We Americans think we’re different. Or that even if all empires are mortal that

a) we are not an empire, and
b) there is no reason to think life will be very different anytime soon. Soon is your lifetime if your under 40, otherwise what your kids might live to see.

Wrong on both counts. American democracy has many virtues, but a willingness to forego power, wealth or control has not been one of them. We were flexing muscles in the Spanish-American War and before, but two World Wars and their aftermath proved decisive. After World War II we were content to make pragmatic deals that gave Josef Stalin some latitude for his own (Soviet) empire-building.

But by the time Eisenhower was elected, we had The Global Struggle of Good vs. Evil 1.0. Fighting Communist expansion became the rational for all-out economic war. The Marshall Plan rebuilt — and stabilized —  Western Europe and beyond. But decades before anyone had heard of Salvador Allende, the CIA arranged the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, and so replaced the British in the oily heart of the British Empire.

Attack Iran? Bad idea.

When we talk about terrorists, it’s good to realize that the United States has often played a despicable role in the affairs of relatively poor and small nations. This does not justify or create terrorists, but it provides the environment from which terrorists are recruited, and in which they draw varying degrees of support. It is well worth reading Kinzer’s book and its treatment of  “the roots of Middle East terror” alone, although it also provides serious historical and cultural depth on Iran in general.

Such reading might also allow any non-dogmatic person to understand how fatuous it is for US to make self-righteous demands on the Iranians, about nuclear matters or otherwise.

War. Terrorism. The world economy. The election campaign has been bitterly disappointing with respect to all these issues and more. . Would anyone like to do the homework, a la Kinzer, on why shifting our warfighting  priority to Afghanistan is a poor idea? It’s been done already. Use the Truthout link at the right, or perhaps Google Prof. (formerly Colonel) Andrew Bacevich.

As for the myth of the status quo, it is unfortunate that it’s replacement now (Oct. 2008) is fear of a new Great Depression. Will this be seriously discussed in tonight’s Obama-McCain debate?  ‘Nuff said.