A Tale of American Hubris

A Tale of American Hubris
Or Five Lessons in the History of American Defeat 
By Tom Engelhardt

The lessons of history? Who needs them? Certainly not Washington's present cast of characters, a crew in flight from history, the past, or knowledge of more or less any sort. Still, just for the hell of it, let’s take a few moments to think about what some of the lessons of the last years of the previous century and the first years of this one might be for the world’s most exceptional and indispensable nation, the planet’s sole superpower, the globe’s only sheriff. Those were, of course, commonplace descriptions from the pre-Trump era and yet, in the age of MAGA, already as moldy and cold as the dust in some pharaonic tomb.

Nate Terani: Donald Trump’s America– Already Hell Enough for this Muslim-American

[Thanks to our media ally TomDispatch.com for sharing this article by Nate Terani. The introduction is from Tom Engelhardt who edits Tom Dispatch]

Who could possibly keep up with the discordant version of musical chairs now being played out in Washington? When it comes to Donald Trump’s White House, the old sports phrase about needing a scorecard to keep track of the players pops to mind (though you would need a new one every day or maybe every few hours). The turnover rate of top White House staffers was already at 43%, a record for any administration in little more than its first year in office, before the latest round of exits even began. Recently, the president nominated Gina Haspel (“Bloody Gina”) to head the CIA.  She had, in fact, been responsible for running one of the Bush administration's earliest and most brutal “black sites” and had a significant hand as well in destroying evidence of what CIA torturers had done there and elsewhere.

America’s Phony War Blitzkrieg Overseas, Sitzkrieg in the Homeland By William J. Astore

Editor's note: Thanks to our media ally TomDispatch.com we share with you some reflections on the way the U.S. has been conducting warfare for the past 17 years without most people even noticing. It starts with an introduction by Tom Dispatch editor Tom Engelhardt. --Rabbi Michael Lerner  rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com

I’ve long been struck by one strange aspect of the most recent part of the American Century: just how demobilized this country has been in the midst of distant wars that have morphed and spread for almost 17 years. I was born in July 1944 into a fully mobilized country fighting World War II in Europe and the Pacific. Pearl Harbor aside, actual war was then a distant reality for most Americans, but there was no question that this nation was at war (as were both my parents: my father in the U.S. Army Air Forces, as it was then called, and my mother in the war effort at home).

At the Circus with Donald Trump

 

[Editor's Note: We are grateful to our media ally Tom Englehardt and his TomDispatch.com for sharing this and other writings with Tikkun. In this article, he has begun to unravel the seemingly impossible to understand fascination with Trump that perplexes many liberals and progressives: his revealing the horrendous aspect of American power that is normally kept out of sight. What I want to add here is that many people have unconsciously felt that they were being lied to by the media and the dominant mythology of American society. But they couldn't put their finger on exactly how or why. For some of them, the appeal of Trump was the flip side of Bernie Sanders: both began to challenge the lies, Sanders in a polite way, Trump in a more vicious and hateful way.

America’s Wars by Tom Engelhardt

Editor's note: Below, another analysis of America's wars from our media ally TomDispatch.com. As you know, the way to overcome all this is not only to protest against this militarism, but to convince the Left that it needs to promote an alternative path to Homeland Security. That's the point of our Global Marshall Plan www.tikkun.org/gmp which proposes that we replace the Strategy of Domination which has been tried for the past 10,000 years and doesn't work with a Strategy of Generosity so that the U.S. becomes known as the most generous country in the world rather than just  the most powerful dominator. Until we insist that this is a major part of what liberals and progressives are presenting to the Americna people, the fear that ISIS and Al Queda have generated (the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers remain ever-present in the consciousness of Americans as a source of fear about safety, and the ruthlessness of ISIS and its clones does give even the most nonviolent people a reason to wonder what could change all this) will not abate and the militarists will keep winning inside not just the Right, but the Center of the Democratic Party as well. (side note: we give the same advice to Israelis: want security?

Tom Engelhardt on What it Feels Like when a Superpower Runs Off the Tracks!

Sleepwalking into the Imperial Dark

This can’t end well. But then, how often do empires end well, really?  They live vampirically by feeding off others until, sooner or later, they begin to feed on themselves, to suck their own blood, to hollow themselves out.  Sooner or later, they find themselves, as in our case, economically stressed and militarily extended in wars they can’t afford to win or lose. Historians have certainly written about the dangers of overextended empires and of endless war as a way of life, but there’s something distant and abstract about the patterns of history.  It’s quite another thing to take it in when you’re part of it; when, as they used to say in the overheated 1960s, you’re in the belly of the beast. I don’t know what it felt like to be inside the Roman Empire in the long decades, even centuries, before it collapsed, or to experience the waning years of the Spanish empire, or the twilight of the Qing dynasty, or of Imperial Britain as the sun first began to set, or even of the Soviet Empire before the troops came slinking home from Afghanistan, but at some point it must have seemed at least a little like this -- truly strange, like watching a machine losing its parts.  It must have seemed as odd and unnerving as it does now to see a formerly mighty power enter a state of semi-paralysis at home even as it staggers on blindly with its war-making abroad. The United States is, of course, an imperial power, however much we might prefer not to utter the word.  We still have our globe-spanning array of semi-client states; our military continues to garrison much of the planet; and we are waging war abroad more continuously than at any time in memory.  Yet who doesn’t sense that the sun is now setting on us?