Decadence, Waste, Corruption in the New American Empire [Part I]

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

"An empire is always coercive and autocratic: It is
like a cover that presses on a boiling cauldron. At a
certain point, the internal pressure is too strong,
the cover is blown off and there is a sort of volcanic

Umberto Eco, Italian medievalist
"An empire is a despotism, and an emperor is a despot,
bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is
a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy."

John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd American President
"The deterioration of every government begins with the
decay of the principles on which it was founded."

Montesquieu (1689-1755), Charles Louis de Secondat,
Baron de Montesquieu
A sure sign of decadence in an empire
is when hard earned money seems to lose any meaning
and is wasted left and right. There are instances that
indicate that is what is happening in the United
States today. There is a dance of the billions that
defies imagination and that nobody seems to
understand. First case in point: In 2006, [investment
banker and securities firm Goldman Sachs->]
paid out a whopping $16.5 billion in year-end bonuses
to its executives and employees. That sort of cash, if
it were to be transported in boxes of 100-dollar bills
would require about fifty 10-ton truckloads. This came
out to a Christmas gift of $625,000 for each man and
woman in that organization, whose main production is
to shift papers around. Last year, the firm paid its
two co-presidents $54 million each in salary, bonuses
and benefits. Do you think there is a link between
exorbitant private profits and political power? Well,
you may want to ask yourself why Bush nominated [a
former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs as Treasury
and chose a [lawyer from Goldman Sachs as his Chief of
Case two where money is flowing freely is [the
The military budget of the United States government
for 2007 piles up to the huge amount of 623 billion
dollars. That is more than $2,000 for each American
man, woman and child. As the 9/11 Commission Report
pointed out, "The Department of Defense is the
behemoth...With an annual budget larger than the gross
domestic product of Russia, it is an empire." [The
real New American Empire->]
is the U.S. Department of Defense. Its annual budget
represents more than 50 percent of the military
expenditures of all the 191 other countries in the
world bundled together. It is an empire that [spreads
its tentacles in 135 countries,->] with
troops in every single one of them, and which has
deployed the unbelievable number of 737 military bases in these foreign
lands. This is really an empire out of control that
has become an increasing threat to the world.
Obtaining defense contracts is a sure way to quick
riches. For example, a report by the Special Inspector
General for Iraq Reconstruction has concluded that the
highest proportion of overhead was incurred in
oil-facility contracts won by KBR Inc., [the
Halliburton subsidiary->] and
Vice president Dick Cheney's former firm. As to links
between defense contracts and political power, you may
want to ask yourself why Bush nominated the president
of a major arms supplier to the post of under
secretary of the Navy.
With so much money floating around, it is no wonder
that a congressional committee, the House Oversight
and Government Reform Committee, recently discovered
that about thirty-six 10-ton truckloads of [newly
printed $100 bills disappeared in Iraq->,,2008189,00.html]
(363 tons of cash at a value of some $12,000 million
at the last count) and were unaccounted for. They are
in somebody's pockets, but Congress still does not
know whose pockets it is, not being able to follow the
meandering maze of fraud, waste, abuse and corruption
that is taking place in the Iraq war.
It is reasonable to think that some of this cash
served to buy the famous December 15, 2005 Iraqi
elections heralded by the Bush-Cheney regime as a
model of democracy for the Middle East. If the $12
billion unaccounted for had been spread equally among
12 million eligible Iraqi voters, each one of them in
that impoverished country would have received $1,000
in freshly minted $100 dollar bills. We have to
remember that the December 15, 2005 election handed
over power, until 2009, to a coalition of fanatical
fundamentalist and theocratic Shiite parties backed by
Iran, and led by the [Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).->]
Of course, the first and greatest cost of the Iraq War
is the human cost and the destruction of a country by
immoral foreign invaders. But the money corruption
comes a close second.
In peaceful times, corruption is a
constant menace in a democracy. In times of war, if no
special steps are taken, it becomes endemic. And under
the Bush-Cheney regime, no such steps were taken to
avoid corruption. To the contrary, it would appear
that such corruption was welcome, possibly on the
knowledge or hope that some of the money floating
around would find its way back into the political
system. That is why money corruption poses a deadly
threat to the American democracy. Benjamin Franklin
(1706-1790), for one, feared the U.S. Constitution
would in time "fail ... because of the corruption of
the people, in a general sense." For his part,
President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) thought that
corruption in high places would follow as "all wealth
is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is
The question that remains to answer is whether the
American democracy can be saved from the ambient
corruption, or whether it is already too late. Indeed,
has the United States fallen into a chasm of
corruption so deep that it cannot recover from it?
[To be continued next week].
Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached
Visit his blog site.
Author's Website
Check Dr. Tremblay's coming book

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