Empires come and go. Innovation, vision and power lead to their establishment. If they have good carrying capacity they spread, grow and mature. Their relative power begins to increase, ascendance in more than one field, then consolidation on top–a very dangerous moment when you are second to none–extension and peak and, sooner or later with over-extension–begins the decline, ’fatigue’, lack of innovation, vision and leadership, dissolution and unavoidable fall.
All empires decline and fall none have lasted forever. The next–and last–empire to fall is God’s own exceptionalist country, the United States of America. The indicators are pretty obvious in all sectors including the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC: economic decline with uniquely high debts, muddling through with no vision (not an unclear vision but no vision) and trying to solve problems by just injecting money into a manifestly malfunctioning system instead of investing in structural changes.
Over-extension is very important. Which government can maintain management of military and political control, bases and bullying, ”intelligence”, dominance, sanctions and cultural power over unlimited decades in not only the far majority of the lands, but also in the oceans, space and cyberspace? The answer is: not that long also because, fundamentally, the idea that one country, one way of thinking, one set of values must be universalized will always be wrong from Day One.
One extremely important but mostly overlooked indicator is declining legitimacy in the eyes of others. It is important because, when you feel that particular fading, you step up the fake, deception, lies and propaganda to cover-up and make yourself look legitimate. Truth is, of course, that your salesmanship no longer sells because the times, as Bob Dylan has formulated it with both brilliance and banality, they are a-changing. For instance, “don’t criticize what you can’t understand” would fit well with the US attitude to China, and vis-a-vis the World Order change it would be, “Your old role is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand. For the times they are a changing”.
The US no longer lends a hand, if it ever did. And it is also now getting no helping hand. And, if it did from, say, the EU and NATO allies, would it take it?
The lack of legitimacy has to do with other things: Mike Pompeo is known, in his capacity of CIA director and in his own words (2019), to be proud that, “we lied, cheated and stole – we had entire training courses – and it reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.” (Watch him say that 29:15 into this conversation). Mike Pompeo is also known as a Conservative Christian who, while at the West Point Military Academy, was ”brought to Jesus Christ”, and he is known to be extremely critical of China. God’s own country?
So you fill up your soon-to-be-empty credibility cup with propaganda. Substitute factual information with fake and the much more important method: omission. Today, it is incredible how much the general public is not told at all through the mainstream media other perspectives, facts, expertise, alternative reports etc.; simply omitted. Most of it is Psyops and the Pompeo lying, cheating and stealing as an integral element of politics. I’ve seen these Media Manipulations Methods, MMM, employed wherever I have worked the last 30 years, since the early 1990s, in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria. And now vis-a-vis China.
These things may go well, fooling some of the people some of the time on some of the issues. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time on all issues: Decline and fall. Pravda then and over there, Facebook, Fox/CNN/BBC/Radio Free This and That now and here. MIMAC’s second “M”. Result: The only one you fool is yourself.
To do these things–like a grumpy patriarch’s desperation because the world is no longer so easy to get on your side–you end up in tragedy: the tragedy of destroying your own finest values, principles and norms. You say one thing and do the opposite. Which lies did you tell when and to whom? Putin is a “killer” with no soul–well, maybe not when I meet him in Geneva.
Thus, for instance, the US/West say they stand for freedom and have free media. They blame others for their state-controlled media. But in the US it is called the US Agency for Global Media and it shall be “consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.” Then comes the homogenization of stories/narratives, there is, throughout Western mainstream media, only one basic narrative and others are squeezed out. But it wasn’t like that 30 years ago; if somebody was knowledgeable and was on the ground in a hot spot, s/he would get through and be interviewed in the name of diversity, variety and a sense of objectivity, even fairness.
Then add the so-called “think” tanks which are funded by those who want a particular kind of reports to be churned out to the always attentive mainstream media. There is often not an ounce of research and substance but there are lots of dubious sources, hearsay, estimates, anonymous sources and media quoting other media. All in the interest of the MIMAC, never independent of it or in opposition to it.
And finally add the stream of Non-Governmental Organizations that have become Near-Governmental Organizations – including, say, human rights organization which take pleasure in contributing to the weaponization of human rights for interventionist purposes and sell wars by humanitarian marketing. And add those of them that are fronts for the CIA such as National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
The Center Won’t Hold – Psycho-Political Projections
There will come a time when the Centre has lied, cheated and stolen to such an extent that it won’t hold anymore; the cracking-open moment. Everybody knows that they can’t trust their media and politicians, as in the Soviet Union’s last years. Pravda, meaning truth, was known to be anything but that. The structures cracked, orders were not obeyed, walls came down, and rapidly.
During this process, we see lots of psycho-political projections. A standard definition for the individual is this:
“Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves and attributing them to others. For example, a bully may project his or her own feelings of vulnerability onto the target, or a person who is confused may project feelings of confusion and inadequacy onto other people. Projection incorporates blame shifting and can manifest as shame dumping.”
Most of what the US does when it threatens, arms, sanctions, confronts, demonizes–which now is about 90% or more of its foreign policy content–is projection. You argue that others have done something bad but the fact is that you yourself have done the same to a much larger extent. Say, China has such a bad human rights record because it puts so many in detention camps and use forced labour. The reality is that China, with a population almost four times that of the US, has 1.7 million incarcerated. The USA has 2.2 million. Or, China is a terrible surveillance and security state; however, it has 14 closed circuit TV per 100 inhabitants. The US, 15. Or, it is the main military threat–although the US military expenditures are around three times higher than those of China.
An Example of Denial and Projection
During his press conference in Geneva after meeting Vladimir Putin (June 16, 2021), Joe Biden said:
”Look, one of the consequences that I … suspect you may all think doesn’t matter… but what matters to him and other world leaders of big nations: his credibility worldwide shrinks… Let’s get this straight: How would it be if the United States was viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly in other countries and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we were engaged in activities that he (Putin) is engaged in? It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to maintain its standing as a major world power.
“So it is not what I do, it’s the actions other countries take – in this case Russia – that are contrary to international norms: It’s the price they pay. They are not – they are not! – able to dictate what happens in the world; there are other nations of significant consequence, i.e. the United States of America be one of them.”
There you go! Think if we did such bad things like Putin and Russia do! While the documentation and statistics can be discussed, truth is that the US is by far #1 in terms of foreign election interference and exceptionally interventionist in terms of regime change: 100s since the 19th century and 81 regime-change attempts 1946-2000.
An experienced politician like Joe Biden of course knows. But he denies to himself and he world. It is denial of one’s own dark sides and their projection onto the other, the blame-game. But he doesn’t acknowledge what he knows. He projects a psychological disorder as self-defense thus making him look better than the rest. Fake and omission in one. (Or he defines to himself what the US does as something that is not really regime change but some kind of benign spreading of freedom and democracy and human rights norms “with God on our side”.)
At the end of this road there is only one you fool: yourself. The rest of the world will have found out and the legitimacy of the system and its policies and de facto behaviors will be considered zero: End of the Empire.
China and Russia Are Imagined Threats
These psycho-political processes are now playing out for the US vis-a-vis two countries it sees as mortal threats – not only Occident Russia but now Orient China too. In my view, both are imagined enemies in the sense that they don’t threaten or want to destroy the United States, they merely assert themselves, predictably. But China is catching up and will surpass the US in one area after the other. What is threatened is the #1 position of the US, an empire ruling a unipolar world, and thereby its identity as a political system that cannot live without enemies.
The US won’t accept that challenge and will continue to fight for its outdated role – “Your old role is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand. For the times they are a changing.”
Therefore, the new rapidly developing, orchestrated China Cold War Agenda, CCWA(*) is suicidal for the US. That, instead of a policy of strategic cooperation, trust and peacebuilding, will be destructive to the US and its allies, to China and to the rest of the world. Humanity’s extremely urgent problems cannot be solved with a Cold War between its two most influential powers.
It must be stopped now. Particularly by those who love the USA. And can lend it a hand.
The times are long gone when Realpolitik was rational and principled and could be understood by political science, international relations and international law. Today you need theories of psycho-policy, intellectual disorder, as well as culture and civilization.
(*) TFF publishes a report about these themes shortly.
*Prof. Jan Oberg, Ph.D. is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. CV: https://transnational.live/jan-oberg https://transnational.live
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS)