Just as the American empire was crowned as the world's one and only super power, the energy that sustains that power sputtered and started to give out. Regardless whether oil production has already peaked or whether it peaks in one year or two, petroleum's high energy return on the energy invested to produce it is a thing of the past. So, too, are all hydrocarbon empires.
Whatever oil remains to be pumped out of the earth will be very expensive to produce, and the resulting economic toll will be charged to us all (as has already happened) as inflation. It will be passed on to us in the degradation of our schools; the hollowing out of our health care system; the malnutrition of our retirement plans, our legal system, our transportation systems, our libraries, and our environment.
The loss of cheap oil causes the economy to become anemic. Economic anemia causes, in turn, political anemia. Only wealthy nations can afford democracy, checks and balances, and free elections. Nations that slide into poverty and that have become anemic can only afford an anemic democracy.
Among those at the highest echelons who make the real decisions that affect us, there is consensus that America cannot afford the luxury of a real democracy, but only its external packaging. Florida and Ohio are the harbingers of the Twenty-First Century election. Neither one of the two major parties will contest that reality. They are focused not on “trivialities” like the integrity of the ballot, but on saving their own and their patrons’ buns in the coming descent.
There are not now and there will not be in the future any meaningful political checks or balances in the United States. The branches of government have merged into one governing body. The two major political parties serve the same interests of the same powerful small segment of society.
There have not been in the near past, and there will not be in the near future, meaningful choices of candidates or meaningful elections for important political office.
Democracy is an impediment when resources are scarce and Power is imperiled.
Our current government's behavior demonstrates its belief that it has just enough time to seize what remains of the world's necessary resources and thereby preserve its unequal share of the world for itself in the short-term. Damn the Democracy: full speed ahead!
This strategy is based on four assumptions.
First, it assumes that if the United States -- the King of Beasts -- slays another country for its meal, then all other countries, like hyenas, will ultimately acquiesce in the kill and content themselves to gnaw the dead carcass. We see smaller, dependent nations feeding on the dying Iraq and we will witness them also feed on the resources of Iran and Venezuela, soon after America moves to strike them down.
Second, the strategy assumes that the other and less powerful nations of the world will fail to form a unified front. Rather, like Tony Blair's Not-So-Great Britain, the Administration assumes that weaker nations will think it safer to humor America than risk being its meat. The Administration assumes that fear and self-interest will prevent the development of any meaningful resistance.
Third, the Administration assumes that the rest of the world will finance its military aggression by continuing to support our currency and by continuing to underwrite our burgeoning national debt. Like Sampson pushing against the pillars in the temple, all nations must believe that if the dollar falls, then the entire interlocked world economy falls with it. Like the “mad” Cold War strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction, America's MAD economic strategy counts on the world bailing out America's faith-based, currency for fear that if it does not, then everything and everyone in the global economy will collapse with us.
And fourth, the Administration assumes that America's own citizens will continue to be memory-impaired and inattentive. Purposefully shocked and agitated by the drama of 9-11, America's citizens were first energized and then channeled into thoughtless, choreographed jingoism. Then, once the initial fury abated and deep thought had been quashed, the citizens were soothed by the cooing of a what-me-worry media and hypnotized by our culture of tinselly distractions. The Bush government's adventures proceed because it assumes that the citizenry will remain numb, blasé, intellectually disengaged and forgetful.
All of these assumptions require sufficient time. Like frogs cooking in slow boiling water, the Administration is counting on it having just enough time to execute its next moves before anyone is fully aware of what is happening. It is counting on present memories to fade fast enough for future aggression to occur without conscious points of reference.
But the Administration may not have enough time. What is more, its assumptions could be wrong and they might not hold true into the future.
Only China, the United States and, perhaps, India and Russia, currently have sufficient economic, technological and demographic depth to go it alone as completely autarkic economies. Nevertheless, the European Union, various alliances of quickly industrializing Asian countries, and the nascent South American trading blocks promise to become more-or-less stand-alone commercial communities as well. If such communities rapidly emerge (and their political leadership seem intent on doing just that), then the first American strategic assumption falls.
Likewise, there are only so many weak countries the United States can devour before others begin to realize that they, too, will look like lunch when there is nothing else left to eat. It was relatively easy for Nazi Germany to seize the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Poland and to annex Austria, but its subsequent invasions of France and then the Soviet Union clearly demonstrated to even the most phlegmatic that they had no choice but to resist. The case of the German invasion of the Soviet Union proved that even powerful nations suffer terminal indigestion when they attempt to gobble up too much, too fast.
Today, we see a
budding military and economic cooperation among Russia, China and India. As
we witness a similar friendship develop among Brazil, Argentina and
Venezuela, so, too, do we sense the first stirrings of a different world
order that might turn away from America. Thus would fall the second American
Near in time to the reinstitution of the draft, the oil peak will occur. So, too, will the increasingly dramatic climatic effects of global warming. At that moment, the torpid people will feel profound economic and personal discomfort. It will be a historic convergence in time as shocking and as agitating as the events of 9-11, only more profound and longer lasting.
Then, and only then, might the catatonic citizens be jolted into consciousness, and the last assumption of the Administration's strategy fall.
Zbignew Zingh can be reached at Zbig@ersarts.com. This Article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at www.ersarts.com.
Other Articles by Zbignew Zingh
Descent of Mankind