Harper's is notorious for printing remarkably provocative essays by renowned and talented writers, and then withholding those from the web for about a month. So Chalmers Johnson's frighteningly acute and penetrating analysis ("military Keynsianism") of the state of the Union as seen by an ambivalent outsider only appeared very recently. Information Clearinghouse dot info has it. This is the introductory section:
01/17/07 "Harpers Magazine" -- -- The United States remains, for the moment, the most powerful nation in history, but it faces a violent contradiction between its long republican tradition and its more recent imperial ambitions.
The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democrat¬ic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.
Several factors, however, indicate that this course will be a brief one, which most likely will end in economic and political collapse.
Military Keynesianism: The imperial project is expensive. The flow of the nation’s wealth – from taxpayers and (increasingly) foreign lenders through the government to military contractors and (decreasingly) back to the taxpayers – has created a form of “military Keynesianism,” in which the domestic economy re¬quires sustained military ambition in order to avoid recession or collapse.
The Unitary Presidency: Sustained military ambition is inherently anti-republican, in that it tends to concentrate power in the executive branch. In the United States, President George W. Bush subscribes to an esoteric interpretation of the Constitution called the theory of the unitary ex¬ecutive, which holds, in effect, that the president has the authority to ignore the separation of pow¬ers written into the Constitution, creating a feed¬back loop in which permanent war and the uni¬tary presidency are mutually reinforcing.
Failed Checks on Executive Ambition: The U.S. legislature and judiciary appear to be in¬capable of restraining the president and there¬fore restraining imperial ambition. Direct opposition from the people, in the form of democratic action or violent uprising, is unlikely because the television and print media have by and large found it unprofitable to inform the public about the actions of the country’s leaders. Nor is it likely that the military will attempt to take over the executive branch by way of a coup.
Bankruptcy and Collapse: Confronted by the limits of its own vast but nonetheless finite financial resources and lacking the political check on spending provided by a functioning democracy, the United States will within a very short time face financial or even political collapse at home and a significantly diminished ability to project force abroad.
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