Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Empire Falls

The "problem solvers" who tried to bring you an empire have failed. It's high time--if not already too late--to think about what comes next for the United States of America.


The latest corner turned in the Iraq insurgency (hand salute to Chelicera):
British armored vehicles backed by helicopter gunships burst through the walls of an Iraqi jail Monday in the southern city of Basra to free two British commandos detained earlier in the day by Iraqi police, witnesses and Iraqi officials said. The incident climaxed a confrontation between the two nominal allies that had sparked hours of gun battles and rioting in Basra's streets.

The Brits tried to put their own version of Rovewellian spin on the story:
In London, authorities said the two commandos were released after negotiations. But the BBC quoted British defense officials as saying a wall was demolished when British forces went to "collect" the men.

This is embarrassing enough. But the underlying cause of the incident tells just how bad the problem in Iraq actually is.
Basra, a city of 1.5 million, is heavily under the control of Shiite political parties and fighters of the Badr militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Shiite religious party that has a leading role in Iraq's government.

Citizens and authorities allege that Badr fighters have infiltrated police forces and are carrying out abuses under the guise of police authority. Rivalry also runs strong between those militia fighters and the militia of Moqtada Sadr, a Shiite cleric.

And you think we have dishonest government in America?
Elsewhere in Iraq, anti-corruption investigators said they expected charges against the country's former defense minister, Hazim Shaalan, in the alleged embezzlement of more than $1 billion that was meant to help rebuild the country's security forces.

The defense minister is a crook and the cops are gangsters. The situation in Iraq isn't just unwinnable. It's already lost.


I've said it before, but it bears repeating: empires that ended badly failed to recognize that the military power that established them was insufficient to sustain them. By the time they realized they had extended themselves beyond their reach, they were already in decline. And the longer they denied their decline (usually by going back to the military power well until it was completely dry), the harder they crashed into the back pages of history.

The "empire" chapter in American history is closing. How the rest of the story turns out depends on how soon we accept that reality and begin to restructure our national power paradigm in a manner that will leave us a nominal "first among world nations." A vital step in that process will be downsizing and reshaping our military. We must not continue to spend as much as the rest of the world combined on an instrument of power that has demonstrated itself to be obsolete.


  1. Our adminsitration doesnt really care about what will go down in the history books. I am sure they are content knowing that their pathetic lives will be pampered & it wont matter what kinda of country, or world, they have left behind, because they'll be dead by the time it REALLY starts to suck.

    or maybe i am just full of crap. :)


  2. If anybody's full of crap, it sure isn't you.

  3. Anonymous1:33 PM

    I agree that our latest attempt at empire is a failure. I doubt even the nuke strikes against the Iranian facilities will help. When, (not if) they do that, I do expect someone, somehow, somwehere, someway, to find a way to get a small package inside an American port city.

    The perfect excuse for the military clampdown and appointment of a "strong, steely-eyed leader" as President for life.


  4. We need to reinvent ourselves. That will mean rejecting a lot of things, including many of our politicians.

  5. Anonymous1:51 PM

    A second thought. There were parts of this story that you didn't report. The ganze magilla started because two British soldiers, dressed in Arab/Iraqi/call it what you want/ clothing opened fire on a crowd somewhere in Basra. The report I read said that these soldiers were "spec ops" personnel (SAS, SBS or Marine Commandos) and I was wondering just what they were doing.......

    Who were they on their way to assassinate when they got discovered? Or was their assignement just to shoot up a crowd?


  6. I wonder too.

    It's another symptom of a failed plan. Whatever you do or try to do turns in the other guy's favor.


  7. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Empire Falls! One of my favorite books.

    Here's another look at the failed British plan.