Friday, August 31, 2007

Overshoot and Crash - U.S. Empire and the Middle East

It is a well known phenomena in the study of nature that when a system grows beyond a sustainable level, it will eventually decline. And the farther it overshoots that sustainable level, the more dramatic the decline, or in some cases "crash" will eventually be. One of the best illustrations of this is a population of animals that grows beyond what the local food supply can support. The population will eventually decline to more sustainable levels, and the greater the population overshoot, the more dramatic the die-off will be.

This brings us to the history of empires. They inevitably grow to overshoot what the base can sustain in terms of economic and human costs, followed by a decline. Whether they gradually shrink to more sustainable levels, or dramatically crash to a shadow of their former selves depends on how far they overshoot their sustainable level, and how long they manage to deny reality before starting to make the necessary draw backs.

In the case of the American empire, we now have over 700 military bases in other countries around the world. With the cost of the Iraq war likely to exceed $1 trillion, it seems likely that we have significantly overshot what we can sustain and are headed for a decline from our current state. Whether this will be a gradual orderly roll-back or a more dramatic crash depends on whether we continue with a policy of attempting to militarily dominate the world, or realize the folly of this effort and start to change our approach. Unfortunately, it looks like we may be on a path to push our military overcommitment even farther beyond the limits of sustainability. Consider the following news from the experts at Informed Comment Global Affairs

"...[from Cheney's 2002 speech referring to the campaign to drum up support for the Iraq war beginning in Sept 2002] After all "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:

They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."

If you don't look forward to ruinous future for America, it's hard to think of a scarier scenario for the final months of the Cheney/Bush administration.

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