It begins with the visible swelling of the throat. Displays of agitation
– bellowing, prancing, and stomping – follow and culminate in a frenzy of
The beastly nature of U.S. foreign policy becomes
more apparent daily. As William Pfaff recently wrote,
the current and future preemptive wars in the greater Middle East, Central Asia,
and Africa are late tremors of colonialism, driven by America's deep-rooted
delusion over its own exceptionalism. Given its ascendant position after World
War II (comprising 40 percent of the world's GDP), the rapid dollarization of
the global economy, and the embrace of military
Keynesianism (deftly described by Chalmers Johnson), it is no wonder that
the U.S. finds itself stuck in overreach and blustery denial. Vice President
Cheney in particular seems to concur with the neoconservative
view that Arabs only understand force.
And when President Bush, four years into a war with a populace lacking air and
sea command, speaks of accepting nothing less than "total victory,"
he means achieving pacification by fearful subjugation to American killing power.
The inherent blindness and racism of such a policy explains how Bush and his
supine Congress switch targets with relative ease. It matters not that the Taliban
has replaced al-Qaeda in U.S. sights in Afghanistan and that the adversaries
in Iraq have expanded to include whomever the military pronounces the "ever
adaptable enemy." The neighboring Persians are now mixed in with intractable
Arabs. The mission has metastasized to the Horn of Africa to further curb the
Islamic blight. The one stable democratic ally in the region, Turkey (with 98
percent Muslim population), awaits chastisement from Pelosi's House in the form
of a resolution declaring it guilty of genocide
against the largely Christian Armenians in 1915. Meanwhile, Washington's Greek
chorus, the American Enterprise Institute, emits a constant drone in the background:
"If we withdraw, they will follow us here."
The rutting stag clashes with trees, bushes, and other upright objects –
whatever clouds its field of vision and blocks its goal of herd domination.
The bestial-colonial U.S. approach to developing regions is an utter disconnect
with today's world. Setting aside the moral question, colonialism hasn't worked
for over half a century, after reaching its highest profitability in the mid
to late 19th century. Evolving from mercantilism (essentially syndicated piracy),
colonialism adopted a muscular and integrative approach to enrichment, thanks
to industrial advances. Whereas the mercantilist VOC
(Dutch East India Company) exploited the trading-post system with a fleet of
150 ships – colonialist countries created monopsony
embeds with host colonies. They could dictate the labor terms (often slave),
buy off the "upper management," and use superior technology (including
weaponry) to strip-mine the country. When Britain occupied India, it didn't
pursue a holistic infrastructure plan for the country but built railroads that
linked cotton, indigo, grain, and poppy production in direct lines to seaports.
Opium cultivation in India was so profitable (several hundred percent) that
Britain waged war against
China in 1840 to gain treaty rights for the continued sale of the narcotic.
Belgium's King Leopold pursued the lucrative rubber trade in the Congo in the
1880s by brutalizing
the population – killing up to 8 million people. In the Eastern world, Japan
seized control of the Manchurian
railroad and the Port Arthur terminus in 1904 to ensure a steady flow of
iron ore to its island economy. The rise of modern capital markets and the extensive
use of credit poured accelerant on the industrialized colonial process.
But by the early 20th century, the shrinking returns on colonial assets strained
the multilateral balance-of-power system, ending in the eruption of the First
World War. Following the Second World War, the power vacuum left by colonial
withdrawal produced a checkerboard of failed states and political alignments
split along Western/Communist fault lines. Kleptocratic strongman governments,
swelled by Western aid packages, stunted the political and economic growth throughout
Africa and the Middle East. When the pan-African leader Patrice
Lumumba was elected Congo's prime minister in 1960 and condemned colonialism,
the West arranged his execution. Thirty-seven years of Mobutu
followed. For the disenfranchised masses, ethnic and religious fervor, which
predated the imperial boundaries by centuries, became uniting causes; these
Because of colonialism's horrific legacy, the U.S. wove elaborate tales to
pitch its noble enterprise for subjugating the Islamic region and using Iraq
as its central command post to oversee regional energy development. Prior to
all its "liberation" talk, the administration extolled the invasion
as a bona fide investment – yielding instant dividends and a continuous stream
of good will. The fact that investment was impossible because of U.S.
prohibitions against American/Iraqi capital ventures went unmentioned. Once
the weapons threat and the Saddam- 9/11 connection fizzled, the U.S. ramped
up the struggle as a clash of worldviews, one it couldn't afford to lose. Details
supporting this axiom appear closely guarded – hushed circles must be envisioning
Muslim hordes overrunning American soil – turning symbols of culture, capital,
and religion into rubble.
The U.S. is entangled in the most costly colonial experiment in history. Ironically,
21st-century democratization, so glorified by the Bush administration, has worked
to the U.S. military's disadvantage: shared technological innovation and universal
connectivity have lent strength to an insurgency unimaginable in King Leopold's
time. Other countries, particularly the developing ones, have managed to produce
economic growth without preemptive wars. Indeed in 2006, the developing world
surpassed the industrialized one in terms of total GDP for the first time while
the U.S. dipped to a 20 percent GDP share. China, the world's largest importer
of steel, copper, nickel, and tin, achieves productivity by striking bilateral
trade deals and structuring loan packages with the former colonial world – without
brandishing a gun. The "debate" over troop numbers in Iraq doesn't
go nearly far enough. The U.S. should vote for a wholesale rejection of its
mad colonial course, a course bound for ruin.
During the rut, the stag forgoes sleep and sustenance, losing up to 30 percent
of its weight. Death from starvation and exhaustion often precludes species