View from London: The impending collapse of the American Empire

11:12 28.06.2024 •

Photo: The Guardian

The world as we know it is run by an exclusive class of American racketeers who operate with virtually unlimited weapons and money, Matt Kennard’s book reveals.

The public perception of the American empire, at least to those within the United States who have never seen the empire dominate and exploit the “wretched of the earth,” is radically different from reality.

These manufactured illusions, ones Joseph Conrad wrote so presciently about, posit that the empire is a force for good. The empire, we are told, fosters democracy and liberty. It spreads the benefits of ‘western civilization’.

These are deceptions repeated ad nauseam by a compliant media and mouthed by politicians, academics and the powerful. But they are lies, as all of us who have spent years reporting overseas understand.

Matt Kennard in his book The Racket – where he reports from Haiti, Bolivia, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Mexico, Colombia, and many other countries – rips back the veil. He exposes the hidden machinery of empire. He details its brutality, mendacity, cruelty and its dangerous self-delusions, stresses ‘The Declassified UK’.

They replace diplomacy, multilateralism and politics with unilateral threats and the blunt instrument of war. They become the purblind architects of their own destruction.

He continues, “While I was coming to understand how the racket really worked, I started to see them as willing dupes. There was no doubt they seemed to believe in the virtue of the mission; they imbibed all the theories that were meant to dress up global exploitation in the language of ‘development’ and ‘progress’. I saw this with American ambassadors in Bolivia and Haiti, and with countless other functionaries I interviewed.”

“They genuinely believe the myths,” he concludes, “and of course are paid handsomely to do so. To help these agents of the racket get up in the morning there also exists, throughout the West, a well-stocked army of intellectuals whose sole purpose is to make theft and brutality acceptable to the general population of the US and its racketeering allies.”

America since the end of World War II has become a stratocracy – government dominated by the military. There is a constant preparation for war. The war machine’s massive budgets are sacrosanct. Its billions of dollars in waste and fraud are ignored.

Its military fiascos in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East disappear into the vast black hole of historical amnesia. This amnesia, which means there is never accountability, licences the war machine to leap from military debacle to debacle while it economically disembowels the country.

The militarists win every election. They cannot lose. It is impossible to vote against them. The war state is a Götterdämmerung, as Dwight Macdonald writes, “without the gods.”

Since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government.

Military systems are sold before they are produced with guarantees that huge cost overruns will be covered.

Foreign aid is contingent on buying US weapons. Egypt. which receives some $1.3 billion in foreign military financing, is required to devote it to buying and maintaining U.S. weapons systems.

Israel, meanwhile, has received $158 billion in bilateral assistance from the US since 1949, almost all of it since 1971 in the form of military aid, with most of it going towards arms purchases from American weapons manufacturers.

The US public funds the research, development and building of weapons systems and then buys these same weapons systems on behalf of foreign governments. It is a circular system of corporate welfare.

In the year to September 2022, the US spent $877 billion on the military. This was more than the next 10 countries – including China, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom – combined.

The military machine, by diverting funds and resources to endless war, disembowels and impoverishes the nation at home, as Matt’s reporting from Washington, Baltimore and New York illustrates.

The cost to the public – socially, economically, politically and culturally – is catastrophic. Workers are reduced to subsistence level and preyed upon by corporations that have privatised every facet of society from health care and education to the prison-industrial complex.

Militarists divert funds from social and infrastructure programs. They pour money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies. Bridges, roads, electrical grids and levees collapse. Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. Our public transportation system is a shambles.

Cities, deindustrialized, are in ruins. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, depression and morbid obesity plague a population that has fallen into profound despair. 

The deep disillusionment and anger that led to Donald Trump’s election — a reaction to the corporate coup d’état and the poverty afflicting at least half of the country — have destroyed the myth of a functioning democracy.

As Matt notes: “The American elite that has grown fat from looting abroad is also fighting a war at home. From the 1970s onwards, the same white-collar mobsters have been winning a war against the people of the US, in the form of a massive, underhand con. They have slowly but surely managed to sell off much of what the American people used to own under the guise of various fraudulent ideologies such as the ‘free market’. This is the ‘American way’, a giant swindle, a grand hustle.”

He continues, “In this sense, the victims of the racket are not just in Port-au-Prince and Baghdad; they are also in Chicago and New York City. The same people that devise the myths about what we do abroad have also built up a similar ideological system that legitimises theft at home; theft from the poorest, by the richest. The poor and working people of Harlem have more in common with the poor and working people of Haiti than they do with their elites, but this has to be obscured for the racket to work.”

The mantra of the militarised state is national security. If every discussion begins with a question of national security, every answer includes force or the threat of force. The preoccupation with internal and external threats divides the world into friend and foe, good and evil.

Those such as Julian Assange who expose the crimes and suicidal folly of empire are ruthlessly persecuted. The truth, a truth Matt uncovers, is bitter and hard, concludes ‘The Declassified UK’.


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