War: The Quickest Way to Kill a Protest Movement?

#OccupyWallStreet is the second incarnation of “mad as hell” since the 2008 corporatist bailouts that effectively killed American capitalism. The first incarnation — the Tea Party, initially a furious response to government bailouts of failed banks — was too easy to astroturf and transmute into right-wing ideologues spouting fire and brimstone on right-wing social issues. It was too easy to discredit for what Fox News, Judson Phillips and Glenn Beck made it into — a non-spontaneous anti-tax anti-Obama ranting brigade. The Tea Party, at least at the leadership level, ended up advocating Bush-Reagan military-industrial hegemony on steroids.

#OccupyWallStreet picks up where the original intentions of the Tea Party were strangled by Beck, Palin and Limbaugh. It’s anti-corporatist. Anti-bailout. Anti-corruption. Yes, many of the people there are old-school statist leftists who want to abolish and not restore capitalism. But there is no doubt that with the global economic apparatus largely failing to appease anyone but insiders and bankers, the hopey-changey sentiments (“we have to give Obama a chance!”) that have been keeping the revolution down can’t be silenced for long. People need jobs, prosperity, fulfilment, and (for better or worse) they’ll make mayhem until they get it.

With global youth-unemployment and underemployment soaring I only expect this movement to balloon and echo around the world. There is a danger — just like the Tea Party was co-opted into the Republican political apparatus — that #OWS will be co-opted into the establishment left. If Obama removed Geithner and hired Krugman and Elizabeth Warren, a significant chunk of the protestors might be placated — for now. But the problems sucking economies down can’t just be wished away. They can’t be solved by printing money and pumping it. They can’t be solved by digging ditches. And thanks to the creation of the internet, and the rise of Facebook and Twitter, until the system functions well enough to give the indignants what they want and need, they will keep causing a ruckus. As Reagan put it:

Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders. … The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip.

And so it might seem this totalitarianism might be ended — and God’s workers furiously demanding as much liquidity and favours as is necessary to “save the system” (and their bonuses) with no consideration that the system might itself be the problem is surely a kind of financial totalitarianism.

Sadly, we know how that aphorism from Winston Churchill goes: that Americans will do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.

So a new war in the middle east may seem attractive to some elements of the Western establishment:

  1. Create a new post-9/11-style hard-to-question patriotism — “There’s a war on — we all need to rally together around the flag — the complainers and protestors must hate America”
  2. Put America back to work — in weapons factories, and on the front lines.
  3. Give the economy a large Keynesian injection — through war spending.
  4. Take out Iran, a powerful enemy of America — and send a threatening message to other uppity Eurasian autocracies like Russia and China.
  5. Curtail civil liberties & censor the internet — “There’s a war on — we all need to rally together around the flag — and those who don’t must be working to undermine America”
Let the war propaganda begin in 3…2…1…
The problem is, starting a new Eurasian war carries with it a whole host of risks — not least the possibility of an oil shock and a massive oil spike — and the real prospect of dragging Russia, China, India & Pakistan into the conflagration.

So would Obama authorise and support Netanyahu in instigating regime change in Iran?

Perhaps he might consider it — how else can he get a big stimulus bill through Congress, and divert attention from a failing American economy and growing civil unrest? But more worrying, I’m not even sure Obama matters.

From GulfNews:

In recent weeks, intense discussions have taken place in Israeli military and intelligence circles about whether or not to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Apparently, the key question in the debate was how to ensure that the United States took part in the attack or, at the very least, intervened on Israel’s side if the initial strike triggered a wider war.

Reports of these discussions have caused considerable alarm in Washington and in a number of European capitals. Some western military experts have been quoted as saying that the window of opportunity for an Israeli air attack on Iran will close within two months, since the onset of winter would make such an assault more difficult.

Concern that Israel may decide to attack without giving the US prior warning is thought to be the main reason for the visit to Tel Aviv on October 3 of the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. His aim seems to have been to rein in the Israeli hawks.

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14 thoughts on “War: The Quickest Way to Kill a Protest Movement?

  1. Yes, war is a real concern. Big military & hundreds of state agencies can’t be de-leveraged overnight (just because a state needs to cut spending) and instead will seek a reason to exist.

  2. Pretty chilling, Aziz, unfortunately spot on. The Israeli tail has wagged the American dog for years and the situation is getting worse, not better. If this turns into the real thing we’re all screwed. Last I read the Israelis are thought to have over 200 operational nuclear weapons, including hydrogen bombs, and land and submarine launched missiles to deliver them accurately to targets in Iran. Any talk of “surgical strikes,” or “bloody noses” is crazy. If it starts it will escalate all the way. Israel has the capability to erase Iran off the map, to utterly destroy it and bounce the rubble several times over. I don’t see what Russia or China would gain by retaliating against the U.S. if that happens, but crazy things happen when the dogs of war are unleashed.

    • I don’t believe that this war – if it happens (let’s pray not) — will be fought with nuclear weapons. I think it is more likely to be a conventional war with heavy guerilla elements with the overhanging shadow of a potential nuclear war.

      • I cannot agree with your assessment on that. Do you honestly think that a nuclear armed Pakistan would stand idly by and allow an unprovoked attack against another Muslim nation?

        • Pakistan being the trigger of a nuclear armageddon is possible but I strongly doubt it. Nuclear weapons are not under present circumstances deployed by politicians, bureaucrats or civilians. They are deployed by Generals, who generally take a much longer view of history. I know Pakistan has a lot of Islamists in its military establishment, but everyone — even Islamists — must know the consequences of starting that kind of war.

  3. WW 3 already started! Its being fought with digital 0′s and 1′s!

    The decrease in your(our) living standard is the fuel needed by the governments to finance this war.

    Really no different from every other war.

  4. Armageddon? From Wikipedia:

    The word Armageddon appears only once in the Greek New Testament at Revelation 16:16. The word may come from Hebrew har məgiddô (הר מגידו), meaning “Mountain of Megiddo”. “Mount” Megiddo is a Tell on which ancient forts were built to guard the main highway, the Via Maris, which connected Ancient Egypt with Mesopotamia. Megiddo was the location of various ancient battles, including one in the 15th century BC and one in 609 BC. Modern Megiddo is a town approximately 25 miles (40 km) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in the Kishon River area.

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