16. April 2015

License to Kill - Dmitry Orlov

Written by Dmitry Orlov

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 

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 

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 is 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.


Paul Craig Roberts – As Greece Pivots, Putin Unleashing 
Ultimate Move To Crush The EU And NATO: 

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