Tuesday, March 31, 2015

License to Kill

Jakub Rozalski
[Permis de tuer]
[Licenza di uccidere]

The story is the same every time: some nation, due to a confluence of lucky circumstances, becomes powerful—much more powerful than the rest—and, for a time, is dominant. But the lucky circumstances, which often amount to no more than a few advantageous quirks of geology, be it Welsh coal or West Texas oil, in due course come to an end. In the meantime, the erstwhile superpower becomes corrupted by its own power.
As the endgame approaches, those still nominally in charge of the collapsing empire resort to all sorts of desperate measures—all except one: they will refuse to ever consider the fact that their imperial superpower is at an end, and that they should change their ways accordingly. George Orwell once offered an excellent explanation for this phenomenon: as the imperial end-game approaches, it becomes a matter of imperial self-preservation to breed a special-purpose ruling class—one that is incapable of understanding that the end-game is approaching. Because, you see, if they had an inkling of what's going on, they wouldn't take their jobs seriously enough to keep the game going for as long as possible.

The approaching imperial collapse can be seen in the ever worsening results the empire gets for its imperial efforts. After World War II, the US was able to do a respectable job helping to rebuild Germany, along with the rest of western Europe. Japan also did rather well under US tutelage, as did South Korea after the end of fighting on the Korean peninsula. With Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, all of which were badly damaged by the US, the results were significantly worse: Vietnam was an outright defeat, Cambodia lived through a period of genocide, while amazingly resilient Laos—the most heavily bombed country on the planet—recovered on its own.

The first Gulf War went even more badly: fearful of undertaking a ground offensive in Iraq, the US stopped short of its regular practice of toppling the government and installing a puppet regime there, and left it in limbo for a decade. When the US did eventually invade, it succeeded—after killing countless civilians and destroying much of the infrastructure—in leaving behind a dismembered corpse of a country.

Similar results have been achieved in other places where the US saw it fit to get involved: Somalia, Libya and, most recently, Yemen. Let's not even mention Afghanistan, since all empires have failed to achieve good results there. So the trend is unmistakable: whereas at its height the empire destroyed in order to rebuild the world in its own image, as it nears its end it destroys simply for the sake of destruction, leaving piles of corpses and smoldering ruins in its wake.

Another unmistakeable trend has to do with the efficacy of spending money on “defense” (which, in the case of the US, should be redefined as “offense”). Having a lavishly endowed military can sometimes lead to success, but here too something has shifted over time. The famous American can-do spirit that was evident to all during World War II, when the US dwarfed the rest of the world with its industrial might, is no more. Now, more and more, military spending itself is the goal—never mind what it achieves.

And what it achieves is the latest F-35 jet fighter that can't fly; the latest aircraft carrier that can't launch planes without destroying them if they are fitted with the auxiliary tanks they need to fly combat missions; the most technologically advanced AEGIS destroyer that can be taken out of commission by a single unarmed Russian jet carrying a basket of electronic warfare equipment, and another aircraft carrier that can be frightened out of deep water and forced to anchor by a few Russian submarines out on routine patrol.

But the Americans like their weapons, and they like handing them out as a show of support. But more often than not these weapons end up in the wrong hands: the ones they gave to Iraq are now in the hands of ISIS; the ones they gave to the Ukrainian nationalists have been sold to the Syrian government; the ones they gave to the government in Yemen is now in the hands of the Houthis who recently overthrew it. And so the efficacy of lavish military spending has dwindled too. At some point it may become more efficient to modify the US Treasury printing presses to blast bundles of US dollars in the general direction of the enemy.

With the strategy of “destroying in order to create” no longer viable, but with the blind ambition to still try to prevail everywhere in the world somehow still part of the political culture, all that remains is murder. The main tool of foreign policy becomes political assassination: be it Saddam Hussein, or Muammar Qaddafi, or Slobodan Milošević, or Osama bin Laden, or any number of lesser targets, the idea is to simply kill them.

While aiming for the head of an organization is a favorite technique, the general populace gets its share of murder too. How many funerals and wedding parties have been taken out by drone strikes? I don't know that anyone in the US really knows, but I am sure that those whose relatives were killed do remember, and will remember for the next few centuries at least. This tactic is generally not conducive to creating a durable peace, but it is a good tactic for perpetuating and escalating conflict. But that's now an acceptable goal, because it creates the rationale for increased military spending, making it possible to breed more chaos.

Recently a retired US general went on television to declare that what's needed to turn around the situation in the Ukraine is to simply “start killing Russians.” The Russians listened to that, marveled at his idiocy, and then went ahead and opened a criminal case against him. Now this general will be unable to travel to an ever-increasing number of countries around the world for fear of getting arrested and deported to Russia to stand trial.

This is largely a symbolic gesture, but non-symbolic non-gestures of a preventive nature are sure to follow. You see, my fellow space travelers, murder happens to be illegal. In most jurisdictions, inciting others to murder also happens to be illegal. Americans have granted themselves the license to kill without checking to see whether perhaps they might be exceeding their authority. We should expect, then, that as their power trickles away, their license to kill will be revoked, and they find themselves reclassified from global hegemons to mere murderers.

As empires collapse, they turn inward, and subject their own populations to the same ill treatment to which they subjected others. Here, America is unexceptional: the number of Americans being murdered by their own police, with minimal repercussions for those doing the killing, is quite stunning. When Americans wonder who their enemy really is, they need look no further.

But that is only the beginning: the precedent has already been set for deploying US troops on US soil. As law and order break down in more and more places, we will see more and more US troops on the streets of cities in the US, spreading death and destruction just like they did in Iraq or in Afghanistan. The last license to kill to be revoked will be the license to kill ourselves.


Unknown said...

Putin the multiplicator. It was him, who, with his seemingly pedantic insistence on "national sovereignty and cultural integrity" for Russia - and therefore for all nations - grabbed the western intelligentsia's imagination.

Sovereignty?! It had the right ring to it - and it seemed missing! In the systematically dumbed down USA and in occupied Europe.

The clownish mass media, on its part, went totally supernova. The beyond-hysterical anti-Putin campaign stopped even career sleepwalkers in their tracks. "Am i dreaming or is it time to wake up?"

Clearly time to wake up, buddy! And be it only for straightening out your on mind. And for encouraging your spouse and inspiring your kids - actually the whole neighborhood.

Let it be clear to them: "Yes, we have been taken over by an evil reptile alien race! - over maybe just by a bunch of idiots... - it doesn't fucking matter. Fact is: we are on our own in this game. And fact is: we will outfox them!"

By smarting up and taking care of ourselves and our communities. Out-cunning the overlords - we humans are hard-coded for delicate missions like this. Our ancestors have done it untold times.

Now it is our turn.


peakfuture said...

Spot on.

Who will sit in judgement, in your opinion? Will this kind of stuff go through something like the World Court, or will justice be more of the 'street' kind?

Kutamun said...

I was thinking about the yanks in Australia the other day , second biggest property investors after china , 200 billion invested in mining infrastructure in the pilbara . I thought about the oil fields recently discovered around port lincoln , naval shipyards in spencer gulf and train line leading past the woomera rocket range ,the arckaringa shale oil fields ( olympic dam uranium seposits ) and up to the pine gap spy facility ( necons secretly love trains ) , the line then stretches up toward the proposed radioacttive waste dump near tennant creek and terminates at darwin where us marines are now permanently stationed . I thought about the 60000 troops who maneuver near rockhampton every year , and the elite yanks buying luxury doomsteads properties in tasmania .and elsewhere . I realised the one percenters are very much interested in the periphery now that the core is a little cracked . I thought about it some more and i decided " Bugger Off Yanks ! " .......cheers

Alan Hobbs said...

Fifty years ago Malcolm Muggeridge wrote;"Americans often seem like a looting army. They, as it were,invade and occupy their own country, gorging their own provisions,sacking their own cities, grabbing their own treasure,raping their own women. Will they perhaps in the end repulse the invading hordes - themselves - winning a glorious victory in self-destruction?
Alan Hobbs

Marty said...

And let's not forget the new international bank out of China, the AIIB a major step in the end of the dollar being the world reserve currency, when the US Dollar loses its reserve status the US will not be able to pay for its empire by exporting its inflation on the rest of the world any more.

stevelaudig@gmail.com said...

I missed this "Recently a retired US general went on television to declare that what's needed to turn around the situation in the Ukraine is to simply “start killing Russians.” The Russians listened to that, marveled at his idiocy, and then went ahead and opened a criminal case against him. Now this general will be unable to travel to an ever-increasing number of countries around the world for fear of getting arrested and deported to Russia to stand trial." Can you post the name or a contact? thanks.

Dmitry Orlov said...

A clarification on the comments policy for this blog. Most comments are thoughtful, helpful and informative. However, there are some exceptions:

1. Comments that are factually incorrect are deleted. For example, if a comment refers to a nonexistent or unproven technology as an "alternative", such as the use of methane hydrates as fuel, or thorium reactors, it will be deleted. The goal here is to avoid misleading people into thinking that a "solution" to the energy predicament exists, whereas it most certainly doesn't.

2. To save space and time, this blog generally does not post links or references to things that are easy enough to find using Google. This blog is neither a research tool nor a news service. Please do your own googling. The goal here is to get people to think for themselves, and if they can't figure out how to work the internet, then they should take care of that first.

k-dog said...

Those committed to keeping the existing power structure intact as long as possible found an excuse they called 'a war on drugs' to arm police across the land with surplussed military equipment. This process began years ago and continues. Advanced surplus military weaponry meant only to maim and kill can now be used to enforce jaywalking statutes across the land. Yet there is no outrage.

Voices of dissent are silent and acceptance of the status-quo; the faux reality of the way things are, is widespread. Hyper-connectivity through smart phones along with a controlled and canned media has lead to a remarkably dumb, stupid and compliant populace.

Hyper-connectivity, perceived as freedom does not taste like the tyranny it actually is. Everyone is now watched or can be watched at a moments notice. Their phones are smart enough to spy on them and the ones doing the spying are not smart enough not to spy.

As the endgame approaches, most Americans do not even know that it on their horizon. So manipulated have the American People allowed themselves to become that comprehension of reality has become as rare as a wild buffalo. The globe warms and resources deplete. Ways of adjusting to these new circumstances are known but like small children who can't understand consequences the American people go about their business too stupid and afraid to change or even to see the need for it. Thus the demise of America is assured.

Americas worst enemies could not have picked more appropriate leaders to run America into the ground than the ones we now have.

Could things have turned out differently?


Amazed! said...

This year's numbers.
Just extraordinary.


O said...
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TH in SoC said...

Let's hope the license to kill ourselves gets revoked quickly.

Dmitry Orlov said...


But now your sweet dream of spring turns into a nightmare. Those storks have human faces! And they all look like Senilator John McCain, with a beak poking out of his gaping mouth! Oh, the horror!

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

I hadn't heard of the retired general who said we should start killing Russians either. As it turned out, a search using those very words found it right away.

This is the future, for sure, for sure. You got to live it or live with it.

Joe Cassese said...

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Walt Kelly (1913-1973)
American cartoonist

HS said...

I'm not so certain the oligarchy that runs the US empire doesn't know precisely what it is doing. If you assume that the elite receive accurate information regarding key topics such as climate change and fossil fuel reserves/depletion, as opposed to the garbage spewed to the masses, then you realize that the elite are well aware that the sustainability of the status quo is reaching its limits. So, if you're a billionaire whose fortune is dependent on perpetual growth, but you can see the end of the road, what do you do?

0. Circumvent the political power of the lower classes to ensure your agenda is realized. Campaign finance has rendered US democracy a joke and not a particularly amusing one.
1. Maintain the illusion that perpetual growth is sustainable for as long as possible. Hide any evidence of fossil fuel depletion by any means necessary, until you can't.
2. Obtain access to all major remaining oil producing states via the carrot and/or the stick. Producing failed Arab states is definitely in the interest of one of the US's primary allies and is preferable to allowing a hostile government to remain in control.
3. Create wealth transfer mechanisms to transfer vast amounts from the lower classes to your own. Disastrous trade agreements, manufactured asset bubbles, and increasing oligopoly are all examples of how the elite are looting the lower classes. Record wealth inequality is no accident, it is how the billionaire preps.
4. Steadily erode the civil rights of the lower classes while increasing the strength of the state. The surveillance state exists to prevent any sort of organized dissent. The militarized police state exists for when the threat of ubiquitous surveillance no longer is effective. The elite aren't worried about the Russians of Chinese, they are worried about us.

Jake said...

Another powerful, incisive, insightful post that is dark but true.
Somehow, the truth gives me more hope than hopeful b.s.
Your ongoing fan and reader,
Jake aka Publius

Russ Gerrish said...

A link to the US General promoting the killing of Russians is here: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/03/15/4507

Augustine said...


Consequently, for the last 40 years, the American foreign policy and military have been subjects of the House of Saud. This has particularly increased in intensity since the Euro came about as a viable reserve currency.

When the Saudis decided to sell oil in Euros as well, they had the perfect whip to get America's attention and compliance. One by one, Saudi Arabia unleashed the US military against its rival oil producers, first Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Russia. These countries have been an incumbrance to the Saudis for decades, but they made a mistake that the US just couldn't ignore either: each of them started selling oil for Euros and other currencies.

If the demand for dollars were to decrease, there'd be no more takers for the largest American export: greenbacks. Moreover, an inflating currency is not a good reserve currency and countries would get rid of their dollars quickly, most of which would come crashing in the US.

With an unprecedented influx of dollars and no way to relieve the flood, America would likely face hyperinflation and the destruction of its currency, taking with it its capability of financing a cancerous military.

After decades bullying countries the world over, the US would find very little sympathy for its predicaments. Some countries might actually take advantage of a weak America to take what was stolen from them back, like Mexico taking from CA to NM back, while other countries might be tempted to demand some blood for the millions of their fathers and sons who were mercilessly slaughtered so that Americans could watch trash on huge TVs and drive their trucks to the mall on cheap gas.

As much of a bitch karma is, America has managed to keep it abreast, all the while making it worse. Eventually, methinks that the bitch will finally bite.

Vyse Legendaire said...

But since America, the One Indispensable Nation, can act above and regardless of international law or any agreements and treaties on the books, then surely killing innocents will surely remain just until the psychic cycle of homicidal/suicidal ideology is complete, eh?

DeSwiss said...

''At some point it may become more efficient to modify the US Treasury printing presses to blast bundles of US dollars in the general direction of the enemy.''

I've been saying this for years. We could have bought-off everybody we've been fighting all these years a lot easier than fighting them. And cheaper too.

Ed-M said...

DeSwiss is 100% correct. We could have taught them actual US style democracy, the kind that at least existed before the political process was completely corrupted, and consent manufactured by completely brainwashing the masses, including how to build a civil society and how to run New England style town meetings.

Charles Fasola said...

Why do you support the falsehood that Bin Ladin was assassinated by the US special ops team? When it could not be more obvious the entire episode was an elaborate hoax. The only assassinations conducted were those directed at the spec ops team themselves; in order to cover-up the facts and realities.

jal said...

I thought the Greeks had it bad.
The Greeks have got it good.

Patrick said...

I think Charles that Dmitri was being rhetorical in reference to bin Laden. But I shouldn't speak for him when he speaks so well for himself!

Patrick said...

Yes… the Bin Laden assassination never passed the smell test for me, either. The lies that get heaped upon us are so numerous that one loses count. Just watched "TWA: Flight 800" which documents another set of outrageous lies and cover-ups. To paraphrase and re-work something I recall Dmitry wrote regarding work and pay in the old Soviet Union: "You pretend to tell us the truth, and we'll pretend to believe you." Sad to live in such a place, but perhaps it's been ever so with despotic regimes?

O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
old coyote said...

A nice essay, once again. As a long time fan (but rare commenter), I agree with (and have for some time) your political commentary regarding the ongoing collapse of our empire. Please don't take this the wrong way (I seek political realities through education the way I once learned scientific methodologies): main stream government and approved "scientists" are no more promulgating "truth" than main stream approved political and economic messages. You might agree that Main stream media only purveys messages which benefit the elites. This means that their messages includes such things as AGW, the potential for hyperinflation of the dollar, etc. The internet allows for seekers of the truth to search and discover it- your blog is an important place for this related to the collapse.
Our descent into the post-cheap ( or ANY!) AGW SKEPTICSfossil fuel age age and collapse of our ability to maintain our military offshore will indeed bring pain and grief to huge numbers of Americans. As the "X-files" folks said, the truth is "out there". Please - follow the money and find out who benefits from the AGW lies. Calling AGW skeptics "deniers" is a quasi-religious term equivalent to "heretic"; there are far worse things that we are doing to the planet than pretending we are making it warmer! (I wish it were true!) Nearly every single government agency has been shown to have been lying, fudging the facts, etc to continue this story, to benefit wall street "investors". The IPCC itself says there is a "pause" in global warming- after nearly twenty years of cooling!! We Americans will be begging to burn coal when the next solar minimum is well underway in another "little ice age", and totally unprepared because we shut down sources of cheap electricity!! But- perhaps (with a tip of my tinfoil hat) that is the plan- freeze a bunch of older poorer citizens in the dark.

Bryan C said...


You would enjoy if you have not already

john smith said...

Recent history tells us that a country that suffers a military coup, much like what is clearly building for 'Merica stays under the hammer for decades, it's a very effective system of control. It's worth pondering what the worlds largest killing machine will do when the ever thinning veil of morality can really be cast aside. The murder we abhor now will be considered child's play in the not too distant future.
I have lost hope for a democratic reaction to this slow motion train wreck, I know so few who care and so many who would fight for their inevitable doom. We can hope that the seeds of truth now planted in young minds will germinate enabling them to fix our mess later.
Deepest respect for your work, keep doing what you do sir

rapier said...

It is odd that Roman history has disappeared from Americas consciousness. Until the 1960's the study of the Roman language was a staple of every high school in America. The idea being it was the root language or a cousin of most European languages including English.

Rome was a Republic and for the generations around the establishment of America the study of Roman history was universal among the elites, the civic saints, the Founding Fathers. They knew well that keeping a republic was not going to be easy and most of all they knew that empire and republic were incompatible.

This focus on Roman history continued in US public schools until after WWII, but then faded away. The reasons for these things can never be known but it is pretty easy to see that Romes history as a warning against empire did not fit well with Americas new role after WWII.

I've said more than a few times that America now awaits it Caesar. Who by the way while becoming emperor kept the rudiments of democratic governance intact, like the Senate.

refugee said...

Refugee from W2 camp says: This generation has everything and still it complains. Fear,war-mongering,terror are daily companions. The new world order is already out of order.
15 homeless man forming a financial institution within their feeble mind. The Yuan to the $ is like unpegging the egg from the chicken it too will fail Illusions are politicians best friends. For Gods sake someone publish a new thought on how to build a real economy for dummies.Sorry for the gramer I m a foreign Patriot

Jon said...

Someday we might see a situation like this: Russia submits a resolution to the UN censoring the US for multiple crimes against humanity. A war crimes tribunal is to be conducted in Beijing. The US government will cooperate by handing over all indicted individuals. Further, reparations will be required by the countries and peoples who suffered from US aggression. The US is to turn over all foreign bases to UN control and return all troops to US soil. ln return for this orderly reduction in US power, the UN will guarantee its security and current borders. UN peace keeping troops will be deployed to select US bases to promote a peaceful transition away from super power status. This will include the administration of all nuclear facilities. President Putin expresses his hopes for a new dawn in America based on equal partnership with the rest of the world and hopes to insure a safety net for the American people who are not a partner to its crimes.

This could be the result of extensive negotiations between President Putin and President Clinton, much like the Reagan/Gorbachov negotiations which resulted in the dismantling of the USSR, precipitated by massive defeats of the US military and deteriorating economic conditions.

This could happen.


jaimo2 said...

This writing really grabbed my attention. Good work, methinks.

Unknown said...

One tendency of small communities is the emergence of strongmen who rule, for good or bad, on the force of their personalities. I think the larger civil society does have the benefit of moderating these small dictatorships via the institutions of law and custom and ties to the federation.
However, we are approaching a point of diminishing returns in this arrangement and in many places a local strongman will seem preferable to fealty to the emperor.