I had thought it better to hold back on this piece until the euphoria of the United States having a bi-racial president had subsided.

Like the revelry through the night every 1st of January.

After a few weeks the New Year looks remarkably like the old one.

Of course Obama is as different is style from Bush 43 as is possible to get.

The problems he has to deal with are the same ones that caused “Dubya” to stare into the headlights.

Obama’s soaring rhetoric will not change a few unpleasant facts.

The USA is bankrupt. It didn’t become a debtor empire overnight, but now the situation is desperate.

If the Chinese stop buying US Treasury Bills then it is difficult to see what the Federal reserve can do other than print more dollars.

The Chinese could, if they so wanted, destroy the dollar overnight.

They own so much of them that they could flood the world market with dollars.

The mighty US military is also suffering from a shortage of the much-vaunted “boots on the ground”.

The Iraq experience has, like the Western front in the Great War did for the British, has taught the Pentagon what they can and cant do to a determined insurgent enemy.

The fighters of the Sunni Triangle battered the US army and Marine Corps of four years with IEDs and suicide attacks.

The answer was to put them on the payroll and withdraw from their neighbourhoods.

The architect of this strategy General Petraeus has stated, “money is ammunition.”

The problem is that the money is running out.

90% of these militias are now off the payroll as of late last year.

Last week four US soldiers were killed by a suicide attack in Mosul. The first US fatalities in Iraq from enemy action in months.

Obama wants to withdraw 16 combat brigades from Iraq. This is an election promise, but it will prove difficult to execute. The possibility of Iraq disaggregating a la Yugoslavia is not so fanciful. Indeed the most realistic plan for Iraq during the mayhem of the 2006/2007 Civil War was the so-called “Biden plan”.

This was a Vance/Owen type approach to a loosely federated Iraq with self-governing ethnic neighbourhoods within a federal Iraq.

Joe Biden is now, of course, US Vice President.

Another election promise of Obama was to “go after” Bin Laden and defeat Al Qaeda. His polemic on “the war on terror” was that going in to Iraq was mistake (no kidding?) and that this had diverted resources and attention form the main event that was Afghanistan.

Now the “Afghanistan surge” has been curtailed.

The USA’s junior partner in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot deliver long term either.

The cost to the UK taxpayer of keeping a brigade size force in Helmand province has been recently re-costed from £2billion to £4 billion.

There is little chance of the British taxpayer paying that cost for the twenty or so years that the Taliban insurgency could last.

In Pakistan the government there has publicly ceded the Swat valley area to the Jihadis. Sharia law is now being imposed on the area.

NATO’s overland supply route into Afghanistan from Pakistan has been repeatedly sabotaged.  The Taliban have won that particular one with the USA bringing in their supplies through Russia.

In the 2006 film “Apocalypto” director Mel Gibson told the tale of a Mesoamerican hunter gatherer tribe who are attacked and enslaved by a raiding party from the Maya civilisation.

Although technologically superior to the forest dwellers the Mayans   have past their zenith and are descending into a moral collapse as their way of life is becoming ecologically unsustainable.

They do not know that their method of building is poisoning the surrounding farmland. In their ignorance they offer more and more human sacrifices to placate the angry sun god.

The film begins with an epigraph from American philosopher Will Durant the:

 “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

When interviewed about the movie the Australian admitted that he was drawing a clear parallel between the Mayans and the Americans.

The “American dream” is a gluttonous unsustainable lifestyle that forces US statecraft to acquire more and more finite resources.  Resources which when expended threaten the climate of the planet.

No rousing rhetoric form Obama will alter the material facts that the power of the US Empire is starting to decline.

It would be healthier for all of us if the new president admitted that their days of being able to do anything they set their mind to is over.

No they can’t.




















Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion