Barbarism Versus Stupidism

SUBHEAD: As reality drags us kicking and screaming toward it, the likelihood of a domestic political convulsion increases.

By James Kunstler on 22 Spetember 2014 for -

Image above: Oil painting "Talent Show" by Mark Bryan, 2012. From (

In my lifetime, the USA has not blundered into a more incoherent, feckless, and unfavorable foreign policy quandary than we see today.
The US-led campaign to tilt Ukraine to Euroland and NATO — and away from the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union — turned an “intelligence” fiasco into a strategic humiliation for the Obama White House. 

Notice that the story has vamoosed utterly from the American media headlines, even when the Russian Engineers’ Union issued a report last week asserting that the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was most likely shot down by 30mm cannon fire from Ukrainian military aircraft. 

The USA State Department didn’t deign to refute it because doing so would have drawn attention to the fact that it was the only plausible explanation for what happened.

Likewise, the campaign to paint Vladimir Putin as Stalin-in-a-judo-robe never really reached take-off velocity, since by all appearances he was the most rational and cool-headed actor on the geopolitical stage, following logical and long-established national interests. If the West had just left Ukraine alone, and allowed it to join the Eurasian Customs Union, that basket-case nation would have been Russia’s economic ward. 

Now the US and the EU have to support it with billions in loans that will never be paid back. Meanwhile, our European allies have been snookered into a set of economic and financial sanctions against Russia that guarantees they’ll be starved for oil and gas supplies in the winter months ahead. Smooth move.

So, the reason that all this has vanished from the news media is that it’s game-over in Ukraine. We busted it up, and can do more with it, and pretty soon the rump Ukraine region run out of Kiev will go crawling back to Russia begging for a little heating fuel.

Does any tattoo-free American adult outside the Kardashian-NFL mass hypnosis matrix feel confident about the trajectory of US policy regarding the so-called Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL)? 

First, there is the astonishing humiliation that this ragtag band of psychopaths managed to undo ten years, 4,500 US battle deaths, and $1+ trillion worth of nation-building effort in Iraq in a matter of a few weeks this summer. The US public does not seem to have groked the damage to our honor, self-confidence, and international standing in this debacle.

So, now we’re going to just deal “death from above” on the Black Flaggers across that stretch of their captured territory that runs from Iraq into Syria — violating Syria’s sovereignty in the process, of course. My guess is that such an operation will inspire them to bring the action straight to Europe, the USA, and the grand prize, Saudi Arabia. 

The movement is too broad now, includes too many psychopaths from all over the world (Europe especially) who hold passports that will enable them to travel easily out of the Middle East and export mayhem wherever they want to bring it.

The USA is stuck within so many pathways of systems criticality in this fall of 2014, that is sure to be expressed in our own internal politics very soon. We’re all set up for a classic state of siege with the Pentagon militarizing every Podunk police department in the land, and one can easily imagine a single IS operation aimed at some soft American target shoving us into hysteria.

While all this is happening, of course, Wall Street and its hand-maidens rev up the engines of malinvestment and bid up false values of things that will do nothing to get us safely into the economy of real things that awaits us. That economy of real things I speak of does not include many of the comforts and conveniences we’re used to — mass motoring, national chain retail, air-conditioning for all, 24/7 electric service — but it’s where we’re going. 

As reality drags us kicking and screaming toward it, the likelihood of a domestic political convulsion increases. We’ll look back on these weirdly placid years after the 2008 train wreck with amazement. These are the rudderless years of no leadership, of cowardly dissimulating midgets. A people can only take so much of that.

Finance is the weakest link in the chain of systems that allows us to run the old economy. It’s the system most abstracted from reality and the most easily manipulated into ever-greater abstraction. 

Hence it’s the system most easily subject to fatal slippage. And all it takes to set off the slipping is a simple loss of faith.


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