February 17, 2008 was supposed to be a triumph
of Empire's doctrine of righteous interventionism, anytime, anywhere. That Moscow
and Belgrade could not stop the blatantly
illegal creation of "independent" Kosovo was to be the proof of
Washington's power, and its designated victims' powerlessness. That shortly
thereafter, Serbia came under complete control of sycophantic
quislings who absolutely ruled out any resistance to Empire's demands was
just the icing on the cake.
Serbia was crushed, its opposition in disarray, and its own government helpfully
agendas on Empire's behalf. Surely, Moscow would accept the outcome and
move along, submitting to the Euro-Atlantic hegemony as the right and proper
order of things?
Ossetia showed otherwise.
The guns of August
were as much a message as they were about helping Russian citizens targeted
by a U.S. client regime in Tbilisi: the age of the Atlantic Empire was over.
Whether the message was understood in Washington is still unclear, but it was
definitely heard around the world.
Words vs. Reality
None of the self-righteous
rage vented in the Western media, or the pompous pronouncements by presidential
candidates, foreign ministers, presidents, vice-presidents or ambassadors, could
change the fact that the Georgian army had ceased to exist, and that shiny toys
the Empire equipped it with ended
up as loot in Russian hands.
Since then, news for the Empire has been nothing but bad. For all the official
talk of unconditional support for their Georgian puppet, there are already murmurs
of discontent with the regime of Mikheil Saakashvili. Misha may have been
installed in power by a U.S.-sponsored "Rose revolution," but the
bloom is definitely
off by now.
Georgians also don't
seem interested in being turned into an American
Hezbollah, maybe because they know that this sort of warfare commands a
horrific price. Americans can be forgiven for not knowing it, since their wars
are fought far away, but Chechnya is just across the Georgian border.
Tumult in Kiev
If Georgia was to be the Caucasus jewel in the
Imperial crown, the grand prize of the East was without a doubt the Ukraine.
Following the success of "popular revolts" in Serbia and Georgia,
in 2004 the Empire supported
the "Orange revolution"
in Ukraine and installed Viktor Yushchenko as the new president. Yushchenko's
party was not strong enough by itself, however; he had to rely on an alliance
with former gas tycoon Yulia
Tymoshenko, who became Prime Minister.
Following the debacle in Georgia, however, Tymoshenko chose not to back Yushchenko's
overt support for Tbilisi and the Empire. After Tymoshenko's party worked with
the pro-Russian opposition to pass laws limiting the powers of the President,
Yushchenko's party pulled
out of the ruling coalition and accused Tymoshenko of "high treason."
Tymoshenko rejected the allegations, refused
to resign, and called the crisis a "storm in a teacup."
Unless a new government is formed soon, Ukraine faces new elections, its third
in two years. However, given that Tymoshenko is refusing to resign, she could
be trying to run a minority government with the pro-Russian Party of Regions'
tacit support, or perhaps even ally with them outright.
In the West, Tymoshenko's split with Yushchenko is seen as knocking Ukraine
"off its pro-Western course and back into Moscow's orbit." (AFP)
Apparently, once the country is a client of the Empire, it must remain that
way – independence or neutrality are out of the question, and are seen as "defection"
to the "enemy."
Snubbing the Yanquis
Now, it may be that the media are exaggerating
the crisis in Kiev, as there is after all a widespread propensity to see the
hand of Moscow in every development. But the Empire is slipping in other
places as well. Last week, Bolivia expelled
U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, accusing him of trying to break up the country.
The government in La Paz is facing a revolt in two provinces, and believes Washington
is behind it. Goldberg had
served as the U.S. envoy to the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo, a fact
often noted by Bolivians inclined to see covert U.S. involvement in their country.
Even if Goldberg and the Empire are entirely blameless, the Bolivians obviously
perceive them differently. Given that the Empire is all about perception
management, one cannot help but find that ironic.
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela seized the opportunity and also
expelled Washington's envoy, as well as recalled the Venezuelan ambassador
from Washington, so as to deny the U.S. the pleasure of retaliating. Earlier
last week, Chavez was positively giddy when two Russian strategic
bombers visited Venezuela, declaring, "The Yankee hegemony is finished."
Chavez may be right, but not because he or Bolivia's Evo Morales dared show
the door to Washington's legates. A far more damaging development for U.S. hegemony
came on September 8, when Brazil and Argentina inked
an agreement to stop using dollars in bilateral trade.
Behind the Curtain
Taken separately, the discontent in Georgia, Ukraine's
shift away from unconditional obedience, and the open defiance in Latin America
would still be a cause for concern for the proponents of American hegemony.
These are all events far from home, however, and easily countered – in their
minds, at least – with proper propaganda.
No amount of perception management can paper over the rapidly unfolding economic
disaster at home, though. The federal takeover of mortgage providers Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac; the government bailout of insurer AIG; and the demise of
investment banking houses Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, all sent a signal
not just to capital markets around the world, but to governments as well, that
the omnipotent American Empire is a mirage.
Washington is still talking tough, but what the world hears is a plea to ignore
the man behind the curtain. The Empire is still capable of killing people and
breaking things, but it seems to be losing the ability to compel obedience.
Without that, it is nothing.