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The End of Something

by THOMAS H. NAYLOR

The euro is going down and may take the 17 nation euro zone with it, if not the entire 28 nation European Union.  Or maybe it will be the other way around?  Does it really matter?

Having never recovered from the 2008 recession, the collapse of the euro will drive the U.S. economy deeper into the quagmire of more unemployment, negative economic growth, schizophrenic fiscal policy, Congressional gridlock, inflationary monetary policy, and the rout of the dollar.  Is it possible that whatever the White House, the Congress, or the Fed may do will make not one whit of a difference?

To deflect public opinion away from their incompetence and corruption the White House, the Congress, the Fed, the European Central Bank, and all of the political leaders of Europe need an international scapegoat.  What could be better than a war against some unpopular rogue state such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela whose leader is considered by many Americans to be demonic.

Enter Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bearing gifts for American and European political leaders.  “Have I got a deal for you,” says Netanyahu.  “Why don’t NATO and its Arab allies take out the nuclear weapons program of the terrorist state of Iran?  It would divert the attention of the American and European people away from their economic woes.  Everyone (except the Iranians) would gain.”

With the demise of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Muammar Qadhafi, and Kim Jong Il, there are few demons left with whom to wage war.  Bringing down Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would significantly enhance Barack Obama’s chances for re-election in 2012 and help preserve the political status quo in Europe despite the economic turmoil.

And then what?  Iran is no Iraq.  This would not be kid’s stuff.  For starters, Iran has some very influential friends, not the least of which are Russia and China, who would be unamused by such an attack.

Unless the NATO strikes severely inhibit Iran’s ability to respond militarily, one could expect almost instantaneous retaliation by Iran in the Persian Gulf, closing down the Strait of Hormuz as well as oil production in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq.  This would effectively shut down the global economy.  If Iran were not in a position to respond militarily, then either Russia or China might do so.  They would perceive an attack on Iran to be a major threat to their national security.  China could always opt to pull the plug on the trillion dollar or so investment which it holds in U.S. Treasury bonds sending the U.S. economy into an even further death spiral.  China could also offer to help refinance the European economy thus driving a permanent wedge between Europe and the United States.  Russia might cut off the supply of natural gas to Europe as well.

And if Russia or China retaliates on behalf of Iran, how might the United States respond?  I think it is quite likely that the American Empire would launch missile strikes against Moscow or Beijing depending on the circumstances.  And since the White House and the State Department love to proclaim that all options will be on the table, one cannot rule out the possible deployment of nuclear weapons by missiles targeted at Moscow and Beijing.

Could this be the beginning of the endgame?  If so, so what?

Maybe Meursault, the Algerian clerk who narrated Albert Camus’s famous novel The Stranger and who was sentenced to death for murdering an Arab, said it all upon the death of his mother:

Mother died today.  Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.  The telegram from the Home says:  YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW.  DEEP SYMPATHY.  Which leaves the  matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.

Thomas H. Naylor is Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of AffluenzaDownsizing the U.S.A., and The Search for Meaning.


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