By Amir Mohammad Esmaeili

America Today: Imperial pipe dreams die hard

January 23, 2021 - 18:10

TEHRAN - David Yaghoubian, a professor of history at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), tells the Tehran Times that the current chaotic situation in the U.S. revealed that American hegemony is declining and today the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia have become weaker domestically and increasingly isolated on the international stage.

“Currently the U.S. global hegemon is experiencing what historians refer to as Late Stage Empire Collapse,” Yaghoubian notes.

“This phase of decline is characterized by buffoonish, erratic, pseudo-populist political leadership, a growing perception of ‘threats’ both domestically and abroad, increasing curtailment of citizens’ rights, massive military spending, a cult of militarism and accompanying jingoism and anti-intellectualism. In some cases, the provision of ‘bread and circus’ (sufficient distraction via food and entertainment as in the late Roman empire) can keep the increasingly impoverished citizens of the imperial metropole content enough to avert an internal uprising, but ultimately the self-inflicted damage to governing institutions and economic pressures lead to a total collapse of the system,” argues Yaghoubian, the author of “Ethnicity, Identity, and the Development of Nationalism in Iran”.

On the failure of American aggressive policies against the Iranian people, the historian says, “The fact that Iran has steadfastly conformed to international law while standing up to the world’s wealthiest and powerful bullies alone by relying on the Iranian people, the resistance economy, domestic industrial and technological innovation, and strategic patience amounts to a much-needed slap in the face of imperial arrogance, and has elevated the global reputation of the Islamic Republic even further.”

The following is the full text of the interview:


Q: Scholars believe that the U.S. is declining. For instance, recently Richard Hass wrote that the “post-American era” has begun. What do you think? 

A: The United States is indeed declining. Currently, the U.S. global hegemon is experiencing what historians refer to as Late Stage Empire Collapse. This phase of decline is characterized by buffoonish, erratic, pseudo-populist political leadership, a growing perception of “threats” both domestically and abroad, increasing curtailment of citizens’ rights, massive military spending, a cult of militarism and accompanying jingoism and anti-intellectualism. In some cases, the provision of “bread and circus” (sufficient distraction via food and entertainment as in the late Roman empire) can keep the increasingly impoverished citizens of the imperial metropole content enough to avert an internal uprising, but ultimately the self-inflicted damage to governing institutions and economic pressures lead to a total collapse of the system. 
Certainly, the disaster that was the Trump administration itself and the catastrophically irresponsible ways in which U.S. political elites attempted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic have hastened this decline, but the malignancy was already rooted. Deep-seated imperial arrogance and hubris combined with and enabled by unsustainable militarism and unfettered plutocracy was destined to bring a rapid and inglorious end to the so-called American Era.

Q: Do you think recent crises have diminished the U.S. soft power domestically and internationally?

A: Without a doubt U.S. soft power has radically diminished over the past four years. Especially in the rancid wake of the Trump regime, the idea that the United States serves as a model of democracy, sound economic policy, political stability, rule of law, human rights, justice, and/or moral and ethical values for others to follow is absurd. While U.S. political elites will likely continue to bloviate about American greatness and “exceptionalism” for decades, they will be doing so only for an increasingly jaded and skeptical domestic audience absent a long-term, concerted effort to bring U.S. domestic policies back in line with the Constitution, and U.S. foreign policy in line with international law. Considering the current trajectory of U.S. economy, politics, and empire I hold out no hope that such a reckoning and reform will occur before it is too late to save U.S. global hegemony. And for that, the citizens of the world should rejoice.

Q: How do you assess Trump's foreign policy toward West Asia, specifically Iran? Has his maximum pressure campaign been successful? 

A: For four years the Trump administration pursued foreign policy goals in West Asia designed to benefit the hegemonic interests of apartheid Israel and the despotic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rather than serving the cause of regional peace and stability, or any tangible American interests outside of massive arms sales. Targeting the Iranian population with hybrid warfare and medical terrorism in an effort to effect “regime change” to serve the nefarious causes of Zionist expansionism, Saudi despotism, and American imperialism was by all accounts an abysmal failure, and completely counterproductive. As a result of their continued belligerent, criminal behavior in the attempt to isolate and weaken Iran, the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have themselves become weaker internally and increasingly isolated on the international stage. 
It is significant that Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mohammad bin Salman are all individually facing criminal investigation either domestically and/or internationally for their assorted nefarious deeds. The fact that Iran has steadfastly conformed to international law while standing up to the world’s wealthiest and powerful bullies alone by relying on the Iranian people, the resistance economy, domestic industrial and technological innovation, and strategic patience amounts to a much-needed slap in the face of imperial arrogance and has elevated the global reputation of the Islamic Republic even further.

 
Q: What a Biden presidency means for American West Asian policy? How about Iran?
A: I do not hold out any hope that the Biden administration will deviate from Trump’s “Israel-First” foreign policy in West Asia outside of a likely attempt to return halfheartedly to the JCPOA. While I believe President Biden will be under personal pressure from former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry to return to the agreement—albeit in the same state of shameful non-compliance Obama left office in 2017 with—the Israel and Saudi lobbies are currently working overtime to try to interject qualifications and caveats that will seek to ultimately destroy the deal.
Additionally, I expect the Biden administration to re-initialize CIA support for ISIS and al-Qaeda takfiri terrorists in Syria (and likely Iraq) as the Obama administration had for over five years through Operation Timber Sycamore (2012-2017): an effort to “payback” the Zionists and the Saudis for having the audacity to make an agreement with Iran, using the Syrian nation as currency. Of course, Biden-Harris will fail at this criminal enterprise as Obama-Biden did, but it will be attempted, nevertheless. Hubris and amnesia are intellectually crippling and dangerous afflictions of the American political establishment.

Q: Will he continue Trump's maximum pressure campaign? Or his focus will be on China in the “pivoting to Asia” approach?

A: President Biden will not pursue “maximum pressure” any further. And yet due to the domestic maximum pressure, Biden faces from powerful, assorted elements of the military-industrial complex and the Zionist lobby, he will not work quickly to undo the legal, terminological, and narrative web the Trump regime has purposefully left behind to make U.S. compliance with UN resolutions and international law difficult. 
While overtly and lamely “pivoting to Asia” to pursue what will likely be the last, pathetic attempt by the decompensating U.S. empire to project global power and threaten foreign countries who do not capitulate to self-serving and hypocritical U.S. demands, the Biden administration will leave as much chaos and instability behind in West Asia as is possible, hoping to “double back” to the region after “securing” Asia, and finally accomplishing “full spectrum dominance” over the earth and outer space. Imperial pipe dreams die hard.
 

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