Failing Upwards

 

Despite being the richest most powerful country in the world the US is an empire in decline. Perhaps it’s because we don’t hold our elite accountable?

Empire-101 requires holding elites accountable to maintain said empire. History is replete with failed empires that didn’t heed this basic calculus. See here, here, here, and here.

America’s elite haven’t been forced to accept responsible for their monumental failures. Instead, they’ve traversed from one epic fuck-up to another. Even more egregious is that rather than suffering any loss of prestige, income or job prospects, our feral elite are rewarded for these failures.

Since 9/11, America has set the whole Middle-East on fire and in the process created a much more dangerous world. Journalist and writer, Pepe Escobar well describes the US as the Empire of Chaos.

Let’s examine some of the architects of this chaos.

There’s Condi, who as one of the key members of George W. Bush foreign policy team argued strongly in favor of the invasion of Iraq, quite possibly the worst foreign policy disaster in US history. Has she suffered for this ongoing catastrophe that now includes the rise of ISIS? Of course not, silly, she’s moved on to greener pastures, shaping the minds of young elites at Stanford.

Then, there’s Wolfi, another of the architects of the Iraq fiasco, who famously told congress that the invasion would pay for itself. After the criminal destruction of Iraq he was named president of the World Bank although that gig didn’t work out all that well either. Not to worry, as he’s landed on his feet and is presently advising presidential candidate Jeb Bush on foreign affairs.

We can’t forget General David Petraeus, who you might remember as the hero of the vaunted fraudulent surge in Iraq, before humiliating himself by providing classified information to his paramour. Unlike Chelsea Manning, who passed on classified informations as a way to expose US war crimes, Petraeus avoided jail time and is now working for private equity powerhouse KKR. If that wasn’t enough of a reward for services rendered, he also received a cushy sinecure at Harvard.

It’s not just the US foreign policy elite who’ve been rewarded for failure.

The financial collapse of 2008, probably the biggest economic crime of my lifetime, is a historic injustice that has gone unpunished. Our financial elite wrecked the US economy with a witches brew of mortgage backed security crap, then engineered a trillion dollar government bailout. Are they grateful? Hah! They’ve moved on and are busy lecturing us about how they are doing Gods work, while advocating cuts to social programs like Medicare and Social Security.

JP Morgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon made a shit-ton of money since the crash. That wasn’t enough for poor Jaimie, who felt very put out that the public didn’t appreciate his heroic capitalistic exertions. Luckily, President Obama interceded and praised him as “one of the smartest bankers we got.”

And, there’s little Timmy Geithner, who as Treasury Secretary helped foam the runways for the banks by sacrificing homeowners after the 2008 Wall Street crash of mortgage backed securities. What became of him? You’ll be surprised that he’s finally cashing in by taking on a key role at a New York-based private equity firm.

The corporate media has played no small role in this ongoing series of disasters. They’ve been rewarded for being disastrously wrong in advocating for war in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. They’ve also been rewarded for cheerleading Wall Street before the crash of 2008. At this point, it should be obvious that advocating for war and capital is always a smart career move in American journalism.

In the US we have a bifurcated rule of law. Poor people who commit crimes go to prison and lose everything. On the other side of the ledger, rich and powerful people who commit crimes, fail upward.

Former congressional staffer, Mike Lofgren, argues that this is what happens when an empire is controlled by an unaccountable Deep State.

“This lengthy catalog of dysfunctions in our governing institutions both public and private, and in the elites that control them, points to a system that is not sustainable in the long term. It is also not that unusual in light of history. The normal way mature power structures try to maintain themselves is by redefining their vices as virtues and their mistakes as harmless mulligans that should not be counted on the scorecard. Disasters like Vietnam and Iraq no more undermine the legitimacy of the elites who engineered them, at least in their own eyes, than the sinking of the Spanish Armada undermined Philip II’s unshakable belief that he was on the throne by the grace of God. It is the strategy of deny and move on. But it cannot go on.”

The American people may not get the precise details but they sense the outline of this vast corruption.

In fact, corruption has become the signature issue of 2016 as the Trump and Sanders campaigns are demonstrating.

Hold you elite accountable, or bad shit happens.

 

 

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