Common Cause: Dems and Reps Unite for Imperial Overkill

Glenn Greenwald provides a snapshot of the true – and truly gargantuan nature of the American Imperium in his piece, "The bipartisan consensus on US military spending." The facts – chiefly, that the United States spends more on its military than all of the rest of the world combined, including Russia and China – are not exactly news to anyone who has been paying attention these past many years, but it is useful to see it all set down clearly with the latest figures.

Greenwald also rounds up some telling quotes from those "fightin' progressives" leading the race for the Democratic presidential nomination – all of whom, even the "angry populist" John Edwards, have publicly committed themselves to maintaining – and expanding – America's imperial legions around the world. Barack Obama, for example – the "different" candidate, the "new voice," etc. etc. – not only pledges to expand the war machine but to use "military force in circumstances beyond self-defense…to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities."

This is of course an exact replication of the  "Bush Doctrine" of unending aggressive war, described in precisely the same terms that Bush himself would use to justify his crimes. After all, isn't the invasion and rapine of Iraq a "stability and reconstruction operation"? Meanwhile, H. Clinton is the largest recepient of legalized bribes from the masters of war – outstripping even the bloodlusting Republican candidates in war industry donations.

Greenwald also notes the long-obvious truth that the extent of the American military empire is not even considered a fit subject for public debate by our political class and its bloated, fawning, fatuous courtiers in the media. That America must dominate the world by force and the ever-present threat of force is simply a given of our ruling class, and no one – no one – who seriously questions this assumption will ever be allowed to reach the commanding heights of power. [Arthur Silber has waxed eloquently on this theme for years.]

I must however take issue with one of Greenwald's closing observations, when he says "it is a genuinely good thing that we continue to elect our leaders by voting." I don't think this is true. The last two presidential elections were complete abominations that would have been condemned out of hand as skewed, corrupted and fatally flawed processes had they taken place in some other country – such as Ukraine, say, or Kenya. (And the presidential elections are just the tip of a large slushy iceberg in our disfunctional democracy.) But beyond the electoral monkey business there is the aforementioned fact that only those who pay obesiance to the voracious American war machine are allowed to contend seriously for power. In similar fashion, only those who paid obesiance to Marxist-Leninist doctrine were allowed to contend for seats on the Soviet Politburo.

Greenwald says that we should "take note of just how profoundly limited and lacking is the discourse that surrounds [the voting] process," and indeed we should. But it is not only the discourse that is limited; the choices themselves are severely circumscribed. Such a system is a democracy in name only.

But then, that's not news either, is it?