by Ben Schreiner
August 24, 2012 (TSR) – With signs of a world economic slump mounting, external pressures from the Euro crisis and the inherent internal contradictions of the U.S. economic model threaten to rot the American Empire from the inside out.
Although the latest U.S. jobs report found 163,000 new jobs created in the month of July, the nation’s unemployment rate still ticked up from 8.2 to 8.3 percent. And when factoring in both long-term and short-term discouraged workers (those who have given up on searching for work), the U.S. unemployment rate rises to over 20 percent. Meanwhile, little optimism can be found for a recovered labor market in the near term.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. economy is to remain growing at a meager rate of 2 percent into 2013, and is faced with a host of “negative risks” in the short term–all of which threaten to stymie growth even further. And according to a recent report from the U.S. Federal Reserve, economic activity has indeed decelerated over the first half of this year.
The effects of the ever-deteriorating economic situation are of course not limited to economic indicators alone, but are becoming more visibly tangible as well. The recent spree of purportedly “senseless” and “random” mass shootings across the U.S. are but one manifestation of this growing societal breakdown. Such abhorrent symptoms of a deeply imperiled society, though, ought to be expected.
As British researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett tirelessly document in their 2009 book, The Spirit Level, “Inequality seems to make countries dysfunctional across a wide range of outcomes”-from physical and mental health, to levels of violence and societal trust. And the U.S., as Wilkinson and Pickett note, is the most inequitable society amongst the developed world.
Still, as one might expect, with both U.S. political parties pandering to the interests of the nation’s power elite, the political class has been utterly incapable of articulating, much less actually delivering, a way out of the current crisis. Instead, both parties continue to adhere to the dogmatic neoliberal proscribed remedy of disciplined austerity (or “shared sacrifice,” to use the Washington lexicon). In other words, they continue to advocate a further belt tightening by the already squeezed working class.
But as the multifaceted U.S. internal decay continues to accelerate, a further degree of exploitation of the already heavily exploited working class offers little in the way of hope for a regeneration of U.S. capitalism. Understanding such limits, the U.S. political elite have thus set upon playing the old imperial game of intensifying external aggression as a means of resolving internal contractions. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the targeting of Iran.
U.S. External Aggression and Iran
Set against this backdrop of continued economic malaise, rampant speculation has begun to proliferate once more through the U.S. media as to if, and all the more likely, precisely when, Israel shall come to strike Iran. This recent bout of bomb Iran fever has been stoked by renewed Israeli threats of aggression.
Last week, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, came forth to declare that “diplomacy has failed” and that the U.S. ought to give Iran an ultimatum of a matter of “weeks, and not more than that,” to halt its nuclear enrichment.
Ayalon’s comments came amidst a rash of Israeli media reports indicating that Israel was closing in on an attack–perhaps as soon as late September, according to the Ma’ariv newspaper.
The latest Israeli outburst was quickly scolded by the U.S. paper of record for being irresponsible in tone. As the New York Times editorialized, “There is still time for diplomacy. It would be best served if the major powers stay united and Israeli leaders temper loose talk of war.” But although the tone of the Obama administration and U.S. media has been somewhat more tempered, the U.S. stance is no less hawkish in substance.
In fact, the focus on Israeli posturing obscures the fact that Israeli bluster merely mirrors the official U.S. position. As President Obama declared in March, in a pandering speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee: “I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say…Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
The fact that Israel’s nuclear arsenal-estimated to contain over 200 nuclear warheads-garners no mention in U.S. discussions of the supposed “Iranian threat” is telling enough.
Instead, the dangerous external aggression directed towards the people of Iran by the U.S. and its lightly tethered attack dog, Israel, ought to be viewed within the context of the economic crisis afflicting the U.S. and the global capitalist system more broadly. For it is indeed the menace of such intractable internal contradictions which have placed the U.S., whether in conjunction with Israel or not, on an accelerated warpath with Iran.
Given this present state of affairs, the only hope in averting war lies is a mass anti-war mobilization led by the workers of the world, including those toiling within the belly of the imperial beast. Absent such a movement, the future only portends untold misery for working people in the U.S. and the world over.
AUTHOR: Ben Schreiner
Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer covering US and international politics. His work has appeared in al-Akhbar English, Asia Times Online, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Z Magazine, and others.
Originally published in Press TV.