In both the novel and the movie, Ayn Rand’s industrialist heroes located their plants in the USA. Sure, they grumbled about their unionized workers, but the idea of replacing them with Asian sweatshops could not exist in Rand’s ideology.
In fact, Rand spilled quite a lot of ink pouring derision upon the Third World. But what would she think today, now that the Third World has “got religion” – Randian style religion: Capitalism?
Clearly, she would have applauded the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent spread of free enterprise around the globe.
But what about the most-powerful capitalist nation of all: China?
I think Rand would be apoplectic over our relationship with China. Rand was a victim of Soviet communism, and striking any sort of deal with an authoritarian government such as the one in Beijing would be out of the question.
Since Rand died before the great Age of Offshoring began, we can only guess at what she would think about so many of our industries moving to China. Or the fact that the US Treasury has become so dependant upon Chinese money that it has given Beijing an unprecedented direct line to buy bonds, bypassing the bond market.
Could Ayn Rand have approved of modern globalization in its current form?
When the news that US Marines would be deployed to Australia hit the media recently, there was quite a lot of criticism. After all, Australia is not exactly one of the global hotspots of conflict requiring pacification. And seeing as how we’re trillions of dollars in debt, you would think that such military adventures might be deemed extravagant.
But Australia is indeed a hotspot – a geopolitical hotspot.
In September 2010, I was jarred when I came across this story of the first-ever joint Chinese/Australian naval exercises. Australia has been one of the USA’s closest military allies for quite a while, and has troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan.
So, what were the Australians doing exercising with the Chinese all of a sudden? Now, keep in mind that while our multinational corporations consider China to be a close ally, even a new homeland, the Pentagon has quite a different view. It considers China to be a rival power in need of containment.
And so the Pentagon responded to the Australians cozying up to the Chinese by deploying troops. I’m sure the Australians gave their permission and all, but you have to wonder if they really had a choice. Australia’s geopolitical situation doesn’t allow it to defy the USA.
The Chinese are apoplectic over this conquest of Australia (see the story here) and they are pressuring the Australians to choose sides.
To assuage the Chinese, the Australian frigate HMAS Ballarat just visited Shanghai. Here’s the welcoming ceremony:
Apparently, there were no live-fire drills this time; just search-and-rescue practice.
This is all happening as we are trying to figure out how to high-tail it out of Afghanistan after getting whooped by the Pashtuns. And there are consequences for loosing a war. When the Arabs saw us bleeding-out in Vietnam, they were emboldened to nationalize our oil properties. When the Soviet Union’s satellites saw the Red Army defeated in Afghanistan in 1989 (by those same Pashtuns!) they got ideas of their own. Two years later, poof!, no more Soviet Union.
Our allies in the western Pacific can see the handwriting on the wall. Economically, they know that they have to switch sides and join the Chinese. But containing China is matter of sea power, which we are very good at, as opposed to fighting shepherds in their mountains – never a good idea for any army.
So, will Australia stay conquered? Maybe in the short-term, but probably not in the long run. Perhaps they will just wait us out. Now that the multinationals have moved all the jobs to Asia, the unemployed American taxpayer can no longer keep the Pentagon in the style to which it has been accustomed. How much longer can it be before the tide of American military power must recede here at the end of this age of imperial overreach?
Note: George Friedman explains Australia’s geopolitical situation here.
Update: since I posted this, the video in question has been taken down by 60 Minutes.
At the 2:53 mark of the video below, 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan states about Afghanistan:
“The CIA was given the lead role in prosecuting a war for the first time in history.”
You would be hard-pressed to find a more-pure specimen of propaganda than that. In fact, it would be easier to make a list of the wars that the CIA did not lead.
Of course, there was the CIA “secret army” that invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Vietnam was a CIA project, and they leaked the Pentagon Papers to put the blame on the Department of Defense.
During the cold war, the CIA’s tentacles spread all throughout the military. And not just our military; many Royal Air Force bases in the UK were really disguised CIA bases. Some probably still are. My favorite CIA war was the attack on Indonesia in 1958. You probably never heard of that one, right?
If the Taliban returns to power after we leave Afghanistan, there will be a scramble to assign the blame. And it looks like the CIA, with the help of 60 Minutes, has begun a covert CYA operation. Note in the video how Crumpton gets in a dig against the DoD for not letting him get the Osama bin Laden collar.
Warren Buffett is famous for not investing in technology companies. So maybe you think that life-long philosophy has changed after hearing Buffett carry on about his $10.7 billion investment in IBM. But I don’t think that Buffett bought the shares because he finally understands technology. Not at all.
Rather, I think Buffett is enamored of the fat profits IBM is making by scrubbing its staff clean of American workers and replacing them with cheap foreign labor. That’s right, Buffett is feeding at the lucrative “Destroy America” trough – one of the most profitable businesses in history.
And no, you will not hear the jolly old grandpa chortling about offshoring profits during any of his CNBC love-fests with Becky Quick. The media blackout of what IBM is doing is incredibly thorough. Not only will the corporate-owned major media not report it, but I haven’t even heard it discussed in the tech media. I read a lot of tech blogs, and listen to a lot of tech podcasts, and…nothing. IBM will eliminate 78% of its American workers in the next few years, and nobody is talking about it? Amazing.
Maybe one day President Obama will ask Warren Buffett to bring back the IT jobs from India, and Buffett will tell him to pound sand, Steve-Jobs style: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”
To get the story, we must turn to the great Robert X. Cringely:
“Whenever IBM has a big project they now have to bring in extra workers, usually from India. … They make sure there are never more than two or three workers coming on the same flight, effectively avoiding notice by Homeland Security.”
The Top Investing Websites page has been updated. Among the Top-20 sites, there were no changes in relative Alexa Rank. The most-significant development since the last update was Wall Street Cheat Sheet shooting up to #21 from #28, knocking James Altucher down to #22 in the process.
“Heroin, cocaine, and marijuana…originate as extremely low-cost agricultural products – weeds, essentially, that require almost no cultivation.”
That’s one of the interesting things in George Friedman’s book “The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World”. It’s of geopolitical significance to the USA because of the instability on our southern border being caused by Mexican drug gangs.
Here’s another interesting thing from the book: Everybody knows that the Russians stole nuclear technology from the USA 60 years ago. But to this day, nobody has been able to make nukes from scratch:
“Only one country ever produced a nuclear weapon from scratch, and that was the United States. The British got their nukes in compensation for their contribution to the American research effort. The French also acquired the technology from the Americans, which they then regifted to Israel. The Russians stole the knowledge from the Americans, then transferred it to both the Chinese and the Indians. The Chinese gave the technology to the Pakistanis.”
Chances are that we don’t really need to worry about the Iranians and North Koreans developing their own nukes. Unless they get help, of course. And nuclear proliferation should be pretty easy to contain – as long as nuclear countries just stop sharing.
And we might be able to get rid of nukes altogether. The science and technology is so hard that we could easily forget how to do it. When the Department of Energy decided to refurbish some warheads in 1996, it took 10 years to reverse engineer the super-secret FOGBANK material.
And now that there is no testing, you have to wonder how well these decaying systems will work. Ask any engineer if he could build a complicated device and expect it to work, and continue working for decades, without any real-world testing, and he will just laugh at you.
Nuclear weapons will likely prove to be a “use it or lose it” technology. If nuclear war erupted today, there would probably quite a lot of fizzling going on from all sides.
If our nukes do decay into duds, I think the USA would be the geopolitical lottery winner because of our geographical isolation from other world powers. It’s one thing for Beijing or Moscow to press a button and launch missiles at us, but it’s quite another for them land troops on our beaches and actually invade. The naval power required to do that would take generations to develop – even for a mighty industrial power like China.
On March 29, 2012 Rachel Maddow went on Jon Stewart’s show to promote her new book: “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power”. Stewart teased her for being a poor saleswoman, but I was flabbergasted at the allegedly “boring” title:
I could hardly believe it.
You see, at the time, I was reading George Friedman’s “The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World”. Friedman asserts that the USA didn’t set out to become a global military empire, but rather that the empire just sort of naturally unfolded along with our economic power.
And Maddow makes the same assertion: that we just sort of “drifted” into empire.
That’s what I have dubbed the “Accidental Empire” meme.
What’s fascinating is that George Friedman is an enthusiastic booster of global military empire, and Rachel Maddow wants to dismantle a huge chunk of the military.
And there they are singing from the same hymn book. Propagating the same imperial meme. How is that possible?
Right off the bat in her book, Maddow writes:
“It’s not a conspiracy, there aren’t rogue elements pushing us to subvert our national interests to instead serve theirs.”
And at the 3:10 mark of the Jon Stewart interview, she dismisses the entire idea of conspiracy:
“…conspiracy is easier to understand than understanding the complexity…”
However, Maddow doesn’t put forth any support for her view. And the evidence of conspiracy is pretty impressive. Is it possible that Maddow is unaware of President Eisenhower’s famous warning about the military-industrial complex? No, it’s not possible. She knows. But she chose to ignore someone with first-hand experience.
A five-star army general.
The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.
And Maddow only mentions him, in passing, a few times in her book?
You would think that Maddow would feel the need to make a case for Eisenhower being senile, or paranoid as a side-effect of some prescription medicine. Or she could argue that Eisenhower was only warning us, that his dire prediction never came to pass, that there was a happy ending after all, and joyous elves rode prancing unicorns through fields of wildflowers as a gentle rain of puppy dogs fell from the sky.
But she does not.
During the Arab Spring, as President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Mubarak to resign, the Pentagon rushed riot gear to Mubarak’s thugs. Who was really making foreign policy there? Were our civilian leaders just kibitzers? There are numerous such instances that should be investigated, but rest assured, you won’t find them in Maddow’s book.
For example, maybe Maddow could have debunked Jesse Ventura’s story about how he was called on the carpet by the CIA after being elected governor of Minnesota in 1999:
Ironically, Maddow may be right; that it’s not a conspiracy. Perhaps we have already gone beyond the point of conspiracy to fait accompli. On March 30th, Leon Panetta said that Congress was a threat to the USA:
“What they essentially did is put a gun to their heads and the heads of the country.”
Was that from an angry exchange during a Congressional budget hearing? No, it was not. It was, in fact, a speech to sailors and marines aboard the USS Peleliu. How far are we from having the Pentagon arrest Congress on grounds of national security?
Maybe not so far.
But Maddow’s book isn’t about the workings of the empire. It’s mostly a partisan polemic, with loads of Ronald-Reagan bashing. For example, Maddow devotes page-after-page outlining every detail of Reagan’s invasion of Grenada, but zero pages to Bill Clinton’s bombing of civilian targets in Serbia, or Kennedy’s “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba. Maddow’s fanaticism is so rabid that she even wrote this:
“Reagan was enveloped by the glorious success of the first war of his presidency…”
…as if Reagan invaded more countries, which he did not. There were plenty of military incidents such as bombing Moammar Gadhafi, but no actual wars. Now I don’t blame Maddow for writing a partisan book. After all, there is no demand for truth, but a huge demand for partisanship. When the choir demands preaching, you had better preach if you want to be their leader.
If you want to actually learn about the workings of our empire, you should start with “Blowback” by Chalmers Johnson. And George Friedman’s book, which I mentioned above, is about the geo-political strategy that the empire deploys to keep the world subdued. Friedman also discusses the important question of whether or not our Republic can survive the empire, while Maddow doesn’t even mention the subject.
If I were the secret military dictator of America, the first thing I would do would be to write up a list of talking points and send it out to my propagandists on both the right and the left. High on the list would be: “put a happy face on the empire; tell them that it was an accident, and that we are making the best of it.”
But short of that, you can see how both Friedman and Maddow would want to protect and flatter the empire with self-generated propaganda. Does Friedman want to be secretary of state someday? Probably so. Does Maddow aspire to secretary of defense? Sure, why not? Al Franken went from goof to gravitas.
Maybe Friedman and Maddow are independently apprehending what it takes to land an imperial appointment. And of course, Maddow works for the military-industrial complex, so we can’t really expect her to bite the hand that feeds. Maddow has a show on MSNBC which is owned by General Electric, which is a defense contractor.
If I knew that Maddow was a CIA agent, I certainly wouldn’t say so since that’s against the law, and this post would just be a lucky guess.
And I wouldn’t complain about the empire so much if it were a profit-making enterprise. Napoleon collected taxes from the lands he conquered:
“Napoleon’s campaigns of 1806–7 were not only self-financing, but covered at least a third of ordinary French government expenditure.”
That’s from Niall Ferguson’s book “Civilization” (at Kindle Locations 3261-3262.) Unfortunately, the costs of our empire are bankrupting us.
Note: Chalmers Johnson did some work for the CIA; teaching them about Japan, on which he was an expert. Johnson says that it was a brief consulting gig. And the CIA is supposed to know about other countries as opposed to who is governor of Minnesota.
Note: Donald Rumsfeld used to fly around in an airplane as big as Air Force One. The Pentagon used to operate a huge fleet of private jets until Chalmers Johnson shamed them into toning it down.
Note: Here is the New York Times review of Maddow’s book. “Too smart-alecky” indeed.
Note: Here’s a story about how General Electric muzzles the journalists in its employ.
Note: At 6:10 into the video above John Stewart congratulates Maddow for writing a non-partisan book, which proves that he didn’t read it.
Note: I’m not entirely opposed to the Pentagon arresting Congress. It is, after all, a den corrupt vipers. And authoritarian regimes like that of Singapore aren’t much worse than what we have now.
Intellectuals love to deride populism, but consider this: Five years ago, America’s “Jobs Czar” Jeff Immelt made a speech. As reported by ZDNet:
“Immelt noted that in the U.S. globalization is not a concept appreciated by the majority. He suggested that in a vote yes or no on globalization 60 percent of Americans would vote no.”
Too bad we never had that vote, because Joe Sixpack was obviously right.
Too bad our trade policies were “fast tracked” through Congress in a virtually fascist process in order to override the wishes of the American people.
Immelt went on to say:
“There is a lot of misinformation,” Immelt said. “Ultimately, we have to rebuild confidence as industrialists. I worry about our fear creeping into our ability to make long-term industrial decisions.”
Turns out, it was the “industrialists” who were misinformed, the fear was rational, and Immelt is still waiting on that restoration of confidence.
Note to Immelt: When will you man-up and admit that you were wrong?
Immelt made those comments in front of an audience of Indian engineers at an event in Silicon Valley. Most of the audience was likely brought to the USA to outsource the jobs of American engineers. Immelt used to be in the body-shopping business, so it was logical for him to be the keynote speaker.
And Immelt knew what the consequences for the USA would be:
“Part of globalizing is creating a win-win situation. ‘Can the standard of living in India grow by 100-fold without the standard of living in the U.S. going down over time?,’ Immelt asked. He didn’t have a clear answer [to] his own question, but described the problem.
Everybody knows the answer to that question today is “no” – except perhaps our “Jobs Czar”.
At first, it appears ironic that a man who has personally exported jobs to China, Mexico, and India would be the jobs czar. But look at the title of his outfit: the “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness”.
“Competitiveness” is code for lowering wages to the “global equilibrium” level of about $2 per hour. That would make the USA “competitive” with low-wage nations when it comes to attracting “industrialists” and their sweatshops.