Thursday, October 2, 2003

Eric Hobsbawm: The Empire Expands, Wider and Still Wider

Politics > neo-cons > historical perspective
An excellent essay by the eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm, written a few months ago, on imperial America and the limits of its reach. Provides a sense of perspective of our troubled times.
Part of Hobsbawm's argument reinforces my conviction that the recent imperial adventures of the US are becoming increasingly opposed by key actors in its economy and that the model on which they seem to be basing their actions (parading military strength, coercing where they can convince or bargain, widening income gaps around the world to a point of critical stability etc.) is beginning to be seen as a detriment to the uniterrupted workings of the global economy. It seems to me that there is a rift developing not only between national elites (a rift based, among other things, on historical and cultural differences of perspective), but inside American elites, with more than a few in the American oligarchy having serious misgivings about the recent Iraq invasion inter alia. This would explain the difficulty the US/UK alliance is having in obtaining "evidence of WMD" in Iraq: How difficult would it be to plant a few canisters, or "find" a few "labs"? I assume that there are people in positions of power that must be aching to expose any wrong moves, any setups, any propaganda lie from what they probably increasingly see as a bunch of quixotic fascists who have taken over the White House. Therefore no "evidence" can be comfortably fabricated, because it runs the risk of quick and world-wide exposure (the internet has played a role in this, as there are issues nowadays that simply can't go away no matter how much the corporate media ignores them). Note how much more combative and contrarian a lot of mainstream media organizations (NYT and the BBC are two prominent examples) have become since the end of the war, and how much more ready to contradict the US and UK administrations' claims then they were after Panama or Kosovo?

"Effectively, the collapse of the Soviet Union left the US as the only superpower, which no other power could or wanted to challenge. The sudden emergence of an extraordinary, ruthless, antagonistic flaunting of US power is hard to understand, all the more so since it fits neither with long-tested imperial policies developed during the cold war, nor the interests of the US economy. The policies that have recently prevailed in Washington seem to all outsiders so mad that it is difficult to understand what is really intended. But patently a public assertion of global supremacy by military force is what is in the minds of the people who are at present dominating, or at least half-dominating, the policy-making in Washington. Its purpose remains unclear."

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