Our Grand American Delusion

By Publius Tacitus — Sic Semper Tyrannis June 24, 2017

City on a Hill? Leader of the Free World? Defender of Freedom? How about a mass of delusional crazies? I have come to the sad conclusion that we are the latter. We have forfeited our moral standing in the world. If you believe in God and the concept of karma, then you should be praying the God forgives us for our greed, our blood thirsty policies and our eagerness to accept lies rather than confront uncomfortable, hard truths. We have racked up one hell of a karma bill and there will be hell to pay.

At the core of our mass national delusion is the anti-Russian meme that is being enthusiastically and frequently repeated. Here’s a passage from a article in the National Review last year that is, from what I have gleaned scanning the internet and the media, a representative view:

Russia’s false narrative of the history and destiny of the eastern Slavs as one in which all others must resign themselves to living under Muscovite hegemony must be constantly challenged and rebutted, especially in the West. It would be a great help in that task of public mental health if Western political leaders, or wannabe political leaders, would cease and desist from describing Vladimir Putin as a strong leader who gets things done. What Putin has gotten done is to build a kleptocratic Mafia state on top of a crumbling civil society while murdering his opponents with impunity and using an acquiescent Russian Orthodox Church leadership to provide ideological cover for the entire enterprise. This is shameful in itself; it is even more shameful when it is left unanswered and unchallenged by Western political and religious leaders.

Let me give you some basic facts about Russia and the United States in terms of defense spending and then you will begin to appreciate my glum, angry outlook.

Russia has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.326 Trillion dollars. Their Per Capita GDP is roughly $9,200.00. Russia, who is supposedly keen on conquering the world, only spends $60 Billion dollars on Defense. That works out to $417 per person in Russia to buy tanks, planes and air craft carriers.

The United States, with a GDP of almost $18 Trillion dollars is spending over $600 Billion dollars on Defense. Every man, woman and child in America is contributing $1,884 for U.S. defense. On a per capita basis the United States is spending four times what Russia does.

It also is laughable to portray Russia as “a crumbling civil society.” Look at the fundamental economic facts. Although the United States enjoys a higher per capita GDP than Russia (almost six times more than Russia) the United States has a massive imbalance between its income and its expenses. The United States, with a GDP of $18 Trillion dollars, has a debt that is approaching $21 Trillion dollars. Put simply, we are spending more than we are bringing in. As long as the rest of the world lets us run up our credit card then we can continue to live the lives of kings. Russia, with a GDP of $1.3 Trillion dollars, only has a national debt of $157 billion dollars.

What saves the United States from total economic humiliation is the fact that our currency remains the international vehicle for doing business. Countries around the world are still willing to accept U.S. dollars for payment and to buy U.S. Treasury bonds. We are living in the type of Ponzi scheme that sent Bernie Madoff to jail. The only difference is that Madoff stole around $50 billion dollars from his investors. Washington? We’re talking trillions of dollars.

Go check out Moscow’s international airport and then compare it to New York’s LaGuardia, JFK or  Washington Reagan. You can also compare Moscow’s subway system with the New York or Washington versions. If the term “crumbling” is going to be applied to a country based on its transportation infrastructure the United States, not Russia, deserves that label.

To reiterate a point I raised in a previous post–since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian military operations have been confined to its immediate borders–i.e., the Crimea, the Ukraine and George. Those military operations killed less than 5,000 people. The United States, by contrast, has sent troops and planes to Somalia (1991), Iraq (1991), Iraq (2003) Afghanistan (2001), Pakistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen. We are carrying out ground assaults and drone strikes. Total dead? Between 500,000 and a million

Beyond the cost of human life, the United States has spent close to $2 trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s money we have borrowed from other countries or our future. And what do we have to show for our lethal profligacy? Has terrorism diminished? Is the world safer? Are countries, especially in the Middle East, enjoying more peace and prosperity. I think an honest, object observer would admit that things have gotten worse over the last 16 years, not better.

But honest objectivity is a rare bird in the United States. An op-ed this past week in the Wall Street Journal by former V.P Dick Cheney and his daughter, who insisted that we need to spend more on defense, typifies the dishonest shilling that infects Washington. They paint a dire picture of a military in decline. According to them, we are on the verge of being overrun because we are so weak:

. . . the situation President Trump inherited is dire. America today faces an array of threats more serious and complex than at any time in the past 75 years.

President Obama and his policies are largely to blame. The 2011 Budget Control Act, which mandated across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, at a time when threats were growing, has also done serious damage. “No enemy in the field,” Mr. Mattis told lawmakers, “has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration.”

What have eight years of Mr. Obama’s policies, and six years of the Budget Control Act, wrought? The military superiority America relied on after the end of the Cold War has been seriously eroded, our capabilities diminished.

This is the American delusion. We insist that Russia is a beast of enormous appetite and intent on world conquest while happily ignoring the hard truth that the United States is invading more countries than any other nation state. We continue to spend more money on defense than China and Russia combined while our infrastructure becomes more frail, middle class jobs disappear overseas and our national debt exceeds our domestic product. We are like a drunk asleep on the sidewalk. In our previous life we were a banker of great repute. Now we lie soiled and asleep. Content to keep drinking the lethal mixture of war and debt. This much I know–this does not end well for us.

 

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