I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]

On one home front, think of the Gilded Age of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. This is not the first time America-First ideology has been suspected to be cover for autocrats and plutocrats doing what they have always done. What makes the revelation different this time is the simultaneous sense that the US imperium apparently has seen and had its day. I say this anticipating the response: Yes, of course, that seems to be happening, but, no, it is too incredible to really happen.

Missing in the vague anomie is detailed fact, gathered and employed effectively to see the whole. Armed with such a guidebook, the Wall Street protestors and all the rest of America’s great discontented would truly understand why the 99-percenters, I suggest, may likely feel the need to join the hundreds of diehards in Zucotti Park, and then extend the protest, unbelievable as it truly sounds, by revolutionary action into an American Spring.[5]

Some years ago I overheard a blue-collar fellow – a retired Detroit fire fighter – explaining to his wife why the rich are rich: they are simply “smarter” than the rest of us. But the “exceptionalism” of America – where the smart people are free to get as rich as nanosecond insider trading, offshore deals, and tax lawyers let them – has collided with paradigm-destroying contradictions. The thesis appears to be running headlong into its antithesis. The new synthesis may well be coming at the world with the force of a huge, land-bound, Red Spot-sized storm. If sloganeering from Republicans still had any force to warn us about the imperiled “free market”, “free enterprise”, and – interchangeably – “‘freedom” – about how “the Greatest Nation on Earth/in History” is being destroyed by taxes, “socialism”, and “Big Government” – egged on by the shrieks and poison chatter of Fox News, some might still buy into the fear-mongering. A few tidy, frightened retirees sunning themselves in the Western states and devotees of NASCAR and the NRA from the old Confederate South might get apoplectic. Which, in some way, perhaps, is why the rest of us disbelieve any significant change is coming or can happen. But this may be because we don’t see the Big Picture.

Although, shunning advocacy, he is careful never to veer far from the neutral tones of reportage, the thesis of Walberg’s astonishing, fine-grained x-ray of the zeit is that the greatest source of problems in modern, and postmodern, times around the world is American imperialism. Such a thesis, of course, is not new among the radical left, nor among the political “Islamists”. Presented with a full account of the lies, clichés, and stereotyped credence of the US’s path to empire and how it maintains it with, by now, constant war, needle-sensitive rightwing Republicans and, take note, here, Jewish Americans, defensive, seething, and alarmed. It is likely they will then, unfortunately, too quickly look for reasons to label Walberg an anti-Semite with a hard-left agenda to cover up his supposed anti-Semitism. Lip-syncing (parentheticals added): (that infernally silly) Ayn Rand and (that feudalistic philosophical eminence) Leo Strauss – both had it right: there are Superior Ones (SOs) and there are Inferior Ones (IOs) and, for the sake of the continuing evolution of mankind, the SOs must inherit the earth. Get the money. And the girls. And the million dollar cryonic canopic jars. Richard Dawkins almost had it right; what he got wrong is that a few of the replicators – human beings as host for the genes – are taking charge, forcefully, violently, of who gets to pass them theirs on.

Not persuaded that Social Darwinism is necessary for the future of the species, a large majority of Americans – fed up or simply horrified with Bush, the fifty-three percent who voted for the African-American and “Socialist” Obama, as well as those who didn’t but are also the victims of the 2008 economic crash – now are beginning to realize that phantasmal, neocon realpolitik not only is entirely cynical but grandiose, also, its spokesmen misleading even themselves. Furthermore, the true-believers whom the Powers-That-Be have rallied reliably in the past have become suspicious that the single overriding purpose of calls to their patriotism always is to enrich the Big Boys, the Players: CEO’s at multinationals like Halliburton and General Electric, and at the mammoth, near-monopoly amalgam banking corporations, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Add Wall Street hedge fund renaissance men and finance capital wonderboys like Lloyd Blankfein.[6] Not only liberals and progressives but Tea Partiers view with helpless disgust the death-dances of the Neros on Wall Street, enriched to the point of requiring, one imagines, Roman-style emetics to clean the palate for more, more, more. The Detroit fireman might wonder how strange it is that such supposedly superior representatives of the species can be stupid about the terrible spectacle they make.

As events continue to move ever faster, Americans waking up to reality has the feel of desperate conviction. But the conviction has lacked both proof and necessary connect-the-dots fleshing out. Painstakingly researched, always on point, Walberg’s tightly packed historical analysis of world geopolitics since the Industrial Revolution, with its emphasis on the latter phases of US imperialism, reads like a ne plus ultra primer of real realpolitik. A Cambridge-educated Canadian who has spent many years in Russia and the Middle East and currently writes for the Egyptian weekly, Al Ahram, Walberg marshals dense but pertinent facts, building on a growing literature of reportage and analysis from journalists who want to cover this really big story and from historians and analysts[7] who see as their task a radical critique of both the pragmatics and the huge, fateful vainglory of US imperialism.

But Walberg goes much further than these other writers by telling the full story in 300 well-ordered pages – at times, the book reads like a high-end un-put-downable thriller. One even thinks of le Carré but with fascinating factual detail replacing writerly nuance. Resorting, at times, to chess terminology, he tracks the 150-year story of the intricate moves and countermoves on what Zbigniew Brzezinski has called the “‘Grand Chessboard”.[8] “Zbig”, the first chairman of the infamous Trilateral Commission we remember as Jimmy Carter’s Polish-accented national security advisor; he wrote with confidence about the assured future of America as the Power well into the 21st century. He and the neocons who followed him, even more forgetful of how history repeats itself,[9] not merely toe the line but up the ante of the Big Power geopolitical games that have been played for a century-and-a-half, and, because of capitalist/consumerist-impacted climate change, are sending the planet to catastrophe.[10] The current “Empire-and-a-Half” of the United States and its increasingly independently acting client and vassal, Israel – despite its tiny territory a regional hegemon bent on being a world player – is nearing collapse quicker than the rich can count their money. Only the final chapter of the American imperial story has yet to be written: how will it finally collapse, and who, and/or what, will replace the “Empire-and-a-Half”? China? A somehow more peaceful pact between China, Russia, India, and/or some other players?

II. Creative Great Game Theory and Practice

The “great game” referred to the geopolitical strategy of England versus Russia to control Afghanistan as the gateway to its colonial prize jewel, India. A significant length of the ancient Silk Road snakes through this notoriously shadowy but key geostrategic country which has been embroiled repeatedly since then in blood and intrigue. Today, it is the blackened griddle on which cooks America’s longest-lasting war. Described by earlier writers, Walberg abbreviates this “great game” to “GGI”, lingering on it only briefly as the early imperial period when, in addition to India and the Suez, England ran the puppet show in which Afghanistan, Iran, and the remains of the Ottoman Caliphate jerked on the strings as “nominally independent political formations”; Kipling’s “‘white man’s burden” lay over colonial lands “on which the sun never sets” – as far from the imperial isle as wealth extraction required.

Walberg has not invented the terminology of the “Great Game” but he has convincingly demonstrated the utility of distinguishing three phases of the Game. GGI refers to the 19th century-through World War I period during which “competing empires” jockeyed for geopolitical and economic power. GGI and GGII overlap – from 1917-45, which saw GGI through its end game, and when GGII was germinating. GGII lasted from the end of World War I through the disintegration of the Soviet Union by 1991. In GGII the US and Europe – by then the US’s “junior partner” – competed against communism. Other writers call this period “super-imperialist” because of “the unique role of the US dollar” as world reserve currency, and which, tied with Reagan’s greatly ramped up spending in the arms race, succeeded in bankrupting the Soviet Union. Throughout the games, beginning with the British Empire, then with its much bigger son and heir, the US, in charge, the West has made violent sorties for imperial power and plays for control of the world over and over again that have followed, more or less, the same script. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The current game, GGIII, which we are in, now, began with the Soviet Union’s house-of-cards collapse in 1991, and has swapped “Communism” with “Islamo-terror” as the opponent. Except for fitful bursts of violent objection, US imperialism has dominated the world completely.

Using Immanuel Wallerstein’s world systems theory, Walberg’s analysis of the functional structure of imperialism emphasizes “center” and “periphery”, the former extracting raw resources from the latter as key component in the ceaseless expansion that capitalism requires, always turning the distant assets into great pools of wealth liquidity. His distinction between “modern”, “failed”, and “postmodern” states enables him creatively to tease out his analysis. By providing close detail about the US’s post-World War II gamesmanship, he reveals a myriad of two- and -three-faced betrayals, “black ops”, sundry anagrammatic false treaties and front organizations, fifth column charters and charades, and collaborations with worldwide organized crime.

Early on exemplified by Victoria’s imperial visionary, Cecil Rhodes, colonialism and post-colonial liberalism hacked to pieces sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and the Holy Lands followed. At times, pursued to folly by the likes of “Chinese” Gordon and T. E. Lawrence, in China and Islamic North Africa, the British Empire’s halcyon days are passed over quickly, presumably for the sake of brevity and to arrive at the major goals of the book, explicating US and Israeli imperialism. Cue, here, Dubya and the crusade against (“Islamo-)Terror”. It may be difficult today to think of England’s brutal suppression of major uprisings in India[11] and in China, the latter where the Boxer Rebellion flamed up against the forced production and trade in opium – but think also of the “War on Drugs” which is almost as much a part of America’s false-conscious imperial fuel as is George W. Bush and Al Qaeda’s use of each other.

Not the only or even the principal outpost of empires but pivotal geostrategically, Afghanistan continues to tantalize mining companies, war profiteers, soldiers-of-fortune, drug smugglers, and, of course, the generals and neocons of the never-ending War on Terror which justifies the Pax Americana and American super-imperialism just as the continuation of the dollar as the world’s main currency, as Walberg explains, keeps America’s banks and their managers so hugely rich and America, itself, so “indispensable”: not China, not Japan, parking their assets in the form of dollars, can afford to cash in the American debt.[12]

III. The Game is Fixed

GGII, as Walberg writes, found its successful ideological and military-industrial tension with anti-Communism;[13] GGIII, he asserts, has swapped this with anti-Islam foment.

Control and the mainly invisible instruments devised for the sake of control have come under many names, though often confusingly anagrammatized by diplomatic and journalistic language. For “readability” and in an interview explaining he did not want to ‘swamp the reader and leave him feeling disgusted and helpless’, Walberg lists only some of these abbreviations in the front matter. Reading through Chapter Three, where many not digested in the front of the book do appear, consolidates and confirms the sense of “dirty tricks” played over and over again in many different contexts, by both a “soft” and “hard” kind of politics. AIPAC, AJC, BCCI, CFR, JDL, JFNA, JINSA, PMAJO, PNAC, RIIA, ZOA. A few European and then several American entities composed of the most elite business and political figures oversaw the grand vision: The Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations. NATO, created to prevent the spread of Communism in Europe, in GGIII has been expanded to police US hegemony in Libya, and, now, presumably anywhere. Similar, smaller, more ad hoc advocacy front groups such as the Project for a New American Century (earlier, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), the American Enterprise Institute, more recently, the Heritage Foundation, have the same general agenda. What strikes the reader is how thick a fetid tissue of lies and “dirty war” tactics the US and Israel have utilized on the way to, and the enforced maintenance of, the “Empire-and-a-Half”.

If middle-of-the-roaders, or anyone, had any doubt about the global fact of the American Empire, going back, to mention a few of the US uses of imperial force in GGII, mostly described as opposing Communism, have been in: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama. Many wars-by-proxy, often with US soldiers on the ground, have been fought in Central America, largely to protect US business interests, though “communism” was blamed and eradication of it justified by the Monroe Doctrine. Partial list of coups arranged:[14] Syria, Greece, Iran (1953), British Guyana. Guatemala – which led to 40 years of caudillos, death squads, and genocide. South Vietnam (1955), Haiti, Laos (1958 and 1959), South Korea, Laos (1960), Dominican Republic, South Vietnam (1963), Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia (1964), Zaire, Ghana, Greece (1967), Cambodia, Bolivia (1970). Chile (the murder of democratically-elected Allende and the installation of Pinochet, who “disappeared” thousands), Argentina (followed by the “Dirty War”). South Korea (1979), Liberia, Chad, Venezuela (attempted), Honduras (2009). Attempted probably several times in Cuba, before and after the Bay of Pigs. Now and for many years, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s next? Pakistan? If the neocons have their way, the arch-enemy of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran?[15]

IV. Checkmate

One can see how Dick Cheney might think the Big Dog of the US Empire is wagging its tail. But is it the other way around? One of Walberg’s prime emphases and the subject of the book’s longest chapter is tiny Israel, England’s creation after it had carved up the Middle East into “artificial states”, as Walberg notes, convenient to its purposes. Relying on an extraordinary array of references he makes clear Israel is a racist, expansionist power acting for many years now often completely contrary to American interests and with ambitions not only for its own “manifest destiny” and regional hegemony over “Greater Israel” but for an end-Game III ascension onto the world-stage.

That Israel has long had its own, singular objective and will do whatever it takes not just to survive but expand (the two are the same for a “chosen people”) is made clear by an incident Walberg cites.

After 1967, France ended its cooperation to mollify its Arab allies but it was too late. Commenting on the creative political use of its nuclear weapons, head of the French Atomic Energy Agency Francis Perrin explains, “‘We thought the Israeli bomb was aimed against the Americans, not to launch against America, but to say, ‘if you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us, otherwise we will use our nuclear bomb”’. This became a particularly alarming issue during the 1973 war with Egypt. Martin van Creveld, an Israeli professor of military history warned: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that this will happen before Israel goes under.”

Walberg, incidentally, was raised a Presbyterian; now, he refers to himself as a “freelance monotheist”. He says he has learned the basic Muslim prayers and attends a mosque with Muslim friends, but he also goes to church with his family in Canada. Far from being an anti-Semite, he says he would be delighted to pray with “True Torah Jews” if the opportunity – and invitation – came. These facts do not appear in any way to compromise the case he sounds out at some length and as a major chord through the book.[16] I challenge readers to find reputably sourced contradictory facts to his assertions about an expansionist Israel, Jewish American neocons, and the “kosher nostra”, all in the service of Zionism, directly or indirectly – as this likely will be, misleadingly, the most publicly contentious part of his argument, at least in America.

As Lenin asserted, imperialism, like capitalism, requires expansion until world control is reached. Such expansion requires endless wars and/or aggressive maintenance – one assumes, also, as Orwell observed, creation of an/the Enemy for the purpose of homeland indoctrination and control, and, one might add, continued exploitation of the peripheries, as Walberg notes.

For all the Inferior Ones – the Third World’s wood cutters and water carriers,[17] the peasants, the peons, the proles, but also the progressives, the struggling middle-class intellectuals, the student activists, the eco-conscious and the moveon.org-ers…and the NASCAR- and the NRA-Joe and Jolene Sixpacks, as well as the small-government insisters and the family-values potato-heads (sorry, couldn’t stop myself) – for all of them, they still have no voice, and are passive as History is made for them, to their own often great misfortune. Povertization for the sake of enriching the already superrich is combining now with global climate change and possible planet-wide catastrophe. One suspects the Wall Street protests will fade, stymied by general feelings of impotence to force change and that, unless a spark happens to ignite the tensions caused by US insistence on its world hegemony, the wars on the peripheries will continue and the American people, with even slight and temporary improvement in the home economy, will fall back in line behind America’s “exceptionalism”.

But for the US, Israel is the fly in the ointment. “[T]he fundamentally anachronistic nature of Zionist plans [are those of] a settler colonial regime in a neocolonial era”, which is “a recipe for permanent war”. Defying Bush I, who tried to bring Israel into line and who had no Jews in his Cabinet, Jews worked for his defeat. Clinton knew better, appointing five to his Cabinet, and dozens to the Departments of State and Defense.[18] After 9/11, Bush launched the War on Terror “which, by definition, can’t be won”, says Walberg – “can’t be won” because the enemy is a will ‘o the wisp, and the designation can be adapted or expanded almost infinitely – to the ends of the earth, the limits of the imperium. Referring to Barack Obama as “Brzezinski’s protegé”, Walberg notes that Jewish Americans such as Paul Volcker, Lawrence Summers, and Timothy Geithner have wielded decisive clout over the failing economy in the Obama Administration – an economy that has continued to benefit only the richest few, and the largest multinationals, while Obama continues to rely on Wall Street for his campaign war chest.[19] Citing Hannah Arendt and Benjamin Ginsburg, Walberg explains how Jews throughout history, and now Zionism and Israel, have always made “fatal embraces” with powerful states, putting their money on those at the very top of the heap but whose position can get very shaky…and collapse when capitalist exploitation, in its never-ending, always increasing, hunt for profit extends lethally even to the home front.

Quoted in full, here, is Walberg’s summation of patterns of activities by Israel and its diverse agents connected in various degree with the Israeli state:

Israel is playing an increasingly independent role in GGIII around the world, with its government, corporations and Kosher Nostra working with whatever states and non-state actors are willing to condone its deadly games, selling arms (for example, to China, Russia, India, Sri Lanka), smuggling drugs (to Europe and the US)…buying blood diamonds (from Africa), conducting covert operations to subvert governments (for example, in Syria, Iraq, Iran), assassinating opponents, forging passports, spying and eavesdropping, harboring ‘Jewish’ fugitives, sometimes in support of the US in its game strategies and objectives, sometimes not, depending on its own interests. Its diaspora community and Chabad network, found in virtually every corner of the globe, facilitate its game plan, keeping ahead of US plans and technology through its American sayanim, operatives, spies and powerful lobby… In keeping with Jewish survival strategy throughout history, Israel’s plans are more subtle than those of the current ruling US Empire, as it cannot hope to subdue the world directly, but rather primarily by shaping or subverting its host empire’s aims and strategies, to achieve its geopolitical “place in the sun” both through its diaspora and through its own use of statecraft and subversion, untroubled by world reaction.

Is he saying there is a worldwide Jewish conspiracy? Fact-checkers and critics of how he has read the facts there will be. It must be pointed out that in the US and, to lesser degree, in Europe,[20] Israel is still given the benefit of the doubt on most matters because of the Holocaust,[21] despite its settler expansion into Palestinian lands and universally condemned subjugation of Palestinians. With linked after linked fact dug up and presented in context, Walberg persuasively depicts Israel as an actor on the world stage that has, more often than not, justified the means by the ends – no differently from other players for greater-and-greater hegemony, but, according to Walberg, much more virulently.

Increasingly, the US war against Islam and Islamic countries is the only synchronicity with Israel, apart from the Palestinian-Israeli stagmire. Walberg asserts that an increasing divide exists now between the US and Israel because of the stagmire, and, further, that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is helping undermine the America’s worldwide imperium. Not concerned except for the fact that it will have to tread carefully in a post-US world order, opportunistically for some time Israel has been pursuing other alliances and protectors to exploit for its own needs and oversized ambitions. One might hope that America going over the cliff does not take the rest of the world with it. Walberg speculates about replacements for US imperialism that may be more peaceful cooperatives of Big and Growing Powers – China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Japan, Germany…Iran. But if the very ugly past is any guide, the transition stands to be much uglier – and perhaps, truly horrific.

V. Post-Game Analysis for those in the Home Bleachers

OK. Imagine a Marcel Proust thirty years from now. Assume a quiet retiring by America from its world control and a society exists in which contemplative writers, an episteme like Proust, might try to recall the zeitgeist. Pictured in his mind – and only other 19th and early 20th century analyses, a phenomenological epoché, followed by a dialectical understanding of materialist history, might just begin to illuminate matters: a great, GREAT, monolithic presence…shadowy, flickeringly visible but only like a mirage, a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t thing that, on reflection, you just cannot believe is real. It is so well disguised from the quotidian life of TV.…cell phone…internet…supermalls ever more super because urges for consumption drive the dulling of the citizen as well as eat up the world…[22] family vans, Hummers, and tank-like SUV’s with more and more room to cart home what was purchased (everything made in China)…all of this making up the late postmodern lebenswelt, the life-world…the there, as Heidegger says, though he would despise how American exploitation of the planet and its consumer capitalism not only is false consciousness but has noxious impact and influence on Nature everywhere it goes.

(Not a Proust, but, again, the simple citizen in the plains and gullies of the American Heartland is asking: What are we doing in all these chicken-ass places so far away from home? The slogans pasted on the back of his truck hollow of meaning, he asks: Why should he support, with his taxes, with the Stars and Stripes on his porch, “defense of American interests” everywhere on the globe?)

One draws closer to the structure. A huge dollar sign (not the Euro, not the yuan) is carved on it, in Times Roman font. Little antlike individuals we make out are walking or running on its top. Not many little men, as we look more closely…or else their numbers, though in the thousands,[23] are constantly diminishing. All of the little men as if by sumptuary law are attired in the finest but most conservative suits. The ties are silk. Everything is custom-made, but designed not to look so except to the well-trained eye. We realize they are of The Caste. Suddenly, crudely, some of the little men shove other little men off the monolith. Most float down under golden parachutes.

Jamie Dimon – who looks like a nice fella – is up there (see him ‘lashing out at global bank rules as “anti-American”); calculated for the last five years, his compensation from B of A was $107 million. Also Brian Moynihan – another square-chinned mensch (see him explaining that five dollar debit card fee). And John Stumpf (see him explaining how the “rogue trader” $2 billion loss at UBS is a windfall for him). Many others are there from the investment firms. The hedge funds. The CEO’s of the oil and energy companies. Boeing and other defense contractors. The paradigm for the successfully diversified gigantic multinational, General Electric – whose current Chief, Jeffrey R. Immelt, is the head of Obama’s “Job’s Council”. GE is particularly interesting because not only is it part of the military-industrial complex, with GE Capital it focuses on what many, not just Muslims but also Eastern Orthodox and old-school Catholic Christians, are against, usury. As was Marx. GE operates round the world. With its great cadre of tax lawyers focused on exploiting to the hilt corporate tax loopholes, Immelt’s GE reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion in 2010, but paid $0 in taxes.[24]

But men like Immelt and Blankfein and Dimon cause great things to happen. They are the real leaders of the world, the helmsmen – not presidents or prime ministers or other satraps. They are of consequence. Of substance. They make history. The work they do is for us. Well, not us. Humanity, in the abstract. Making sure the best genes are passed on – “best” determined by who swims in those rough green seas of money and eats the smaller fish. As Leo Strauss advised, channeling Hegel’s Master-and-Slave, life is a fight, might makes right. They don’t make huge amounts of money for their own sake, nor for our sake, but for the sake of the species, altruistically breeding the best that humankind can be. The determinant for who can pass on their genes is who piles up the most money. Is there any better type of human than the Patriotic Neocon or the Banker? A bit unfortunate for the IOs.

Congratulations to Walberg for a magnificent, and all-too-timely, work. Buy this book. Read it.


[1] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html.

[2] For Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, on ‘doing God’s work’, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEMaFuOQZVo. What Blankfein does not mention is the source of the inspiration for his finance capitalism,: Leo Strauss, the University of Chicago economist and gray eminence behind the neocons. Strauss, believed capitalism was a contamination of the purer interpretation of the Hegel’s Master-and-Slave allegory – he preferred feudalism, instead, with a hereditary nobility and serfdom.

[3] Tallied in September. This is two points higher than the all-time low of 13%, reached in August of this year (http://www.gallup.com/poll/149399/Congressional-Job-Approval.aspx).

[4] The exhaustion of Britain after World War II, together with inspired and persistent rejection by its colonies, led to the collapse of the British Empire. However, how it collapsed – recognizing indigenous nationalist movements demanding self-determination, divesting itself of them in a peaceful manner, allowed what could have been great amounts of deaths and suffering to be avoided. With the power neocons continue to have in Washington, the American exceptionalism of the Republican Party, and the great investment in and stockpiling of soldiers and weaponry throughout the globe, the inevitable collapse of the US Empire collapse may be entirely different. Eisenhower’s ‘military-industrial complex’, in effect, requires endless war, and is more powerful than ever, with the corporation-friendly Reagan and Bush years shoring it up such that pulling the trigger of the cocked pistols is going to continue all over the world until the US government has no money left.

[5] Social scientists distinguish “states” from “less complex” entities such as “chiefdoms” by their ability to wield coercive force. The US possesses great coercive force with its military, police, FBI, CIA, NSA, Department of Homeland Security, and other resources. Any violent revolution, therefore, has no chance of success. Only people power can cause change to come about.

[6] Obama, too, has been awed: he thinks Blankfein is a “savvy businessman”. See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aKGZkktzkAlA.

[7] An excellent one is Eric Escobar.

[8] 1997.

[9] As Marx observed, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

[10] See Socialism or Barbarism, by Istvan Meszaros, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2001.

[11] One of the tactics was to tie rebelling Indian captives to the fronts of cannons and then fire off the big guns.

[12] According to http://vizwiz.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-owns-americas-debt.html, China and Japan own 23% and 22% respectively of the US debt, followed distantly by the UK, which owns 12%.

[13] Eisenhower’s Secretary of State under, John Foster Dulles, was one of Wall Street’s top lawyers, working for the law firm hired by United Fruit, which was the banana company that owned at one point half of all the arable land in Guatemala. Supposedly also because of his religious convictions, he was also a staunch anti-Communist – Communism was ‘atheistic’. Dulles regarded the Monroe Doctrine – asserting its right to hegemonic control the Americas, defendable by military force at US discretion – as the single most important pillar of American foreign policy (for this pages 9-10 of Richard Immerman’s dissection of the 1954 CIA-assisted coup in Guatemala, The CIA in Guatemala, University of Texas Press, Austin [ninth printing, 2004]).

[14] From http://www.krysstal.com/democracy_whyusa01.html.

[15] Interestingly, “human-rights” criticisms of Islam and Islamic regimes often have to do with the status and treatment of women. As admirable as this “transcendent value” might be,  cultural context is rarely taken into consideration before application of this as a reason for intervention by force. Conveniently, other regimes with far worse treatment of women are unmentioned and left untouched, while other, less mentioned, reasons for war, as in Iraq, Iraqi oil, are downplayed or conflated to make them appear unimportant. As much as the ordinary citizen of the West may have believed that Saddam Hussein was a demon, women had equality in his Iraq, women’s literacy rates were the highest in the Arab world, and health services and education were almost cost-free. One has to fight, mentally, not only the accepted version of Saddam Hussein provided via a constant tide of propaganda to see matters in better perspective. One way, of course, is to consider the main source of the demonizing before the Iraq Wars – Bush’s White House. Another way to accomplish this is by simple comparisons. For example, if we accept that capitalism as part of state expansion and vice versa played a large role in causing the two world wars of the last century, the 80 million military and civilian casualties and deaths greatly dwarf Nazism. One would think that rightwing believers in capitalism as representing freedom would have a hard time justifying its transcendent values as worth so many dead. Mao and Stalin may have been responsible for as many as 50 or 60 million, though accurate estimates are difficult to come by and depend on how one makes the count. Of course, with the Vietnam War – Americanized when French colonial hegemony ended at Dienbienphu  – the US fought against communism, extending the Monroe Doctrine to Southeast Asia; this war saw approximately 1,275,000 combatant deaths, and 2,000,000 civilian dead. Estimates of Iraqi citizen deaths have been extremely hard to come by – the obvious conclusion: the US government does not wish the number known.

[16] With the book’s small publisher located in Atlanta, Georgia, and given the immensely influential American Jewish lobby and American Jews in positions of great power in government, banking, Wall Street, and Hollywood, Walberg says his relatively small means and Spartan life-style, living in Cairo, can’t be targeted effectively.

[17] From Rudyard Kipling’s time, the dismissive phrase, ‘the wood cutters and the water carriers’, well conveyed the inconsequentiality of the native populations subjected to colonial control and exploitation.

[18] As Walberg documents, Israeli spying in the US has been sustained, large-scale, and continuous. Only one spy for Israel working in the US, Jonathan Pollard, is doing serious jail time. There have been many other Israeli spies but all seem to have been let off with the lightest of rebukes or their espionage has simply been passed on.

[19] Dick Cheney, of course, was CEO of war-profiteering Halliburton before he selected himself to be Bush’s vice presidential running mate – and before the Republican Five on the Supreme Court selected Bush to be president. Cheney’s role as de facto president has never been seriously questioned. How many readers of Spike remember Don Regan? He was Reagan’s chief-of-staff as well as the CEO of Merrill Lynch; in one now notorious appearance by Reagan in front of Wall Streeters and journalists, Regan is shown on video whispering to his supposed boss to shut up and leave the podium. Can anyone, nowadays, dispute that the chiefs of military-industrial corporations and finance capitalism are still largely running the show?

[20] Diplomatically more countries around the world have recognized the Palestinians state than have recognized Israel.

[21] No reasonable person can truck with “Holocaust deniers”. But other atrocities in history were far, far greater in scope and scale than the killing of Jews in World War II. Estimates are that within a hundred years of the Spanish Conquest ninety percent of the indigenous populations of the Americas were dead. While yellow fever caused a large number of these deaths, slavery, massacre, enforced work laws and, latterly, civil wars and genocide in Central America, killed native populations in numbers far greater than the Holocaust did.

[22] Tossed around so often it is like a water polo ball is the statistic that the US consumes 25% of the world’s resources. The result of humans eating up the planet is global warming, fished-out, acidified, dying oceans, and excretions of junk and false consciousness almost everywhere.

[23] In 2007, Forbes Magazine counted almost a thousand billionaires worldwide. Bank of America ‘wealth management chief’, Sally Krawcheck, counted ten million millionaires in 2010 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnPatMfEMRM). Sally actually was one of those pushed over the edge after she made her count. Uncounted were the exponentially increasing numbers of people living below the poverty lines.

[24] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=all.

reviewed by Jonathan Kaplan


Postmodern Imperialism available at http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html