So went the famous 2003 quote from Gen. David Petraeus concerning the Iraq war. More about him later. But as the Great Disruption once again sends us further down the mountainside, it's an apt question for the American experiment in self-government, the economy, our society.
One way it doesn't end is with a great backlash against the extremism that now controls the Republican Party. Wisconsin gave its best shot with fierce protests and recall elections but failed. Reactionary Republicans still hold power in the home of Robert La Follette. When this week's recall contests were over, it was clear that corporate money will have its way. Not only that, but majorities in suburbia, which is most of the country, will vote GOP no matter whether this is in their economic or civic interests. Whatever the polls say about Republican unpopularity, not much will change in the next election. For that to happen, America would need a viable opposition party.
It doesn't end with President Hoover "finding his voice." The listless recitation of pleas for balanced approaches and bipartisanship we heard on Monday, as the stock market was panicking, is his voice. He is weak. He is passive. He is a creature of the Robert Rubin/bankster wing of the Democratic Party, which shares the dream of "reforming entitlements." He will not fight for the middle class, for jobs, for fair play. I think of the late Jeff MacNelly's brutally on-target political cartoons of Jimmy Carter, who became smaller and smaller in the presidential chair.
The empire is unsustainable. So, too, are 30 years of tax cutting, not only at the federal level but in states and localities. But we'll keep spending trillions on these as we defund Amtrak, NPR, close local libraries, raise eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare — sorry, no jobs for you people. A jobs stimulus, building infrastructure...that would be anti-American. We have a debt crisis. We're broke. Both parties are to blame. Taxes and regulations are holding back job creation. None of these four statements are true, but we see them endlessly repeated in the media. And I'm just talking about the news from respected outlets for average, relatively intelligent Americans — not the fiery propaganda of the right-wing krackpots. So we will pay any price and bear any burden to maintain this status quo and protect the oligarchs' looting of the collective wealth it took a century to amass. Worst income inequality since, at least, the eve of the Depression? Why, that's just an opinion. Shhhh.
With our leaders unwilling to tell us the truth or enact policies that could actually arrest our national collapse, I can't tell you how it ends. Instability will grow. When China senses us at the end of our tether, it may try to take Taiwan. Or maybe the breaking point comes when the Tea Party demands an end to "free trade," or China tries to dump Treasuries and we simply default. We might have the capability to take out Beijing's small number of ICBMs in a first strike from our submarines. Unfortunately, China targets our cities, so we'd better be damned sure. But who knows? Rationality has slipped the leash, starting in 2001 if not before. Even the transnational corporate masters might not be able to control the spiraling gyre.
The damage done to the republic by these genuinely anti-American extremists and their anti-American puppet-masters is greater than most realize. At the least it opens the door to a Petraeus type, with the stars and medals, a good part of the armed forces behind him and the willingness, like Julius Caesar, to declare the republic dead and rule.
Ten years ago I couldn't imagine writing such an essay. Ten years from now, I can't imagine.
Tell me how this ends?