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The Pre-History of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire: A Rant

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/18/pre-history-decline-and-fall-american-empire-rant


Great article! I’m of like mind…been there. Watched as the 70’s, which started out full of hope, became the 80’s of backlash against the commons and citizens of this country.

By the way…I nominate Naomi Klein for the role of the “new Edward Gibbon.”


Tom is such a fine writer, yet here again the big O, PlacebObama, is missing. How do you skip over him when writing about the loss of hope, Afghanistan, and the rise of Trump?
The left must come to terms with the utter wretchedness of neoliberal identity politics and reject corrupt clowns, even if they have a ?positive vibe" for the most superficial of reasons.


The “invasion of America” did not occur in 2016, it occurred when the allies defeated the axis powers in 1945 but did not defeat the axis’ fascism that swiftly emigrated to the US initially manifested by Robert Taft’s, Joe McCarthy’s, the Dulles brothers, and others’ contrived 1950s red scare.

The “invasion” was bolstered with more back up forces when Saint Ron ascended the throne in 1981, bolstered again when Bill Clinton enabled Newt’s 1995 contract on America, bolstered again when Cheney and his puppet Dubya took full advantage of exploiting 9/11/2001, an event that they conveniently failed to prevent. Obama provided more of caretaker role during his stint that is best characterized as Dubya’s third and fourth terms.


You seem to have missed this:

" Donald Trump couldn’t have happened if Barack Obama, a president who understood climate change as well as anyone imaginable, hadn’t been willing to look the other way while the fracking revolution took place and this country briefly became Saudi America."

I would have preferred a brief exposition on his being the perfect placeholder between Bush the Lesser and BunkerBoi, continuing the forever war but largely avoiding criticsm by virtue of his being the first US president who is NEW (Not Entirely White); however, it’s not my article.


Obama’s ACA corporate welfare program disguised as health care reform and Harry Reid’s “I don’t have the votes” mantra that triggered the GOP takeover of both houses of Congress, that enabled Moscow Mitch to push Scalia’s SCOTUS replacement into 2017.

It was the DNC’s dynastic approach to the 2016 primary that enabled the Trump election more than anything else.


As far as the rest of the World goes , “The American Century” did more harm to the environment and killed more peoples in wars then virtually any other “Century” of any world power before. It followed in the steps of the British Empire and its own “Century” which was almost equally as devastating.

These two Countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council , truly a matter of the Fox guarding the henhouse.


Those who read Tom’s Dispatches know his focus is on the US’s march into militarism after the allied victory of WWII. There are other important reasons besides this one for the decline and fall of the American Empire. The two-party system has failed to address the social and economic problems millions of citizens experience every day. Consequently, the confidence of the people in the political system has eroded for decades. Unstable and unrepresentative political parties are a hallmark of a failing democracy. Economic inequality and institutional racism are other elements of the decline of American society. I’m not optimistic that this will end well despite the efforts of social activists calling for change in racial justice and environmental policy.


Excellent rant, I was going to say I enjoyed it but it is so right on target it is scary. Yes, us boomers and beyond drank the koolaide but no more not for the last 25 years at least. It was so disappointing work on environmental issues in latter 60’s and early 70’s alot was accomplished but it all for nothing when Reagan tore down the solar panels on White House and we slowly killed people mainly of color getting the worse of the pollution then more swiftly under Bush and El Trumpo and you are right Obama didn’t do much and maybe just as bad.


Hi Merlin—
Mr. Englehardt did talk about Obama, and what Obama contributed---------------it was essentially no hope and a few coins in pocket change. But he sounded good on paper, and I think that a lot of people believed that the first black president would change the world----oh well. : (
Actually if you read back in history—it seems like the last honest President was Jimmy Carter. It wasn’t Clinton, or Bush 2, or Obama and certainly not Trump. : (
Weirdly all the presidents after Carter had never actually been in the war. I think Reagan had some physical reason not to be on the front lines…and none of the presidents after that knew anything about being in a war.
Maybe the war actually made America better than it could have been for a long while----but only because it was the only nation not bombed into oblivion. I guess that’s what made America great for a while----the shared experience of so many husbands, brothers and friends being in a place where everyone mattered and everyone contributed—and class didn’t matter and the police weren’t mobsters yet.
Of course, lying in wait was the reality of what happened to Japanese Americans—so the ugly America was always and still there. But then reading a bunch of Ernie Pyle books really made it seem like, at least for a while, there really was an America—of the People, and by and for them too. : )


Funny to look back and realize that the whole projection gig has been played to gain advantage all along. Even long before the context you cite.
I remember my dad repeatedly, one summer, when the family was eating or otherwise engaged, he would divert attention and ‘do a take’ and then tease… “did you catch that?” Reading the Sunday Times and the daily evening news - for better or worse - provided an unedited response to the impact that events had on our family and community. Various elements in recognizing the ‘manufacturing of consent’ were introduced and skewered.

The abhorrent performance the other day of taking a knee and wearing ethnicity specific traditional cloth just screams for the ongoing presence of the voting records. Implosie had better deliver … or she’ll see her ass in a sling faster than she can flap her jaw.

Keep the pressure on.

“The American Century” … that should have been the dead giveaway… come to think of it, by quite a different meaning, that is exactly what it is.

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As someone noted elsewhere… we have to cease thinking in terms of destination and organize for long term sustainable journey.


“… when I’m long gone, will there be a modern Edward Gibbon around to write a multi-volume classic, The History of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire ?”

I do believe that Matt Taibbi and a broad swath of citizen journalists hold the same vision, John. In fact I’d guess that particular compendium is probably pretty well underway by now. Running parallel in real time, this time around it might be more like trying to focus on events passing by while taking the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Have a feeling it will help to cushion the pain when we fall-down-go-boom.

As US citizens have been lying to themselves for decades, if not centuries, the logical conclusion had them electing a proudly ignorant, bare-faced liar as President. The world can no longer pretend US citizens know anything about the world, their own best interests, or the best interests of their longest allies and best friends. US citizens have put the world through 3 great recessions in 20 years, destroying decades of lower and middle class wealth. US citizens can’t be expected to defend democracy, expand human rights, maintain an incorruptible rule of ‘law’, or manage the most important part of world’s economy.

Trump is among the last acts of the US Imperium because:

imperial decline progresses by supplanting genuine leadership and public participation with a courtier class responsible only to an oligarchy;
citizens can’t tell trusted friend from odious enemy because the enemy looks and acts so much like the US;
an immense military with leadership incapable of winning the smallest wars, or even retaining the allegiance of its officer class;
the economy is used like a casino to enrich the unworthy;
children are used to punish immigrant families fleeing US imperial cruelty in their own countries;
the most recent generations are the worst educated since 1776 as science, schools, libraries, an independent press, and dissenting voices are crushed by corporate design;
resurgent bigotry is aided by brutally stupid, corrupt police cruelty;
ruthless violence is blessed by empty prayers and Hollywood blockbusters;
smug indifference is widespread for anything that doesn’t touch their own families, or their favourite sport;
vast numbers of citizens parade their ignorance around like they have just married a supermodel.

These are all signs of a society about to collapse with only a minor environmental disaster needed to start the landslide, out of the ecosystem armageddon certain to come.

Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”


I can only stay sane by reminding myself that the election was lost in the electoral college and not by popular vote and that was because of flawed democratic strategy.

And why -?-there really is enough of everthing for everyone

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It was comical ----watching CSPAN --Nadler and Jordan going back and forth over wearing a mask------like watching two year olds—why can’t people understand that personal freedom is important----but we also need to be repectful of others concern.

Hey Chris, Rachel. and Brian----you want all us peasants to wear masks—put one on yourselves----what it must be like working an 8 hour shift wearing this crap.

By the way the message these masks send is to be SILENT—SHUT UP

Tom sounds like he’s run out of clues, and wants some help figuring it all out. Time-tested techniques of historical analysis are getting shredded hourly, so now Tom asks me “What now?”

My own unstudied response: “How should I know?”

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we Americans, the greatest power in history, the ultimate unchallenged victors on this planet as the last century ended, are now living in a disease-ridden parody version of occupied Iraq and my own generation is officially responsible.

How DARE you, sir. I’ll have you know I’ve voted democratic every election since I came of age in 1960, I even worked on Bobby Kennedy’s run - how DARE you (or any of these young whippersnappers inheriting this sh!tshow) broadly criticize my generation without taking the time to specify that I, personally, am not to blame!

[Rolls eyes, remembers all the times some old fogey has said something to ^this effect on this very website]

Ok, Boomer:+1:

The US is a de facto one party state, a party serving the interests of the financial elites and their aristocracy, which I’ll call the corporatist party. It has 2 branches, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

The facade in action: Barack Obama’s largest backer was Goldman Sachs; Joe Biden says he would veto Medicare For All if it came to his desk.