Some of the push back on the Pull Out Now! meme is Pentagon Panic. The relevance of a massive Imperial military force is under siege.
We live in interesting times, but it is not the End of Empire.