The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.
–Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776)
The cost of American Empire is now about $1 trillion per year.
That includes foreign aid and security assistance, homeland security, the $200 billion Veterans Administration budget, and debt service on past wars.
Add that to $2.5 trillion of entitlements that neither Democrats nor Republicans will touch. Pretty soon, we’ll be paying another $1 trillion per year in interest on what we’ve already borrowed to sustain Imperial Washington.
It’s nothing less than a fiscal doomsday machine.
Overall spending is approaching 25% to 30% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). But the “revenue base” is amounts to less than 17% of GDP.
Our fiscal accounts are being drawn and quartered – literally – by the dual menace of the Welfare State and Warfare State. And, now, the neocon-warhawk-dominated GOP and the neoliberal-anti-Russia Democrats are all on the same page.
MSNBC is, of course, ground-zero for the so-called progressive left.
So, while I was explaining the folly of Trumponomics and the Tweeter-in-Chief’s rookie mistake of embracing Bubble Finance and our Potemkin Village economy, Mika Brzezinski was all grinning-nods-of-approval…
When I veered into approval of the Great Disruptor’s effort to rein in the Empire and make peace with Russia, it was an altogether different matter:
STOCKMAN: Beyond that, Trump tried to do the right thick with “America First.” He’s been stymied at every turn of the road. He was right. They wouldn’t let him do it. He was right.
NATO is obsolete. We should get rid of it. Everybody went after him for trying to do the right thing in Korea, and yet they keep coming after him on the basis of the status quo, which has been wrong for last 60 years.
So, on the one hand, his economic policy is a failure. On the other hand, his effort to rein in the empire, as I call it, and get to something we can afford is being stymied. And then he’s filled the swamp with $100 billion more for the Pentagon that it doesn’t need. That’s the deep end of the swamp.
BRZEZINSKI: David, David, hold on a second, hold on, hold on. You did a lot.
BRZEZINSKI: I just want to like hone in on one — are you saying we should pull out of NATO?
STOCKMAN: Sure. NATO is obsolete.
STOCKMAN: NATO is obsolete. It was only set up to stop the Soviet Union and 50,000 tanks on the Warsaw front. That ended 25 years ago. We don’t need NATO. Europe can take care of itself. Russia’s a pint-sized economy, 7% the size of the U.S. economy. NATO, U.S. GDP combined is $36 trillion, Russia’s is $1.5 trillion. You think the Europeans can’t handle it?
Germany spends 1 percent only of GDP on defense. If they really thought that the Russians were heading through the Brandenburg Gate, they would be providing for their own defense. They’re not passivists.
The left is so deranged by MAGA – they’re convinced the Donald was elected by and for Vladimir Putin – that they’ve become full-fledged champions of the Warfare State.
But the Evil Empire died 28 years ago. And even before it was reduced to a rump, its conventional military threat was much exaggerated.
Indeed, those 50,000 tanks menacingly arrayed along the Iron Curtain to protect/imprison Stalin’s children didn’t even have spare fuel to carry out operations against the West.
So, yes, there was every reason to declare “Mission Accomplished” and disband NATO.
But the American Empire has needs.
And even the “progressive left” is rising to meet them.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – or “AOC,” as a fawning Mainstream Media has anointed her – is the Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 14th district.
Modern monetary theory – or “MMT” – is a theory from the left that rationalizes government debt and deficits.
AOC-and-MMT-style socialism just might be the new elixir of empire.