Foreign Policy Review review of "Postmodern Imperialism"
Written by Eric Walberg    Wednesday, 09 November 2011 03:06    PDF Print E-mail

 I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]



On one home front, think of the Gilded Age of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. This is not the first time America-First ideology has been suspected to be cover for autocrats and plutocrats doing what they have always done. What makes the revelation different this time is the simultaneous sense that the US imperium apparently has seen and had its day. I say this anticipating the response: Yes, of course, that seems to be happening, but, no, it is too incredible to really happen.

Missing in the vague anomie is detailed fact, gathered and employed effectively to see the whole. Armed with such a guidebook, the Wall Street protestors and all the rest of America’s great discontented would truly understand why the 99-percenters, I suggest, may likely feel the need to join the hundreds of diehards in Zucotti Park, and then extend the protest, unbelievable as it truly sounds, by revolutionary action into an American Spring.[5]

Some years ago I overheard a blue-collar fellow – a retired Detroit fire fighter – explaining to his wife why the rich are rich: they are simply “smarter” than the rest of us. But the “exceptionalism” of America – where the smart people are free to get as rich as nanosecond insider trading, offshore deals, and tax lawyers let them – has collided with paradigm-destroying contradictions. The thesis appears to be running headlong into its antithesis. The new synthesis may well be coming at the world with the force of a huge, land-bound, Red Spot-sized storm. If sloganeering from Republicans still had any force to warn us about the imperiled “free market”, “free enterprise”, and – interchangeably – “‘freedom” – about how “the Greatest Nation on Earth/in History” is being destroyed by taxes, “socialism”, and “Big Government” – egged on by the shrieks and poison chatter of Fox News, some might still buy into the fear-mongering. A few tidy, frightened retirees sunning themselves in the Western states and devotees of NASCAR and the NRA from the old Confederate South might get apoplectic. Which, in some way, perhaps, is why the rest of us disbelieve any significant change is coming or can happen. But this may be because we don’t see the Big Picture.

Although, shunning advocacy, he is careful never to veer far from the neutral tones of reportage, the thesis of Walberg’s astonishing, fine-grained x-ray of the zeit is that the greatest source of problems in modern, and postmodern, times around the world is American imperialism. Such a thesis, of course, is not new among the radical left, nor among the political “Islamists”. Presented with a full account of the lies, clichés, and stereotyped credence of the US’s path to empire and how it maintains it with, by now, constant war, needle-sensitive rightwing Republicans and, take note, here, Jewish Americans, defensive, seething, and alarmed. It is likely they will then, unfortunately, too quickly look for reasons to label Walberg an anti-Semite with a hard-left agenda to cover up his supposed anti-Semitism. Lip-syncing (parentheticals added): (that infernally silly) Ayn Rand and (that feudalistic philosophical eminence) Leo Strauss – both had it right: there are Superior Ones (SOs) and there are Inferior Ones (IOs) and, for the sake of the continuing evolution of mankind, the SOs must inherit the earth. Get the money. And the girls. And the million dollar cryonic canopic jars. Richard Dawkins almost had it right; what he got wrong is that a few of the replicators – human beings as host for the genes – are taking charge, forcefully, violently, of who gets to pass them theirs on.

Not persuaded that Social Darwinism is necessary for the future of the species, a large majority of Americans – fed up or simply horrified with Bush, the fifty-three percent who voted for the African-American and “Socialist” Obama, as well as those who didn’t but are also the victims of the 2008 economic crash – now are beginning to realize that phantasmal, neocon realpolitik not only is entirely cynical but grandiose, also, its spokesmen misleading even themselves. Furthermore, the true-believers whom the Powers-That-Be have rallied reliably in the past have become suspicious that the single overriding purpose of calls to their patriotism always is to enrich the Big Boys, the Players: CEO’s at multinationals like Halliburton and General Electric, and at the mammoth, near-monopoly amalgam banking corporations, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Add Wall Street hedge fund renaissance men and finance capital wonderboys like Lloyd Blankfein.[6] Not only liberals and progressives but Tea Partiers view with helpless disgust the death-dances of the Neros on Wall Street, enriched to the point of requiring, one imagines, Roman-style emetics to clean the palate for more, more, more. The Detroit fireman might wonder how strange it is that such supposedly superior representatives of the species can be stupid about the terrible spectacle they make.

As events continue to move ever faster, Americans waking up to reality has the feel of desperate conviction. But the conviction has lacked both proof and necessary connect-the-dots fleshing out. Painstakingly researched, always on point, Walberg’s tightly packed historical analysis of world geopolitics since the Industrial Revolution, with its emphasis on the latter phases of US imperialism, reads like a ne plus ultra primer of real realpolitik. A Cambridge-educated Canadian who has spent many years in Russia and the Middle East and currently writes for the Egyptian weekly, Al Ahram, Walberg marshals dense but pertinent facts, building on a growing literature of reportage and analysis from journalists who want to cover this really big story and from historians and analysts[7] who see as their task a radical critique of both the pragmatics and the huge, fateful vainglory of US imperialism.

But Walberg goes much further than these other writers by telling the full story in 300 well-ordered pages – at times, the book reads like a high-end un-put-downable thriller. One even thinks of le Carré but with fascinating factual detail replacing writerly nuance. Resorting, at times, to chess terminology, he tracks the 150-year story of the intricate moves and countermoves on what Zbigniew Brzezinski has called the “‘Grand Chessboard”.[8] “Zbig”, the first chairman of the infamous Trilateral Commission we remember as Jimmy Carter’s Polish-accented national security advisor; he wrote with confidence about the assured future of America as the Power well into the 21st century. He and the neocons who followed him, even more forgetful of how history repeats itself,[9] not merely toe the line but up the ante of the Big Power geopolitical games that have been played for a century-and-a-half, and, because of capitalist/consumerist-impacted climate change, are sending the planet to catastrophe.[10] The current “Empire-and-a-Half” of the United States and its increasingly independently acting client and vassal, Israel – despite its tiny territory a regional hegemon bent on being a world player – is nearing collapse quicker than the rich can count their money. Only the final chapter of the American imperial story has yet to be written: how will it finally collapse, and who, and/or what, will replace the “Empire-and-a-Half”? China? A somehow more peaceful pact between China, Russia, India, and/or some other players?

II. Creative Great Game Theory and Practice

The “great game” referred to the geopolitical strategy of England versus Russia to control Afghanistan as the gateway to its colonial prize jewel, India. A significant length of the ancient Silk Road snakes through this notoriously shadowy but key geostrategic country which has been embroiled repeatedly since then in blood and intrigue. Today, it is the blackened griddle on which cooks America’s longest-lasting war. Described by earlier writers, Walberg abbreviates this “great game” to “GGI”, lingering on it only briefly as the early imperial period when, in addition to India and the Suez, England ran the puppet show in which Afghanistan, Iran, and the remains of the Ottoman Caliphate jerked on the strings as “nominally independent political formations”; Kipling’s “‘white man’s burden” lay over colonial lands “on which the sun never sets” – as far from the imperial isle as wealth extraction required.

Walberg has not invented the terminology of the “Great Game” but he has convincingly demonstrated the utility of distinguishing three phases of the Game. GGI refers to the 19th century-through World War I period during which “competing empires” jockeyed for geopolitical and economic power. GGI and GGII overlap – from 1917-45, which saw GGI through its end game, and when GGII was germinating. GGII lasted from the end of World War I through the disintegration of the Soviet Union by 1991. In GGII the US and Europe – by then the US’s “junior partner” – competed against communism. Other writers call this period “super-imperialist” because of “the unique role of the US dollar” as world reserve currency, and which, tied with Reagan’s greatly ramped up spending in the arms race, succeeded in bankrupting the Soviet Union. Throughout the games, beginning with the British Empire, then with its much bigger son and heir, the US, in charge, the West has made violent sorties for imperial power and plays for control of the world over and over again that have followed, more or less, the same script. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The current game, GGIII, which we are in, now, began with the Soviet Union’s house-of-cards collapse in 1991, and has swapped “Communism” with “Islamo-terror” as the opponent. Except for fitful bursts of violent objection, US imperialism has dominated the world completely.

Using Immanuel Wallerstein’s world systems theory, Walberg’s analysis of the functional structure of imperialism emphasizes “center” and “periphery”, the former extracting raw resources from the latter as key component in the ceaseless expansion that capitalism requires, always turning the distant assets into great pools of wealth liquidity. His distinction between “modern”, “failed”, and “postmodern” states enables him creatively to tease out his analysis. By providing close detail about the US’s post-World War II gamesmanship, he reveals a myriad of two- and -three-faced betrayals, “black ops”, sundry anagrammatic false treaties and front organizations, fifth column charters and charades, and collaborations with worldwide organized crime.


Early on exemplified by Victoria’s imperial visionary, Cecil Rhodes, colonialism and post-colonial liberalism hacked to pieces sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and the Holy Lands followed. At times, pursued to folly by the likes of “Chinese” Gordon and T. E. Lawrence, in China and Islamic North Africa, the British Empire’s halcyon days are passed over quickly, presumably for the sake of brevity and to arrive at the major goals of the book, explicating US and Israeli imperialism. Cue, here, Dubya and the crusade against (“Islamo-)Terror”. It may be difficult today to think of England’s brutal suppression of major uprisings in India[11] and in China, the latter where the Boxer Rebellion flamed up against the forced production and trade in opium – but think also of the “War on Drugs” which is almost as much a part of America’s false-conscious imperial fuel as is George W. Bush and Al Qaeda’s use of each other.

Not the only or even the principal outpost of empires but pivotal geostrategically, Afghanistan continues to tantalize mining companies, war profiteers, soldiers-of-fortune, drug smugglers, and, of course, the generals and neocons of the never-ending War on Terror which justifies the Pax Americana and American super-imperialism just as the continuation of the dollar as the world’s main currency, as Walberg explains, keeps America’s banks and their managers so hugely rich and America, itself, so “indispensable”: not China, not Japan, parking their assets in the form of dollars, can afford to cash in the American debt.[12]

III. The Game is Fixed

GGII, as Walberg writes, found its successful ideological and military-industrial tension with anti-Communism;[13] GGIII, he asserts, has swapped this with anti-Islam foment.

Control and the mainly invisible instruments devised for the sake of control have come under many names, though often confusingly anagrammatized by diplomatic and journalistic language. For “readability” and in an interview explaining he did not want to ‘swamp the reader and leave him feeling disgusted and helpless’, Walberg lists only some of these abbreviations in the front matter. Reading through Chapter Three, where many not digested in the front of the book do appear, consolidates and confirms the sense of “dirty tricks” played over and over again in many different contexts, by both a “soft” and “hard” kind of politics. AIPAC, AJC, BCCI, CFR, JDL, JFNA, JINSA, PMAJO, PNAC, RIIA, ZOA. A few European and then several American entities composed of the most elite business and political figures oversaw the grand vision: The Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations. NATO, created to prevent the spread of Communism in Europe, in GGIII has been expanded to police US hegemony in Libya, and, now, presumably anywhere. Similar, smaller, more ad hoc advocacy front groups such as the Project for a New American Century (earlier, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), the American Enterprise Institute, more recently, the Heritage Foundation, have the same general agenda. What strikes the reader is how thick a fetid tissue of lies and “dirty war” tactics the US and Israel have utilized on the way to, and the enforced maintenance of, the “Empire-and-a-Half”.

If middle-of-the-roaders, or anyone, had any doubt about the global fact of the American Empire, going back, to mention a few of the US uses of imperial force in GGII, mostly described as opposing Communism, have been in: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama. Many wars-by-proxy, often with US soldiers on the ground, have been fought in Central America, largely to protect US business interests, though “communism” was blamed and eradication of it justified by the Monroe Doctrine. Partial list of coups arranged:[14] Syria, Greece, Iran (1953), British Guyana. Guatemala – which led to 40 years of caudillos, death squads, and genocide. South Vietnam (1955), Haiti, Laos (1958 and 1959), South Korea, Laos (1960), Dominican Republic, South Vietnam (1963), Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia (1964), Zaire, Ghana, Greece (1967), Cambodia, Bolivia (1970). Chile (the murder of democratically-elected Allende and the installation of Pinochet, who “disappeared” thousands), Argentina (followed by the “Dirty War”). South Korea (1979), Liberia, Chad, Venezuela (attempted), Honduras (2009). Attempted probably several times in Cuba, before and after the Bay of Pigs. Now and for many years, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s next? Pakistan? If the neocons have their way, the arch-enemy of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran?[15]

IV. Checkmate

One can see how Dick Cheney might think the Big Dog of the US Empire is wagging its tail. But is it the other way around? One of Walberg’s prime emphases and the subject of the book’s longest chapter is tiny Israel, England’s creation after it had carved up the Middle East into “artificial states”, as Walberg notes, convenient to its purposes. Relying on an extraordinary array of references he makes clear Israel is a racist, expansionist power acting for many years now often completely contrary to American interests and with ambitions not only for its own “manifest destiny” and regional hegemony over “Greater Israel” but for an end-Game III ascension onto the world-stage.

That Israel has long had its own, singular objective and will do whatever it takes not just to survive but expand (the two are the same for a “chosen people”) is made clear by an incident Walberg cites.

After 1967, France ended its cooperation to mollify its Arab allies but it was too late. Commenting on the creative political use of its nuclear weapons, head of the French Atomic Energy Agency Francis Perrin explains, “‘We thought the Israeli bomb was aimed against the Americans, not to launch against America, but to say, ‘if you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us, otherwise we will use our nuclear bomb”’. This became a particularly alarming issue during the 1973 war with Egypt. Martin van Creveld, an Israeli professor of military history warned: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that this will happen before Israel goes under.”

Walberg, incidentally, was raised a Presbyterian; now, he refers to himself as a “freelance monotheist”. He says he has learned the basic Muslim prayers and attends a mosque with Muslim friends, but he also goes to church with his family in Canada. Far from being an anti-Semite, he says he would be delighted to pray with “True Torah Jews” if the opportunity – and invitation – came. These facts do not appear in any way to compromise the case he sounds out at some length and as a major chord through the book.[16] I challenge readers to find reputably sourced contradictory facts to his assertions about an expansionist Israel, Jewish American neocons, and the “kosher nostra”, all in the service of Zionism, directly or indirectly – as this likely will be, misleadingly, the most publicly contentious part of his argument, at least in America.

As Lenin asserted, imperialism, like capitalism, requires expansion until world control is reached. Such expansion requires endless wars and/or aggressive maintenance – one assumes, also, as Orwell observed, creation of an/the Enemy for the purpose of homeland indoctrination and control, and, one might add, continued exploitation of the peripheries, as Walberg notes.

For all the Inferior Ones – the Third World’s wood cutters and water carriers,[17] the peasants, the peons, the proles, but also the progressives, the struggling middle-class intellectuals, the student activists, the eco-conscious and the moveon.org-ers…and the NASCAR- and the NRA-Joe and Jolene Sixpacks, as well as the small-government insisters and the family-values potato-heads (sorry, couldn’t stop myself) – for all of them, they still have no voice, and are passive as History is made for them, to their own often great misfortune. Povertization for the sake of enriching the already superrich is combining now with global climate change and possible planet-wide catastrophe. One suspects the Wall Street protests will fade, stymied by general feelings of impotence to force change and that, unless a spark happens to ignite the tensions caused by US insistence on its world hegemony, the wars on the peripheries will continue and the American people, with even slight and temporary improvement in the home economy, will fall back in line behind America’s “exceptionalism”.

But for the US, Israel is the fly in the ointment. “[T]he fundamentally anachronistic nature of Zionist plans [are those of] a settler colonial regime in a neocolonial era”, which is “a recipe for permanent war”. Defying Bush I, who tried to bring Israel into line and who had no Jews in his Cabinet, Jews worked for his defeat. Clinton knew better, appointing five to his Cabinet, and dozens to the Departments of State and Defense.[18] After 9/11, Bush launched the War on Terror “which, by definition, can’t be won”, says Walberg – “can’t be won” because the enemy is a will ‘o the wisp, and the designation can be adapted or expanded almost infinitely – to the ends of the earth, the limits of the imperium. Referring to Barack Obama as “Brzezinski’s protegé”, Walberg notes that Jewish Americans such as Paul Volcker, Lawrence Summers, and Timothy Geithner have wielded decisive clout over the failing economy in the Obama Administration – an economy that has continued to benefit only the richest few, and the largest multinationals, while Obama continues to rely on Wall Street for his campaign war chest.[19] Citing Hannah Arendt and Benjamin Ginsburg, Walberg explains how Jews throughout history, and now Zionism and Israel, have always made “fatal embraces” with powerful states, putting their money on those at the very top of the heap but whose position can get very shaky…and collapse when capitalist exploitation, in its never-ending, always increasing, hunt for profit extends lethally even to the home front.

Quoted in full, here, is Walberg’s summation of patterns of activities by Israel and its diverse agents connected in various degree with the Israeli state:

Israel is playing an increasingly independent role in GGIII around the world, with its government, corporations and Kosher Nostra working with whatever states and non-state actors are willing to condone its deadly games, selling arms (for example, to China, Russia, India, Sri Lanka), smuggling drugs (to Europe and the US)…buying blood diamonds (from Africa), conducting covert operations to subvert governments (for example, in Syria, Iraq, Iran), assassinating opponents, forging passports, spying and eavesdropping, harboring ‘Jewish’ fugitives, sometimes in support of the US in its game strategies and objectives, sometimes not, depending on its own interests. Its diaspora community and Chabad network, found in virtually every corner of the globe, facilitate its game plan, keeping ahead of US plans and technology through its American sayanim, operatives, spies and powerful lobby… In keeping with Jewish survival strategy throughout history, Israel’s plans are more subtle than those of the current ruling US Empire, as it cannot hope to subdue the world directly, but rather primarily by shaping or subverting its host empire’s aims and strategies, to achieve its geopolitical “place in the sun” both through its diaspora and through its own use of statecraft and subversion, untroubled by world reaction.

Is he saying there is a worldwide Jewish conspiracy? Fact-checkers and critics of how he has read the facts there will be. It must be pointed out that in the US and, to lesser degree, in Europe,[20] Israel is still given the benefit of the doubt on most matters because of the Holocaust,[21] despite its settler expansion into Palestinian lands and universally condemned subjugation of Palestinians. With linked after linked fact dug up and presented in context, Walberg persuasively depicts Israel as an actor on the world stage that has, more often than not, justified the means by the ends – no differently from other players for greater-and-greater hegemony, but, according to Walberg, much more virulently.

Increasingly, the US war against Islam and Islamic countries is the only synchronicity with Israel, apart from the Palestinian-Israeli stagmire. Walberg asserts that an increasing divide exists now between the US and Israel because of the stagmire, and, further, that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is helping undermine the America’s worldwide imperium. Not concerned except for the fact that it will have to tread carefully in a post-US world order, opportunistically for some time Israel has been pursuing other alliances and protectors to exploit for its own needs and oversized ambitions. One might hope that America going over the cliff does not take the rest of the world with it. Walberg speculates about replacements for US imperialism that may be more peaceful cooperatives of Big and Growing Powers – China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Japan, Germany…Iran. But if the very ugly past is any guide, the transition stands to be much uglier – and perhaps, truly horrific.

V. Post-Game Analysis for those in the Home Bleachers

OK. Imagine a Marcel Proust thirty years from now. Assume a quiet retiring by America from its world control and a society exists in which contemplative writers, an episteme like Proust, might try to recall the zeitgeist. Pictured in his mind – and only other 19th and early 20th century analyses, a phenomenological epoché, followed by a dialectical understanding of materialist history, might just begin to illuminate matters: a great, GREAT, monolithic presence…shadowy, flickeringly visible but only like a mirage, a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t thing that, on reflection, you just cannot believe is real. It is so well disguised from the quotidian life of TV.…cell phone…internet…supermalls ever more super because urges for consumption drive the dulling of the citizen as well as eat up the world…[22] family vans, Hummers, and tank-like SUV’s with more and more room to cart home what was purchased (everything made in China)…all of this making up the late postmodern lebenswelt, the life-world…the there, as Heidegger says, though he would despise how American exploitation of the planet and its consumer capitalism not only is false consciousness but has noxious impact and influence on Nature everywhere it goes.

(Not a Proust, but, again, the simple citizen in the plains and gullies of the American Heartland is asking: What are we doing in all these chicken-ass places so far away from home? The slogans pasted on the back of his truck hollow of meaning, he asks: Why should he support, with his taxes, with the Stars and Stripes on his porch, “defense of American interests” everywhere on the globe?)

One draws closer to the structure. A huge dollar sign (not the Euro, not the yuan) is carved on it, in Times Roman font. Little antlike individuals we make out are walking or running on its top. Not many little men, as we look more closely…or else their numbers, though in the thousands,[23] are constantly diminishing. All of the little men as if by sumptuary law are attired in the finest but most conservative suits. The ties are silk. Everything is custom-made, but designed not to look so except to the well-trained eye. We realize they are of The Caste. Suddenly, crudely, some of the little men shove other little men off the monolith. Most float down under golden parachutes.

Jamie Dimon – who looks like a nice fella – is up there (see him ‘lashing out at global bank rules as “anti-American”); calculated for the last five years, his compensation from B of A was $107 million. Also Brian Moynihan – another square-chinned mensch (see him explaining that five dollar debit card fee). And John Stumpf (see him explaining how the “rogue trader” $2 billion loss at UBS is a windfall for him). Many others are there from the investment firms. The hedge funds. The CEO’s of the oil and energy companies. Boeing and other defense contractors. The paradigm for the successfully diversified gigantic multinational, General Electric – whose current Chief, Jeffrey R. Immelt, is the head of Obama’s “Job’s Council”. GE is particularly interesting because not only is it part of the military-industrial complex, with GE Capital it focuses on what many, not just Muslims but also Eastern Orthodox and old-school Catholic Christians, are against, usury. As was Marx. GE operates round the world. With its great cadre of tax lawyers focused on exploiting to the hilt corporate tax loopholes, Immelt’s GE reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion in 2010, but paid $0 in taxes.[24]

But men like Immelt and Blankfein and Dimon cause great things to happen. They are the real leaders of the world, the helmsmen – not presidents or prime ministers or other satraps. They are of consequence. Of substance. They make history. The work they do is for us. Well, not us. Humanity, in the abstract. Making sure the best genes are passed on – “best” determined by who swims in those rough green seas of money and eats the smaller fish. As Leo Strauss advised, channeling Hegel’s Master-and-Slave, life is a fight, might makes right. They don’t make huge amounts of money for their own sake, nor for our sake, but for the sake of the species, altruistically breeding the best that humankind can be. The determinant for who can pass on their genes is who piles up the most money. Is there any better type of human than the Patriotic Neocon or the Banker? A bit unfortunate for the IOs.

Congratulations to Walberg for a magnificent, and all-too-timely, work. Buy this book. Read it.

Notes

[1] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html.

[2] For Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, on ‘doing God’s work’, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEMaFuOQZVo. What Blankfein does not mention is the source of the inspiration for his finance capitalism,: Leo Strauss, the University of Chicago economist and gray eminence behind the neocons. Strauss, believed capitalism was a contamination of the purer interpretation of the Hegel’s Master-and-Slave allegory – he preferred feudalism, instead, with a hereditary nobility and serfdom.

[3] Tallied in September. This is two points higher than the all-time low of 13%, reached in August of this year (http://www.gallup.com/poll/149399/Congressional-Job-Approval.aspx).

[4] The exhaustion of Britain after World War II, together with inspired and persistent rejection by its colonies, led to the collapse of the British Empire. However, how it collapsed – recognizing indigenous nationalist movements demanding self-determination, divesting itself of them in a peaceful manner, allowed what could have been great amounts of deaths and suffering to be avoided. With the power neocons continue to have in Washington, the American exceptionalism of the Republican Party, and the great investment in and stockpiling of soldiers and weaponry throughout the globe, the inevitable collapse of the US Empire collapse may be entirely different. Eisenhower’s ‘military-industrial complex’, in effect, requires endless war, and is more powerful than ever, with the corporation-friendly Reagan and Bush years shoring it up such that pulling the trigger of the cocked pistols is going to continue all over the world until the US government has no money left.

[5] Social scientists distinguish “states” from “less complex” entities such as “chiefdoms” by their ability to wield coercive force. The US possesses great coercive force with its military, police, FBI, CIA, NSA, Department of Homeland Security, and other resources. Any violent revolution, therefore, has no chance of success. Only people power can cause change to come about.

[6] Obama, too, has been awed: he thinks Blankfein is a “savvy businessman”. See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aKGZkktzkAlA.

[7] An excellent one is Eric Escobar.

[8] 1997.

[9] As Marx observed, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

[10] See Socialism or Barbarism, by Istvan Meszaros, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2001.

[11] One of the tactics was to tie rebelling Indian captives to the fronts of cannons and then fire off the big guns.

[12] According to http://vizwiz.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-owns-americas-debt.html, China and Japan own 23% and 22% respectively of the US debt, followed distantly by the UK, which owns 12%.

[13] Eisenhower’s Secretary of State under, John Foster Dulles, was one of Wall Street’s top lawyers, working for the law firm hired by United Fruit, which was the banana company that owned at one point half of all the arable land in Guatemala. Supposedly also because of his religious convictions, he was also a staunch anti-Communist – Communism was ‘atheistic’. Dulles regarded the Monroe Doctrine – asserting its right to hegemonic control the Americas, defendable by military force at US discretion – as the single most important pillar of American foreign policy (for this pages 9-10 of Richard Immerman’s dissection of the 1954 CIA-assisted coup in Guatemala, The CIA in Guatemala, University of Texas Press, Austin [ninth printing, 2004]).

[14] From http://www.krysstal.com/democracy_whyusa01.html.

[15] Interestingly, “human-rights” criticisms of Islam and Islamic regimes often have to do with the status and treatment of women. As admirable as this “transcendent value” might be,  cultural context is rarely taken into consideration before application of this as a reason for intervention by force. Conveniently, other regimes with far worse treatment of women are unmentioned and left untouched, while other, less mentioned, reasons for war, as in Iraq, Iraqi oil, are downplayed or conflated to make them appear unimportant. As much as the ordinary citizen of the West may have believed that Saddam Hussein was a demon, women had equality in his Iraq, women’s literacy rates were the highest in the Arab world, and health services and education were almost cost-free. One has to fight, mentally, not only the accepted version of Saddam Hussein provided via a constant tide of propaganda to see matters in better perspective. One way, of course, is to consider the main source of the demonizing before the Iraq Wars – Bush’s White House. Another way to accomplish this is by simple comparisons. For example, if we accept that capitalism as part of state expansion and vice versa played a large role in causing the two world wars of the last century, the 80 million military and civilian casualties and deaths greatly dwarf Nazism. One would think that rightwing believers in capitalism as representing freedom would have a hard time justifying its transcendent values as worth so many dead. Mao and Stalin may have been responsible for as many as 50 or 60 million, though accurate estimates are difficult to come by and depend on how one makes the count. Of course, with the Vietnam War – Americanized when French colonial hegemony ended at Dienbienphu  – the US fought against communism, extending the Monroe Doctrine to Southeast Asia; this war saw approximately 1,275,000 combatant deaths, and 2,000,000 civilian dead. Estimates of Iraqi citizen deaths have been extremely hard to come by – the obvious conclusion: the US government does not wish the number known.

[16] With the book’s small publisher located in Atlanta, Georgia, and given the immensely influential American Jewish lobby and American Jews in positions of great power in government, banking, Wall Street, and Hollywood, Walberg says his relatively small means and Spartan life-style, living in Cairo, can’t be targeted effectively.

[17] From Rudyard Kipling’s time, the dismissive phrase, ‘the wood cutters and the water carriers’, well conveyed the inconsequentiality of the native populations subjected to colonial control and exploitation.

[18] As Walberg documents, Israeli spying in the US has been sustained, large-scale, and continuous. Only one spy for Israel working in the US, Jonathan Pollard, is doing serious jail time. There have been many other Israeli spies but all seem to have been let off with the lightest of rebukes or their espionage has simply been passed on.

[19] Dick Cheney, of course, was CEO of war-profiteering Halliburton before he selected himself to be Bush’s vice presidential running mate – and before the Republican Five on the Supreme Court selected Bush to be president. Cheney’s role as de facto president has never been seriously questioned. How many readers of Spike remember Don Regan? He was Reagan’s chief-of-staff as well as the CEO of Merrill Lynch; in one now notorious appearance by Reagan in front of Wall Streeters and journalists, Regan is shown on video whispering to his supposed boss to shut up and leave the podium. Can anyone, nowadays, dispute that the chiefs of military-industrial corporations and finance capitalism are still largely running the show?

[20] Diplomatically more countries around the world have recognized the Palestinians state than have recognized Israel.

[21] No reasonable person can truck with “Holocaust deniers”. But other atrocities in history were far, far greater in scope and scale than the killing of Jews in World War II. Estimates are that within a hundred years of the Spanish Conquest ninety percent of the indigenous populations of the Americas were dead. While yellow fever caused a large number of these deaths, slavery, massacre, enforced work laws and, latterly, civil wars and genocide in Central America, killed native populations in numbers far greater than the Holocaust did.

[22] Tossed around so often it is like a water polo ball is the statistic that the US consumes 25% of the world’s resources. The result of humans eating up the planet is global warming, fished-out, acidified, dying oceans, and excretions of junk and false consciousness almost everywhere.

[23] In 2007, Forbes Magazine counted almost a thousand billionaires worldwide. Bank of America ‘wealth management chief’, Sally Krawcheck, counted ten million millionaires in 2010 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnPatMfEMRM). Sally actually was one of those pushed over the edge after she made her count. Uncounted were the exponentially increasing numbers of people living below the poverty lines.

[24] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?pagewanted=all.

reviewed by Jonathan Kaplan

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/11/09/review-of-postmodern-imperialism-geopolitics-and-the-great-games/

Postmodern Imperialism available at http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html

 

From Books

  • Canadian journalist Eric Walberg has produced two very impressive works that between them cover most of what is politically relevant today: Post-Modern Imperialism: Geopolitics and The Great Games, the games being those played on the world political chessboard, and From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization, both from Clarity Press.

    Walberg admits that the internet made his task easier, but without a very thorough grounding in political theory and history, they could not have been written. Walberg who has a degree in economic from Cambridge and has lived in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia, specializes in the Middle East. His Great Games are labelled GGI (pre-Russian revolution), GGII (the Cold War era) and today's on-going GG III, which he sees as a US-British-Israeli campaign for world dominance. Walberg shows globalization's brutality, and with theory to back him up, lays it squarely at imperialism's door.

    The scope of this work is vast, but I have chosen one quote that is particularly relevant to current events. Since 2008, the European Union, built up painstakingly after two world wars devastated the continent, has been teetering on collapse, and I have often affirmed that it is a deliberate American policy to destroy that elaborate welfare state. Walberg's confirmation is stunning:

  • Review of Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.
    ISBN 978-0-8021-2314-5

    Summary: As IS continues to confound the West with its consolidation of a Salafist-inspired resurrection of a ‘caliphate’, the Danish mole responsible for leading the CIA to Anwar Awlaki has caused a scandal by publishing his memoirs of life “inside al Qaeda and the CIA”.

    Recruiting Muslims has not been easy for western ‘intelligence’. The New York Police Department has tried for decades to recruit Muslim immigrants, and was finally embarrassed by a 2013 ACLU lawsuit to disband its most public recruiting unit, which essentially blackmailed anyone with a Muslim name arrested on any pretext, including parking tickets.

    The most successful double agent prior to Morten Storm was Omar Nasiri (b. 1960s), the pseudonym of a Moroccan spy who infiltrated al-Qaeda, attending training camps in Afghanistan and passing information to the UK and French intelligence services. He revealed all in his fascinating memoirs Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda A Spy’s Story in 2006.

  • Thoughts on From Postmodernism to Postsecularism

    Chandra Muzaffar in dialogue with Eric Walberg

    Muzaffar: Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergII.html is a stimulating and informative survey of both Islamic history and reformist thought, culminating in an analysis of the ongoing upheavals in WANA.

    The book is an extensive exposition on Islamic Civilization itself. It covers the whole spectrum of dynasties, major episodes and personalities which is why the book should be an important reference for students of the civilization.

    You are right, Eric, in arguing that for Islam the goal has always been “to nurture a morally sound community based on the Quran…” (p28). There have been endeavours in that direction in the past—some successes, many failures. In this regard, I am wondering why you did not mention specifically the moral indictment of Muawiyyah by Abu-Dharr Al-Giffari who some would view as the first major critic of the creeping injustices in early Muslim leadership?

  • In his introduction, Eric Walberg states, “The main purpose of this book is to help the reader to understand the alternative map which Islam offers.” This is both a literal and figural map, an alternative to the imperial and neocolonial boundaries that divide the Islamic world, and an alternative viewpoint to that of the imperial driver of capitalism. This offer includes “realigning ourselves with Nature, and rediscovering humanities’ spiritual evolutionary path…without abandoning the vital role of reason.”

    This path along this alternate view is created strongly, with an obvious sympathy for the parts of Islam that are little known to the capitalist imperial view. It is a fully comprehensive path, leading the reader through time and through not just the Middle East, but on into Northern Africa, the Sahel, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

    The path always interacts with the imperial capitalist landscape ranging from the original European nationalist empires of France, Britain, Spain, and Holland on through to the hegemonic empire of the United States that has subordinated the previous empires into its fold. This has been done through military backing of corporate enterprises and many financial maneuverings that have – up until now – managed to stretch this empire into a full global span.

    The first chapter, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, explains the nature of the Koran without the political prejudice brought on by imperial reaction (blowback) to occupation and creation of the ‘evil’ other. Following that, it presents a broad history of Islam up until the era of the First World War. While the interactions with Christianity were often violent, Islamic expansion eastward generally tended to be accomplished more peacefully through trade and missionaries – the latter of course being against the military corporate interests of the west.

  • Forging a Socialist-Islamist Alliance
    Review of Eric Walberg's From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization, Clarity Press, 2013

    By William T. Hathaway

    Most western Middle East experts see Islam as a problem for the West -- a source of terrorism, religious fanaticism, unwanted immigrants -- and they see their job as helping to change the Middle East so it's no longer a problem for us. Eric Walberg, however, recognizes that this is another instance of the Big Lie.

    The actual problem is the multifaceted aggression the West has been inflicting on the Middle East for decades and is determined to continue, no matter what the cost to them and us will be. His books and articles present the empirical evidence for this with scholarly precision and compassionate concern for the human damage done by our imperialism.

  • Brain research and social psychology have made astounding advances in understanding the mind. These two books will blow yours. The implications for western 'civilization' are profound. Here are some notes.

    Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Doubleday, 2011.
    -heuristic (system 1 rule of thumb) biases -overconfident (first impression), resemblance, ease of memory search, emotion (sympathy for psychopathic charm), halo effect (exaggerate emotional reaction), WYSIATI (what you see is all there is), treating problems in isolation (not integrate variables), framing effects (context, importance of first impression, including page layout etc), priming (thinking about x -> x), endowment effect (owning x appears to increase its value)
    -fallacies re human nature -rational, emotions such as fear, affection and hatred explain departures from rationality
    -rather systmatic errors in thinking due to design of machinery of cognition rather than the corruption of thought by emotion. luck plays large role in success. accurate intuitions of experts better explained by skill and practice incorporated into heuristics. (variant of reason/ faith dialectic)
    -system 1 (fast thinking) -automatic operations (associative memory, automatic mental activities (perception and memory), unconscious/ conscious skills incorporated from system 2 as automatic, -> heuristic
    -system 2 -controlled operations -both self-contol and cognitive effort (allocates attention to effortful mental activities when demanded requiring choice and concentration, can reprogram normally automatic funs of attention and memory)
    -also experiencing vs remembering self (a construct of system 2 but incorporating (fast) associative memories of system 1) -what makes experiencing self happy not same as what satisfies remembering self -need to balance using system 2 slow thinking. -memory both system 1&2 and system 2 can adjust system 1 experiencing/ associative memories (ie, counterintuitive steering out of icy skid)

  • Lawrence Wright, Twins: and What They Tell Us About Who We Are, John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

    These notes summarize the main findings of twinning studies during the past century which lead to some startling conclusions.

    -behaviorism (BFSkinner) argued all behavior genetically based (we are the product of natural selection) but can be programmed in the individual. he denied special genes for altruism/ criminality/ other character trait -what our genes give us is the capacity to adapt to our environment. we are not innately good/ bad, rather determined by our environment. there is no individual responsibility. to change behavior we must design a different environment.
    -but twin studies suggests genetic basis to behavior (approximately 50%, ie, 1/2 determined, 1/2 'free will' which we develop by creating our own environment as we mature and become more self-aware)

  • In August 2013, Marxism Leninism Today editor Zoltan Zigedy reviewed Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization

    Zoltan Zigedy summarized Walberg’s writing in the following terms

    1. The last great secular social justice project — socialism — has failed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
    2. Islam and its attendant political-social-economic doctrines are viable alternative routes to social justice.
    3. Islam is the only alternative that can deliver social justice. Therefore, Islam is the universal way to social justice.

    My -comments to Zoltan's >points:

    >the rise of Islamic civilization that Walberg foresaw was dashed on the rocks of divisiveness and foreign intervention

    -I see this 'Islamic awakening' as coming in waves. the 2013 coup in Egypt is a trough, but the process of evolution/ revolution continues. the openness and experience of the Islamists cannot be put back in the djin's bottle.
    I recall young Egyptian friends who were 'politicized' after the 2011 uprising. they didn't join secular groups, but the Muslim Brotherhood -- a huge move by millions of Egyptian youth. this has never been mentioned anywhere in the press. the ongoing demonstrations are courageous and principled, and deserve our respect and support.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.it/daniele-scalea/islam-vs-capitalismo_b_4095817.html

    summary: Islam has a complete social doctrine which opposes the exploitation of man by man and lending at interest. For this reason, Islam is, in the contemporary world after the end of communism, the great alternative to capitalism. Massimo Campanini, one of the leading Italian scholars of the field, in his History of the Middle East, confirms that Islam stands as challenge to the idea of "end of history". But this challenge is not extremist Islam and terrorism, which in his opinion is already defeated, but two other "Islamists".

  • Resisting The Modernist Nightmare: Islam As Road To Peace?  by Richard Wilcox

    Following the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, there was supposed to have been a “peace dividend” which would have allowed the world to stop wasting money on arms manufacturing and explore roads toward peace and commerce. However, the Cold War itself may have been a ruse to some extent in order to justify the growth of global totalitarian government and corporate power in both the West and East, and as a result a peaceful world was never achieved.

    Even the most naïve observer could see that something was very odd, given that at the same moment that the Russian enemy was tamed and the Berlin Wall had fallen, a new, even more nefarious enemy was born: the Muslim Terrorist. This seamless transition that benefited the military industrial complex and zionist warmongers was practically lifted out of a Hollywood script. In fact, Hollywood played an important role in creating the caricature and stereotype of the “evil Muslim” through innumerable anti-Muslim Hollywood propaganda films.

  • This book is a continuation of my earlier work, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (2011), though it stands on its own. My purpose in Postmodern Imperialism was to give a picture of the world from the viewpoint of those on the receiving end of imperialism. It traces the manipulation of Islamists by imperialism, and poses the question: What are the implications of the revival of Islamic thought and activism for the western imperial project?

    The subject of this work is the expansion of Islam since the seventh century, when revelations delivered to the Prophet Muhammad led to its consolidation as the renewal and culmination of Abrahamic monotheism. It looks at the parallels between the Muslim world today and past crises in Islamic civilization, which gave impetus to reforms and renewal from within, relying on the Quran and hadiths,1 and attempts to interpret recent history from the viewpoint of the Muslim world—how it sees the imposition on it of western systems and beliefs, and how it is dealing with this.

    The period up to and including the occupation of the Muslim world by the western imperialists corresponds to Postmodern Imperialism’s Great Game I (GGI). For Asians, the most important event heralding the possibility of a new post-GGI ‘game’ was the Japanese victory in 1905 over Russia. Japan had successfully reformed via the Meiji Restoration in 1868, inspiring all Asia, including China and the Muslim world, which saw Japan’s determination to develop independently of the imperial powers as a way out of the colonial trap that they were rapidly falling into.

  • European Journal of American Studies review of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

    (March 2012)

    Recent history for even the casual observer of international affairs has been plagued by wars and conflicts in specific regions of the world.  The wars in Central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, seem to indicate the latest machinations in the imperial designs of the USA.  For many, using the term imperialism and connecting it to the USA is at best inappropriate.  For others, American interventions in particular countries or specific regions of the world represent the practices of a hegemonic power and the expansion of an American empire.  Some even argue that the nature of American imperialism is utterly novel, and deserving of a new label:  ‘postmodern imperialism.’  As the title of Eric Walberg’s book, his examination of the trajectories of contemporary imperialism includes scrutiny of the geopolitical interests of the USA and its “new developments in financial and military-political strategies to ensure control over the world’s resources” (27-28).  While Postmodern Imperialism primarily focuses on key aspects of imperialism, geopolitical analysis and commentary forms the foundation of Walberg’s narrative.

  • Robert Wright, Nonzero: the logic of human destiny (2000)

    -organic evolution tends to create more complex forms of life, raising overall entropy but concentrating order locally
    -Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, the thinking envelope of the Earth
    -throughout nature, main trend is the increase in capacity for information processing, storage and analysis. DNA not just data, but data processor.
    -the function of the energy marshaled by an organism or society not just to sustain and protect structure, but to guide the marshaling.
    -secret of life not DNA but zero sum (zs)/ nonzero sum (nzs) games (to better pass on one’s DNA - the ‘meaning of life’).
    ‘laws of nature’:

  • Review of Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World,

    Sadakat Kadri

    New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

    There are 50 Muslim-majority states in the world; 11 of them, including Egypt, have constitutions that acknowledge Islam as a source of national law. In Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri, an English barrister and New York attorney, provides a much-needed and highly readable overview of Islamic legal history and an entertaining survey of the state of Islamic law today, full of fascinating anecdotes.

    For instance, have you heard the one about the eleventh-century Sufi mystic whose prayers were interrupted by a familiar voice: "Oh, Abu Al-Hasan!" it boomed. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your sins, so that they stone you to death?" "Oh, Lord," Al-Hasan whispered back. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your mercy, so that none will ever feel obliged to bow down to you again?" "Keep your secret," came God's conspiratorial reply. "And I will keep mine."

    Such risqué offerings aside, Kadri looks at the development of Islamic law from the time of the Prophet, focussing on attitudes to war, criminal justice, religious tolerance, and movements of reform through history. He provides valuable background for all those concerned and/or excited about today's resurgence of Islam. As the fastest growing religion, second only to Christianity in numbers (and surely first in terms of sincere practitioners), Islam is an increasingly powerful force not only in the world of religion, but in the realms of culture, politics and even economics.
  • Guided missives

    Ard ard (Surface-to-surface): The story of a graffiti revolution
    Sherif Abdel-Megid
    Egyptian Association for Books 2011
    ISBN 978-977-207-102-9

    Graffiti -- the art of the masses, by the masses, for the masses -- has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and arguably to Pharaonic Egypt. Sherif Abdel-Megid, a writer who works for Egyptian television, boasts that Egypt's revolution and the explosion of popular art that followed it finds its roots in the decay of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the reign of Pepi II (2278-2184 BC), credited with having the longest reign of any monarch in history at 94 years (Mubarak, eat your heart out). His own decline paralleled the disintegration of the kingdom and it is thanks to Pharaonic graffiti that we know about it.

  • I confess that I cringe when I see the word “post-modern.” This word has obscured more discussions, confused more gullible readers, and conned more writers than any word since “existential” and its “-ism.” For the most part, it has served as a kind of fashionable linguistic operator that signals something radical and profound will follow. Almost always, what follows disappoints.

    Eric Walberg’s book, Postmodern Imperialism (Clarity Press, 2011), doesn’t change my general opinion of the word, though what follows the title certainly doesn’t disappoint.

    Walberg has offered a welcome taxonomy of imperialism from its nineteenth century genesis until today; he has given a plausible explanation of imperialism’s contours since the exit of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism from the world stage; and he has convincingly described Israel’s unique role in the continuing reshaping of imperialism’s grasp for world domination.

  •  I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

    The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

    The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]

  • Eric Walberg’s acute insights into the contemporary global order raise many questions about the continued viability of the American and Israeli focus on wealth and power. Perhaps understandably, his interests and insights inspired by the Islamic world make him a penetrating commentator on peoples who are a product of Christian and Jewish tradition.

    Walberg is a Canadian authority on the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia who writes for Al Ahram, the best known English language newspaper in the Middle East.

  • Though the number of critical voices concerning Israel, Zionism and Jewish power is growing steadily, a clear distinction can be made on the one hand between contributors who operate within the discourse and are politically oriented, and others who transcend themselves above and beyond any given political paradigm.

    The former category refers to writers and scholars who operate 'within the box,' accepting the restrictive measures of a given political and intellectual discourse. A thinker who operates within such a framework would initially identify the boundaries of the discourse, and then shape his or her ideas to fit in accordingly. The latter category refers to a far more challenging intellectual attempt: it includes those very few who operate within a post-political realm, those who defy the dictatorship of 'political-correctness', or any given 'party-line'. It relates to those minds that think 'out of the box'. And it is actually those who, like artists, plant the seeds of a possible conceptual and consciousness shift.

  • The Wandering Who? A study of Jewish identity politics, gives a unique insider’s view of the Israeli mind. Its author explains to Eric Walberg that you can take the girl out of Jezebel, but you can’t take Jezebel out of the girl

    Gilad Atzmon is a world citizen who calls London his home. He was born a sabra, and served as a paramedic in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War, when he realised that “I was part of a colonial state, the result of plundering and ethnic cleansing.” He has wandered far since then, become a novelist, philosopher, one of the world’s best jazz saxophonists, and at the same time, one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian cause, supporting their right of return and the one-state solution. He now defines himself as a “proud self-hating Jew” and “a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian”. In 2009 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoted Atzmon during a debate with Israeli president Shimon Peres, telling him at the World Economic Forum that “Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty.”

  • Three books recently published by the American radical publisher Clarity Press reflect different aspects of racism in the US, which even under a black president is unfortunately alive and well, promoted in US policy at home and abroad -- if not officially:

    Devon Mihesua, American Indians: Stereotypes and Realities

    Stephen Sheehi, Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims

    Francis Boyle, The Palestinian Right of Return Under International Law

  • -secular thinkers imagine they have left religion behind, but have only exchanged religion for a humanist faith in progress

    -Joseph Roth worried about spread of ideas of national self-determination. Monarchy was more tolerant. A society can be civilized without recognizing rights, while one based on rights may be tainted with barbarism (Austria-Hungary abolished torture in 1776)

    -torture is Enlightenment tradition, 'progress' a legacy of Christianity (salvation in battle between good and evil Zoroastra). 'God defeats evil' translated into secular terms. also meliorism of liberal humanists. Enlightenment hostile to Christianity but used Christian framework.

  • -US enriched rather than impoverished by the two world wars and by their outcome, nothing in common with Britain -> still glorifies military, sentiment familiar in Europe before 1945.

    -in Europe, dominant sentiment relief at "final closing of a long, unhappy chapter" vs in US - story recorded in a triumphalist key. war works. thus remains the first option, vs last resort

    -20th c rise and fall of the state. welfare state a cross-party 20th c consensus implemented by liberals or conservatives not as first stage of 20th c socialism but culmination of late-19th c reformist liberalism, prerequisites of a stable civil order. p10

    -citizens lost gnawing sentiment of insecurity and fear that had dominated political life between 1914 and 1945. forgot this fear -> neoliberalism. now fear reemerging [-> neofascism], fear that not only we but those 'in authority' have lost control of forces beyond their reach [implicitly acknowledging the cabal of international bankers/ military industrial complex (mic) that conspire above governments, tho Judt would be the first to dismiss this p20]

  • Clarity Press June 2011

    advanced purchase http://www.claritypress.com/Walberg.html

    PREFACE

    To young people today, the world as a global village appears as a given, a ready-made order, as if human evolution all along was logically moving towards our high-tech, market-driven society, dominated by the wealthy United States. To bring the world to order, the US must bear the burden of oversize defense spending, capture terrorists, eliminate dictators, and warn ungrateful nations like China and Russia to adjust their policies so as not to hinder the US in its altruistic mission civilatrice.

    The reality is something else entirely, the only truth in the above characterization being the overwhelming military dominance of the US in the world today. The US itself is the source of much of the world’s terrorism, its 1.6 million troops in over a thousand bases around the world the most egregious terrorists, leaving the Osama bin Ladens in the shade, and other lesser critics of US policies worried about their job prospects.

    My own realization of the true nature of the world order began with my journey to England to study economics at Cambridge University in September 1973. I decided to take the luxury SS France ocean liner which offered a student rate of a few hundred dollars (and unlimited luggage), where I met American students on Marshall and Rhodes scholarships (I had the less prestigious Mackenzie King scholarship), and used my wiles to enjoy the perks of first class. The ship was a microcosm of society, a benign one. The world was my oyster and I wanted to share my joy with everyone.

    But I was in for a shock.

  • How green is your deen?

    Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2010

    Muslim Americans are slowly beginning to make their mark on their very conflicted society. There are more Muslims than Jews in the US now -- approximately 5 million. They are the most diverse of all American believers, 35 per cent born in the US (25 per cent Afro-American), the rest -- immigrants from southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Traditionally they have voted Republican, but have shifted to Democrat and Green parties in recent years.

  • Three new publications from the leading radical British press are the tip of a growing iceberg of passionate pleas for sanity in international affairs. Most of us prefer to stick our heads in the sand as the world goes to hell in a hand-basket, but there are works that can fascinate and uplift, perhaps even inspire us to do something before it is too late.

  • -the attempt to fuse the public and private lies behind Plato’s attempt to answer the q “Why is it in one’s interest to be just?” and Christianity’s claim that perfect self-realization can be attained through service to others. [capitalism proposes the invisible hand, soc – class consciousness and state-sanctioned ideology, Rorty’s vision – soc demo and  metaphors]

  • -ecology - 19th c term - investigation of interrelationships between animals, plants, and their inorganic environment - dynamic balance of nature, interdependence of living and nonliving things. vs environmentalism (natural engineering)

     -social ecology - dialectical unfolding of life-forms from simple to complex. (history of phenomenon is the phenomenon itself) human-made universe is 'second nature'. society = institutionalized communities. philosophy of evolution. must synthesize these 2 natures into a 3rd. process of achieving wholeness by means of unity thru diversity, complementarity (vs homogeneous monocultural oneness of cap).
  •  

    -x preferred schoolgirls because less complicated, less real than adult women, as dream less complicated than reality.

    paradox of sex - always seems to be offering more than it can deliver.
  • Time and its discontents

    -Latin words for culture = agriculture/ domestication AND translation from Greek terms for spatial image of time. We are 'time-binders', creating a symbolic class of life, an artificial world -> control over nature. Time becomes real because it has consequences. Flow of time 'the distinction between what one needs and what one has, the incipience of regret' (Guyau (1890) Carpe diem, but civ(ilization) forces us to mortgage the present to the future.

  • -worldatlarge dangerous and threatening. It didn't like the Jews (Js) because they were clever, quick-witted, successful, but also because they were noisy and push. It didn't like what we were doing here in the Land of Israel either, because it begrudged us even this meager strip of marshland, boulders, and desert. Out there in the world all the walls were covered with graffiti: yids, go back to Palestine, so we came back to Palestine and now the worldatlarge shouts at us: Yids, get out of Palestine.

  • 25/12/8 This latest collection of essays by the controversial Israeli writer will not disappoint both admirers and antagonists of this iconoclastic anti-Zionist, most definitely the greatest thorn in Israel's very own backyard. Shamir has known controversy most of his life, notably when he was forced to leave the Soviet Union for demonstrating defiantly against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He came to Israel, served as a paratrooper in the Israeli army, before settling down to a career as journalist (Haaretz, BBC), translator (James Joyce, the Caballah), and increasingly a one-man Internet David to Israel's Goliath. He has never looked back, despite the difficulty of publishing his unapologetic critiques of not just Zionism and Israel, but of Judaism, Jews and Jewry.

  • [draft of upcoming book]
    One World: 20th century conspiracies
    Eric Walberg

    Introduction - From 9/11 1973 to 9/11 2001

        In Canada, dinner time chat – left or right – about world events generally follows the standard media script: the backward Muslims must be taught a lesson, that the events of 9/11/2001 and the tragedies unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan are at worst a cock-up on the part of the US government and friends. Something like the following is served up on both sides of the political spectrum: "They had to invade Afghanistan to stop the Taliban supporting Al-Qaeda. Invading Iraq was a mistake but what do you expect from a moron like Bush? If only he'd listened to his father and just kept chipping away at Saddam."
        In Egypt, the idea that the bombing of the twin towers on 9/11 was the work of a handful of Muslim fanatics directed by Osama bin Laden is dismissed by all but a few westernized folk. "Bush bombed them to launch his war against Islam and to steal Iraq's oil," is the usual response. Or, "9/11 was done by a group within the US government in league with Mossad, using Muslims (or at least their passports) as a front."
        Where is the truth? We all agree 9/11 was a conspiracy, but by whom? Is it possible that the official conspiracy theory is a hoax covering a much more frightening cabal?
  • Film script: The Silk Road and the unknown East -- 6 part documentary

    Eric Walberg

    Introduction and Part I

    We will take a journey along the most ancient and thrilling road in Man's history, through a mysterious and little known part of the world, but one which has experienced all there is - the great religions have all thrived here at one time or another - Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam; at certain periods great centres of learning and the arts sprang up and declined, as did great warrior-princes. It is a region of violent contrasts - desert, mountains, lush valleys and oases. It is a mix of many races. Until a century ago, it was all but lost to the march of civilisation. Until the fall of Communism, it maintained its shroud of secrecy. With modern means of communications, it is now as accessible as any other destination. I am speaking of course of where East truly meets West - Central Asia.

  • fashioning a sunhatWe left Saturday morning for a 4-day hike. Because of the growing problem of bandits in the mountains, Sasha decided to start from the mountains nearest to Tashkent which start from a Tajik village (all villages near or in the mountains are populated by either Tajik or Kazakh) called Nevichu, avoiding check points by taking back roads. Sasha’s wife, Oksana, (whom I met on the plane from New York to Tashkent when she conned me into taking one of her 50-lb. bags to avoid extra baggage charges) saw Sasha, their son, Dima, and myself off, agreeing to meet us 5 days later in Gazalkent.

  • A secondary city

    -sunrise, sunset - vacant metaphors, eroded figures of speech, ghosts in the attic? God embedded in the childhood of rational speech (Nietzsche)
    -speech communicating meaning and feeling => God's presence, esp. aesthetic meaning
    -when we encounter text/ art/ music (tam), i.e., the other in its condition of freedom, we find transcendence
    -enigma of creation is made sensible in text, art music (tam)
    -interpreter - decipherer and communicator of meanings, translator between languages/ cultures/ conventions, and executant, giving intelligible life to tam
    -private reader/ listener can become executant of felt meaning when learns by heart, affording the music indwelling clarity and life-force, ingests (not consumes)

  • Roots of one's pleasures and emotions:
    Chinese eye - sees nature as having its own life, untamed
    Persian heart - romantic love
    African ear - music
    Mongol nomadic sense of freedom
    -must search further than ancestors for roots of freedom and to understand emotions and ambitions

    Man is faced with basic loneliness
    -immunity from loneliness using loneliness as vaccine via:
    1/ hermit - professional alien to seek internal peace
    2/ turn inwards
    3/ awareness of the absurd - be an eccentric
    4/ sense that individual contains echoes of the incomprehensible coherence/ order of the world, has divine spark, recognise a link of generosity between themselves and others, rational and emotional connections which mean that they are part of a wider whole, which leads to altruism
    -diminish FEAR of being alone: only then can one relate to others on terms of mutual respect

  • -goodness of a natural trait is province of ethical reasoning
    -Darwin  1/ species related by sharing descent from common ancestors (unity of life), 2/ species change thru natural selection, 3/ male/female (m/f) obey universal templates -- males 'ardent' and f 'coy' (choose mate for superior genes, ie, best male vs best match).
    -social selection - animals exchange help in return for access to reproductive opportunity, mutual assistance with reproductive opportunity as currency. social-inclusionary traits among f, or among m and shown by secondary sex characteristics (evolutionary approach to social behaviour)
    -human development characterised by cooperation
  • The care of the self

    Artemidorus The interpretation of dreams
    -break down dream into constituent partts, decipher in context of the whole
    -virtuous vs. ordinary individual - gods speak to former
    -the more you understand dreams, the more complex they become (to hide behind images)
    -wasting sperm is bad (with prostitute, fellatio - signifying loss of money), being passive is bad for man (tho sex with slaves or passive with older man is ok, the latter a promise of gifts)
    -sex out of harmony with nature is bad - rift, enmity, death

  • -Jenifer Hart's pragmatic approach to Jacob's churchgoing is utilitarian - actions not intrinsically good or evil, but should be judge by their consequences. Right acts produce best results. 1960s loss of religious faith but while people were casting off the trammels of institutional Christianity, they were also turning to alternative forms of faith. 'Go with the flow' antithesis of ideals of convent but both seeking what gave life intrinsic value, rejecting money and worldly success. Transcendental meditation to change thought structures; spirituality and rituals bring measure of peace, help transform, release from bind of ego.
  • The 4 main ways that the mind works are sensation/thinking and feeling /intuition - the former more the realm of the conscious (c - rational), the latter of the unconscious (u - nonrational) 

    Thinking and feeling are categories of perception; intuition and sensation of apprehension

    c (shadow + anima) + c (ego) = Self.

    The unconscious (u) is compensatory/complementary to the conscious (c).

  • The general theme: respect your child’s feelings, let the child develop and mature to become independent, love unconditionally. Parents, especially mothers, unconsciously or otherwise, use the child to fulfill their needs, and use conditional love as their weapon (rationalized as ‘socialization’) A child who resists is rejected or withdrawn from and can’t help but re-enact the relationship. There is no clear separation of subject/object (child’s fear that rejection of object will destroy it).

Eric Walberg


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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.