Empires Then and Now: as extractive mechanisms
- JPUK friends:
I write from the perspective of a U.S. taxpayer and think that this is a brilliant analysis of the power behind
the new model of Empire- American style. Cui bono? Since "we" are not
gaining financially from the endless wars in Asia and Africa (not to
mention our actions in Central and South America), Roberts identifies
the "we" who do benefit: the War Machine and all who ride their wave.
Gary Anderson (writing from Maseru, Lesotho)
Empires Then and Now
By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, March 27, 2012
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29988
empires, such as the Roman and British, were extractive. The empires
succeeded, because the value of the resources and wealth extracted from
conquered lands exceeded the value of conquest and governance. The
reason Rome did not extend its empire further east into Germany was not
the military prowess of Germanic tribes but Rome’s calculation that the
cost of conquest exceeded the value of extractable resources.
The Roman empire failed, because Romans exhausted manpower and
resources in civil wars fighting amongst themselves for power. The
British empire failed, because the British exhausted themselves fighting
Germany in two world wars.
In his book, The Rule of Empires (2010), Timothy H. Parsons replaces
the myth of the civilizing empire with the truth of the extractive
empire. He describes the successes of the Romans, the Umayyad Caliphate,
the Spanish in Peru, Napoleon in Italy, and the British in India and
Kenya in extracting resources. To lower the cost of governing Kenya, the
British instigated tribal consciousness and invented tribal customs
that worked to British advantage.
Parsons does not examine the American empire, but in his introduction
to the book he wonders whether America’s empire is really an empire as
the Americans don’t seem to get any extractive benefits from it. After
eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has
for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no
Iraqi oil. After ten years of trillion dollar struggle against the
Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except
possibly some part of the drug trade that can be used to fund covert CIA
America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the
national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No
riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars.
So what is it all about?
The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the
American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that
rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business
and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from
Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been
extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’
incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. That is
how the American Empire functions.
The New Empire is different. It happens without achieving conquest.
The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out
politically by the puppet government that Washington established. There
is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade the American military
does not control the country.
In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction
takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have
flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power
into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping
Americans of wealth and liberty.
This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end another starts.
Remember when Obama came into office and was asked what the US mission
was in Afghanistan? He replied that he did not know what the mission was
and that the mission needed to be defined.
Obama never defined the mission. He renewed the Afghan war without
telling us its purpose. Obama cannot tell Americans that the purpose of
the war is to build the power and profit of the military/security
complex at the expense of American citizens.
This truth doesn’t mean that the objects of American military
aggression have escaped without cost. Large numbers of Muslims have been
bombed and murdered and their economies and infrastructure ruined, but
not in order to extract resources from them.
It is ironic that under the New Empire the citizens of the empire are
extracted of their wealth and liberty in order to extract lives from
the targeted foreign populations. Just like the bombed and murdered
Muslims, the American people are victims of the American empire.
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