Monday, May 31, 2010

There's a Hole In the Bottom of the Sea

Americans believe. They're a nation of believers. The late Pierre Berton said their passionate "need to believe" was, more than anything else, what distinguished Americans from Canadians.

Being gripped by belief has served the American people, by turns, both very well and very poorly. It has formed the foundation for a highly confident, dynamic nation that - albeit briefly - ascended to unipolar global supremacy. For a while that seemed not just to confirm but to conclusively prove the reality of American exceptionalism. It manifested itself in neo-conservatism expressed by the likes of The Project for the New American Century and given life in the Bush Doctrine.

There is an often blurry line between confidence and arrogance. Crossing that line usually carries unwelcome consequences. Arrogance begets hubris, the "pride that blinds", a cup from which Americans took deep draughts ever since the arrival of Reagan's Age of Ruin and, particularly, over this past decade. It has left America unbalanced and bloated - bloated with debt.

This crippling debt was understood by the Project for the New American Century. The Neo-Cons realized that American governments, corporations and the American people had mortgaged their global supremacy to foreign lenders and therefore advocated the use of American military superiority to bolster their country's dominance, militarily and economically. This madness was formally adopted in the Bush Doctrine. "It's ours and if you dare rival us, we'll bomb you into submission." Bush's supporters believed this was their nation's due. They believed America's destiny and rightful place was to rule, or at least "guide" on advantageous terms, the rest of the world - in perpetuity. The world would be led forever by the United States of America. It was state gangsterism, the act of a rogue state. America proclaimed itself beyond the laws of nations that America itself had prescribed, an outlaw state.

There were some who supported the conquest of Iraq as fulfillment of this American superiority doctrine. One neo-con (whose name unfortunately escapes me) opined that America chose Iraq as an opportunity to throw a small nation against a wall as a lesson to other states of the consequences of defiance.

Ever wonder what the world would look like today if America had pulled off stunning victories in Iraq and Afghanistan? Wrap your mind around that for a while. In your mind, rewrite the history of the past decade. Who would have been next? Where would the madness have ended and at what cost?

The madness of America's quest for global domination was mirrored by a deep madness at home. The American people lost their grip on reality. What other people could believe that a debt-ridden government running massive deficits could simultaneously wage two wars and cut taxes for the very rich without leading the country to ruin? What other people could believe that achieving wealth was simply a matter of getting title to a home or two or three, four maybe? Perhaps a nation in which an immensely powerful vice president was able to assure his president that "Reagan showed that deficits don't matter" as justifying additional tax cuts for the rich? What other people could believe that the solution to financial distress was to refinance, or "re-fi", their homes? Where were the Tea Partiers when this madness was bringing ruin to their nation? Why was it only after the hens came home to roost that they rebelled? Madness, that's why and a firm belief in truly magical thinking.

To a people in thrall to utter delusion, what must it mean that all the King's horses and all the King's men cannot save them from a mere hole in the bottom of the sea? It must be driving them mad. A little hole in the bottom of the sea that imperils the American south from Texas to Florida and possibly the Atlantic states to boot. Is it any wonder they blame Obama when the path to this disaster leads directly back to the days when neo-conservative Oil Men occupied the White House?

Unless he fights back and fights hard, Obama may wind up wearing the Deepwater Horizon fiasco, because, to a lot of voters, he hasn't kissed their boo-boo nor has he conjured up the shiny thing to distract them as his predecessors so routinely did. What must it feel like to this horde to see their country exposed as impotent by a mere hole in the bottom of the sea?


pogge said...

The Ledeen Doctrine, named for Michael Ledeen, is usually summarized as: every once in a while the United States needs to pick up some small, crappy country and throw it against the wall just to show we mean business.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks Pogge. Yes it was Ledeen. Cheers

Greg said...

Obama is a shill for big oil too. He just looks better on TV than Bush did. Don't let the fact that his administration was actively expanding offshore drilling before the BP spill, fall down the memory hole.