Lawrence Wilkerson: “The Empire is in Deep, Deep Trouble”

This is a must-watch video. Wilkerson describes the path of empires in decline and shows how the US is following the classic trajectory. He contends that the US needs to make a transition to being one of many powers and focus more on strategies of international cooperation.

The video is full of rich historical detail and terrific, if sobering, nuggets, such as:

History tells us we’re probably finished.

The rest of of the world is awakening to the fact that the United States is 1) strategically inept and 2) not the power it used to be. And that the trend is to increase that.

Wilkerson includes in his talk not just the way that the US projects power abroad, but internal symptoms of decline, such as concentration of wealth and power, corruption and the disproportionate role of financial interests.

Wilkerson also says the odds of rapid collapse of the US as an empire is much greater is generally recognized. He also includes the issues of climate change and resource constraints, and points out how perverse it is that the Department of Defense is the agency that is taking climate change most seriously. He says that the worst cases scenario projected by scientists is that the world will have enough arable land to support 400 million people (no typo).

Be sure to listen to the Q&A as well.

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  1. Foy

    Thanks for the link Yves, that’s a first class speech. Great to hear one that is ‘off the cuff’ with no notes etc. Hits it out of the park on each point he makes. So many great lines in it.

    “Empires at the end concentrate on military force as the be all and end all of power… at the end they use more mercenary based forces than citizen based forces”

    “Empires at the end…go ethically and morally bankrupt… they end up with bankers and financiers running the empire, sound familiar?”

    “So they [empires] will go out for example, when an attack occurs on them by barbarians that kills 3000 of their citizens, mostly because of their negligence, they will go out and kill 300,000 people and spend 3 trillion dollars in order to counter that threat to the status quo. They will then proceed throughout the world to exacerbate that threat by their own actions, sound familiar?…This is what they [empires] do particularly when they are getting ready to collapse”

    “This is what empires in decline do, they can’t even in govern themselves”

    Quoting a Chinese man who was a democrat, then a communist (under Mao) then, when he became disenchanted, a poet and writer…”You can sit around a table and talk about politics, about social issues, about anything and you can have a reasonable discussion with a reasonable person. But start talking about the mal-distribution of wealth and you better get your gun” ….”that’s where we are, in Europe and the United States”.

    And all from a retired republican colonel…

    1. Jim

      Regarding the quote from the Chinese man about redistribution of property. Redistribution of property is one of the most prominent themes of history. But of course it requires massive force. Humans rarely give up their property without the application or at least the threat of massive force.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I guess foreclosure fraud, “bailouts,” the TPP/ISDS “restructuring” of “rights”” in the world political economy, the Empire/ MIC cancer, payday loans, zero-down mortgages, student loans, privatized prisons and municipalities/Detroit, New Police and debtors lockups, and the many other redistributions of property cataloged in NC and elsewhere could be argued to be at the point of a massive application or threat of force… Interesting how the whining about “redistributionism” emanates from the very few who have gamed the political economy to arrange the massive movement of all the wealth and property of us ordinary people into the infinitely elastic category of ownership by the few… Most of that being accomplished on paper, or its digital equivalent, without even having to do like the guy who robs the Seven-11, at least flash his pistol or brandish it, thug-life style…

  2. wilkersonlies

    America is not an “Empire”: To call it such is to turn the definition on its head. This goes beyond mere revisionism; it is literally intellectual and linguistic subversion. To honestly believe that America is an “empire” requires a complete rejection of history and sobr reflection on it.

    Throughout its history, the USA has most assuredly not followed the “trajectory Empire”, expecting perhaps for two brief and amateurish interludes in the 19th Century centering around the Mexican War and Spanish American war. One main proof of this is that America has scarcely maintained a professional Army, and only had a skeleton of a professional Navy, for most of its existence. Influence and power is not the same as Empire, certainly not in the post WW2 years. In supporting the “Empire” agitprop you defame generation of the common people of America who in their wonderful decency, honor, strength and competence have defended this nation and helped her great mission. You should be ashamed of yourself, but, of course, you are beyond shame.

    This assertion of “America as Empire” is just pure Marxist propaganda and we have been hearing this out of the Left since the 1920s–it is was standard COMINTERN ploy. As in all things, the Left wish nothing but harm and destruction to The Republic, and this is particularly true of their chief organ and vehicle, the current Democratic Party.

    Wilkerson appears to be some sort of Democrat/Liberal plant in the GOP, and this is aptly shown by his association with that duplicitous, traitorous, affirmative-action clown, Colin Powell. He appears to be some sort of poor man’s version of Wesley Clark. His associations the last decade or so has almost exclusivity been with the Left. He is a darling of the Huff-Po/PBS/NYT crowd, which tells the seriously minded all they need to know about him. Goodness, he stood in political support of such buffoons as Wesley Clark (Wesley Clark?) and Jim Web. He has shilled for some of the Obama Administration’s most outrageous lies about the Iran nuke deal (of which current action by Russia and Iran towards Syria constitute a most mocking rebuke).

    He is a “political officer”, and a Liberal one at that, and his military resume looks to be just the sort of confabulated nonsense one expects from such people (as, BTW, is that of Colin Powell). I can tell you that “airborne observation” in III Corp in Viet Nam hardly constituted “combat duty”, no matter how the bureaucrats classify it.–and I was there. (In fact, I can not find a professional combat officer of the time who even heard of him.) If what he said was actually true, then many more officers would be coming forward. This sort of fake “insider confession” is a common place of Communist Propaganda. In your support for it you expose yourself as either a fellow traveler or a useful idiot, or perhaps both.

    Even a cursory understanding of History should inform that militarily, both campaigns it Iraq were outrageous successes. If there was any “disaster” in Iraq during the Bush administration it was letting the establishment Democrats get their grimy paws on the country. He should have kept State and Intel, both institutions virtual viper pits of Democrats, on as tight a leash as possible. Likewise, he should have more firmly stood up to the fifth columnists in the MSM.

    The real “disasters” in Iraq can be laid squarely at the feet of the Democrats since 2006, starting with the Dem majority on the Hill, and grow most severe during the Obama years.

    THe democrats cause the problems and, of course, want to blame the GOP.

    In fact Cheney and Rumsfeld are some of the mst competent people to have every served in government. They Left demonize them for this reason–the two of them remind them of their fathers, which is to say they remind them of responsible adulthood. Thus they and their accomplishments are denigrated and ridiculed.

    If the GOP is a fault here is is in letting Crypto Democrats like WIlkerson or Powell into their Party: America is at fault for letting the likes of either of them near the Pentagon, Congress or the White House. It is such people that are tearing this country done.

          1. sgt_doom

            I’ve been rather dismayed at Ralph Nader and David Korten over the past few years. Ralph will write articles on how the so-called (my term) media isn’t reporting anything newsworthy on the presidential electioneering, and it never occurs to Ralph to ask the next question:

            “Who owns the frigging media?”

            David Korten actually believes there are no owners, that everything is “publicly owned” and its the system.

            If Ralph Nader and David Korten, not unintelligent fellows, are so equally dumbed down with the rest of Amerika, is it no wonder everything is so effed up?

          2. ambrit

            Thanks Lambert! I’ve learned a new concept today.
            Until I looked the concept up, I did ‘flash’ on episiotomy. The closure part of an episiotomy can sometimes be the occasion for, er, how do I put this politely? renovation of the female genitalia.
            “A (dirty) mind is a terrible thing to wash.”

        1. Procopius

          Yes, including the 179 golf courses. Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC Ret., gave the show away back in 1934 when he outed the people who tried to recruit him to be figurehead for a military coup. He described his military career as a racket to make the world safe for the DuPonts, the New York Bank, and United Fruit Company. Oh, and Standard Oil.

    1. Jess

      Rove, is that you?

      Hope you’re getting paid well to troll. I’d be embarrassed to post this kind of tripe for free. But maybe you’re not.

      BTW, you might remember that Wilkerson — a life long Republican — was Colin Powell’s right hand man. You know, the Colin Powell who was Sec of State for your hero Bush 43 when we invaded Iraq.

      1. sgt_doom

        Any chance Colin Powell will become the advertising model for Walmart’s hardware department?

        Holding up pipes and this time correctly identifying them has plumbing pipes?

      1. jrs

        I feel very sorry for anyone whose father reminds them of Rumsfeld and Cheney. I mean I know not everyone has the best parents, but good grief!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Your comment is not even credible. Go look at our military bases around the word, for starters. Pray tell us how that is not imperial.

      Given your demographics (first time commenter, almost certainly new to the site generally, comment early in the thread), you have all the markers of an anti-Wilkerson troll. Hint: you need to be a lot better at it than you are to persuade anyone.

      Plus we are to believe Niall Ferguson is a Marxist? He’s been arguing that America is an empire in denial (less so these days) since at least his book The Cash Nexus (2001).

    3. Larry Dallas

      I agree with him that Iraq was not a disaster.

      I think destroying Iraq was the plan all along.

      Destabilizing the Middle East was the goal.

      1. Massinissa

        ISIS isn’t a disaster either. At least, not for the Imperial elite who created it in the first place.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The old operating model of war assumes the fight is over treasure: control of land, resources, people. In the new operating model of war, the war making *itself* is the entire treasure. No-bid contracts for KFC outlets at bases across the globe, selling complex multi-million $ robots that are destroyed on their first use and must be replaced (drone missiles). In this new operating model the policy objective is not eventual peace and stability but rather continuous war and instability.
          All the bloviating about strategic alliances and access to oil and spreading of democracy is not germane. Seen through the lens of the “war for war’s sake” model all of America’s actions are simple to understand. Everything is right on track, and there are no policy contradictions whatsoever.

          1. JTMcPhee

            …and how percipient of Joseph Heller to call it by its real name, the “Syndicate,” and give us the marvelously telling character of Milo Minderbinder, who contracted with the Nazis to use “American” B-25s and bombs and .50-cal ammo and “American” pilots and bombardiers and navigators and gunners to “put warheads on foreheads” at one of our old Forward Bases, and then go back and strafe the airfield to meet the performance specs of the contract…

            “It’s a Syndicate, you see, and everybody has a share…”

            “There’s always a catch.”

            “Of course there is. Catch-22. It’s the best there is.”

            What a wonderful effing species we prove to be, when you get down to business and brass tacks…

      2. Procopius

        But they meant to get the oil and they blew it, big time. Amazing, considering we still had 110,000 troops on the ground at the time. Mind-boggling incompetence.

    4. Massinissa

      Wow. Jesus.

      So its the Democrats fault we have over a hundred military bases all over the world.


      PS. It takes two to tango, and the empire has grown under each party.

    5. Jim

      For an amateurish operation the Mexican War was remarkably successful. In terms of square miles of territory acquired I would guess it exceeded the entire Roman Empire. I admit that this statement is somewhat misleading inasmuch as Mexico had already lost Texas, in part to Comanches and in part to Anglos. Also Apaches had already driven the Mexicans out of much of Arizona and New Mexico. And Mexican actual authority over much of the lands ceded was meaningless. Still while the extent of territory was considerably less than say the Mongol conquests it still was one of the largest conquests in history achieved with relatively little cost.. Pretty good for amateurs.

      In discussing the Iraqi War you seem to confuse temporary tactical success with strategic success. As things are playing out now Iran and Russia seem to be the major beneficiaries of the Iraqi War. I’m sure future historians will have no doubt that the Iraqi War was a strategic disaster.

    6. trinity river

      “Throughout its history, the USA has most assuredly not followed the “trajectory Empire”, expecting perhaps for two brief and amateurish interludes in the 19th Century centering around the Mexican War and Spanish American war. One main proof of this is that America has scarcely maintained a professional Army, and only had a skeleton of a professional Navy, for most of its existence.”

      Could you tell me how we would be able to know what the military would look like if the U.S. were pursuing Empire? How much would we need to spend?

    7. Geoff Daly

      Given your inability to spell, use proper grammar, or put sentences together, I will not pay much heed to what you say. Thank you for being an insignificant contributor to the dialogue on this topic.

  3. Norb

    How many chances can “Rich and Powerful Men” be given to determine the direction of civilization? It seems that those in power believe that if they are part of the 400 million class that survives the current crisis, all is well in the world. The powerless will die in their millions, and the wealthy move along to the next phase in the human drama.

    We are facing a crisis of accountability. We as citizens of this country have to find ways of holding those in power accountable for their actions. Wilkerson seems to have a conscience, but it is troubling to hear some of his “solutions” to the crisis we face. He is part of the military industrial complex we were warned about and still people seek out his advice. He spends his time advising how to relocate military bases due to sea level rise- WTF.

    If our energy, resources, and political thought don’t center around ending poverty, bringing social justice to all of humanity, and limiting war- the future for humanity will be bleak.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Who could have known that Perpetual Carpet Bombing Of The World… would SOLVE NOTHING and destroy the US financially and morally. Who could have known… except anyone with half a brain.

      If Wilkerson is a true MIC Lacky, I’m much less interested in hearing his solution.

      1. PF Novak

        He is most definitely an MIC apostate, rather than lackey. He was one of the only people in the GW Bush administration to point out the catastrophic folly of what they were planning. The problem as I see it, was that even though many of the people running the government then saw it was a mistake, they thought that the US was so invincible that they could endure the worst case scenario unscathed, so why jeopardize your career for something that would be at worst a speed bump for the country? Wilkerson was far more clear-headed and far less self-interested than that, but of course no one listened to him.

        1. Procopius

          At the time he was working for Colin Powell, who blew him off, and he was loyal to his old boss. He also says Iraq was not about the oil, so I have very mixed feelings about his awareness and inside knowledge.

          1. fajensen

            Maybe Iraq was not about the Iraqi Oil.

            If one assumes that US middle east policies are in fact dictated by the Saudis – because of the Saudi-controlled Oil , then the US priorities become: Kill the Apostates, Kill the Heretics / Infidels, Kill the Jews.

            Iraq, Syria, Libya – Secular regimes -> Apostates.
            Iran, any surviving Christians -> Heretics & Infidels.
            Israel -> The Jews.

            But, that would be just nuts, wouldn’t it?

      2. different clue

        I believe Colonel Wilkerson was still working with/for Powell when Powell was SecState. Including when Powell made that bullshit speech at the UN. Is my memory wrong?

        I am torn between thinking it is good that Wilkerson speaks of these things now at long last at this late date . . . and remembering something Colonel Lang wrote in response to a commenter who said
        wasn’t it good that Wilkerson is speaking out now. What Colonel Lang said was, to the best of my recollection: “I do not care what Wilkerson has to say. He came late to the battle.”

        1. Procopius

          My memory is the same. I recall reading a lengthy article by him describing Powell insisting on double-checking the “intelligence” and verifying that what he said in his UN speech was true. Since it was a tissue of lies I have a lot of doubts about anything Wilkerson says, but of course he says some things that agree with me so I have to believe those.

    2. Synoia

      The wealthy will not survive. They have no useful skills.

      The survivors will be those primitive tribes who can survive in a pre-or early agricultural ecosystem.

      My money would be those living on the African plateau, the birthplace of man. I suspect they would not welcome billionaire outsiders.

      1. Massinissa

        Problem: Theres no food in Africa to feed the people already there. 95%+ would have to die in order for what you claim will happen will happen.

        I doubt that whoever will be left after that die-off will be equipped to live like prehistoric man.

        1. P Walker

          I’m not sure that was the point being made. I think the point is more along the lines that people who are currently “deprived” will weather the collapse more effectively then people in the rich countries who probably would kill themselves if they lost their WiFi or smartphones stopped working.

          1. Massinissa

            Problem: The currently deprived in Africa outnumber the ones with cell phones already. Are you telling me all the currently deprived Africans will be ok, including the ones with no land to farm? What, are all the millions of them suddenly going to be able to become hunter gatherers when the rich ones die off?

  4. Llewelyn Moss

    And the band played on… I’ll be hanging around the life boats if you need me.

    Listened to the first 5 mins but will watch the entire video tonight when I have time. Thanks for posting.

    1. MartyH

      Gave up when the questions started … a personal problem, not a comment about the questions and answers. I’d recommend getting AT LEAST that far. Remember that Colonel Wilkerson was “one of them.” He was Powell’s Assistant at State. That was then and this is him now. If he’s Angry dontcha think that means something?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Indeed it does (and, btw, the questions were good and the answers were excellent – worth as much as the first part).

  5. timbers

    “Wilkerson describes the path of empires in decline and shows how the US is following the classic trajectory. He contends that the US needs to make a transition to being one of many powers and focus more on strategies of international cooperation.

    No worries, that’s why Obama got a Noble Peace prize – for fostering international cooperation over military options….remember? That Obama bombed more nations than Adolph Hitler fostering all this cooperation is GWB’s fault. Ask any loyal Democrat.

    1. Jim Haygood

      He’s getting a new ‘Kunduz Killa’ tattoo on his bicep … so he can feel like a MAN.

      Too bad he ain’t at the front now, so he could have them little kids sauteed and served on a shish-kabob by our Force For Global Good(TM).

  6. timbers

    History tells us we’re probably finished.

    The rest of of the world is awakening to the fact that the United States is 1) strategically inept and 2) not the power it used to be. And that the trend is to increase that.

    Zerohedge keeps bringing up China and Iran working with Russia in Syria. Granted a lot of hype at Zerohedge but…are Russia, China, Iran sensing the above and see a tottering U.S. losing it’s grip?

    1. cwaltz

      We created this with all our “the Chinese are horrible people for manipulating their currency(just like our Fed does to our currency.)” We created this with our “Iran is in the axis of evil(even though we deposed their legitimate leadership choice and installed the Shah giving them a legit reason to hate us)” crap. We did this with our “The Russians are going after places like Ukraine(while failing to point out that when the USSR was broken up that we agreed that NATO would never be installed on the Russian doorstep.)

      Our constant desire to portray everyone who disagrees with us as the guy wearing the black hat was bound to bite us in the butt eventually. While everyone in the US may think the Chinese, Russian, and Iranian leadership are bad people who must be stopped, I doubt the country of China, Iran and Russia appreciate our efforts to portray their leadership as unreasonable for protecting their nations interests instead of ours. It was only a matter of time before the “American Justice League got their own Legion of Doom.

  7. participant-observer-observed

    Thanks for this! I always love Larry’s interviews on TRRN, and really appreciate you sharing this one!

  8. TG

    Isn’t it a curious bit of doublethink, that we are told that resource constraints (especially arable land and fresh water) are going to become increasingly serious issues, but then we are told that government policies maximizing populating growth not only cannot be criticized, they cannot even be mentioned, because that would be ‘racist’ and ‘scapegoating immigrants’?

    I remain astounded that the root cause of the misery in Syria – the Baathist government’s policies of encouraging a population boom by outlawing contraceptives etc., that pushed the population to double faster than every 20 years, until the water ran out and there was a collapse (no it wasn’t climate change – the aquifers were draining even during wet years!) – is completely censored from any public forum.

    Either population growth and physical resources are irrelevant if only we have the correct macro-economic policies, or they are relevant. You cannot logically have it both ways.

    1. redleg

      Comparing physical resources and politics is comparing weather and law. Weather is, and it is no matter what laws are enacted or repealed.

      1. different clue

        But comparing the MANagement of physical resources and politics is NOT comparing weather and law. MANagement of resources isn’t “just is”. MANagement of resources is a pure expression of pure politics. If only at the crassest level of class war politics. So IF what TG said is true ( and it can certainly be proven right or wrong by studying the historical record), then it certainly has to be thought about. And seen as a warning for coming population-resource mismatch collapses in Yemen, Egypt, and some other countries.

    2. JerryDenim

       “the Baathist government’s policies of encouraging a population boom by outlawing contraceptives etc., that pushed the population to double faster than every 20 years, ”

      Wow. Never heard that one. I’m still shocked in this dire age of pollution, resource depletion, and overpopulation that adults who don’t want to create offspring are considered as ‘selfish’. Seems the other way around to me. Without, food, water, and jobs any population boom is only twenty years away from disaster.

    3. low_integer

      Well, there’s also the thing about Turkey damming the Euphrates, cutting off water supplies to Northern Syria.

  9. Joel Bellenson

    At the 75 year average global growth rate of solar power manufacturing and installation – doubling every two years – solar PV will replace all energy sources on the planet by the mid 2030’s.
    By 2020 solar will reach price parity for locations of 85% of humanity.
    By 2020 solar will amount to >5% of global power generation.
    By 2020 battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles will reach price parity with internal combustion engine drive train vehicles.
    By 2030’s the world’s people will look back upon such utter stupidity as exemplified in the climate change hysteria and shake their heads.

    How could those people living in the midst of the silicon exponential revolution their entire lives from the 1960’s through the PC, internet and mobile telephony revolutions be so alienated and mentally unbalanced to not see that the solar revolution was following the same exponential course?

    1. Alejandro

      IMHO, “exponential” seems like a deceptive concept, in that it purports to describe and predict a world that historically has behaved more like an S-curve…eventually those “doublings” reach their limits, flatten, and decay.

    2. MaroonBulldog

      By 2020 …… By 2020 ….., By 2020……..

      2020 will arrive in 4 years, 2 months, and 28 days, and counting down.

      I think those deadlines will slip a bit.

    3. Massinissa

      4 years away huh?

      That fantasy is going to be 4 years away in 4 years, and 4 years away after that, just like how nuclear fusion has been 20 years away for half a century now.

      1. James Levy

        Like fusion power, which was 20 years away in 1974 and then 20 years away in 1990 and now, no one even bothers to predict it’s culmination anymore. Europe spent several billions on a pilot plant in the early 2000s–heard a word about that lately? The fact that we will need huge amounts of hydrocarbon power to built, distribute, and install all these solar panels seems to elude those who promise its coming bounty.

        I’m not hostile to solar power, and feel we should be investing heavily in it, but the idea that it will simply power the world so we can go on, as James Howard Kunstler says, with our Walmart/Happy Motoring suburban lifestyle is ridiculous.

    4. low_integer

      I’m surprised by the scepticism in some of the replies to this post. I certainly agree we have some work to do on this front, and 4 years may be a little optimistic, however good progress is being made in green energy storage, for example with non-toxic flow batteries.
      Of course, the argument that we need fossil fuels to produce green energy technology is valid, but with all the problems we are facing as inhabitants of this planet, I personally cannot think of a better use for non-renewable energy sources than attempting to transition as many energy consuming activities as possible to renewables. It might even help us, as a species, to reconsider our priorities.

  10. sufferinsuccotash

    He mentions Athens depending on slave labor in the form of helots (agricultural slave labor). That was Sparta, AKA Spahtah! Athens did have plenty of slaves working in mines, etc..

    1. diptherio

      I love how when he’s talking about the wealth of the US being built on slavery the cameraman can’t help himself from letting out a mmm-hmmm of agreement.

    2. Massinissa

      Athens didn’t even have enough space for agriculture other than olives. That’s why they traded for most of their grain.

      Athens was a Thalassocracy partially out of necessity. If they were not a Thalassocracy, securing the trade routes around the Aegean, they wouldn’t be able to feed themselves. Of course that doesn’t excuse their later imperial excesses.

  11. grayslady

    Excellent on some points, but some obvious weaknesses, as well. For example, the question about sourcing supplies for the military: Wilkerson was addressing foreign v. U.S. personnel, while the person asking the question was referring to legal pads, pens and pencils, etc. Also, Wilkerson’s ideas about universal health care–not being universal, but administered by individual states–is a horrible idea. He thinks it’s okay to accept the inequities that would exist in poorer states in such a system. Thankfully, when Medicare was established, it established the same program for everyone, regardless of which state an elderly person lives in.

    1. Carla

      Medicare–as American as Apple PIE — Protect it; Improve it; Expand it.

      Drop the enrollment age to 60 in 2016; to 55 in 2018; and etc.

      Everything is in place to do this; all we need is 75% of the US population solidly and vocally behind it.

        1. James Levy

          The largest appeal to Congress in its history was the more than 1 million calls related to the bank bailout bill in 2008. 90% of those who called begged Congress not to pass that legislation. Polls showed 80% of Americans against it. They passed it anyway. If there is a strong enough consensus among the several thousand people who count in this society, what they want goes.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I assumed most readers would ignore Wilkerson on health care design, although he should have demurred since the topic is way outside his area of expertise.

    1. VietnamVet

      Zerohedge is sensationalizing. But, I agree. Colonel Wilkerson is also correct. The Empire is about to collapse. Vladimir Putin sees a chance to split off Europe due to the millions of Muslim refugees heading west as a result of Washington DC’s forever war being fought by proxy Jihadists in Syria.

      Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich are calling for a no fly zone in Syria. The Islamic State has no air force. This requires air superiority, radar suppression and eliminating all communication centers in Syria and on ships offshore (Shock and Awe). It will start World War III immediately with Russia and China.

      If 20,000 Iranian troops infiltrate into Syria, which is likely, a regional Sunni Shiite Holy War will commence. It will take sanity, hard work and intelligence, unlike these four Presidential Candidates, to find a peace settlement and avoid the escalation of the regional Jihad into a World War.

      1. different clue

        Colonel Lang’s (and others’) latest interpretation of events is that Russia has just created a no fly zone of its own over Syria. Maybe not the no fly zone that the Obamanauts were thinking of, but a no fly zone nonetheless.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Yes, thank God, but it’s going to take a very long time to play out (long, long after we are no longer the empire) and untold amounts of suffering will occur as a result of the expiration process. The horror hasn’t ended as much as begun.

      It will be a long time before we get to see the beautiful couple running towards each other in slow, s-l-o-w motion silhouetted by the morning sun.

      I find Wilkerson’s discussion interesting beyond his consistently astute, if occasionally out of depth, remarks.

      1) It’s fascinating that anyone in his position is so lucid about so many issues. One imagines that would be weeded out. It would also be interesting to know if, within the military and homeland entities if this sort of clear sightedness is restricted to his age group or not (excepting the few such as Snowden). Finally, how many such people are there and particularly in power? They don’t wear a sign. When he talks about making a difference, I can believe it.

      2) Is he (and hopefully others) lucid because he simply is, or is it because the times demand it, or is it because of his training and the times demand he speaks out, or what?

      3) He says the military is more aware of climate change and impending doom than anyone in Washington. Ok, so be it. But why aren’t they speaking out??? Training? Discipline? Hell, this is an extinction event, not some scurfuffle that isn’t to be aired in public.

      1. ambrit

        Here, I’ll try again. (Is there some hidden ‘fold space’ in the internet where all those “lost” comments go? I should have a colony all mine own by now.)
        1) Any competent General Staff will promote and support ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers. As the saying goes, the first casualty of every battle is the plan. General Staff level officers, in the Wehrmacht, they wore trousers with a Red Stripe down the sides, in America a ‘redleg’ usually means an artilleryman, planned for any and all eventualities.
        2) The three cases you posit follow upon each other in the order you put them. They form a whole. He was probably originally chosen for his job because he was lucid. The times do demand such skills, which were honed by his time in the Army. Now, a semi free agent, he can speak out for all the serving officers who are constrained by the circumstances of their careers.
        3) The military are most probably not speaking out because working behind the scenes is more effective. The Staff people are intimately acquainted with the American Nomenklatura in all it’s dysfunction and insanity. Instead of openly fighting with the civilian ‘government,’ the Staff may have made the decision to ‘finesse’ the process. Of interest would be the list of projects being run by DARPA.
        The American General Staff is probably planning to salvage something from the wreck of our ecology. “Mine shaft gap” comes to mind.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Thanks Ambrit, quite a reply – prescient as always. BTW, I always liked mailmen, now I’m a little in awe.

          1. ambrit

            Mail carrier fact: One of the questions on the standard psychological assessment questionnaire is, “Are you now, or were you ever a Postal Service employee?” An affirmative response counts as an indicator for schizophrenic tendencies.
            Live long and prosper!

  12. Robert Bickes

    We need to understand the we are at “end of empire” and be ready, willing, and able to pick up the pieces and rebuild our democratic-republic. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming you,” R. Kipling

    1. Massinissa

      We never really had a democratic republic in the first place. The founding fathers wanted a republic of elites. That’s why you had to own land to vote before they forced to create the bill of rights under duress.

      1. different clue

        Well . . . during the Jackson period, voting was extended to non-landed and non-rich White people.
        And the Civil Rights Revolution got voting further extended to non-landed and non-rich NON White people. So if we didn’t have a Democratic republic in the first place, we got closer and closer in the second place, and the third place, and so forth. That is what the elites have been working so hard the last few decades to reverse and undo.

        “If voting could change things, they’d make it illegal.” Well . . . somebody has tried very hard to make voting illegal for certain people, meaning somebody is afraid that voting by certain people could change things.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Keeping the mopes under control requires, inter alia if simple intimidation and physical force are not enough, playing on our pathetic need for and faith in the spurious “legitimacy” cloak that popular elections so handily provide.

          Stupid effing humans. Both Rulers and Ruled. Pursuit of the moment. No clue and no care what is preservative for them. “I got my iPhone 6x! Look it all the kewl stuff it lets me do!”

  13. TedWa

    When Amerika was America the main objective of government was self-sufficiency of the land and people – buy American ! Oligarchs have laid that objective to waste in this country and seeks to export this same lack of self-sufficiency to as many nations around the world that they can, through the use of force or sabotage of existing governments. What entities are behind all this chaos? Who seeks to benefit? Follow the money ehhh.

    “The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

    When through process of the law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through influence of the strong arm of government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers­­. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.

    History repeats itself in cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialis­­m of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism­­.

    The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organizati­­on known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocit­­y must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

    By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expand their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successful­­ly accomplish­­ed.””

  14. Steve Dew

    Interesting how he put Japan’s recent push to arm itself with offensive weapons in the context of US decline.

    1. jo6pac

      Well Japan is owned by Amerika and is becoming once again against the citizens wishes another war monger. Japan went from the saver nation to the debt nation in a very short time. Abbes plan for save Japan wasn’t any different than Amerikas, save the .001% and who cares about those other losers. LW points out as nation fail, war is the last resort. Abbe comes from the warrior class/.001 of Japan. He will sign on to ttp and be rewarded even if he loses the election and in the long run isn’t a bad idea.

  15. RepubAnon

    In their hearts, the American people know this – but choose to deny it rather than face it. This explains the Tea Party’s popularity…

  16. Gaylord

    Col. Wilkerson seems unwilling to acknowledge the fact that the US Government has been taken over by a corporate-sponsored coups, culminating in the installation of G.W. Bush in 2000, probably because he was part of that ruling JUNTA. It is good that he is finally recognizing the folly of that administration, but still “too little, too late.”

    The US Empire is merely the tip of the iceberg of human civilization which is not only in decline, but is soon to collapse due to its neglect of and disdain for the natural world. The focus on empires and nation states based on historical precedent is much too narrow to understand the over-arching significance of climate change and species extinction as prime indicators of our destabilization of HABITAT on earth.

    1. Massinissa

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but if there was a coup, it happened even for Kennedy’s assassination. Or was the US government all nice and peachy when they overthrew democratic governments in Iran and Guatemala in the 50s?

      We have been an empire basically since the Mexican American war and later Spanish American war in the 19th century.

      1. ambrit

        The Mexican War can be seen as a simple land grab. Nothing empirical about it. I agree that the Spanish War was the beginning of the American Empire. We stole lands on the other side of the globe in that one.

  17. Ché Pasa

    “Decline of Empire” is a trope or truism, perpetual — especially on the internet and in certain think tank fora — but pretty meaningless without a viable Power thwarting Imperial ambition, something we have not seen despite all the many years of sturm und drang over the Decline of the American Empire. Beyond their hey-days, Empires are always in decline. The US hey-day, we could say, was the period between 1900 and 1975 and the defeat in Vietnam (or so). It’s been downhill ever since, though you wouldn’t necessarily know that as a US citizen or as one of the innumerable victims of Imperial use of force policies.

    The Imperial construct is maintained through force and power which the United States and its allies and toadies exercise with glee against (almost) any victim at all.

    No alternate force or power has yet been instituted that can thwart American will — though many seem to be able to thwart American desire. Even a single voice can occasionally thwart desire.

    Until there is an alternate force the American Imperial construct will carry on, expand, destroy as ever.

    The Decline can well continue for many hundreds of years.

    And you can bet our own High and Mighty fully intend to be among those few hundred thousand survivors of climate change or any other man-made or natural catastrophe the gods choose to send against us.

    They’ve long prepared for their survival. The rest of us not so much…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? The fall of the Roman Empire was due to overreach as a result of Rome’s political/economic model requiring continuing conquests.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        In computer terms our political/economic model is to serve as the global operating system for Perpetual War, and empire is just the customer installed base. Keeping the operating system going does not require an economic rationale (trade, profits, etc) since it relies on the simple pipeline from the taxpayer to the various War Machine programs (instead of Word, Excel, and Office we have the MIC, the Surveillance Industrial Complex, the Incarceration Industrial Complex, etc). We can create demand for upgrades at will (the justifying myth went from fighting Communism to fighting Terra, now they’re releasing Cold War version 2.0 and everyone is clamoring for a copy, especially our white label distribution partners Lockheed, GE, Raytheon, Google, Microsoft, Sysco Foods etc). We have first-rate marketing partners in place (Hollywood, Madison Ave), and we also have the additional advantage of an “exorbitant privilege” so Janet Yellen can simply print up all the scrip required to pay the licensing fees on an ongoing basis. Bellum Americana.

      2. Ché Pasa

        Non sequitur.

        Just as a side note, the Roman Empire officially sputtered on until the overthrow of the last Sultan in Constantinople in… 1922. Yes, one of Sultan Mehemed VI’s titles was “Caesar in Rome.” The Ottoman Empire was the direct successor of the Eastern Roman Empire that was itself the daughter of the original Roman Empire as instituted under Augustus. One could argue that the Roman Empire was in “decline” — despite expansion or retreat — from the moment of its origin, nearly 2,000 years before it was finally extinguished.

        Regardless of their decline, empires and their imperial projects persist, mutate, perpetuate, essentially indefinitely.

        Statements that this or that Empire (or our own US Empire) is in decline are essentially meaningless because of the persistence of Empires until and unless confronted with a counter-force or power which has the ability to thwart the Imperial Will or extinguish the Imperial Project.

        That has not happened in the case of the US. Nor is it likely any time soon. The US as an Empire is too useful and valuable to too many powerful interests around the world to be extinguished. There is no counter-force or power that can do it in any case.

        1. ambrit

          What about the environment? When that shifts, it will be the most powerful “force” any empire has ever seen. Also, does the survival of a ‘rump’ empire count? I’m unsure about that one.

  18. Alex Tolley

    This was just a litany of some obvious problems with the US, but clearly had no real connection with the history of empires. Maybe he was just addressing an uneducated audience, but it became boring after a while, and no real solutions based on empire decline was given.

    Far better to hang an analysis based on Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” which was the late 1980’s equivalent of Piketty’s “Capital…”.

  19. susan the other

    wilkerson is not a bad guy – he just wants things universal, like universal health care and a universal draft – much like michael moore… listen to the message… I wish he had mentioned some new concept in “universal finance” to the effect that before there can be universal finance there must be universal justice… it’s such a wide open argument, no?

    1. Carla

      I’m reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative to defend the poor and wrongfully convicted. He says,

      “….the opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.”

      Now there’s a thought with sticking power.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      If we had a draft, we would not be in all of these Middle Eastern nation-breaking exercises. Nations have armies, and a draft means that the elites don’t escape military service. It’s a less bad solution than having the military be composed disproportionately of people from poor backgrounds who can’t get good jobs because our economy isn’t producing enough where they grew up.

      1. Lexington

        a draft means that the elites don’t escape military service

        Sure they do. George W. Bush hid out in the Texas Air National Guard during Nam, in the same unit as the sons of Lloyd Bensen, John Tower and John Connally – plus several members of the Dallas Cowboys.

        The whole draft deferment racket was intended to keep the sons of the middle class out of the army until the war has been won (which, according to the Pentagon’s original estimate, would only take six months) and hence minimize the political risks of escalation.

        You’re right about the draft limiting options for military adventurism though. If America had a conscript army would there probably would have been much greater resistance to invading Iraq – which is why the country’s leadership sees an all professional military as indispensable. Andrew Bacevich, who before starting a second career in academia was a colonel in the army whose son was killed serving with the Marines in Iraq discusses this issue at length in Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.

        Apart from everything else however an army of draftees becomes increasingly less viable as the values of mainstream American society continue to diverge from (and in many cases outright reject) those that are conducive to military effectiveness. Fabius Maximus had a good post on this important topic just a couple of days ago. The key takeaway is this: like the Roman Empire in its twilight the US is becoming increasingly dependent on a self selecting military caste which has less and less in common with the people they are supposedly serving. This story didn’t end well for the Romans, and it probably won’t for America either.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The elites did not escape military service in World War II. If we restore a draft, I see no reason to let the elites beg out, and I doubt Wilkerson was advocating a draft like that either.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Having gone through a draft physical, which I was privileged enough to flunk, (several stories from that experience – but I’ll restrain myself) I’m not willing to restore involuntary servitude (which the draft is – and that clause in the amendment was meant to outlaw it) on the off chance it will stimulate a lot of resistance to new wars. For one thing, it took A LONG TIME for that to happen over Vietnam, at a time when there was a culture of rebellion, which we don’t have now.

            Granted, the present essentially mercenary (or economic draft based) military is no better. But the problem is political, not the way we staff our military. I’ll also grant that this is my generation speaking. At one point, in college, I was worrying out loud about my draft status and the girl I was talking to, who was particularly, I’ll say, female, batted her eyes at me and said she expected to “get out on the physical.” Maybe not now that they’ve actually let women into the military; but that is just one of many stories. The issue pervaded our lives.

            I’m not willing to give up one of the major achievements of my generation on the off chance. Wait till we’re dead.

          2. blert

            WWII censorship hid much.

            General Hersey flatly stated that draft dodging was higher during WWII than the Vietnam conflict — and he was in charge of both.

            During Vietnam the deferment was based on college attendence.

            During WWII the deferment was based on being essential to the farm — based on the written statement of the farm owner — the draftee’s father.

            EVERY single farm surrounding my grandfather’s kept their sons out of the war.

            Similar deferments were available to other elites on the basis that they were essential to war production. These certifications were easily had by the wealthy.

            In Britain, Churchill deliberately held back all the famously elite Guards units. ( Blues & Royals on over ) Hence, the British 1st Parachute Division was largely composed of frustrated Guardsmen that wanted to see front line action. It’s an amazing list.

            The same tricks occurred in Germany and the Soviet Union. The universal out was: essential to war production.

            One case I’m really familiar with: a wealthy German businessman put his kid into the SS for one reason: he could pull strings and have him guard the dangerous Swiss border. (!)

            It blew up during the panic of August ’44. He was emergency deployed to stop Patton. Now a Major, he surrendered his entire battalion instead. Not a shot fired.

            The SS formation immediately to his front made did shoot a few sniper rounds, and the American 7th Armored blew that entire SS battalion to eternity — denuding the entire hill. Most impressively.

            It was after this period that Himmler was given free rein to comb Germany for anyone who could fog a mirror.

            The American deferreds became the army of occupation. A deliberate high policy so that occupation troops would have absolutely no bitter memories of combat. As a military force, the American generals regarded them with utter disdain.

            This policy explains why just token, seasoned divisions advanced to the Elbe. (2nd Armored with the newest Pershing tanks) All of the crack divisions were held back at the Rhine — in the newly created 15th Army. This massive force is always missing from coventional war histories.

            Unblooded divisions, recent arrivals, were tasked with rolling forward.

            Massive censorship — during and after the war — makes for a distorted popular memory of that war.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Thank you for the reminder of some of the turds floating in the soup of Winners History. Therere so many more, of course… But what happens when all the floaters come to the top of the Public Awareness, all at once? Never gonna happen, we love us our idiot mythologies and shibboleths…

      2. Alex Tolley

        The problem with a draft is that the military is filled with people who don’t want to be there. While it includes the elites, if there is danger they will pull strings to reduce that danger for their offspring. If you need a large potential standing army, military training like the Swiss might be a better idea. However, in modern warfare, a permanent trained professional force is the better way to go, until costs get so high they cause imperial overstretch and economic decline. We should try to avoid mercenaries as that does seem to be a common route for empires to take and loyalties are very mixed.

        1. James Levy

          It is very debatable that a professional army is the “way to go” unless you wish to use it all the time for politically unpopular campaigns. If America was attacked an army of conscripts would probably do quite nicely–they’d be motivated, and feel that the burden on them was fair. The root problem is that we have a military establishment in no way configured to defend the United States (the response on 9/11 demonstrated that quite clearly). If we had a conscript army built around continental defense, it would be cheaper, more fair, and less likely to be sent off for the greater glory of United Fruit or Exxon or whatever powerful moneyed interest has the political elites ear.

            1. OIFVet

              That too, unless we are talking general grade. Though those can easily be classified as mercenaries, since their job seems to be an audition for lucrative post-retirement consultancies and MIC boardrooms.

          1. different clue

            Mercenaries would go fight for anyone that would pay them to fight. Permanent trained professionals are paid to train and keep training, get ready and stay ready. They are paid whether they fight or not. And they do not leave the national military of their professional employ to go fight for some other entity for pay. That is the difference.
            Or do you think that the paid military and retired military people at Sic Semper Tyrannis are/were all mercenaries?

      3. redleg

        I agree and disagree simultaneously. A draft would make pols less eager to start wars and ensure that the oligarchs participate in the fighting (probably). This is appealing for sure.
        But as a former Army officer, I shudder at the thought of training and leading a conscript unit into an unpopular war a la Vietnam.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          If no one wants to go to a war, there is probably a reason and no doubt a good one at that. It’s one of the best arguments there is for a non mercenary army.

        2. JTMcPhee

          @redleg — As a former enlisted man who was dumb enough to believe all the Boy Scout stuff about “duty to God and country” and about them Commies gonna land on Long Beach if we don’t stop them at Khe Sanh,, to volunteer to join up with all those “conscripts” to go off and fight an idiotic Imperial war in that Vietnam place that now makes so much of the clothing sold in Walmart and such “American” places. I did my “serving” with the 1st Cav, from Aug. ’67 to Aug ’68, as the idiocies of the Brass began to really hit high gear. The stuff that eventually resulted in all the “fake patrolling” and fake after-action reports and “bad attitude, troop,” and of course fragging. I’d offer that even in those earlier to mid days of the “MICmission” adventures in counterinsurgency/counternationalism/massive ineptitude and waste in 4th gen asymmetric warfare/overthrow of democratically elected governments, there were reasons why Vietnam (and all these other little wars) are “unpopular.” And why I’m sure there is some movement afoot to revise the Soldier’s Oath to get rid of that pesky part about “support and defend the Constitution,” that led to even VOLUNTEERS gagging on, refusing orders and stuff like that where they felt that what they were being ordered to do was against and in violation of what little many of them have learned of the content and history and intent of the Constitution. Not to mention STUPID.

          Maybe you were driven by the purely patriotic, if I would opine misguided, urge to “complete the mission” and execute your orders to the best of your ability, and didn’t ask what projecting all that power and deploying all that force structure was all about and how it met the test of “lawful orders” to do all the shit we Imperial Troopers did and have done and continue to do. There’s a reason why officers at least at the lower to mid levels of the Command Structure have had to have eyes in the backs of their heads, and why so much money goes into “indoctrination,” as it is politely called, to confirm the Troops in the Faith…

          And we citizens should be happy that the “professional all-volunteer part mercenary largely contractor” force follows the doctrines, strategies and tactics of the careless untouchable unaccountable idiots that design them around all the careerist and political chicanery that has us sitting painfully close to Imperial Collapse in line with and in aid of planetary ecological catastrophe? And that the best and brightest minds in the M-1 Think Tanks of the military can only come up with ways to further privatize and “extend” Command and Control over ever more of the planet with little contingency plans for how to profit and grow from environmental catastrophe, . As if the “military culture” that is all about finding, fixing and killing “the enemy” and rising in the ranks and carving out “commands” for oneself and divvying up the planet into those what is it, now, nine “COMs,” like the corrupt mess that is CENTCOM (happy to provide links) and all the rest, had any clue about “creating a just and sustainable world?” All under the grand dysfunctional Global Interoperable Babblespace Real-Time Command Umbrella, of course… With your Imperial military of course being the overlord over all the “interoperable” national and NATO and similar Forces, and of course the “national police forces” that we spend so much to train in the arts of repression and torture and terror, in “responding to the crises” that all the Imperial behaviors of us and other Great Gamers have brought the planet up against…

          Sorry to tee off on you, sir — bad experiences, compounded by years of study trying to figure out how and why all this happens, and what if anything might be done to derail the huge incompetent MILBabble idiocy that brings us to this point, brings ME to this point where I am. And struggling with the conviction that the millions that give themselves over into being Troops and Brass for the service of that “racket,” the true and honest and universally applicable observation by ol’ Smedley Butler on the nature of the US Empire and its wars, words and truths that I’m sure all True and Faithful Soldiers wish could be extirpated from all knowledge, are part of the cancer that’s killing us, for fun and thrills and a whole lot of profit. So that the ordinary people who think about it have to ask how blowing shit up, putting warheads on foreheads, kicking in doors in Kandahar, and building little or huge middle-class-comfort-station “bases” with their coteries of “contractors” and comfy billets for the higher ranks, serves any larger human purpose. Let alone any purpose that comports with all the crap I was fed in Civics Class in grade and high school, and American History all through my undergrad years, and the crap I was told in law school about the rule of law, and the Constitution… And if the advice of Sun Tzu is of any value at all, the whole effing “enterprise” is totally designed to pervert and fail and eventually self-destruct — not, of course, before “bankrupting the nation…”

          “What is General Order Number 1, Soldier?”

          “Which one, sir? This, , or this one, ?”

          “Are you being SMART with me, soldier?”

          “Sir, NO SIR!”!_No_Sir!

          1. trinity river

            Sir! No Sir! 49 minutes
            Sir! No Sir! is a 2005 documentary by Displaced Films about the anti-war movement within the ranks of the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam
            Published on Dec 30, 2013
            This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and subversion. It speaks mainly to veterans, but serves as a ready reminder to civilians that soldiers may oppose war as stridently as any civilian, and at greater personal peril

  20. Eddie Torres

    Would love to read the transcripts of Wilkerson’s meetings with fellow party members in US Southern states on the topic of secession. While listening, I thought of 2 boardgames: “Risk” and “Monopoly.”

    The US doesn’t need to physically occupy territory everywhere to be classified as an empire; it just needs its currency and legal norms accepted in a critical mass of countries at the expense of its competitors. As long as US globalists can use US dollars to purchase foreign ruling regimes via offshore banking systems, then the central bank reserves of the rest of the world will favor at least a critical mass of US dollars. Which happens to be the current unit of account for oil trading.

    At the same time, US citizens born into perpetual economic deprivation become automatic candidates for the Pentagon’s spearhead machine. They can’t own Mediterranean or Baltic Ave anymore. When they pass Go, their $200 is siphoned off by 100 fees, surcharges, commissions, and rent extractions. But signing an 8-year DoD contract sounds like “Hey, that’s 8 years I won’t starve.”

    1. redleg

      Don’t forget debt. It is just as effective at defeating a target as blowing it up, but better because it’s subtle and leaves the spoils intact. It’s also scalable, equally effective vs nations and non-corporate persons.

  21. JTMcPhee

    Maybe part of “the problem” is the way people categorize and personify. “The US” is not an “it,” any more than ISISILIQ etc is. China is not a “she,” nor is Russia nor Germany nor Notagainistan. Hospitals get “warheads on foreheads” because fractions of the whole Empire thingie have latched on like leeches, following programming that includes the whole bureaucracy schtick, faux patriotism, and that saliva that works on the wounds they make to keep the blood/wealth from clotting them off. Same with Bankster, lobbyists, all the other creatures that profit and fatten individually and in their specialized little subsets, at the enormous cost to all the rest.

    “We the people,” too many of us, go along with the motions and maneuvers of the Few, maybe in the hope that it will be our turn at some point, trickle-down or mastering The Next Big Thing, or out of desperation, or just momentum like the zombies in our current imagining, or maybe just because some of us still, out of duty or decency, still concentrate on trying to keep the remaining shrinking quantum of homeostatic pieces of the personified nearly moribund cancerous complexity operating and functioning, however dysfunctionally the collective might be.

    Empires are made up of many smaller pieces staffed by humans who mostly have excused themselves from affection toward and responsibility for others and the planetary support system. All in pursuit of “i” (little snotty I) interests and pleasures. In the absence, or in spite and in the face of ancient organizing principles like the, tee-hee snort, Golden Rule. Whàt possible mechanisms are there for lowering the big bad boom of “accountability” on all those malefactors of great wealth or wild violence? From Wall Street to K Street to NSA CIA DOJ DOS DOJ MIC to ISIS or the Lord’s Resistance Army to Contrast and on and on?

    But then I personally think the species has a clear death wish, though like the Nazis and many other bastards through time, too many of them human Critters plan on grabbing the Old Masters and the tons of gold ripped from the mouths of the corpses they get us to make for them, and scooping up their dancing girls (and boys) and skating or submarinong or space-rocketing off to Previously Prepared Pleasure Domes. Conscience won’t deter them, nor appeals to their better natures, nor wagged fingers, shame does not exist in their personas, and good people don’t have what it takes to get close enough to kill them and act when they could act, or if hacking is the tactic that could bring them down, to not just join in the killing and looting.

    And if there’s no fixing the Big Problems, and I’m pretty sure there isn’t, there’s always refuge in doctrine…

  22. Rivers

    I don’t think the U.S is an empire, suzerain is a more accurate term. America tends to influence/ dominate the foreign policy of other nations and largely ignores domestic policy for the bulk of the world.

  23. Carolinian

    The Nation reminds that today is Gore Vidal’s birthday. He would have been 90. And they print a snip from one of his better essays (although they are all good). Just a bit:

    Yet, in hindsight, I can see that our ending was implicit in our beginning. When Japan surrendered, the United States was faced with a choice: Either disarm, as we had done in the past, and enjoy the prosperity that comes from releasing so much wealth and energy to the private sector, or maintain ourselves on a full military basis, which would mean a tight control not only over our allies and such conquered provinces as West Germany, Italy and Japan but over the economic—which is to say the political—lives of the American people. As Charles E. Wilson, a businessman and politician of the day, said as early as 1944, “Instead of looking to disarmament and unpreparedness as a safeguard against war, a thoroughly discredited doctrine, let us try the opposite: full preparedness according to a continuing plan.”…. The fact that the Soviet Union was no military or economic threat to us was immaterial. It must be made to appear threatening so that the continuing plan could be set in motion in order to create that National Security State in which we have been living for the past forty years.

    In the 60s “US Imperialism” was considered by many to be an outrageous slur whereas the Dubya crowd would embrace the term empire after 9/11. But Vidal always had their number. Wilkerson isn’t saying anything new. Perhaps the only surprising thing is who is saying it.

  24. trinity river

    Also, Mr. Wilkerson perspective on the presidential race is prescient (only 1 1/2 minutes):

    ‘We don’t have that choice anymore. We get two idiots to vote for, every year . . . whose campaigns say all manner of things, but whose actual actions are not any different than Tom & Jerry. I mean, the two of ’em are going to do the same thing, because basically what we have today is a corporatocracy. We have the presidents and the congress in the hands of big food, big pharmacy, big oil, finance, and insurance and real estate. Look at Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. They are quintessentially representatives of those communities. And that’s who runs this country now. The president doesn’t run this country. The secretary of defense and secretary of state don’t run these people. And God help us the American people don’t run this county. Big money runs this country. start at 28:30
    Uploaded on Sep 12, 2010

  25. Erwin Gordon

    Although I agree with Wilkinson’s assessment that the empire is in deep trouble, the delusion which has been perpetuated by so called agricultural scientists for over 100 years because they have all been taught by universities that have been financed by agrochemical companies who wanted to push the view that by using animal manure and chemical along with pesticides and herbicides that one could increase the yields while creating healthy nutritious produce.

    This was proven to be utterly false more than 100 years ago by one of the founders of the organic movement, Sampson Morgan. I would suggest that you find a copy of read his book called, Clean Culture, The New Soil Science. What you will discover is by providing vegetable compost, mineral matter and ensuring the proper level of soil moisture, one could get higher yields of nutritionally dense food that was completely free of disease that was larger in size as well. Also and here’s one of the key assumptions that is completely false, one can continue to grow produce in the soil year round with no need to leave the land fallow during any period. Sampson investigated this over 40 years to come to this conclusion. So if one is able to have significantly increased yields of organic nutritionally dense foods that is free of disease that can be grown all year round depending on the weather the only way to get a significant drop in arable land is by destroying the land via constant dowsing with chemicals for fertilisation or for insect control or through the use of GMOs along with carcenogenic products such as glyphosate.

  26. blert

    There is a huge problem with the thesis: countless empires impolded in the past — LONG before banking and finance.

    Such empires had no sovereign debt — the structure didn’t exist.

    They didn’t use banks, either. A war chest // cash on hand sufficed.

    America is the ANTI-Empire.

    It’s simply unique. Hence, you can’t easily map it onto prior history.

    … Just too many oddities.

    Starting with no previous empire — however defined — wrapped entirely around the world — and totally controlled the world ocean — strategically and tactically.

    The term empire is wrong. The French nailed it: the term is Hyper-Power.

    A hyper-power is to empire what a black hole is to a neutron star… as both suck the lesser into orbit — and then oblivion.

    1. Mac

      Took a few days, but finally someone gets it. Just to give another example of US hegemony, next generation US spy satellites (going into orbit over the next 10 years) will enable uninterrupted surveillance over the complete surface of the planet – and unprecedented achievement. Combine with data analysis and network effect, it will unlock new perspectives and opportunities of power projection.

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