It seems that truly, to borrow the words of “Pogo” cartoonist Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Us, as in the U.S., which is “generally held to be responsible” for the world economic crisis, according to Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence.
As a result of that crisis, economic instability is now the nation’s greatest security threat — greater even than terrorism, according to a Reuters article, which covered Blair’s presentation to Congress last week of a report that represents the findings of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and serves as a leading security reference for policymakers and Congress.
"Time is our greatest threat. The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests," the report said.
"Instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways to the international community," Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Ever since I heard that, I’ve been wondering, so what does this mean exactly, in terms of America’s domestic and foreign policies? Think back to 9-11 and all the Draconian measures that came from the launch of the so-called “War on Terror:” the Patriot Act, unauthorized wiretapping, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unprecedented security measures at airport, a wall along the Mexican border.
And now we’ve got a situation that supposedly is worse than what prompted all that. Yes, got a different President, albeit one who chose a retired admiral as head of national intelligence. But when our “strategic interests” are at stake, hasn’t the U.S. always done whatever it takes to protect them? Again, what does this new assessment of the world’s dangers to America portend?
It took delving through a number of articles to get some clue. According to the Reuters article, “Tough economic times and frustration with the government were radicalizing people all over” Afghanistan.
OK, and we’re stepping up the clampdown there:
The United Nations has announced the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan last year jumped by nearly 40 percent as the violence in the country soared to its worst levels since 2001. There were over 2,100 reported civilian deaths. The UN said militants were to blame for 55 percent of the deaths, while US-led forces were responsible for nearly 40 percent. Meanwhile, 3,000 more US troops have arrived in Afghanistan, marking the first wave of an expected surge of US forces as part of President Obama’s plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, according to an AFP article on the national security report:
”Besides increased economic nationalism, the most likely political fallout for US interests will involve allies and friends not being able to fully meet their defence and humanitarian obligations."
Does that mean the U.S. is going to assume the role of world humanitarian, along with world policeman? The article went on to note:
"It already has increased questioning of US stewardship of the global economy and the international financial structure," Blair said, with trading partners already upset over a "Buy American" provision in a US stimulus bill.
But the economic crisis also gives opportunities for renewed US leadership in international forums such as the World Trade Organization and the G20 club of rich and developing nations.
"The US tradition of openness, developed skills and mobility probably puts it in a better position to reinvent itself," the US intelligence chief said.
How do you suppose that might look, America reinventing itself when faced with the prospect of losing global economic “stewardship?” What steps will it take to exert greater control over global forums? What can we expect here at home, if the stimulus bill fails to stimulate, just as the bail out bill failed to bail out, and the shit really starts to hit the fan on Main Street, right about the time the Obama euphoria wears off?
I don't know myself. But I'm wondering.