Sunday, April 17, 2011

Missing the Cold War, Part II -- Conclusion

The conclusion of the article by guest blogger, Reese McKay.
The United Nations is often pointed out as the seat of this menacing threat to the sovereignty of the United States and other national governments. However it seems to me that the UN is really mostly a sideshow used to distract and draw peoples' attention away from the real power centers (don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtains). The proceedings and operations of the UN make for some occasional entertaining theatrics. However, it was set up so that it has little real independent power. The five dominant nations at the end of the Second World War made sure that each one of them kept complete veto power over any serious initiative proposed by the UN. Each of these five “permanent members of the Security Council” has quite freely wielded their veto power numerous times over the decades. It seems to me that the real power structures are mainly all the central banks, the entire interconnected banking system beyond the central banks, the WTO, GATT, NAFTA, the G7, the G8, and now the G20, and numerous other international monetary and trading systems and rule-making processes, nearly all of which are totally or nearly totally outside of the influence of electoral and representative government.

What amazes me (and it is one of the most depressing aspects of this) is how so many people on both sides of American politics seem to fear only the "other" side's political motives and ambitions. It should be crystal clear to anyone by now that both major parties in the US have been in virtual lockstep for decades, especially when it comes to "foreign policy." Their rhetoric is strikingly different, but their actions when in the Oval Office are strikingly similar and trending continually in the same direction. This clever use of rhetoric and propaganda to keep the "common" people fiercely divided against each other is the most ingenious and powerful weapon the elites have in their arsenal. I simply have not seen more than a handful of politicians in either party over the past 30 years or so who have really stood up for the Constitution, the rule of law, the sovereignty of the US, the economic well being of the average citizen, and a foreign policy that is not merely based on keeping the American public in a state of fear in order to manipulate us to let the super wealthy continue dismantling the republic and the economy. Both parties have either promoted or stood by and gone along with policies that continually water down and dumb down the news we get. They have continually supported policies that benefit the global elites at the expense of everyone else. In fact I voted Democrat for a long time in recent years because it appeared to me that the Republicans were even more in the pockets of the global elite than the Democrats are. It seems to me that Republicans have routinely and continuously backed all international trade agreements, some of which seem to have helped to lower wages and eliminate jobs in the US. Regardless of the claims of lower prices, economic growth, and other justifications for these trade deals, I have seen little evidence that their benefits have outweighed their damage to the US economy in terms of lowering the general living standards in the United States and reducing job opportunities here. The Democrats have unfortunately jumped on the same bandwagon, doing little other than paying lip service to the importance of putting in provisions in these trade deals that protect American small businesses and workers. Many of our trade deals seem to have unilaterally given most of the advantages to our foreign trading partners such as China. These deals may also help American owned corporations open up new markets in places like China, but the net effect for most Americans seems to be lower pay and fewer jobs. China keeps its currency artificially low, giving it an unfair trading advantage, and neither party is willing to do anything about it other than engage in cheap talk.
The last Bush administration practically held a gun on Congress and threatened an international global economic depression if Congress didn’t immediately approve (no real questions or deliberations allowed) a trillion dollar bank bailout. Did everyone notice how much money Wall Street poured into the Obama campaign and the campaigns of Democrats running for the House and Senate in 2008? The bankers fell all over themselves to “support” Democrats when they realized the Republicans were going to lose in a landslide. As soon as Obama and the Democrats were in office, the bankers immediately started campaigning hard and heavy against them, despite the fact that the most powerful members of Obama’s administration were heavy hitters from Wall Street itself. I can’t really tell what President Obama stands for when it comes to the biggest and most important issues. At least the Republicans talk a better game. By that I mean the Republicans are more straight talking about their agendas and supposed principles. But am I the only one who noticed how frequently the Bush administration’s actions seemed to go in the opposite direction of their rhetoric? I don’t think I am the only one. During his second term I talked to numerous Republicans who were nearly constantly and bitterly complaining about the failures of the Bush administration to live up to their promises and to stick to Republican principles. So, just as I ask myself “who are the real Democrats,” I ask myself “who are the real Republicans?” Which Republicans are going to show up on any given day?

In any case President Obama has been such a huge disappointment that I may be willing to vote for a Republican again, as long as the Republicans can nominate someone who can at least create the appearance of being a real leader, someone who can stand up to the most radical elements in his own base when necessary like Ronald Reagan did on a number of occasions. I don't expect to ever see another one like Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan. I know all of them had their faults and their detractors can even make a case that they did some terrible things, but given the difficulty of being the leader of the most powerful nation in the world during a century that was wracked by such terrible and devastating wars, those three seem to have done remarkably well. I don't think it is entirely the fault of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Barack Obama that they have each been such disappointing presidents in so many ways. They have all had to deal with an immensely powerful mafia-like banking system and the difficulty of managing the sheer size and weight of the US government, and especially the momentum of the military-industrial complex and the intelligence/security apparatus in the context of a world that is rapidly changing, extremely chaotic and volatile. The American people seem poorly informed, childish in our expectations, and wanting to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to many of the bigger issues.

The bitterness of our divisions and disagreements (and mutual distrust) probably has a number of causes. But here is one striking fact. The country has been badly divided ever since the Vietnam War. That war and other events of the time so badly divided the country that no Vietnam combat veteran has even been elected President. Being a Vietnam vet has actually been either a political liability or at best not a big plus. It is the first time I know of in US history that being a combat veteran of a major US war has not been a major political plus in running for President. Bill Clinton did not serve in the military. John McCain, a Vietnam hero if we ever had any heroes from that war, lost the nomination in 2000 and lost the election in 2008. George W. Bush served in the National Guard, but thereby avoided actually going to Vietnam. And even his VP, Dick Cheney, the most hawkish of hawks, avoided military service during the Vietnam War. Not that I have any standing to criticize anyone who didn't fight in Vietnam, since I took my college deferment and later got a very high draft number. And I sure didn’t volunteer to fight there.
I can't exactly remember what I was thinking about above when I mentioned the "bright side." But, I still have some optimism that the American people will wake up and figure out how to work together on the things that we can agree on. Oddly, I have numerous friends of every imaginable political and religious stripe. I seem to get along with all of them just fine on a personal level. Yet I am less and less sure what exactly we can come up with that most of us can agree on. I once thought I understood American politics. Now, not so much. For example, can anyone give me a meaningful definition of “sovereignty” in the 21st Century in light of the seeming tendency of nearly everyone to go along with the continued internationalization of all trade rules and other aspects of the economy, finance, etc.? Americans seem willing to expend all of our energy fighting over the culture war and things like the definition of patriotism. We get involved in endless wars of words and name calling contests, seemingly content to let the international elites of all stripes merrily divide up the world for their own benefit and make all the big decisions without bothering to inform us “little people” of what they have decided. My only request is that people ask more and deeper questions. We need to become more intelligent in how we engage in politics and how we decide who to trust, who to support, and what policies to support.


  1. Not easy to know which party you should vote for.In my point of view the best politician is the one who delivers what he is promising overall.Summarize it! Feed the small companies...

  2. Mattias,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You're right, it's hard to decide which is the lesser evil.