Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
Unnecessary Wars

How Empires Fall

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

In a new book that will infuriate the fake conservatives who inhabit the Republican Party, Patrick J. Buchanan documents how British self-righteousness, delusion, and hubris destroyed both the British Empire and Western ascendancy in two unnecessary wars launched by a small cabal of morons that ruled Britain

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War shows that the two world wars that destroyed European civilization began when England declared war on Germany, thus dragging in the Empire, Commonwealth, and United States.  This was a strategic blunder unparalleled in history.  Mighty Britain emerged from World War II as an American dependency.

Buchanan cites such British notables as F.J.P. Veale, B.H. Liddell Hart, and C.P. Snow to document that it was Winston Churchill who committed, in Veale’s words, “the first deliberate breach of the fundamental rule of civilized warfare that hostilities must only be waged against the enemy combatant forces.”  It was Churchill, not Hitler, who first targeted civilian populations in World War II and caused the structure of civilized warfare to collapse in ruins.

The Americans quickly adopted Churchill’s criminal policy of attacking civilians, culminating in the outrageous use of nuclear weapons against two Japanese cities, the slaughter of Vietnamese civilians, and the ongoing slaughter of Afghan and Iraqi civilians.  
A popular American myth is that “the greatest generation” saved the world from Nazi tyranny.  As Buchanan points out, the fact of the matter is that the Normandy invasion in June 1944 played little, if any, role in Germany’s defeat.  By the end of 1942 Hitler had lost World War II at Stalingrad, long before any American troops appeared on the scene.  What the Normandy invasion achieved 18 months later was to keep the Red Army from over-running all of Europe.

Although Buchanan’s book is about how the British destroyed themselves, Buchanan is clearly thinking about America.  In the closing pages Buchanan shows how the Bush Regime has broken from the sound policy of President Reagan and is replicating the British folly of self-destruction.  “There is hardly a blunder of the British Empire we have not replicated,” laments Buchanan.

The distinct American hubris that we are “the indispensable nation” and the braggadocio that we are an “omnipower” has us overcommitted in alliances that we cannot fulfill.  Despite 25 percent of the Iraqi population killed, injured or displaced, the “world’s only superpower” cannot even control Baghdad.  To deal with the pointless war we started in Afghanistan, we have had to sucker our NATO allies into a conflict that is no concern of theirs.  Militarily overextended and with a faltering economy and collapsing currency, the cabal of morons that rules America still hopes to attack Iran, Syria, and to drive Hezbollah from Lebanon.  American idiots in think tanks are busy at work drawing up plans about how the US is going to check China and prevent her emergence as a power beyond US control. The Republican presidential candidate has boasted that he will challenge Russia and bring Putin to heel.  
Amazing. 

The world’s greatest debtor is going to take on the two powerful countries with the largest trade surpluses.  According to the World Factbook, an annual publication of the CIA, Russia’s 2007 current account surplus is $465 billion and China’s is $363 billion.  In contrast, the US current account deficit is $987 billion–an amount larger that the total deficits of all other countries in the world combined.  The out-of-pocket and already incurred future cost of Bush’s wars of aggression is between $3 and $5 trillion, every dollar of which must be borrowed.  That comes on top of the unfunded liabilities of the US government totaling $53 trillion.  By any account the US is the world’s worst credit risk. The “mighty” US relies on foreigners to finance its consumption, its wars, and the daily operations of its government.

When Buchanan looks at the collection of idiots that comprise America’s ruling class, he despairs. 

In truth, American power is already broken, and the country is already lost.  

The country is lost, because the brownshirt Bush Regime has destroyed the US Constitution with the complicity of the opposition party and the federal courts.  There is no organized power that can restore the Constitution or even much concern that it has been overthrown.  

The country is broken, because American capitalists have moved offshore so many US manufacturing, engineering, and research jobs that US imports now exceed US industrial production.  American dependency on imported manufactured goods, advanced technology goods, and energy is astounding.  

Moreover, the dependency is escalating dramatically.  In March 2002, prior to Bush’s decision to impose Israel’s will on the Middle East, oil was $25 a barrel.  Today oil is $125 a barrel, a five-fold increase that has seen our oil import bill rise from $145 billion in 2006 to $456 billion presently, a $300 billion addition to a trade deficit that was already running $700-$800 billion annually.  

There is no possibility of the US closing its trade deficit.  The US is able to survive such enormous deficits only because the US dollar is the world reserve currency.  This role for the dollar is nearing an end as the world looks for more stable stores of value.  Although oil is still nominally priced in dollars, in reality it is being priced in euros as oil producers raise the dollar price with a view to keeping their oil revenues at a constant purchasing power in euros.

When the dollar loses its reserve currency role, foreign financing for US trade and budget deficits will evaporate.  US living standards will collapse, and the indispensable omnipower will be just another washed up country.

For a world weary of “American exceptionalism,” this can’t happen too soon.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com