Ochenski: Empire of the Son 

Read my lips: no new nation building

History is rampant with examples of empires that rise and fall, yet time after time, while the would-be emperors are out bloodying their swords and waging wars of conquest, it is the degeneration of the “home state” that sows the seeds of their eventual demise. So it proved to be for the first president named George Bush, who returned from his own “victorious” Iraq war with approval ratings above 90 percent. And so it may come to pass for the second president named George Bush, as he ignores dire conditions at home while using American global military power to build the Empire of the Son.

Few can forget George Bush the First’s famous speech, made in the midst of our last economic recession, when he promised: “Read my lips—no new taxes.” The nation believed and applauded him that day, and any political challenge to the commander-in-chief of Desert Storm seemed totally implausible. But then, perhaps blinded by his own popularity ratings, Daddy Bush blew off his promise, raised taxes, and watched the second term in office he so desperately coveted go instead to a young upstart from Arkansas named Bill Clinton.

Ten years later, when George W. Bush ran for the office of the president, he also made some solemn promises: First, in a scathing criticism of Clinton’s role in the Balkans, he swore he would never use American armed forces to engage in “nation building.” Second, he promised that if he became president, America, the world’s sole remaining superpower, would be a “humble” nation under his leadership.

No matter how handy it may be to wrap yourself in the flag these days, it is undeniably clear that George W. Bush, like his father before him, has blown off his promises to Americans and is now up to his armpits in “nation building.” Afghanistan and Iraq are the most egregious examples, but American military forces are deployed all over the world protecting or plotting against sitting governments. Likewise, it is impossible to apply any definition of the word “humble” to the recent actions of President Bush in using the nation’s overwhelming firepower to force “regime change” on other nations across the globe.

Yet here at home, the costs of Bush’s grand plan to immerse the world in a “Pax Americana” continue to rise. First, of course, are the hundreds of billions of dollars a year we spend on the military. At more than a billion dollars a day, it boggles the mind to think that Bush would have the nerve to ask Congress for even more billions to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he did. Even worse, the Jello-spined mannequins that pass for U.S. senators and representatives not only approved the reckless spending, they latched their own pork projects onto the war appropriations, bloating them even more.

The result is no surprise. Our nation, which had taken a decade to crawl out of the enormous deficits racked up by Presidents Reagan and Bush, is now back to serious overspending and the resultant crippling deficits. The surplus achieved by President Clinton, with which Bush began his presidency, is now as long gone as Bush’s promises on nation building and diplomatic behavior. While Bush burns money flying military jets out to aircraft carriers to create phony photo-ops for his next campaign, the state of the U.S. economy falls further and further behind, like garbage in the wake of the fearsome war flotilla.

Here at home, more than 2 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office. Unemployment is now at 6 percent and, by all estimates, likely to go higher. And remember, the unemployment figures include only those who continue to look work, not those who have simply given up. As the U.S. becomes ever more extended in its reckless spending and global military adventurism, the solidity of our currency is being eroded. At last reports, the Euro had eclipsed the dollar in value (1 Euro = $1.13 U.S.) What this means, of course, is that global investors are now finding other investment opportunities more solid, predictable, and attractive than those dependent on the U.S. economy.

There are many reasons for this, including the current state of the Empire of the Son, which is, at best, highly unstable. Today’s news reports the first major anti-American protests in Kabul, Afghanistan. To refresh your memory, Afghanistan was the first nation Bush “liberated” in his quest for global hegemony. Promising freedom, democracy, and a vibrant rebuilding effort, the U.S. installed Hamid Karzai as the new “ruler” of Afghanistan after we supposedly destroyed the Taliban. But guess what? The Taliban is rising again, while the regional warlords and their private militias still control most of the country and a growing number of protestors in Kabul chant “Death to Bush, Death to America.”

Nor are things going well for the Empire of the Son in Iraq. While the Ministry of Oil was protected by U.S. tanks and marines, thousands of priceless 7,000 year old artifacts were looted from Baghdad’s Museum of Antiquities. Such “priorities” have reinforced already widely-held views that America’s real interest in Iraq was not “liberation,” but control of the world’s second largest oil deposits. In the meantime, dissent continues to rise among Iraqis who find the continuing chaos in the aftermath of their “liberation” unbearable. There is a very real possibility that Iraq will turn not into a democracy, as hoped, but into an Islamic theocracy that will struggle bloodily and ceaselessly against the infidel occupation forces.

The horrific condition of the homeland economy, rising global geopolitical tensions, loss of long-time allies, and major instabilities in the countries we have “liberated” may well make the Empire of the Son one of the shortest-lived in history. Our only hope is that when George W. finally vanishes beneath the tremendous waves of worldwide chaos he has created, that he will not pull all that is great and good about our country down with him.

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Missoula Independent.

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