The plummeting superpower and its dollar
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-11-18
September 11, 2001 marks a chilling moment of truth for the vaunted superpower status of the US. The crumbling New York Twin Towers became a symbolism that did not escape many.

The razing of the two towering monuments of American economic pride and supremacy approximates the mortifying impact of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The US economy is like a battered boxer on the ropes. In Europe today, shops are not inclined to accept US dollars owing to its current plunge and the continuing problems brought about by the sub-prime woes. Many Filipinos who hedged and placed their nest eggs on the US dollar lost easily 10% on their money and are deeply worried.

In the US, the middle class — the best barometer of American prosperity — is besieged. A recent NBC Television report revealed that today’s average US middle class family is suffering from a cost increase, vis-à-vis 1975 levels, of 76% in mortgage, 74% in health and 50% in transportation.

The NBC Report further showed that today's typical US middle class family, with two earning spouses contributing, cannot even afford to save. The 1975 American middle class family — with just one spouse earning — could save and enjoyed a much better standard of living.

The mishandling of the Iraq War eroded US standing even with its staunchest allies. Retired top British General, Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, called the US Iraq War strategy as "inadequate and shortsighted" and he went further by saying that the US relied too much on military power to accomplish the job in Iraq instead of applying diplomacy and nation building to cement the military victory. This is the classic rendition of winning the war but losing the peace.

While the US has enjoyed the lion's share of the billing in the world domination game, the fact is there can be no Anglo-Saxon hegemony without the British Alliance. Victories in World Wars I and II were accomplished with the US and the UK in partnership, albeit with other nations. In the wars where the US did not have a strong British partnership, the US had been driven out of the contested territory — Vietnam, Cambodia.

Now, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced the pullout of British troops from Iraq in 2008.

Vietnam and Iraq proved beyond doubt that military might is useless against the fervor of nationalist resistance. In the past, imperial powers could easily cover up their tracks and casualty figures. But not in today's information age where a more militant citizenry obtains news from efficient media. This interactive information environment has made citizens more involved with issues and more vocal and assertive in driving their support or objections against the war.

Gory pictures of death, mayhem and civilian casualties on prime time news played a big role in eroding American support for the Vietnam War. Today's amazing media technologies and the access of most anyone to internet-based communication makes it extremely difficult for war mongers to spin lies and get away with it.

In 1953, the US and its allies were driven across the 38th Parallel by the combined force of North Korea and China. In 1975, the US lost South Vietnam to a North Vietnam backed by Russia. Today, without China or Russia supporting the enemy, the US is mired in Iraq and the American people are desperately seeking an exit strategy.

In 1953, the China that backed North Korea and drove the US and its allies across the 38th Parallel was nowhere near its present economic clout. The march of China as an economic titan came after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976, during the succeeding era of Deng Xiaoping.

Entrapped in an Iraqi quagmire, plagued by a faltering economy and credibility close to zero, who in his right mind can say that the US is still the world’s top superpower? Only the most rabid pro-American Filipino who continues to live in the past myth of the liberating GI Joe may still think that.

What makes it worse is that at the time when the US is at its most critical phase, it is led by an intellectually-challenged president, George W. Bush. He has achieved the distinction of being the US president who has accumulated the most number of gaffes. Type BUSHISM in Google and you’ll see what I mean. Bush can fill up comedian Jay Leno’s late night show with a year's supply of presidential bloopers.

No wonder, US leaders from both the Republican and Democratic Parties are scared whenever Bush rattles sabers against Iran — a far more formidable foe compared to the local Iraqi insurgency. An Iran War misadventure could easily match US casualties in Vietnam.

The US invasion of Iraq promoted the re-alliance of China and Russia. Both countries saw the threat of a US-UK domination of the Middle East. Instead of gaining a strategic advantage from the Iraq invasion, the US did the opposite and in the process, exposed the US as a naked emperor who pretended to have new clothes.

The US debacle in Vietnam may be dismissed as a fluke, a lucky shot from over 50 feet in basketball. One might say that the US was not willing to suffer the heavy casualties in exchange for mere rice paddies and jungles.

But the Iraq quagmire — fighting nothing more than a homegrown insurgency compared to the North Vietnamese — it's too much for other superpowers not to think that indeed the era of US world domination is seeing its sunset.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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