Empire at the end of decadence

nytimes.com/2011/02/19/opini … ef=general

Note the amendments in the article:

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 26, 2011

The chart accompanying this column last week shaded Italy’s and Spain’s math scale scores incorrectly. They should have been included among the “worst of the worst,” not merely “the “worst.” In addition, shadings for the United States and Taiwan were reversed. Taiwan should have been among the “worst of the worst” for life expectancy at birth, and the United States should have been among the “worst.” Finally, the French prison population per 100,000 citizens was incorrect. It is 96, not 365.

See link for full article.

I know there’s already a thread on Americas decline but I thought this article has some issues that stand apart from that debate.

What do you think about these statistics?

The U.S. is entering the same stage as did Britain in the early 50’s. Britain watched their empire shrink, their economy no longer the envy of the world, their people under-employed, the very same things we are seeing the U.S. entering today. Will the U.S. inevitably become a has-been in the world? I don’t think so. I’ll use WWII as the example. Prior to the war, we were coming out of a severe depression. We were weak in almost any category you can name. The politics of the day were isolationist, extreme right dominated. Had the Japanese not given us the kick in the ass, Britain might have fallen to Hitler. The forces against us getting involved in the European conflict were almost too strong for Roosevelt to overcome. But Pearl Harbor happened, and overnite, we woke up. Over the next 5 years, America tapped it’s great resources and it’s people and came out of the war stronger than ever.

OK That’s history. The point I’m trying to make is that it would be a mistake to underestimate America’s ability to occasionally come to the party. It isn’t that we are special just because we’re Americans, but because we occupy a land of tremendous resources and a system of social organization that can get it (mostly) right at least part of the time.

Right now, I’m watching the extreme right over-reaching in ways that are going to eventually cost them dearly. The LAST thing you want to do is to awaken the barking dog, and it’s already started. The media has helped make things worse, but it has been given way too much credit as a powerful force in shaping how we look at the world. At some point, people stop listening to anything but their circumstances, and the media telling us that the economy is improving while the money people keep ripping us off is falling on deaf ears. We’re a few years away from the back-lash, but it is coming. The centrists and the left will begin the slow grind of making it possible to be a bit more than slaves to the corpacracy that dominates at the moment. Are we a bunch of morons to let things get this fucked up? Yes. But we’ve proven time after time that we are capable of the course-corrections that brings us back to relative sanity. The pendulum has swung to the right just about as far as it can go. Just watch. It will start swinging the other way in the next year or two.

Britain would not of fallen to Hitler with or without Americas help, there were substantial allies along you know, probably 5 or 6 times the forces of the entire American army. I really hate this whole image that America bailed Europe out in the 2nd world war, as if somehow we were doomed with out the Yanks turning up (late as well). Drives me nuts. All America did was get rich off making arms and armaments and selling them to other countries, they shortened the war by several years, but with or without US forces eventually Hitler would of lost. We had to bear the cost of the whole thing though which did cripple what was left of our Empire.

So disrespectful to the allies this attitude.

Otherwise I agree US will have to get used to being one of many again.

Well, I’m not interested in fighting WWII again, :smiley: but all of Europe as well as Britain would have fallen to Hitler. The allies you mention weren’t exactly in a position to be of much help. The only possible would have been Russia, and it wasn’t until '44 that they were able to mount any counter-offensive. I would never discount the valiant nature of the British people, but without the supply lines provided by the americans (and Canada), there simply wouldn’t have been enough materials to sustain the war effort. Austrailia could have helped, but were a half world away, and were busy fighting off the Japanese. I’m not sure that the allies like Poland and Norway would have been much of a factor. And Britain bearing the whole cost of the war effort? Yes, Britain bore a huge cost to prosecute the war, but the notion that the U.S. got rich in the effort is laughable. The last time I checked, the american taxpayer was still paying off WWII debt. Our children will get to pay for our other stupid adventures.

precisely because America is so attached to it’s narrative of world supremacy, it will never have the political will to make the severe cuts in military budget that are required to restore it to some semblance of fiscal viability - we simply can’t afford to be THE military superpower in the world anymore, yet we can’t stand for a second the notion that we would no longer be - we are spinning our fiscal wheels trying to fund a military bloated beyond all reasonable proportion to the nation’s legitimate defense needs.

we’re like a homeless guy who spends all the money he makes panhandling on penis-enlargment pills whilst he slowly starves to death

so it’s the political suicide that is major military budget cuts or it’s the slower fiscal suicide that comes from clinging to the bogus supremacy narrative that we’ve cloaked ourselves in since WWII - i’m putting all my money on the latter

Complete bollocks that no one outside of the US remotely believes. As usual you over play your significance and underplay everyone else because everyone else aught to be grateful for you, this nationalist shit was bad enough when it was coming from Hitler. Get over yourselves your ego is colossal. It’s also totally without foundation, and although we are grateful for the help. We are much more grateful to the allies that actually made up the bulk of resistance to Germany not some trumped up idiots who think the world would have ground to a halt without their shining magnificence. Fuck me.

You have no respect for the struggles of countries, you joined the whole thing too late, and now you insist on making movies that completely rewrite history to once again self agrandize your importance.

Yeah you saved the planet. Fuck off did you, you us and the allies did but you want to demean the whole struggle by being the big hero. Fucking weak. :laughing:

You’re trying to hard, and your failing. And you wonder why everyone hates you, you’re not part of the world community you are just braggarts with a huge egotistical and unrealistic self image. It drives me spare how much contempt you have for everyone that isn’t the US. How little credit you give to the world for defeating Hitler, and how much you have to be the big man at all costs. Shameful.

Why not log onto google and rewrite history like you usually do. It sure beats reality.

Oh fucking Canada helped that’s magnanimous of you. :unamused:

Yes but don’t underestimate America they are a prodigiously productive nation, if they can get over there self importance and ignore the tea party retards I think they can rise again.

In fact we’re all hoping you do.

The tea party isn’t the problem here; it’s the ownership of the government by corporate and financial fatcats and criminals. The tea party is just an ignorant, hatefilled group easily manipulated and duped into hating taxes. The idea is to bust budgets and move all public sector services into private and corporate hands, to the detriment of all of us who need those services. I guess the rich can buy their own.


Well, you just keep on hating America. It’s obvious that this is what you desire. I’d really like to know what history books you’ve read to come to the conclusions you make. I’ve read accounts from most western countries and a few not so western. They don’t seem to match up with your assessments. I have no desire to beat a nationalistic drum. America has stepped on it’s own dick plenty of times, and there are plenty of circumstances of which we can be less than proud. As it turns out, we just as stupid as the rest of the world. But hatred is a useful tool when you need it - and you seem to need it.

i find it interesting cal that you made your own topic as a break from the fall of the american empire. and frankly i dont care whether you hate america as long as you discuss the facts.

The biggest problem in deciding what is “defense of national interests” is fear - fear that can be played upon by those whose interests lie in gaming the system. The Secretary of Defense just came out with a statement that says we may begin heading down a more productive path. No more land wars. This will gradually sink in among the electorate. If Nam wasn’t lesson enough, then Iraq and Afghanistan should drive it home. We simply can’t afford to get militarily involved in every world squabble. The lack of dollars to support the large military infrastructure we now have, the fact that we have exhausted our military people and their families, says that despite the doom and gloom ultra-right scare tactics, the military budget is going to be hit and hit hard. Our military is in for a revolutionary make over, and the lack of money will drive that process. We’re still a few years away from getting back to center, but I think you’ll see things begin moving toward sanity in the not too distant future.

the military may be in for a change but i wonder if the militry expense will go down.

That chart is a joke. It’s clearly designed to make a political point. It implies causal relationships between the listed parameters, but does not establish them.

To wit - if everyone in a country is poor, then income equality will be high. Does this mean that the country is a good place to live? France’s income equality figures are pretty good, but their unemployment rate is higher than the US. Both country’s unemployment rates will change over time, and no one knows which number will be better two years from now. Nor do we know if income equality figures will have a causal effect on those numbers.

Likewise, the level of democracy has, of course, a bias toward democracy. I don’t know how they arrived at those figures, but it doesn’t necessarily matter. The French score lower - that doesn’t mean that life is worse there.

And look where Germany winds up in “global wellbeing”. Whatever that is. What it is, is a self-evaluation telephone poll. Not exactly hard data.

And so on and so forth.

This is an example of lying with statistics - and a classic one. I’m not claiming that better data would make the US look better - it might make it look worse. But it’s not very meaningful.

yes the American military is a sacred cow - but even so, if we got the fuck out of Iraq and Afghanistan we’d save a lot of money - we’d lose a little face, but what’s a little face at this point? cash rules everything around me, and we need more of it. get. out.

I’m not sure we would even lose face, at this point. We have made our point in Afghanistan. Several years ago, in fact. And we never had a point to begin with in Iraq.

Besides, there’s always another war to fight.

What point did you exactly make in Afghanistan?

I think that point has indeed been made, and to little avail.

It’s reasonable to retaliate for the WTC attack. The most reasonable place to have done that was Afghanistan. It’s also reasonable to assume that the action in Afghanistan put al-Qaida in some disarray for a while.

And BTW, I have no interest in discussing the morality of this. It was a geopolitical and military point.

You’ve read books that basically say that America won WWII and the allies would of lost with out you. Who were they written by morons?

I hate Americas attitude and the actions of its leaders, lets not label me as some sort of racist, I don’t hate its people, just the ones who seem to think America was the saviour of the 20th century when for the most part post WWII it fucked everything up.

Millions of people fought and died in WWII, I will not have that whole fight demeaned by a bunch of egotisitcal braggarts. You were a small part of a vast allied army. Not the saviour of humanity. Hell Russias army was 2 or 3 times the size of yours alone ffs, it also had more resources by far than the US or Canada combined for that matter? Are you really this ignorant? Or like most of your historians do you want to write the efforts of other nations out of history so you can appear to be much more signifcant than you actually were. Leading historians from countries that are not so far up their own asses estimate the war may well have gone on for several more years without the Americans joining in 1940, however strategically it is clear Germany and its allies had over reached. Without the US, Russia would of gained a much quicker submission of Japan had it tried to press its claims into China and the rest of the allies would have still gained all the resources they needed from both Russia and Canada. Youre assistance was vital in bringing about a speedier resolution to WWII 9 a very valuable contribution without a doubt) but the result would of been the same anyway. At least according to people who have the first understanding of the vast allied army ranged against the Germans, with or without the US, the result was almost certainly likely to be German defeat only the date of peace would be in doubt.

This is your problem, you are for the most part a bellicose war monger with no care or idea about the political consequences of your actions. Who sees the UN as an inconvenience, and the general world community as a threat to your attempted hegemony. We should all be on the same side but the US is a loose cannon, with far too much arrogance and far too little diplomatic tact.

I think you should of gone after Osama Bin Laden and seen the taking of Afghanistan as a secondary target. But undeniably Afghanistan had to happen.

Iraq was basically illegal and based on outright lies, and no doubt would be if you didn’t have veto powers, and the SC could actually move against you rather than the General Council.

142 countries voted against you, IIRC 26 voted for you (the coalition of the willing) with the rest abstaining, I’ve no doubt an SC resolution had it been able to be passed would of been much the same.

Too lazy to google it. :stuck_out_tongue:

There is no such thing as a “general world community”.

I could not agree more. I was against the war before it started - a distinct minority in this country. I am sure I am on record as such on this site. It was clear to anyone who wanted to know that there was no evidence of WMD’s - and it was even more clear that Iraq was nothing like a friend to our enemies nor a threat to the US. It is also clear that it would be incorrect to blame George W. Bush. The american people wanted to attack. The information that there was no reason to was readily available to anyone who could get Google News. In this case, I would have to agree that the US - and by that I mean the US citizenry - is bellicose and war mongering. I have never made an excuse for this, nor could I.

However, the idea that “we” will ever be “on the same side” is not realistic. Different countries have different commercial interests in the Mideast, for instance, and that drives the foreign policies of those countries. Also, it hasn’t been that long since Britain and France were the major powers in the Mideast, and there is still some leftover colonialism involved in the foreign policy decisions that they and other european countries make. The fact is that WWII weakened the european colonial powers - it is not true that their motives were ever more pure, or are now.