American Hegemony: Delivering “Unpredictable Instability” the World Over

I love Global Threat Hearings and curse you Richard Burr for holding the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing in secret.

At least John McCain had the courage to invite James Clapper for what might have been (but weren’t) hard questions in public in front of Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.

Clapper started with a comment that was not prominent in (though it definitely underscored) his written testimony (Update: Here’s the transcript of his as-delivered statement.)

Unpredictable instability is the new normal.The year 2014 saw the highest rate of political instability since 1992. The most deaths as a result of state-sponsored mass killings since the early 1990s. And the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons (or IDPs) since World War II. Roughly half of the world’s currently stable countries are at some risk of instability over the next two years.

It’s a damning catalog. All the more so given that the US has been the world’s unquestioned hegemon since that period in the early 1990s when everything has been getting worse, since that period when the first President Bush promised a thousand points of light.

And while the US can’t be held responsible for all the instability in the world right now, it owns a lot of it: serial invasions in the Middle East and the coddling of Israel account for many of the refugees (though there’s no telling what would have happened with the hundred thousand killed and millions of refugees in Syria had the second President Bush not invaded Iraq, had he taken Bashar al-Assad up on an offer to partner against al Qaeda, had we managed the aftermath of the Arab Spring differently).

US-backed neoliberalism and austerity — and the underlying bank crisis that provided the excuse for it — has contributed to instability elsewhere, and probably underlies those countries that Clapper thinks might grow unstable in the next year.

We’re already seeing instability arising from climate change; the US owns some of the blame for that, and more for squandering its leadership role on foreign adventures rather than pushing a solution to that more urgent problem (Clapper, by the way, thinks climate change is a problem but unlike Obama doesn’t consider it the most serious one).

There are, obviously, a lot of other things going on. Clapper talked admiringly of China’s modernization of its military, driven by domestically developed programs, an obvious development when a country becomes the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. But China’s growing influence comes largely in the wake of, and in part because of, stupid choices the US has made.

There was, predictably, a lot of discussion about cyberthreats, even featuring Senate Intelligence Committee member Angus King arguing we need an offensive threat (we’ve got one — and have been launching pre-emptive strikes for 9 years now — as he would know if he paid attention to briefings or read the Intercept or the New York Times) to deter others from attacking us with cyberweapons.

Almost everyone at the hearing wanted to talk about Iran, without realizing that a peace deal with it would finally take a step towards more stability (until our allies the Saudis start getting belligerent as a result).

Still, even in spite of the fact that Clapper started with this inventory of instability, there seemed zero awareness of what a damning indictment that is for the world’s hegemon. Before we address all these other problems, shouldn’t we focus some analysis on why American hegemony went so badly wrong?

7 replies
  1. galljdaj says:

    I remember learning about the Italian ‘Mafia’ as a kid and how strange the word mafia was to me. Even more strange was the idea the Italian Peoples put up with them.

    Fast forward a long ways to Today, I find myself definitely not alone fighting the US Bilderbergers Mafia but Our Govt that is the Official Enforcer! And! Its World Wide evil!

  2. bevin says:

    Then there are, after the Middle East, Ukraine and Venezuela in both of which countries US sponsored coups were aimed at creating chaos, instability and death. It looks as if Argentina is scheduled soon and Haiti is still ruled by neo-Ton Ton Macoutes installed by Hillary Clinton. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and Hillary and Obama can take a bow for that too.

    Is Libya in the Middle East? There is no doubt why its people live in fear and poverty as gangs armed and enabled by the US and its allies fight for the right to milk them. Maybe Samantha Powell and Susan Rice want to pick up the award for that. And add an asterisk to the prize in recognition of the shiploads of weaponry forwarded to wahhabi jihadists in Syria, the foundation of the current ISIS army.

    And there is more, much much more: those points of light were thousands of tracer bullets aimed right at the places where poor people live, worship and work. The Preacher Casey character that New Dealers briefly considered sending abroad, has been replaced by a composite of Jack the Ripper and Eichmann, haunting the globe in search of peace to disrupt, good works to sabotage, communities to divide and blood, preferably that of innocents. like the children of Gaza.

  3. wallace says:

    quote”US-backed neoliberalism and austerity — and the underlying bank crisis that provided the excuse for it — has contributed to instability elsewhere, and probably underlies those countries that Clapper thinks might grow unstable in the next year.”unquote

    yeah, well it didn’t occur to him that Murka is one of those “countries” that might grow ..ahem..unstable. Of course, in his parallel universe, why would the most “exceptional” country on the planet grow unstable? After all, we’re fully employed, equal, busy, enlightened, educated and perfect in every way. Liberty and justice for all ya know.

    sheesusHchrist. Meanwhile, Murka the beautiful is crumbling and cracks are beginning to appear in the mirror, but Clapper hasn’t got a fucking clue cause he can’t look in a mirror.

  4. Don Bacon says:

    Look on the bright side, all this US-produced mayhem has made foreign travel dangerous which benefits the US economy. Americans are encouraged by the government to stay home because the only significant “terrorist threat” they face is overseas, not in the US.
    Worldwide Caution, Last Updated: January 9, 2015
    The Department of State is updating the Worldwide Caution to provide information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.
    “Terrorist action,” of course, might come from those people who have been aggravated and otherwise aggrieved by the US of its random attacks, invasions, occupations, etc. especially in Southwest Asia and Northern Africa where the CIA and the Pentagon have significant presence..

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Unpredictable stability”. Is that moronic or oxymoronic, like military intelligence, airline food, deliberate speed and defense department. It’s only a shade better than the wordfare engaged in by calling a hunger strike by prisoners “asymmetrical warfare” waged against their jailers.

    America’s ideals, the aspirations drilled into schoolchildren as if they were facts, would be and could be a force for immeasurable good. America’s actions, whether in the Philippines, Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, Whitlam’s Australia, Moro’s Italy, or Thatcher’s and Blair’s Britain, are not examples of those ideals.
    They are examples of unbridled self-interest, not neighborly welfare.

  6. Mr.Murder says:

    A girl from HS once wrote Op ed on the “Thousand Points of Light” speech and said “it sounds like something you see if you put a flashlight to Dan Quayle’s ear and look at the wall on the other side of his head.”

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