Reinforcing failure: sign of empire decline

8 Jul

In a footnote to yesterday’s post I wrote that:

Michael Hudson has likened US-led efforts to shore up Western hegemony to the Sophoclean Tragedy, Oedipus Rex.  While thinkers from Freud on have looked to its eponymous hero for insights on the male psyche, it can escape non classicists like me that Oedipus knows his destiny to be parricide, regicide and incest. The tragedy being that all his efforts to avert that which is written in the stars serve only to expedite it.

Michael’s context was the way Washington efforts to weaken China and Russia have served to unite and so strengthen them. In a forty-five minute interview yesterday –The US Can’t Beat Russia Or China In A War – former Bush aid and Colin Powell chief of staff, Col. (Ret) Lawrence Wilkerson, 1 made much the same point to a hijab wearing Minar Muhawesh Adley, founder of MintPress News.

The two are respectful of one another, Minar having interviewed the colonel in August 2021 – see Afghanistan Pullout: A Sign Of US Empire In Decline. Yesterday’s echoing of Michael’s point comes at 02:01 with this (here edited) from Larry:

I’ve just re-read Peter Farin’s, the Silk Roads, on empires throughout history – Persian and Roman Empire and so forth. What you find are examples of what’s happening to us, but at modern accelerated rates.

It’s the nature of Empire that when you start declining you reinforce failure again and again and again. It’s a weakness of military operations in particular, but of diplomacy and foreign policy security policy in general, that when you start losing you reinforce the loss.

Look at Ukraine. We are reinforcing what is clearly a defeat for NATO, Washington and London – Washington’s poodle. We’re sending billions more dollars. We’re trying to steal Russia’s money and send it to the Ukrainians. And look at Gaza. We reinforce there when we’re losing . We reinforced in Afghanistan for 20 years and in Iraq we lost there so one of the great signs of declining Empire is consistent and constant reinforcement of strategic failure and that’s our major move in the world today … reinforcing our failures as we’re doing right now in the Red Sea.

I just read about the USS Eisenhower in the Red Sea. The troops have not been home, not seen their families and there’s no sign of them being relieved. Its deployment is excessive and every day they see Houthis shooting missiles and flying deadly drones over their aircraft carrier … it’s not a great place to be.

At 06:45 Minar says:

It seems that US policy to weaken Russia, China and Iran all at the same time has brought these nations closer together and caused a geopolitical own goal for Washington.

Are Larry and Michael Hudson acquainted? Pass, but Larry responds – in a de facto extension of that Sophoclean analogy – in a way that applies in more specific form Michael’s analysis as set out in The Destiny of Civilisation: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism.

Yes that’s a good way to put it. I like the soccer terminology. We have scored several own goals and the biggest one right now is, as you indicated, forcing these countries into an alliance more rapidly than if we hadn’t made so many mistakes, particularly in Ukraine and now in Gaza.

We are building up a world of people who detest us because of our support of what the Israelis are doing. Gaza is the principal ingredient of that failure but it’s reputational all across the world.

Now we have 2.7 billion people under formal sanctions. That’s the other thing we do to people. Besides bombing them we sanction them and the sanctions in many instances have backfired. Not only do they not punish the people we want to punish – rather the poor people in a country like Iran – but they also backfire in Russia, making Russia look elsewhere to meet its economic needs and now Russia’s economy is banging on all eight cylinders and doing quite well thank you very much.

On Russia we get to the heart of things. Yes, US sanctions did backfire, for the reason he gives, but another reason Russia “bangs on all cylinders” (hence the inevitability, sans the West going nuclear, of victory in Ukraine) because even before such stupidity and arrogance left Russia with no alternative, she was rebuilding a manufacturing base devastated by rentier forces given free rein by Yeltsin, on IMF say-so, in the disaster capitalism nineties.

Though not, as Putin has shown, irreversibly. I say this because the far left decries Russia, and more importantly China, on the basis of both being capitalist. Leaving aside the ultra-leftists who call both imperialist – defying both common sense and Marxist analyses – this criticism, from folk who believe or say they believe Western capitalism can still be overthrown by “the workers”, makes no distinction between the rentier forms of hyper-financialised capital which grip the West, and the dirigiste  forms taken in Russia and China. The one sheds light on the certainty of Russian victory in a war of attrition. The other offers a greater promise of socialism than anything on offer from the pipe-dreamers.

As for Iran, also invoked in that extract, here a difference momentarily emerges. At 27:27 Larry opines (again I’ve edited the transcript 2 for brevity) that:

The theocracy in Iran is on borrowed time. The women gave the lie to its legitimacy in the last Revolt Iran had. It’s an illegitimate government propped up only by the IRGC and you know the people surrounding it are making tons of money off the oil revenue and other things. There was a report seven years ago, on one fiscal year in Iran. It saw trillions of dollars made off oil and gas assets, and how much the IRGC got of that was incredible. They got a third of that money so you have all these people ripping off the Iranian people, who know it. This last women’s revolt almost almost completely delegitimized the Ayatollahs and one of the reasons they’re doing what they do in Yemen and elsewhere is that’s the only way they can get any legitimacy.

Minar lets him proceed to other matters before picking him up on the point at 31:50:

… some may disagree with your assessment of Iran’s theocracy not having organic local support … many of the protests were hijacked, infiltrated and even organized by Washington paid actors, with Western media overstating them.

Interestingly, Larry counters with an argument you won’t hear from BBC or CNN; that agencies like the CIA will of course big up to purse-holders their role in hijacking grass roots protest in Iran. (Textbook Empire stuff seen in Syria, Chechnya, Xinjiang and a score of other places with the misfortune to be of geostrategic interest to Uncle Sam.) But he adds, Mandy Rice-Davies style, that they would say that wouldn’t they? How else can they get such whopping budgets?

It’s a consideration, though I doubt it fully negates the thesis of the Iranian women’s protests as more made in the USA than organic. 3 I’d have liked to hear the point explored further but, no doubt mindful of time and the ground yet to be covered, Minar moves to other matters.

This really is a fascinating tour, taking in many stops too rarely visited. Like the theft of illegally occupied Syria’s oil, for sale at discount to Israel. Like the ability of Turkey – not that we should hold our breath – as NATO’s biggest land army, to take out the IDF “in about six weeks”. It helps that both participants are courteous and informed, that neither is excessively fond of their own voice and that consequently a lot of ground is covered without straying from what it says on the tin: a declining empire thrashing about in ways which reinforce its own failure.

* * *

  1. In the burgeoning list of gamekeepers turned poacher – or, since that burgeoning is very much a sign of our times, canaries in the coalmine – colonels feature disproportionately. Though strategists by training and temperament, they are less deep rooted in the ruling class than generals and admirals. Freer to say it as they see it.
  2. For the transcript, click ‘watch on YouTube’  then, in the truncated description below the video, ‘more’. Click ‘show transcript’  near the foot of the extended description.
  3. A slice of yesterday’s post is given over to the ‘weaponising of wokeness’ in ways that seek to appropriate feminist and other worthy ideals for imperial purposes.

2 Replies to “Reinforcing failure: sign of empire decline

  1. However vexed Iranian women are by the hijab laws they might still prefer the present regime to anything the West is likely to impose and if they are wise, would avoid having their campaign hijacked for a regime change operation.

    • I only visited Iran once, and that was in the Shah’s day. In the decades since I’ve watched from afar, and made a few Iranian friends. What’s striking is the very high level of culture in Persian society. Whatever their gripes with the Ayatollahs – and we are speaking of a state under siege akin to that of Cuba and North Korea (a truth lost on most liberals) – the consequences of US ‘help’ in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and (happily less successful) Syria will not have been lost on them.

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