In US politics today we are witnessing two processes running parallel to one another, each gathering its own seemingly unstoppable momentum. While in the hermetically-sealed domain of electoral party politics the Democratic Party, perhaps the most hypocritical, smugly self-congratulatory organised group of persons on the planet, continues to churn out an interminable array of buzz-phrases and slick choreography themed around a vapid and disingenuous message of “change”, the mainstream media discourse offers a more instructive appraisal of the direction in which US imperialism is really heading, and, by extension, the total irrelevance of the Democrats’ ill-defined political position, and the key to their likely defeat in the forthcoming national elections.
Recent developments in Georgia have placed international relations firmly back on the editorial agenda of US media organisations, with commentators adopting increasingly aggressive language in support of the specious claim that we are in the midst of a “new Cold War”. This mood is exemplified by Arthur Herman’s article in Monday’s edition of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal (“Russia and the New Axis of Evil”, Wall Street Journal, 1st September 2008), an excremental piece of journalism which is remarkable for its Orwellian distortions and utterly brazen aggressiveness. According to Herman, global security is under threat from an alliance between Russia, Iran and Venezuela. Noting that “the term “axis” has been overused in recent years, and in misleading contexts”, Herman asserts that “Russia, Iran and Venezuela are acting very much as Japan, Italy and Germany did in the 1930s, when each took advantage of each other’s aggressive moves to extend their own regional power at the expense of liberal democracy”.
That Herman’s principle accusation against Putin and Ahmadinejad is that they “clearly aim to control access to every major source of fossil energy from the western end of the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea” – a stretch of land and sea that is located almost entirely within the sovereign territories of their respective nations – reveals the true motive behind this sudden and quite uncharacteristic concern for “liberal democracy” in the developing world. When Herman refers to the “liberalising trends of globalisation” that he perceives to be under attack from the “three dictatorships”, what is really under discussion is the entitlement of these nations to control their natural resources. Any pretence of accuracy is sacrificed at the altar of this overriding imperialist drive to secure the “liberalisation” of the natural resources of Iran, Russia and Venezuela, ideally on terms favourable to US business and economic interests. So, without any shred of evidence for either proposition, Herman explains that “Iran has used its terrorist proxies to sow chaos in Iraq” (predictably, half a million killed by the US-led invasion in 2003 does not appear to register as “chaos”, for these purposes), and “Mr ChÃ¡vez wages a proxy war against Colombia through the terrorists of FARC”. In respect of the latter, Herman identifies the murderous authoritarian regime of President Uribe in Colombia as one of “democracy’s vital new flanks”, which the US ought to support against the threat of “tyranny” posed by its neighbour Venezuela. The brazen mendaciousness and ideologically-stilted terms of reference will be familiar to anyone who followed the sham debate which preceded both of George W. Bush’s Middle-Eastern wars.
Herman’s solution – and, in all probability, the solution that will in due course be adopted by Washington – is a “broad strategy of’sanctions and multilateral diplomacy, backed by US military power”. This manufactured crisis against a constructed enemy “axis” is a manifestation, in the political sphere, of an expansionist economic policy that is a matter of critical importance to the global hegemony of the United States. Elsewhere in its pages, the Wall Street Journal describes the Democratic presidential candidate Obama, without irony or satire, as a “leftist”. The truth is that the elite of the United States have nothing to fear from the Democrats, who will never have the inclination or the courage to challenge the might of the military-industrial complex or re-consider America’s imperial agenda. The electoral contest is an irrelevance here – the sabre-rattling of the Wall Street Journal is the truest indicator of where America is heading: it is not “change”, it is more of the same.
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This post was written by Nathaniel Mehr