Diana Collins
War, devastation, inflation, huge budget deficits – the price for what?

To classical antiquity, we owe the concept of Pyrrhic victory. Chomsky says something very relevant with regard to the notion that the Vietnamese were victorious in 1975, a notion that is very widespread among liberals and people on the Left who think that the U.S. “lost the war.” The price of the Vietnamese “victory,” Chomsky says, was devastation. The U.S., Chomsky maintains (speaking in fact about those who are “the government” and the corporations  represented by them) is like the mafia. If a restaurant owner refuses to submit to extortion, the mafia bosses send the thugs. It will teach all the other restaurant owners a lesson. Same in global politics.  If a so-called Third World country refuses  to dance to the tune of the U.S. establishment, they send their army. It happened to Arbenz and the populace that supported him in Guatemala. It happened in Lebanon, when the marines went ashore (was that it the 1950s or the early 60s?). It happened to the Dominican Republic, to Vietnam, to Iraq when Saddam Hussein, an erstwhile accomplice of the C.I.A., became too independent. To Noriega. To the Taliban government when they preferred an Argentine corporation over Unocal, and were rather unyielding in the Roemerberg talks, while the U.S. side wanted control of a safe oil pipeline from formerly Soviet Central Asia to an oil terminal that would have been constructed in Pakistan.  Yes, Chomsky gets it right. And still he forgets something that Paul Mattick saw in the 1970s. The price that the U.S. paid for a. strategy that was determined to make Vietnam suffer badly when it challenged first French, then American control and supremacy in Indochina was also exorbitant. The cost of the Vietnam war unleashed inflation in America, which the U.S. then exported by printing greenbacks which were still, in a sense that was different from today, the reserve currency of what was called the “free” world. It unleashed the crisis of 1973. And the oil producing countries, seeing inflation undercut their real intake from oil exports, answered by adapting the oil price to global inflation, contributing thereby to an intensification of the global economic downturn. It was to a large extent a result of the immense cost of a very long war. One of the additional results at the time was that governments in Europe and of course the Japanese government pushed for freely floating, instead of fixed currency exchange rates, and obtained that innovation which is the basis of the devastating currency speculation that followed later on and that still persists, as the populace of countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentine and today, Greece, can tell you.

Today, the U.S. establishment, including the men who form the Obama administration and members of Congress who are advocates of high and perpetually increased defense spending (people who are paid off pretty well, I suppose, by the corporations that earn a lot of money selling hardware to the armed forces) recklessly defend the continuing American war in Afghanistan that has been going on for a decade already, devastating what was not yet devastated in the country, hurting the civilian population of that country tremendously, adding to insecurity, letting opium production soar to levels never seen before, and costing the American taxpayer 10 billion Euros per month, according to a European source. In U.S. dollars, that would probably be a slightly higher amount. Wars that prolonged and that costly have a revenging aspect. They do not only hurt the attacked population. They also undermine the “health” of the economy of the attacking country; they mean a devastating budget deficit, and in the end they find the common people paying the price. Today this happens in America, not just in the other country that became a target of the American establishment’s wanton greed and desire to rule much of the world at least indirectly, by stooges like Mobutu or Mubarak (both now dropped) and Karsai (still in office, and in secure control of a part at least of his tormented capital, Kabul).

Check: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/17/democracy_uprising_in_the_usa_noam
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