This is a guest post regarding the sociopolitical situation in Middle East and the possible implications world wide. In many ways it’s a more bloody version than what’s been happening in Latin America in the last decade. Thanks Jon for the well written article!
The Middle East 2011: Geopolitical Examples of Imperial Overstretch
March 2, 2011
By Jon King, P.E.
Libya is a gigantic headache, but it is only a sideshow in the opening act. Libya is simply one of the hair pin detonators on a geopolitical nuclear weapon waiting to go off.
Gaddafi is an unapologetic tin-horn tyrant that we have quasi-supported because he hates the Muslim fundamentalists as much or more than he hates us and when President Reagan sent that laser guided missile through his tent door as a practical form of realpolitik, Gaddafi got the message; don’t sponsor terrorism, sell Europe your oil and get rich and we won’t bomb the Hell out of you (personally). Meanwhile we count on him to keep the Caliphate from appearing “50 miles from the shores of Europe” in the words of apparently, his only rational son, as quoted in a headline last week.
Who knows who started the Middle East conflagration, the CIA, the Muslim Brotherhood, or Osama Bin Laden, but the implications are clear. Black Gold is the name of the game and Saudi Arabia is the largest nugget.
If Saudi Arabia falls, all Hell breaks out everywhere. Every tyrant, terrorist, pirate, opportunist, and downtrodden Marxist is going to go balls for the wall against our worldwide interests. They know that we can’t fight everywhere at once and if they see us vulnerable, you won’t have to wait to see them pile on. In fact, it is already happening. It isn’t by chance that China is choosing this moment to take concrete steps to move its trade to the Yuan. If the Middle East goes, oil stops being priced in US Dollars, the US Dollar crashes, and there goes US worldwide economic hegemony, which means we can no longer maintain the façade of wealth and by extension consumption. Why does China need us if we can’t pay for their goods in a “hard” currency? Especially if we renege on paying them back our debt which we will surely have to do. Can anyone imagine a scenario under which we undergo domestic austerity in order to pay back the Chinese? Can anyone say Wisconsin, only the “bad” guys aren’t the public unions and their collective bargaining (extortion) rights, they are the Chinese Communists. The idea that we have the political will to pay the Chinese back at the expense of our domestic obligations is absurd and I have to believe the Chinese leadership know this.
Obama is clearly in over his head, as are his advisors. Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard/Oxford/Stanford made that clear last week on MSNBC when he famously described Obama’s Flip and Flop then Flip diplomacy in Egypt. Apparently, according to Professor Ferguson, when it comes to US Foreign Policy, we don’t know if on any given day Barack is in charge or Hillary is (or, as is more likely, the focus groups are).
It is apparent that the Flip, Flop, Flip is back on in Libya. That USS Enterprise has been hovering between the Red Sea, Suez Canal, and now Libya for the last 10 days. You can almost sense the White House desperation in the moves of the carrier – they don’t know whether to support Libya, chase supposed Iranian destroyers entering the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal (a token move against Israel and overt Iranian exploitation of supposed Egyptian and US weakness), or guard against an Iranian move against the Straits of Hormuz coordinated with an attack by the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia against the main Saudi Oil terminal at Ras Tanura.
All of the rest of our deployed (and much newer) carrier battle groups are in and around places like Taiwan and South Korea. We don’t dare move them because North Korea may enter the fray against South Korea at the least opportune moment if they smell enough blood in the water, or more ominously, China may move against Taiwan, or both. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Diplomatic cables were burning red hot between Washington, Tehran (via Moscow), and Pyongyang (by way of Beijing). Probably short, terse, to the effect “you attack us or our allies while we are otherwise engaged in Libya and Saudi Arabia and you can expect a stealth nuclear cruise missile up your ass.” Just this week, The National Geographic actually put together an article together with an almost beautiful full color picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud on the cover, authoritatively stating that a “limited nuclear war” would improve global warming. That is downright terrifying, as the National Geographic has long been known to be aligned and largely bank rolled by the interests of the global centralized financial powers. That article may be code for them to get the domestic green movement’s support (Obama’s base) for an Obama led limited US nuclear attack against Iran or North Korea should the whole Middle East thing spiral out of control. It would also be a wonderful distraction and misdirection of US domestic opinion away from stringing up the bankers (Oscar winning ‘Inside Job’) and towards stringing up the greedy oil sheiks. It would also send a stark message to a non-eurocentric and non-anglocentric worldwide commercial powers - you may have real manufacture and industry but we have carrier battle groups, space based nuclear weapons, and the will to use them in defense of our interests.
Our military and its soon-to-be-waning prowess is the only trump card we have left.
As of now, the elderly USS Enterprise is heading to Libya to facilitate evacuations, and maybe that really is Obama’s purpose, although it should also be to secure the oil facilities before Gaddafi burns them as Saddam did to the Kuwaiti oil fields in the nineties. Because if he burns his oil infrastructure as he has threatened to do, peak oil price increases will be inopportunely accelerated, the threat of the US Dollar going into free fall rises exponentially, the world economy is shaken to its core (as is ours), and, ironically, Muslim fundamentalists the world over will be emboldened.
We can’t and won’t nuke civilian populations “protesting” for their democratic rights against the tyrants we have supported and installed in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. We can, however, easily manufacture a reason to nuke Iran or North Korea.
If you haven’t noticed, Egypt’s coup against Mubarak has been “solved” by replacing him with his “mini me” military protégé. Our interest in Egypt has not been damaged by their supposed “revolution.” I am sure we are desperately trying to replicate that in Libya, and prevent it from occurring at all in Saudi Arabia.
The rising price of Oil, Food, Precious Metals, Revolutions, Volatile Fiat Currencies, and War are all competing to be the first fuse to light the pile of long accumulating fuel that sets off the conflagration that begins the next sea change in world politics and economics.
The United States is vulnerable in many ways, and powerful in others. This promises to be a near run thing. Ultimately, however, military power always is a derivative of economic power or plunder. Take away that and the military power disappears. Take away our dollar supremacy and you take away our ability to fund our military which in turn weakens our dollar….resulting in a very high stakes game of near term chicken and long term roast.
We may very well be able to partner with Saudi Arabia to suppress their masses from rebelling, we have been successful partnering with them in doing that for years, but sometime, someplace, some cog in the complex machinery that is our economic and military worldwide hegemony is going to break. When that happens we will have reached Paul Kennedy’s famous Imperial Overstretch and for those whose dreams included a dominant United States hegemony into the 21st century, those dreams will end.