There’s only so far we can go in understanding why the US behaves as it does without applying a materialist perspective to the geopolitical-economic realities confronting it. And no one has to my mind set out more thoroughly or clearly those realities – the corner into which Washington and the West at large have painted themselves 1 – than Professor Michael Hudson.
You can see him summarising his views in this Duran discussion, which also features Alexander Mercouris (for once playing second fiddle) and a Glenn Diesen content to coordinate.
I do urge all who seek a better world to get up to speed on the thinking of a man former Ronald Reagan appointee Paul Craig Roberts called “our greatest living economist”. The above podcast is an excellent and – made just three days ago – highly topical introduction.
Meanwhile I’m plugging a much shorter video, 23:16, featuring Professor Jeffrey Sachs just two hours ago at time of writing. Jeffrey lacks the materialist perspective I speak of but, like a good many other liberal voices (in the old fashioned sense) featured on this site, brings a depth of insight grounded in ringside experience to his analyses. Here he starts with Palestine before moving to Ukraine. In both he finds Washington “continually upping the ante on a losing hand”.
No one acquainted with the antecedents of the proxy war on Russia in Ukraine, and how easily peace could have been won – without territorial loss to Kiev, a weakened USA and (though this can be viewed as one of the few gains for Washington) a hollowed out Europe – will disagree.
Lacking a materialist take, he does – like that other brilliant but idealist Russia-watcher, the late Stephen Cohen – tend to see folly where I’d take a darker reading 2 but no great harm is done provided we keep this in mind. As I said just a few days ago:
I hear important voices trashed on the ground they say something deemed unacceptable, or fail to say something deemed vital, by their purist detractors. To which I say that truth on these matters is an evolving mosaic, and no one has all the pieces. Shit, not even me!
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- The US ruling class, and those of the West at large, have burned their bridges over four decades of deindustrialisation. With no way back to industrial pre-eminence their only viable course is to continue to exploit the labour and natural wealth of the global south within an imperialist world order characterised by North to South export of monopoly capital, and South to North repatriation of profits. And to recycle those profits through rent-seeking monopolies in their own non productive – nay, anti-productive economies. Both are premised on the dollar retaining world reserve currency status, and the power to dictate business terms to the global south. And both have been undermined not in spite but because of Washington’s Greek-tragedian attempts to avert that outcome. The wars in Ukraine and Gaza have only accelerated the decline.
- Lacking a materialist perspective not only makes Jeffrey see incompetence rather than criminality (though he’s as hard on the former as I am on the latter, and is in any case on the nail re the egregious ineptitude of Biden and his foreign policy team). It also has him omitting, when explaining US unconditional support for Israel, the factors examined by Stephen Gowans in Israel: a beachhead in the Middle East – in sum, that Israel’s value to the West has always been its sowing of division in the region.