By Martin Love

A search for counters to U.S. imperialism is necessary and hard

December 9, 2019 - 11:52

Few often learn anything until it is too late, and even then they may not learn much that matters except in a context of a disaster that probably could have been avoided. The reference here is to the relatively comfortable and well off, say the mid to upper levels of a shrinking middle class in a society such as the U.S. has.

Walk around the campus of the university here in central North Carolina and there is a wealth of entertainments like sports teams and presentations and parties of all kinds aside from classes and study. Idyllic it can appear. Everyone seems to act, at least, just like their forebears on campus seemed to act say 50 years ago, at the height of the U.S. war on Vietnam. Except for one thing:

On campuses back then there existed student protests and occasional rage over the Vietnam War – not so much on campuses in the relatively conservative southern states, but for sure on campuses like Harvard and Columbia in the northeast of the U.S. where students are notably brighter and more often concerned about U.S. directions. Today? It is depressing. There has been very little protestive demand about anything but something fairly inane such as the removal of a 100-year-old life-sized bronze statue of a Confederate soldier during the Civil War of the mid 19th century.

Why were students demanding the removal of the statue? Because it implied a time when slavery was supported in the Southern states of the U.S. and some students lately did not want anything on campus that signified the past existence of “racism” and slavery 200 years ago. It apparently is “cool” to have SOME conscience about something appalling, at least about something that was long ago and is not really going to upset or diminish the criminality of current Washington warmongers. Students today are relatively boring compared to students half a century ago and part of the reason is that there is no forced “draft” into the military as there was for decades up until the early 1970s when it was suspended.  Young Americans back then, if drafted and most young men were, could be sent to die in Vietnam or elsewhere. Over 55,000 Americans did die in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia – a sacrifice for absolutely nothing of any merit.

Then the warmongers and profiteers in Washington after the Vietnam debacle figured they could get away with advancing the imperialist and militarist agenda even more if soldiers, fodder really, were just volunteers. Recruits nowadays are often relatively poor, not especially smart, not often reliable college material, starved for money and reliable advancement potential and even sometimes healthcare. It’s a huge scam. The suicide rate among U.S. soldiers has never been higher: they don’t have a clue what they are fighting for overseas except for platitudes drilled into them in boot camp, even as they are in fact fighting for wealthy oligarchs and powerful U.S. corporations and banks and their owners and corrupted politicians and profits, profits they will rarely if ever themselves enjoy.

America’s probably fatal disease, long centered in and emanating from Washington, seems to be primarily greed and a broad lack of understanding, appreciation, and magnanimity towards other cultures, like the Islamic world’s, and other people in other nations. This altogether is surely reflected in rampant U.S. imperialism and the apparent desire to dominate and exploit others. And there are many thoughtful Americans who fervently want change but who lack the power to summon it except, possibly, through the vote and the election of better representation in Washington. But real democracy has been cancelled by an entrenched class of powerful people, Republicans or Democrats, whose hands are on the levers of power for their own benefit and maintenance. In sum, whether the U.S. government can change before it sets itself and the world on fire may be impossible. The real question is what can countries under sanction or attack by imperialism do not only to influence radical change in the West, but also to avoid further U.S. attacks whether by war or by sanctions. One obvious mandate is to try to erect effective defensive arrangements – alliances or military preparedness – that might obviate the progression of U.S. imperialism as it has existed particularly in this century.

One idea that may be useful in this regard for countries like Iran is to lower “defensiveness” (if not actual, latent and necessary defenses) and try to set examples of better ways to contend with and defuse foreign challenges and enmity. Ayatollah Khamenei recently hinted at this when he suggested or invoked the notion of “Islamic mercy” -- a powerful idea in its own right and expressed by Khamenei in the context of how to deal with the protesters and dissidents within Iran who expressed themselves during the recent disturbances over the gas price hikes. One must wonder to what extent it may be possible for Iran’s leaders to extend the concept or practice of Islamic mercy and magnanimity towards the Islamic Republic’s enemies, even if this should involve relatively straightforward measures such as unilaterally pardoning and releasing foreign prisoners, as has been done recently and from time to time, or by reducing the vocalization at least of (defensive) threats to countries like the U.S. or its allies, particularly the Zionists and the Saudis who are not respected most everywhere.

It may be worth further study to discern exactly what might be the most effective balance between the expression of Iran’s defensive actualities and implied military counter measures against Iran’s enemies, and an Iranian/Islamic posture of mercy and forgiveness that includes an expressed desire for building accord with hostiles like the Trump Administration. Iran under attack by sanctions, for example, has already proven, since the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA and erected the sanctions, to be patient and counter-responses have been measured and thoughtful.

Some responses by Iran to date have involved steps to ramp up very marginally the country’s efforts to develop further its extant nuclear expertise. But what, for example, if Iran’s leaders halted the expansions, which are implied if not real threats to Iran’s enemies, and declared unequivocally and unilaterally that it was going to maintain its nuclear activities solely within the broader confines of the JCPOA even if the other JCPOA signatories still remain dilatory about honoring their own promises to Iran under the original terms of the deal. Would this not help at least to obviate actual military aggressions against Iran, because any military attack on Iran – which the Trumpists have tried to justify at the behest of the Zionists mostly, would be a disaster for Iran and in fact the entire world. Most all of humanity is entirely against more war in the Middle East and especially war on Iran.

The question here is whether, with most of the world already cognizant of the unfairness and aggressive nature of America’s and its allies’ actions, whether even more mercy and magnanimity (which Khamenei has hinted at internally) might act as a way literally to further SHAME the U.S. in the world’s opinion with the chance that this shaming may produce dividends by somehow forcing the U.S. eventually to reduce its bellicose posturing and begin to seek real accord and reduced tensions with Iran. In any event, Iran has correctly sought the elimination of sanctions and a U.S. recommitment to the JCPOA. What, exactly, can Iran do best to defuse and reduce U.S. imperialism pushed by literally craven “leaders” in Washington, which has to be the most tiresome and unproductive thing the alleged superpower pushes? Perhaps the search for answers is in vain, but maybe not.

The U.S. has spent (and wasted) an estimated seven trillion dollars in the so-called War(s) on Terror, a misnomer if ever there was one. It has been nothing but an expression of a destructive imperialism that has not benefitted humanity at all, and that includes no benefits whatsoever for most Americans, too, including college kids in North Carolina, at a time when humanity MUST begin to tackle together threats, environmental and otherwise, to the species as a whole.

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