In early 2004, a Washington meeting of U.S. Government employees supporting American operations in Iraq gathered to hear the first hand reports of two Coalition Provisional Administration employees just returning from Iraq. These reports at this early point in the American commitment were novel in nature and had a quality of being “fresh from the front”. The two speakers did not disappoint the audience. There was a certain “Indiana Jones” adventurous quality about what they had to say. As they went on to recount their professional experiences, both of them made unselfconscious passing references to the pride they felt in fulfilling American “imperial” responsibilities in Iraq. Their references to things “imperial” was casual and matter of fact and no one in the audience of about forty persons then or later challenged the appropriateness of the word “imperial”.

This anecdote cuts through what otherwise might be the controversial association of the label “imperialism “with American policy. In fact, the label can be accepted not only as an abstraction, but also as an operational concept. By consensus of neoconservative policy makers and those implementing policy, America has been “doing” some form of imperialism in Iraq. The label “imperial” is not introduced here in order to score some ideological points in the ongoing domestic debate about American policy in Iraq. The term is important because it accurately communicates the sense of imperial hubris that has infected this policy from its origins in the pre-9/11 , 1990’s as documented in the archive of the neoconservative newspaper, The Weekly Standard found in The Project for the New American Century(http://www.newamericancentury.org/ ) ( The “Project” itself signified the intention to combine American preeminent military capabilities with American global leadership to create what was called grandiloquently “The New American Century”. Kristol, Cheney, Rumsfeldt, Wolfovitz, Perle etc were among the two dozen persons who signed onto the ambitious mission statement of this new project . One of these missions was to bring about regime change in Iraq. This plan by later Bush administration officials appears in the documents of the project as early as 1998, well before 9/11/01 and the Republican electoral victory of 2000 . ). In terms of the theme being developed here, “imperialism” was used to describe these ambitions and the concept summarizes where we have been in American policy in Iraq and the Middle East and also where we are presently. It is also a useful marker to inform us as to “What Comes Next”, the most important of our considerations.
Robert D. Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground (see the review by John Grey, “The Mirage of Empire” in New York Review of Books, January 12, 2006, pp. 4-8, where the subject of “empire” is also discussed more broadly.) is important for its concrete and sympathetic discussion of imperialism and the American military. For example, Kaplan has a chapter entitled “Injun Country”. “Injun country” is the term used by soldiers on the ground to describe their relationship to the culture of their adversaries. It turns out that metaphorically, the “injuns” in North America in the nineteenth century and those in Iraq or wherever else that American troops fight is a foe whose language and culture is not only not known but need not be crucially known. One reason is the imperative of combat but another more telling one in reference to policy is the importance of what is called American “exceptionalism”(originating with Alexis De Tocqueville), meaning that the American political experience is so unique and so superior in terms of individualism , freedom, equality ,secularism etc. that the point of view of others pales by comparison. America is after all, especially in foreign policy, always on a mission. It follows, therefore, that the American policy of democratization is neither benign nor technical. Instead, such “democratization “ is really “democracism” i.e. the use of the appeal of the ideology of democracy as a means to achieve American control and influence. The perception of others who see this as hypocritical generates the near world wide unanimity of hatred for the United States which in turn fuels the fire of “terrorism”. The consequence is that the “signaling” of American policy such as the policy of democratization and the attitude of troops in this instance and that of Secretary Rice at a higher level, is unilateral or one way in terms of communication (for example, as in paraphrasing actual statements by Rice, “We are not in need of diplomatic representation in Syria nor direct communication with Iran, because these parties already know what needs to be done and, also, the massive aerial bombing of Lebanon represented the birth pangs of democracy.”) .
If “imperialism” is to have ideological and analytical significance, it must also explain where we are now. A basic meaning of the term imperialism is the ability of an imperial power to impose its will ideally as a matter of policy and if necessary as a last resort through the exercise of military power . For a brief moment in the aftermath of the Cold War from 1990 until 2003 America had emerged as the single remaining superpower/imperial power in the world . It not only objectively possessed the correlates of preeminent national power but its willingness to engage in military unilateralism was evident in its willingness to exercise this power in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. At first it succeeded in von Clausewitz’s meaning of the term to impose its will upon the former country but then from November 2002 and the failure at Toro Bora, it is now failing there as it as has from April 9, 2003 onwards in Iraq.
This brings us to the present day and the significance of the recent war in Lebanon. There Israel was diplomatically shielded at the UN by the US in order to give Israel as the sixth most powerful army in the world thirty days to accomplish its war aims . Israel, however, failed in near militarily humiliating terms to subjugate Hezbollah, an at most 6000 man guerilla force. Israel’s failure as an American proxy was also America’s failure. In Iraq, the coming to power of a Shiite coalition by democratic means, subtlety confirmed Iran’s ability to dominate Iraq. It has occurred with little notice except for close observers noting the presence of Iranian intelligence “station chiefs” around the country. Iran has thus peacefully imposed itself politically upon Iraq and the proxy victory of Hezbollah in Lebanon means that Iran is the big winner in the Middle East, including the achievement as a Shiite nation in garnering both Shiite and Sunni Islamic support.
As a result, the international relations of the Middle East are now being transformed from the recent one power, United States dominant system backwards to the preexisting one of a regional bipolar system of pre-1990. The regional system is now one where Iran and Syria are joined by Hezbollah and Hamas and possibly Lebanon, Yemen and Sudan plus the great powers of Russia and China arrayed against Israel and the US, plus in a more tenuous fashion, the GCC countries ,Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey. The US is thus now not only relatively diplomatically isolated in the Middle East, but it is now perhaps momentarily in policy terms immobilized between the inability to exercise an overstretched military power that is strained to its outmost limits and the Bush administration’s functional incapacity for diplomacy. America can neither fight nor does it have the predisposition to negotiate.
It seems that American policy is now already beginning to show evidence of internal political divisions that will evidence themselves increasingly from now through the outcome of the 2006 Congressional elections and up to and including the presidential election of 2008. During this period, America will be indeed following the path of international policy futility labeled “stay the course.” In addition and more speculatively, one might also note that the global system may also be seeing a similar turn from global American unilateralism and unidirectional globalization to a balanced system of a more self-confident Europe plus America and India on the one hand and Russia and China on the other in a rivalry for markets and energy in central and south Asia and, most importantly, in the Middle East.. What may appear in the next foreseeable time period is an American policy that will be disoriented and weakened in capacity in both the Middle East and internationally. This suggests that in the next phase in especially the strategically important Middle East and in the protection against terrorism, American policy will become defensive with an emphasis upon domestic as opposed to international means. America will in effect circle the wagons as it falls back upon that which it can manage and not the international environment over which it is losing control. In short, the past until now may not necessarily be the worse, that may be yet to come.”

Louis Cantori

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31 Responses to “WHAT COMES NEXT” – Cantori

  1. confusedponderer says:

    America IMO only achieved its imperial peak from 1990 to 2003 because (a) it acted more or less in consent with most of the important players, and (b) as a result of this the US achieved legitimacy and generated goodwill. Further, (c) it led to nobody seeing the need to challenge the US because it was not threatening.
    The key to Bush’s failure is (1) over-reliance on pressure and confrontation, (2) needlessly antagonising friends and thus (3) generating opposition. They made it worse still by (4) insisting in doing so out of principle even after it turned out beyond reasonable doubt to be counter-productive – staying the course, so to say.
    The self-delusion and hubris are IMO primarily domestic policy problems.

  2. Mac Nayeri says:

    ‘Aint it sad though – to watch it all unfolding b4 your eyes – in real time almost. A great country is falling from grace and it is ours. The hemorrhaging can be stopped, but we have certainly weakened our own security environment and strenghtened, yes enhanced the influence of various competing forces – all to our own detriment.
    Power has a shelflife and I think most of us realize the administration has negligently managed our Pax Americana.

  3. McGee says:

    Professor Cantori’s paper is a great assessment of the reality this administration’s actions in the ME have created – and what the future there might hold. Not all bad, I think, if we eventually return to a balance of power of sorts. An internationally weakened US foreign policy might in fact result in a world where no one player can initiate anything exceedingly foolish. Perhaps diplomacy will stand a chance once again?
    That’s my glass-half-full version, anyway….

  4. MarcLord says:

    To fill in the arc of imperial rise to its arguable 1990-2003 peak might be fun. Let me give it a try.
    First, de Toqueville was able to predict America’s future status as a great power even in the 1820s, although he believed a war over slavery would eventually break the country in two. He thought there was something energetically special about the United States, and applied the term “exceptionalism” to it, as Cantori notes. This would indicate there was something specially advantageous about American resources and culture.
    Next, American leadership from at least McKinley on consistently made decisions which increased America’s power relative to its international rivals. And while FDR made a huge bet in getting into WWII, he did so from a strategically conservative perspective, hedged it well, and statesmen like Fulbright and Marshall treated the resulting windfalls of victory, both financial and moral, with remarkable grace and foresight.
    Thus tremedous soft power, hard power, and international droits moral were built up and manifest in the US by the 1950s and early 1960s, coincident with broad-based prosperity. At the end of WWII, the US share of world GDP was roughly one-half. Now that’s imperial!
    The experience in Vietnam certainly did not add to any of the above types of power, and neither did invading Grenada or Haiti. I would argue that the peak of Empire occurred much earlier than 1990, when US Cold Warriors were looking for a way to continue the Great Game and seek a more pecuniary reward in the wake of the Wall’s fall.
    When a parent uses violence, they are frustrated over lack of control. When a parent lowers themselves to brutality, they are lost. I would peg the peak of the American Empire as during the Johnson Administration, the start of decline as when Nixon went off the Gold Standard.

  5. This is a profoundly important essay that needs to make the rounds of Congress quickly, not to mention the media–if they could be trusted to read it over their lattes and sushi.
    The article gives the depth to a comment made by military historian Martin Creveld that appeared briefly in the media about 8 months ago. Many of your readers will remember Creveld writing that the invasion of Iraq was “the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them.”
    The problem now is that the debacle will perhaps make the Bush admin. crazy and out for blood, hoping via an invasion of Iran to destabilize that country in such a way that any advantage that it’s gained from the US failure in Iraq will be ameliorated.
    Such an invasion would be devastating to not only the Mideast but perhaps the world economy, as former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges has recently written. According to Hedges, a war with Iran:

    [W]ill ignite the Middle East. The loss of Iranian oil, coupled with Silkworm missile attacks by Iran on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, could send oil soaring to well over $110 a barrel. The effect on the domestic and world economy will be devastating, very possibly triggering a huge, global depression. The 2 million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, the Shiite majority in Iraq and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey will turn in rage on us and our dwindling allies. We will see a combination of increased terrorist attacks, including on American soil, and the widespread sabotage of oil production in the Gulf. Iraq, as bad as it looks now, will become a death pit for American troops as Shiites and Sunnis, for the first time, unite against their foreign occupiers.

    Hedges, of course, is echoing similar comments by others (like Ray McGovern) inside and outside the intelligence community.
    Many are hoping that the upcoming election will somehow forestall any such attack on Iran. That’s doubtful, given the Bush admin’s interpretation of the Authroization to Use Military Force passed to invade Afghanistan. In addition, Bush’s imperial presidential pretensions discount the idea that he will backtrack now, given his propensity for Texan bluster and blue-blooded sense of entitltement.
    Should the Democrats win majorities in either house of Congress, the only option left would be for Congress to refuse to appropriate monies for the war effort. That indeed would bring on a constitutional crisis, one that might indeed spell the death of the republic as Bush goes further than any American president ever has in unilaterally appropriating funds for his suicidal war.

  6. johnf says:

    The Cold War was a great fosterer of illusions.
    I think both gargantuan super-powers were past their sell-by-date by 1990. Up until then they had propped each other up like two drunks.
    The collapse of one seemed to leave one still on its feet, but it was an illusion – like those cartoon characters who walk over a cliff but only start to fall when they look downwards.
    The future does not look good.

  7. arbogast says:

    The thing that struck me the hardest was the comparison to the Indian campaigns that began when European “settlers” first came to North America and latest through the nineteenth century:
    “Injun country” is the term used by soldiers on the ground to describe their relationship to the culture of their adversaries. It turns out that metaphorically, the “injuns” in North America in the nineteenth century and those in Iraq or wherever else that American troops fight is a foe whose language and culture is not only not known but, crucially, need not be known.
    Now, let me see. Are we still supporting “settlements” in Injun country? Isn’t there a nation somewhere on earth that has “settlements” in a hostile environment that they despise?
    Nazi Germany did not have a monopoly on holocausts. What happened to Native Americans was a holocaust. What happened to African Americans was a holocaust (11,000,000 “imported”, 4,000,000 left at the start of the Civil War), and what the Project for the New American Century has in mind for Islam is a holocaust.
    Of course, if you don’t think the latter is a holocaust, I assume you’re taking your next vacation in Baghdad, a city that was once the cradle of civilization.

  8. pbrownlee says:

    Despite all the known narrative (and much more evidence awaiting the shredder if the Dems get up in the House or Senate), the Koolaidistas will never admit error. Watch the elves and the more rancid “think” tanks as they start forging a barrage of “they lost Iraq” vilifications.
    POTUS 44 will have an unusually delicate mission — any suitable candidates? That is, apart from the usual self-infatuated Messiahs.

  9. Nabil says:

    Do not overestimate the negative impact the Iraq war will have on the US. For Iraq itself, and for most of its neighbors, it will be a catastrophe. But the US can dust itself off and leave at any time.
    Indeed it could afford a hundred such wars before it felt the pain in a real sense. The loss of 3,000 men and $400 billion is nothing in ‘Imperial’ terms. Lost goodwill can be regained with a few nice gestures and changes in policy – People are always eager to befriend the powerful, and eager to mend fences with them.
    There question is not ‘Can we be an Empire in the face of mounting antagonism to our policies and the failure of our grandest adventure to date?’ the question is ‘Do we want to be an empire?’. So far the answer is a clear yes, despite our aversion to the term itself.

  10. jonst says:

    Cynic Librarian,
    With all due respect cynic, you may not be cynical enough. Do you actually believe:
    A. Members of Congress (the ones who are capable of understanding it in the first place)are unaware of the facts underlying Cantori’s premise/s? The vast majority support the Imperial Thrust…until it costs them that is. The rest oppose it…but not in ways that will cost them.
    B. That the rest…the one’s who have not made up their minds on this are actually capable of reading something Cantori wrote?
    We can’t even have an adult discussion of these issues in public. The blogs excepted. There are words and ideas that are not allowed to be uttered in the MSM. Look at one example of what happens when you do utter them.
    See post under the title “Fiasco at the Times”. As the blogger points out…what message do you think this sends?
    The machine is broken. You see evidence of it on the blogs, like this one, and on C-Span panels. That is where the adults and free speech now live. Special emphasis on “now”

  11. Jaime Gormley says:

    Thank you for an illuminating post. I hope it makes an impression on our People’s Deputies.
    From the Cheney energy task force to the Halliburton/KBR sutlings to the CACI/Blackwater mercenaries to the baseline MICC behemoth, it takes little insight to see the cold deathly suffocating grip of corporate private wealth as the driving force behind this catastrophic national overreach. A change of horsemen will only affect speed but not direction of this willful nag. Our choice is to break and domesticate it or send it to the glue factory. Otherwise, we’re still going to end up where we’re heading.
    How I miss Phil Hart and John Boyd.
    A good start, if you will, would be a few highly selective (metaphorical) defenestrations for demonstrative effect followed by many (actual) incarcerations for substance. Going forward then, the foundation of a renewed American contract would be a realistic energy policy, mass transportation investment and sensible urban planning to support the more modest lifestyle that reflects our new diminished global station.
    I’d be surprised if many of our invincibly ignorant antagonists didn’t warm to it as much as I would. At least, we wouldn’t have those awful Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush people spilling into our living rooms from the telescreen.
    “May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not.”
    A Plea for the Poor, Part X by John Woolman (1720-1772)

  12. confusedponderer says:

    I think the basic thing to which it can be condensed is that an imperial policy like described above only has legitimacy with those who want it – and as it’s based on American Exceptionalism, these folks are basically in America only.
    Those at the receiving end do not share this view. You can only successfully use pressure, coercion or force when the use is *perceived* as legitimate *beyond the pond*. Bush’s use of these instruments lacked legimacy where it counts. It is absolutely beside the point how rightous he and his goons and their supporters in the US feel their cause is – the local and international bystanders need to buy it, too. Because if they don’t, opposition and resistance are as predictable as inevitable.
    Nobody likes to be pressured to support policies he knows not to be in his interest, and that’s a point that Bush & Crew have persistently considered irrelevant, and said so aloud. When the actor then starts throwing his weight around in self-righteous indignation, saying that who’s not with him is aginst him, he will only underline the bully image, further eroding his legitimacy. This is just common sense.
    That said, compared to Bush the younger, Clinton was the better and more successful imperialist. Legitimacy is the key, and Bush doesn’t have it. Clinton had it.
    And MarcLord, you might be well right that Clinton’s time was just the golden dusk of the American empire. I just don’t know if I like it or not.

  13. Got A Watch says:

    The American mis-adventure in Iraq is eerily similar the Roman General Crassus invasion of Parthia (what is now Iraq) in 54 BC.
    Then as now, the invaders were encouraged by “traitors” to invade (Chalabi etal = Ariamnes), then led astray into hostile deserts. Some 15% or less of the Roman forces returned to Syria in defeat, the rest killed or captured.
    The outcome today may not be much different, for many of the same reasons. 2,000 years of progress. Didn’t Santayana say something famous about that?

  14. MarcLord says:

    arbogast @3:55AM,
    “Now, let me see. Are we still supporting “settlements” in Injun country? Isn’t there a nation somewhere on earth that has “settlements” in a hostile environment that they despise?”
    Damn, that was a good insight re: Israel as Western settlement. East as West and new frontier. Absolutely parallel in terms of racial metaphor and consistent with previous population-management efforts.

  15. chimneyswift says:

    The thing that has caught me about the “Imperial America” idea is how infrequently, if ever, it is turned around and examined from an internal perspective.
    To wit, an Empire is characterized by the presence of an Emperor. And not to put too fine a point on it, but emperors are not subject to election or defeat thereby. Furthermore, they enjoy functionally unlimited power, much as this administration has brazenly sought.
    If we are to accept that the PNAC/Weekly Standard crowd do in fact believe this to be an Imperial Administration, and we furthermore accept that they are in a position of ideological preeminence within this administration, then… well, then what? It is a chilling line of reasoning.
    On the foriegn policy side, I think Prof. Cantori is overly optimistic. The combination of a strong polity of wealthy jingoists and a media establishment in the habit of ennabling the military-industrial complex seems more likely to be leading to successively more desperate attempts to impose regional dominance by force.
    There is no political force in the United States that has shown a willingness to speak against this course. Unless one emerges, it is what will happen, 1 yr, 5 yrs or 15 yrs down the line.
    It would make sense that after successive failures of this approach, we will see Prof. Cantori’s circling of the wagons. But it will not happen without some heavy rhetorical reevalution of “American Exceptionalism,” and that is a matter of political will and, even more difficult to face, deep-seated cultural identity.

    I would lastly like to note, since it seems germane, that I was recently a part of a conversation where the question came up, “What is winning in the ME?” I would submit that for the U.S., winning in the ME would consist of being able to withdraw our forces from combat zones without igniting a catastrophic region-wide conflict.
    Here’s hoping we can get there.

  16. João Carlos says:

    MacLord said:
    “I would peg the peak of the American Empire as during the Johnson Administration, the start of decline as when Nixon went off the Gold Standard.”
    I think you are right. I read somewhere that religious fundamentalism is a symptom and not the cause of a civilization decline. So, we are seeing today a strong symptom of a decline that was happening for some time now.
    I think that the peak of US civilization happened at 1969 when Neil Armstrong made that small step for a man…

  17. Walrus says:

    I had my first brush with the American corporate world over 30 years ago, working for the worlds largest corporation. What I saw – complete disregard for anything and everything, including laws, in the pursuit of dollars, repelled me and I left quickly. They have not changed their spots since.
    Now examine Congress and the Senate, where the winning of elections is now a matter purely of money you can raise.
    Look at concentration of media ownership.
    Look at the dumbing down of Americans via a public education system that a noted education consultant friend of mine calls “dumb as dogshit”.
    Look at an entertainment and cultural system that is totally narcissistic in the worst possible sense, that fosters a sense that Americans are somehow superior to the rest of the world and always have been, to the point where the the media debates whether the future deaths of millions of non americans are in America’s interests or not.
    Look at a legal system that is unjust, savage to the point of torture, biased and politically complaisant. It is increasingly obvious that it is being morphed into a tool to keep the population fearful and repressed.
    Look at an election system that does not even meet third world standards for fairness and accuracy, Diebold will deliver the Republicans yet again next month – you watch.
    Look at an Administration that is beset by special interest groups funded by corporations and even countries (like Israel) who make policy.
    Look at an insurgency or radical “Christianists” who are bent on destroying humanism and all its works. There have been numerous counterattacks since the reformation, and this is one of their deadlier ones.
    Look at a rapacious corporate world, where even the health system is designed to extract the last dollar as one breathes their last breath. Why do you think there are no vaccines for aids and other diseases? Because there is no money in vaccines is there? There is much more money in giving rich AIDS patients drugs they must take for the rest of their lives.
    The net result is a once proud people being led at an accelerating rate to their doom. Orwell’s “1984” is being recreated in front of our eyes, and the American people are now too dumb to perceive their fate and do anything about it.

  18. Fred says:

    Nabil, the loss of ‘goodwill’ is not what was lost, it is the loss of Constitutional protections – that is what the Republican victory at Guantanamo Bay represents, they have defeated the America where “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…..”
    As for sustaining more of these wars, who is to fight them? Bush’s kids? The 120,000 college republicans? None of them are going. Pay $400 billion for another war? There is already a $28,000 bill at birth for every child born in the US just for the debt run up by this president. That is their college education, transferred from them to the bond holders and share-holders of this generation. And of course it does not include any of the dead Iraqi’s and the shattered dreams of their children.
    Col. I agree that Iran is the big winner here and that we have essentially lost this war as envisioned by the neo-cons, unfortunately many more good men and women will die before the political leadership in D.C. forces a change.

  19. arbogast says:

    Walrus, your post is phenomenally spot-on until the last paragraph.
    “A once proud people”?
    Proud enough to destroy an indigenous civilization? Proud enough to wage the most murderous war in its history over slavery, having destroyed the lives of 11,000,000 people? Proud enough to outsource the labor of its people to a repellent regime that murders its citizens outside of anything any normal person would call a legal system?
    You want pride? Look into the faces of George I, George II, and Jeb. You’ll see pride.
    Where are our good deeds? How has America aided mankind? Defeating the Soviet Union? Look at the Soviet Union now.
    Defeating Germany? If I recall correctly, we were sitting that one out until the Japanese damn near destroyed our Pacific fleet. That’s real leadership.

  20. Green Zone Cafe says:

    Well, Walrus, I am a bit of a declinist myself, and agree with some of what you say, but too much of what you say is wrong or a gross overstatement.
    American public education takes its hits and could be improved, but an American high school grad in the median compares pretty favorably to the majority of school leavers in the European systems – the majority who are not baccalaureat holders, graduates of Gymnasiumschule or A-level certificate holders.
    What American education is pretty good at is providing an opportunity and second chances, without the tracking and predetermination of European systems. You can go from a community college, to a state university, to an ivy grad school.
    An entertainment and cultural system that is totally narcissistic -compared to that of what country? Bollywood? German Schlager pop music? Benny Hill or Little England? European football thugs? There is high culture and low culture in every country. Usually, I see entertainment and media preoccupied with national and local concerns everywhere.
    a legal system that is unjust, savage to the point of torture, biased and politically complaisant. – Not sure what you mean by “politically complaisant” – legal systems do not work too well when politically active, but as someone with extensive experience with the US legal system I will acknowledge its faults, but I would rather be judged in a US jury trial than a French or German panel of judges in their system. It’s true that I won’t be harshly punished, a few years for murder, but what if I’m innocent?
    You may not know this, but Diebold voting machines are not that extensively used in the USA. Problems with voting integrity are likely to be corrected.
    “Special Interest Groups” include the American Association of Retired People, the NAACP, and the American Association of Scholars, among many other civil society organizations. You either have civil society, or not.
    The health system, while it does churn a large part of the economy, usually does not bankrupt people, due to Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and state-funded free care programs. Yes, single payer would be more economical, but Americans can almost always find medical care whatever their means – about the same as I’ve seen on TV in the UK with people complaining about long delays in the NHS.

  21. Will says:

    the depth of discourse here never ceases to amaze. i always am something of a philologist always dumbstruck by the raw power of words to educate. Republic, aha: res publica- a public thing, so obvious. Emperor- Imperator, commander. The Romans still kept up the pretense of their res publica institutions even when their Imperators became powerful. they still had their offices if consul and of Pontifex Maximum. The Great Bridge (to the Gods). Our Res Publica is stil patterned after Rome. Carried by the Legions on their standards SPQR. the senate and the people of rome- Senatus Populus Qua Romanum. Senatus- Old Men of the old nobility . The House-The tribunes of the commoners.
    The Empire- that which is subjected to the Imperator? Non-Romans initially but Eventualy Roman citizenship became widely dispersed.
    Lot of things going on in foreign policy.
    Plans A, B, C, D
    A. Our principle which would be based on human rights as in our Declaration of Independence and the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In this we are the truest to ourselves and the shining beacon to the rest of the world. Not imposing democracy with bullets but encouraging life, liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness everywhere. Liberte, egalite, and fraternite. The principles of the Englightenment crystallized in Rousseau’s Social Contract.
    B Or NeoKon Idealism to make the world safe for Israel by breaking the back of the Palestinians and the Sunnites in Irak. Partioning Saudi Arabia- all kinds of things to guarantee Israel can swallow the Palestinians in Peace and tranquility.
    C Realism, Defensive Realism as the Balance of Threat (Stephen Walt)school modification of the Balance of Power theory. In this we build alliances against existing and emerging hegemons.
    D Offensive Realism (John Mearsheimer). We become the hegemon. We cut off all emerging other hegemons at the knees. We play the role of “offshore balancer” to upset farway powers from becoming hegemons.
    In both realism schools we should grab assets or make alliances to control or deny strategic natural resource assets to deny them to other potential hegemons. This would be especially true in the resource rich gas-oil ellipse in the Middle-East and Central Asia.
    The tragedy of Irak under Cheney, Scooter Libby, Rummy, Wolfie, Feith has been Plan B. Admittedly not exclusively and with elements of the others thrown in. Mainly the NeoKons wanted to break the back of Sunni Irak to give Israel strategic depth so it could digest the West Bank in peace. The cost to the U.S. 2,700 dead, over 21,000 wounded, a trillon dollars spent (true economic cost).
    Time to smell the coffee and quit sipping the Kool Aid
    Best Wishes

  22. MarcLord says:

    Jaoa Carlos @ 01:44
    “I read somewhere that religious fundamentalism is a symptom and not the cause of a civilization decline. So, we are seeing today a strong symptom of a decline that was happening for some time now.
    I think that the peak of US civilization happened at 1969 when Neil Armstrong made that small step for a man…”
    Kevin Philips (author most recently of American Theocracy) has noted how a fit of religion flares up as a symptom in the late stage of empires, and tends to focus on themes of Apocalypse and redemption.
    Neil Armstrong’s step on the moon would be the perfect choice of a peak moment, and I would be happy if that one moment is remembered as our legacy. Well done.

  23. MarcLord says:

    I stole your “Injun territory” insight re: Israel and ran with it a little on my blog. So far without attribution. Would you like to be attributed, if so how?
    funny you mention the Reformation. I believe we’re living in one, and this like the previous also is enabled by a more highly sophisticated form of the printing press.

  24. Walrus says:

    Green Zone, I hope you are right, I’m just a little cynical today.
    My biggest concern is that Americans in general know very little about the rest of the world and care even less about it – aided and abetted by the media and entertainment industry. Most are totaly incurious about it – just like President Bush.
    I live in Australia (OK so there aren’t walrus’s in Australia) on my frequent trips to the U.S. I continualy run into people who don’t even know where Australia is, or what language we speak, or that we are in Iraq and Afhanistan. I get comments like “Australia, oh thats where the Government took away your guns” (Always spouted by NRA members and simply not true) and so on.
    Maybe its because we are far away and also insecure, but it would be hard to find one Australian who didn’t know where Washington is, who the President is, and the rough details of what is going on in the world including the world economy because we understand how the world economy impacts on our own economy.

  25. Ael says:

    This is a wonderful analysis of the Israeli intelligence failure in Lebanon.

  26. confusedponderer says:

    the German legal system does know laymen for more serious crimes. German laymen are called ‘Schöffen’. They are selected and sworn honourable citizens without legal education. The Schöffen are to counsel the judge.
    When arrested you are brought before a judge within the next 24 hours who’ll decide wether you’re to be set free or are to face charges.
    When charged with a mere felony you’d be facing a single judge.
    When charged with a crime, you’ll wind up before a Schöffengericht, that is, one judge and two laymen. In difficult cases, a second judge will be added.
    When charged with a killing you’d end up at a Schurgericht – and face three judges and two Schöffen.
    Germany compensates for a lack of juries on another level – the German legal system is built around trust in the professional and independent judges – who usually lack the political ambition elected functionaries tend to have. It works rather well. To be a prosecutor or judge is not usually considered a jumppad for a political career. The price is a trial that everyone who has ever watched Perry mason would find dry, sober, disappointing and sedative.
    Acting and rhetoric classes don’t get you far before a professional judge, it’ll rather get him angry and impatient, to impress him you need to make a legal argument. A Jury trial is IMO primarily about credibility; sympathy also plays a role. I was told that in patent right cases European companies usualy lose in the US when facing juries. Patriotic juries?
    What I learned about the benefits of jury trials in the US is that US corporations are today so afraid of the unpredictable results, that increasingly their contracts explicitly exclude jury trials in case of legal conflict. The US professional legal business only seems half persuaded by the advantages of a jury trial.
    IMO there is a difficulty level in many cases that goes well beyond a level where laymen can usefully contribute. Admittedly, there also is a massive ‘bore-factor’ involved in meticulous detail (for which lawyers are paid fore, while laymen are merely compensated). It’s a result of the expanding professionalisation of legal business and business in general.

  27. holy_bazooka says:

    with regards to american exceptionalism, would it be fair to say that it is the overuse of said exceptionalism that, as chimnyswift points out would lead to a reevaluation of it.
    sorta like story of the goose that lays the golden egg.

  28. Will says:

    thanks for the Deutsche legal info.
    i’ve tried about 30 jury trials. you learn the most by talking to the jurors after the case is over, the ones that”ll talk to you.
    in law school, we had mock trials. the mock jury went to the jury room to deliberate. the room was wired for sound and video. they had signed releases, but i doubt any realized the full import. we watched and listened. Some of their arguments: the juroros for the defense were better dressed and seemed more convinced!
    I’ve had two hung criminal trials and three hung civl trials. Those were trials in which the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict and gave up. They were declared mistrials. In four of them, I had the privilege/misfortune of trying them again.
    One adage from the law professors. it all depends on the jury. Once the jury is picked, the trial is pretty much over. different jury different result.
    Best Wishes

  29. Green Zone Cafe says:

    The German system sounds a lot better than I thought it was, there is a leavening that comes with ordinary citizens, although I wonder what type of person is recruited as a “Schoffen.”
    Most of my knowledge of civil law criminal procedure comes from the Alexander Stille book on the Italian prosecutors Falcone and Borsellino, “Excellent Cadavers,” in which the system is described as rife with politics and corruption.
    The Germans must be given their props, they have built a pretty humane, just, moderate and prosperous society since WWII. I enjoyed my time there.

  30. confusedponderer says:

    Schöffen are selected from the broad population to represent all classes and professions, all ages, men and weman. They are selected to do Schöffen duty for five years, at the court in their district.
    Excluded are persons younger than 25, older than 70, who are too sick for duty, or who are currently bankrupt, have not been sentenced for more than 60 months in jail (after which a felony turns into a crime), legal professionals, public servants, priests, and of course judges.
    Like with the jury, the duty for the Schöffe is to counsel on the question of guilt and reasonable doubt and wether they feel the sentence is fair. Their influence is hard to grasp. I think their role is important in the relatively limited cases where they do make a difference in the sentence. Judges can get snowblind.

  31. confusedponderer says:

    PS: As for “Excellent Cadavers”, the two words have been creeping around in my mind since I read your post, and now I eventually got it: What I had in mind was a great movie with Lino Ventura, Fernando Rey and Max von Sydow, “Cadaveri Eccellenti”, from 1976, dircted by Francesco Rosi.
    The plot: There are three killings, a prosecutor and later two judges. The commissario investigates. The most memorable scene from the movie is when Max von Sydow, playing a judge, sais something along the line to the commissario Rogas played by Ventura: “When I take on the mantle of a judge, it’s no longer me who’s speaking, it is Justitia herself, and Justicia is infallible!”. I won’t tell you the ending, but is deeply sarcastic.
    That said, the book is about Italy, which is, from a European point of view, leading in corruption, chased by Belgium (To get the feeling: A friend got his car scratched by some guy in a parking accident in Bruxelles. A non issue. Police arrived at the scene and what the Belgian cop did was to helpfully suggest how to best defraud the other driver’s insurance company: ‘It’s easy, just take your key and scratch the paint …’) and Greece. The other countries have their corruption as well, but not nearly as crass. In Sicily, “excellent cadavers” are Mafia victims who also happen to be government officials.
    The book isn’t using the title “Excellent Cadavers” in a sarcastic way, as the movie title did. Borsellino and Falcone are rightfully viewed as heroes in Italy.
    Hah, file closed.

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