Multi-Billion-Dollar Terrorists and the Disappearing Middle Class
During Obama’s presidency, Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment has been frozen, resulting in a net decrease of over 8 percent, which is exactly the amount spent chasing just 5 dozen “Al Qaeda terrorists” in the mountains bordering
It is absurd to believe that the Pentagon and White House would spend $10 billion a month just to hunt down a handful of terrorists in the mountains of
Several hypotheses come to mind. The first is the geopolitics of
Fourth, the early success of the Afghan War was seen as a prelude to the launching of a sequence of successful wars, first against
These strategic policies assumed that guns, money, force, and bribes could build stable satellite states firmly within the orbit of the post-Soviet
The Trillion Dollar Disaster
Every assumption formulated by these civilian strategists and their military counterparts has proven wrong. Al Qaeda was and is a marginal adversary. The real force capable of sustaining a prolonged war against an imperial occupier, inflicting heavy casualties, undermining any local puppet regime and accumulating mass support is the Taliban and related nationalist resistance movements. Israeli-influenced
Blinded by ideological antipathy, these high-ranking advisers and White House/Pentagon civilian office holders failed to recognize the tactical, political and military acumen of top and middle-level Islamist nationalist leaders and their tremendous reserve of mass support in neighboring
The Obama White House, heavily dependent on Islamophobic pro-Israel experts, further isolated the
As for the neo-conservative pipe dreams of successful sequential wars—cooked up by the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Libby et al., to eliminate Israel’s adversaries, prolonged wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan—has, in fact, strengthened Iran’s regional influence, turned the entire Pakistani people against the U.S. and strengthened mass movements against U.S. clients throughout the Middle East.
Sequential imperial defeats have resulted in a massive hemorrhage of the U.S. Treasury, rather than the promised flood of oil wealth from tributary clients. According to a recent scholarly study, the military cost of the wars in
The crumbling empire has depleted the U.S. Treasury. As the Congress and White House fought over raising the debt ceiling, the cost of war aggressively eroded any possibility of maintaining stable living standards for the American middle and working classes and heightened inequalities between the top 1 percent and the rest of the American people. Imperial wars are based on the pillage of the U.S. Treasury.
The burden of sustaining a declining empire with its the monstrous growth in military spending has fallen disproportionately on middle and working class taxpayers and wage earners. The military and financial elites’ pillage of the economy and treasury has set in motion a steep decline in living standards, income and job opportunities. Between 1970-2009, while gross domestic product more than doubled,
Even greater blows are to come as the Obama White House expands its imperial interventions in Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen, increasing military and police-state spending, while Obama’s budgetary agreements with the far-right Republicans will likely savage government health care programs. Prolonged wars have pushed the budget to the breaking point, while the deficit undermines any capacity to revive the economy as it heads toward a “repeat recession.”
The entire political establishment is bizarrely oblivious to the fact that their multi-hundred-billion-dollar pursuit of an estimated 50-75 phantom Al Qaeda terrorists in
The Democrats and the Far-Right are united as they pursue multiple wars while currying favor and funds from the super-rich whose wealth has grown so dramatically during the crisis.
But there is a deep and quiet discomfort within the leading circles of the Obama regime. The “best and brightest” among his top officials are scampering to jump ship before the coming deluge. Larry Summers, Rahm Emmanuel, Stuart Levey, Peter Orzag, Bob Gates, Tim Geithner and others responsible for the disastrous wars, economic catastrophes, the gross concentration of wealth and the savaging of our living standards, have walked out or have announced their “retirement,” leaving it to the smiling con-men to take the blame when the economy tanks and our social programs are wiped out. How else can we explain their less-than-courageous departures (to “spend more time with the family”) in the face of such a deepening crisis?
The hasty retreat of these top officials is motivated by their desire to avoid political responsibility and to escape history’s indictment for their role in the impending economic debacle. They are eager to hide from a future judgment over which policy makers and leaders and what policies led to the destruction of the American middle and working classes with their good jobs, stable pensions, Social Security, decent health care and respected place in the world.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of sociology at