Saturday, November 7, 2009

An Ill Empire

The horrific shooting at Fort Hood by Nidal Malik Hasan is yet another snap in the nervous system of a frazzled and bullet-drunk USA. Awash in wealth and power since the end of WWII, America North has become corpulent from frauds and bombs. Sick to the point of toppling off the pedestal of world envy.

Yes, gold and guns have made us morally decrepit. The rash of unthinkable shootings at schools, offices and now military bases could not be a clearer sign. Like empires past, the US is doomed by its success at bullying. We have guzzled from the chalice of stolen loot; and we have been poisoned by our filthy swill. The euphemism for this was Manifest Destiny, then United Fruit Company, and most recently Halliburton.

Rome, Portugal, Spain, Britain, all dominated and expropriated from the weak in their heydays. Like us, they were military monsters of their time, yet grew sclerotic from greed and dissolution. Perhaps the most disgusting was Isabella’s Spain, which invaded the “New World,” grabbed the gold, and proceeded to tear itself apart with inflation, backstabbing, usury, peripheral wars, and so on.

You shouldn’t trust me on this. But then, I’m taking my information from Kevin Phillips, a mainstream exemplar of careful scholarship. Check out his book, American Theocracy. Go to the section starting on page 220, which reads:

Exceptionalism: The Delusion That the United States Is Different.

According to Phillips, we are crashing--just like Rome, Portugal, Spain and Britain. Greed tanks empires. Fuels addiction, denial, sophistry and spite. Drags the empire in question into a sordid cesspit. Every time.

Back to the US. In a shallow culture of fluff, war worship and gun-lovin’ video games, kids and army officers are mass murdering their fellow citizens.

And yet our leaders, who know how to make their neck veins bulge with oratorical pride, trumpet how wonderful and brave our nation is. How perfect and stalwart and righteous our elephantine military, a vanguard of light in a world of darkness.

This pitiable denial spells doom. Truth is, blinkered rhetoric lays like camouflage over an ill king and is snuffing out whatever torch we wielded in the past, and with it any hope of contrition or cure.

Let me end with the words of Edward Said, quoted in American Theocracy:

“Every single empire, in its official discourse, has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort.” (p.74).

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