USA Right Now, Worse Than Ever, But?

By Johan Galtung

Take the candidate debate about nomination and election, focused on Trump’s buffoonery and Sanders’ ineligibility. Hillary?–on using a private account. Few words wasted on her foreign policy of massive belligerence, warfare. In the tradition, Zoltan Grossman [i] documents: 151 military interventions from Wounded Knee in 1890; and in spite of the war fatigue expressed by Trump, Cruz, Sanders – even by Obama.

And US reality? John Pilger [ii]: “Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president”. The Wall Street Journal (30 May 2016) had a full page on the new Navy railgun projectiles with ultra-speed that can penetrate any armor.

No peacefare; no sign of conciling trauma, of solving conflicts.

Take foreign policy. C. W. Freeman Jr.: “The End of the American Empire”; Noam Chomsky: “How Imperial Violence Backfires–Lessons from the Middle East”, Zalmay Khalilzad: “De-Ba’athification was a recipe for disaster” (, 13 Apr, 19 May, 19 May 2016). Anatol Lieven, “What Chance for Afghanistan?” (NYRB 21 Apr 2016): none. A foreign policy in shambles, generally; Middle East, Afghanistan.

Cuba? In the balance, can be undone by a Republican Congress.

Saudi Arabia? May “wreck the U.S. economy”; USA gives in, as does the UN.

Take terrorism.

Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security expert, in “Why do terrorists commit terrorism” (INYT, 16 Jun 2016) focuses only on individual motivation. He rejects “mental problems” – only one in ten, below US population in general – and “career criminals” – only 12% had served in prison as against 11% of the US male population.

He finds, of course, “militant islamist ideology, dislike of US foreign policy in the Muslim world”. But not a single word on how their motives may reflect a reality that the USA can change, and solve the problem.

Take the mass murders in the USA, for whatever reason; a growing expression of a culture of violence, not of conflict solution.

Take race relations: “the police wage a murderous war against black Americans” – Pilger says 5 times more Blacks than Whites in prison [iii].

Take the incarceration rate: The highest in the world, privatized for business making income from forced labor; on the stock exchange.

Take suicide: “US suicide rate soars to a 30-year high” (INYT 27 Apr 2016): “When the economy got worse suicides went up – when good, down”.

Take the economy of the USA, focused on “economic growth”, not on distribution, on transactions regardless of content, like speculation. And on number of jobs even if insufficient to support a family, and on the disappearance of the old “position” that did exactly that. Even meager jobs are dwindling as the finance economy, handled by very few buying and selling financial assets, prevails. Even “less business competition with less anti-monopoly effort” (Krugman INYT 19 Apr 2016).

Take the infrastructure: bad and deteriorating [iv] –maybe except for access to and inside the “security communities” for the opulent. We are talking about development in reverse, about de-development.

Take human rights: when will the USA ratify the Second Human Rights Convention on socio-economic-cultural rights? And when will it accept the UN position that the global Bill of Rights treaty imposes obligations on US operations abroad, not only on individuals within its territory and jurisdiction (“U.S. rebuffs the U.N. on treaty”, INYT 15/16 Mar 2014).

Take climate: Will the USA do anything serious when “80 percent of Americans now find themselves living in countries where the weather is more pleasant than it was four decades ago”? (INYT, 26 Apr 2016).

Take the nomination-election process, democracy correcting for all of the above, with two parties. Two? Four with the Greens and the Libertarians, but only seen that way on “Russia Today”, moderated by Larry King. What a shame! There is a double revolt against RNC and DNC (Debbie Schultz) – but even so, USA is a delegatocracy for, by and of delegates; controlled by banks after the Supreme Court Citizens United decision.

What to do? Surprisingly simple, unsurprisingly unlikely. But?

The wars: Use the war fatigue to cut them out and terrorism will abate. But with “threats to US security” they will return; with mini-nukes, ultra-speed projectiles. Hence, concile traumas (Truth Commissions!) created in Iran 1953, Somalia from 1992, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003; solve conflicts in EU-Kiev-Donetsk-Russia, in Libya, Yemen, Saudi. Federations; Central Asian Community; defensive defense against IS.

Face the fact: USA started wars with Islam in Iraq, Afghanistan and into Africa. Stop individualizing and psychiatrizing individual Muslim fighters, that will not make these wars disappear; wars that are as unnecessary as unwinnable. US military hegemony will not return.

The USA needs a foreign policy not of domination but of trying to heal and solve conflicts; Trump’s 10 contradictions [v] open for that, but verbal wars against Muslims, Mexicans, non-Whites, women don’t.

US domestic violence – in the family, as mass violence-massacres – is partly a gun-NRA problem, but mainly a violence culture problem. A TV change from the drama of violence to the drama of solving conflicts could help; an example is CBS Dr Phil, but it is mainly psychological.

Let us see what Trump manages with NRA/no guns for terrorists.

The economy: Lift the bottom up, very racial, with cooperatives. Keynesianism serves white middle classes; but better than unnecessary, self-defeating, austerity. Make the bottom competitive for improving the infrastructure, healing much of the racism and the suicide rate.

Face the fact: USA, North-West in general, is at economic war with South and East and is losing.

They have learnt the tricks. US economic hegemony will not return. The Chinese policy of including USA works better than the US policy of excluding China – also for the USA.

Human rights: Join the world, ratify, and transcend borders.

Climate: Follow Paris or come up with better ideas, but do something.

And the coming election? Anything but Hillary!


[i]. May 20 2016; 16 in the USA, 56 in Latin America-Caribbean, 4 in Haiti, 5 in Cuba, 8 in China.

[ii]. Twitter @johnpilger. Obama lied in Praha 2009, “pledging to ‘make the world free from nuclear weapons’”. “A mini nuclear bomb is planned–B61 Model 12.–former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff–‘Going smaller–more thinkable’”.

[iii]. See the Guardian here.

[iv]. Elizabeth Dryer reviews five recent books as “A Country Breaking Down”, The New York Review of Books, February 25, 2016.

[v]. See The Guardian here.

Originally published by Transcend Media Service here.

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