• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Imperial Joe: Biden Trades Bread and Circuses for War

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Bread and circuses pacified the Roman masses while the emperors with their legions patrolled far borders to pacify barbarians who resisted joining the empire. Joe Biden updated this governing method at his presidential campaign launch rally in Philadelphia.

He offered a buffet of appetizing items to improve America’s education, infrastructure, health care and climate policies. He pledged to unite the nation and restore its soul and backbone. And he said not a word about the country’s ongoing and looming wars.

He looked abroad only to lament that Trump’s antics and his affections for “dictators and tyrants” like Putin and Kim “undermine our standing around the world.”

Silence about the wars allowed him to pretend their cost would never shrink or spoil the buffet selections he was dangling before the masses. But that’s a mirage.

Conjuring money (debt and “quantitative easing”) might pay for these wars and the huge military apparatus that backs them, at the risk of turning inflation into an enemy more menacing than the restive natives out on the imperial frontier. But what would it cost to pay with real money?

Machinery of Empire

If Google is truthful, the US has nearly 800 military bases abroad (UK, France, Russia combined have 30, China has 2). These range from isolated radar stations to Little Americas with shopping centers, bowling alleys, fast fooderies, beauty parlors, basketball and tennis courts, golf courses etc, besides the attached military operations. The uniformed personnel on all these bases and ships, plus inside the US, total about one and a quarter million, the reserves another eight hundred thousand. At sea or docked the Navy has almost 500 ships, including 11 aircraft carriers and 72 submarines. The Air Force wields over 5,000 military aircraft, over 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and 170 military satellites. The Army has about 6,000 Abrams Main Battle Tanks in service or storage, 6,700 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, many thousands of armored personnel carriers, countless (literally) tens of thousands of other vehicles, about 3,400 helicopters and 10,000 drones. The Marines field about 400 tanks, several thousand other fighting vehicles and 1,300 manned aircraft.

The Pentagon budget for these “defense” activities is running a bit over $700 billion a year. That doesn’t include the costs lodged in the Energy department for designing and building nuclear weapons and warship power reactors. Nor the Coast Guard’s 1,900 ships and boats, plus 200 aircraft, with 56,000 personnel. Nor the NSA’s cyber warfare skulduggery. Nor the CIA’s snoopery and secret war exploits. Add these expenses to the Pentagon’s and the true cost of policing and servicing the Empire probably totals about a trillion dollars per year.

Financing this with debt and sleight-of-hand money is as unsustainable as industrial society’s ecological practices. Trump has continued the long habit of ignoring all that. Under his rule the annual federal deficits are approaching a trillion dollars, and the accumulated total debt continues its dizzying ascent—now beyond twenty two trillion.

Caesar Hillary and Warrior Pete

Biden does the same as Trump. So do nearly all the announced Democratic presidential contestants. They close their eyes, jam their fingers in their ears and pretend not to notice that their devotion to waging the Empire’s wars also wages war upon their lavish promises about all the wondrous things they will do for the voters in the homeland.

This one mega lie of theirs makes Mr MAGA’s lesser lies by the thousands trivial in comparison. It is Trump University vastly expanded to the size of the federal budget.

They do this because they know that serving the Empire is part of the job description for president. Hillary made this explicit during an interview while waiting in the wings to take her turn on stage as Madam Commander in Chief.

She paraphrased Caesar’s famous summary of his attack on the Gauls: We came, we saw, we conquered.In response to a question about the sadistic death of Libyan president Gaddafi, a captured prisoner of US sponsored rebels during her tenure as secretary of state, she said: We came, we saw, he died—ha ha ha. Viewers of the YouTube video might differ about whether that ha ha ha was a hearty laugh or a fiendish cackle.

Unlike her, some of the Democratic presidential yearners now are actual war veterans, which will be one of their prime claims to White House worthiness. Among them Pete Buttigieg has, so far, made the most of this status.

He entered the race as Mayor Pete but is gradually transitioning toward Warrior Pete in his campaign rhetoric and imaging. A recent news report about Buttigieg in Iowa said he “talked up his service when calling for gun control. ‘I trained on these things,’ he said of assault-style weapons. ‘I know what they can do.’”  Photos circulate on the web of him posing in camo brandishing a big rifle with a gritty Afghan landscape behind. Expect them to eventually appear on billboards and in TV ads, perhaps with snarky commentary contrasting Warrior Pete and Draft Dodging Commander Bone Spur.

Many Trump Circuses, Scant Bread

Apart from military service, many of the Democratic questers could at least portray themselves as competent managers of the Empire, like Caesar. Buttigieg might add to that a cultured, literate Marcus Aurelius style. Trump seems to enjoy mimicking the pathological psycho bonkers manner of a Nero or Commodus.

This scarcely fazes his base, since they mostly remain steadfastly delighted with him acting as the avatar of their ire and grievance, without doing much else for them. That gives Trump an advantage over all his Democratic rivals.

Their voters actually expect the government to give them a hand to survive the free market fundamentalists protecting oligarchs, the worsening environmental swoon, and the faltering Empire stumbling toward its terminal rattle. But the candidates can’t deliver such voters’ wishes and also serve all the Empire’s distant needs.

Sometime before the November 2020 election Trump will give then an opportunity to choose, maybe soon in the Persian Gulf. He’s plainly wary of sinking into a major mess in Iran, as Bush the Second did in Iraq. He’d prefer something like the “punitive raids” that the Brits and French used to perform when natives got uppity about their imperial masters: send gunboats to shoot up some shoreline towns, perhaps land some troops to conduct further depredations, then withdraw confident that the message had been delivered.

Trump is not about to dispatch the rumored 120,000 troops to the Middle East. He’s adding only a few thousand to the several thousand already there, along with anti-aircraft and anti-missile units, plus B-52 bombers and an aircraft carrier with its protective flotilla.

This is exactly how to prepare for an attack that blasts the bejesus out of selected targets in Iran and then swats down any Iranian attempts at retaliation. The result is maximum death and destruction inside Iran and minimum US casualties, accompanied by a swell of American patriotism relishing this lesson visited upon the rag heads, dinks, slopes, slants, muslims, hajis, sand niggers.

Align With Rag Heads?

Then what will the Democrats do? Arise against Trump and align with the rag heads? Hardly. They will be in the same jam as when Bush the Second decided to invade Iraq, a war ruinous to both countries, and senators Hillary and Biden both voted in favor of it.

That’s what the Democrats will do this time too—unless some among their presidential  roster take a stark stand against this. Whoever that might be, it won’t be front runner Biden.

At his Philadelphia presidential coming out party he reveled in America’s global hegemonic glory. He boasted that “we have the strongest military in the history of the world.” He said that during his long political career he had met most of the world’s leaders, and he uttered the vain peacocky claim that “they know without us they can’t lead.” And he closed with, “God bless you all and may God protect our troops,” making Biden and God joint guardians of the Empire.

The front runner may continue in that status until the Democratic convention and become the nominee. Then everybody who considers Trump a monster and a menace will be cornered on election day (except for those so soured on the whole process that they don’t vote). They will have to decide whether to write in the name of some doomed third party candidate or to vote for imperial Joe, knowing that his promises about all those attractive domestic programs are mostly phony.

Joe Bidenix

The only way they could cast their ballots for Biden would be to consider him nothing more than a Terminix man summoned to rid the White House of the gangster cabal infesting it. To win the election and carry out this chore, he would need a nickname more inspiring than the two Trump has already given him, Sleepy Joe and Swampman.

May Biden and his fans formally baptize him with a suitable, uplifting nickname: Joe Bidenix.

More articles by:

DAVID UNDERHILL lives in Mobile, Alabama. He can be reached at drunderhill@yahoo.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail