Chris Hedges Imperialism Original

Hedges: The Empire Does Not Forgive

The Americans, like the British and the Soviets before them, dug their own graveyard in Afghanistan.
Original illustration by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

The Carthaginian general Hannibal, who came close to defeating the Roman Republic in the Second Punic War, committed suicide in 181 BC in exile as Roman soldiers closed in on his residence in the Bithynian village of Libyssa, now modern-day Turkey. It had been more than thirty years since he led his army across the alps and annihilated Roman legions at the Battle of Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae, considered one of the most brilliant tactical victories in warfare which centuries later inspired the plans of the German Army Command in World War I when they invaded Belgium and France. Rome was only able to finally save itself from defeat by replicating Hannibal’s military tactics. 

It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman consuls (with quasi-imperial power) since Hannibal’s invasion. It did not matter that Hannibal had been hunted for decades and forced to perpetually flee, always just beyond the reach of Roman authorities. He had humiliated Rome. He had punctured its myth of omnipotence. And he would pay. With his life. Years after Hannibal was gone, the Romans were still not satisfied. They finished their work of apocalyptic vengeance in 146 BC by razing Carthage to the ground and selling its remaining population into slavery. Cato the Censor summed up the sentiments of empire: Carthāgō dēlenda est (Carthage must be destroyed). Nothing about empire, from then until now, has changed.

Imperial powers do not forgive those who expose their weaknesses or make public the sordid and immoral inner workings of empire. Empires are fragile constructions. Their power is as much one of perception as of military strength. The virtues they claim to uphold and defend, usually in the name of their superior civilization, are a mask for pillage, the exploitation of cheap labor, indiscriminate violence, and state terror.

The current American empire, damaged and humiliated by the troves of internal documents published by WikiLeaks, will, for this reason, persecute Julian Assange for the rest of his life. It does not matter who is president or which political party is in power. Imperialists speak with one voice. The killing of thirteen U.S. troops by a suicide bomber at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday evoked from Joe Biden the full-throated cry of all imperialists: “To those who carried out this attack … we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay.” This was swiftly followed by two drone strikes in Kabul against suspected members of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), which took credit for the suicide bombing that left some 170 dead, including 28 members of the Taliban.

The Taliban, which defeated U.S. and coalition forces in a 20-year war, is about to be confronted with the wrath of a wounded empire. The Cuban, Vietnamese, Iranian, Venezuelan and Haitian governments know what comes next. The ghosts of Toussaint Louverture, Emilio Aguinaldo, Mohammad Mossadegh, Jacobo Arbenz, Omar Torrijos, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Juan Velasco, Salvador Allende, Andreas Papandreou, Juan Bosh, Patrice Lumumba, and Hugo Chavez know what comes next. It isn’t pretty. It will be paid for by the poorest and most vulnerable Afghans. 

The faux pity for the Afghan people, which has defined the coverage of the desperate collaborators with the U.S. and coalition occupying forces and educated elites fleeing to the Kabul airport, begins and ends with the plight of the evacuees. There were few tears shed for the families routinely terrorized by coalition forces or the some 70,000 civilians who were obliterated by U.S. air strikes, drone attacks, missiles, and artillery, or gunned down by nervous occupying forces who saw every Afghan, with some justification, as the enemy during the war. And there will be few tears for the humanitarian catastrophe the empire is orchestrating on the 38 million Afghans, who live in one of the poorest and most aid-dependent countries in the world.

Since the 2001 invasion the United States deployed about 775,000 military personnel to subdue Afghanistan and poured $143 billion into the country, with 60 percent of the money going to prop up the corrupt Afghan military and the rest devoted to funding economic development projects, aid programs and anti-drug initiatives, with the bulk of those funds being siphoned off by foreign aid groups, private contractors, and outside consultants.

Grants from the United States and other countries accounted for 75 percent of the Afghan government budget. That assistance has evaporated. Afghanistan’s reserves and other financial accounts have been frozen, meaning the new government cannot access some $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank. Shipments of cash to Afghanistan have been stopped. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Afghanistan will no longer be able to access the lender’s resources.

Things are already dire. There are some 14 million Afghans, one in three, who lack sufficient food. There are two million Afghan children who are malnourished. There are 3.5 million people in Afghanistan who have been displaced from their homes. The war has wrecked infrastructure. A drought destroyed 40 percent of the nation’s crops last year. The assault on the Afghan economy is already seeing food prices skyrocket. The sanctions and severance of aid will force civil servants to go without salaries and the health service, already chronically short of medicine and equipment, will collapse. The suffering orchestrated by the empire will be of Biblical proportions. And this is what the empire wants.

UNICEF estimates that 500,000 children were killed as a direct result of sanctions on Iraq.  Expect child deaths in Afghanistan to soar above that horrifying figure. And expect the same imperial heartlessness Madeleine Albright, then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, exhibited when she told “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children because of the sanctions was “worth it.” Or the heartlessness of Hillary Clinton who joked “We came, we saw, he died,” when informed of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s brutal death. Or the demand by Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia who after the attacks of 9/11 declared, “I say, bomb the hell out of them. If there’s collateral damage, so be it.” No matter that the empire has since turned Libya along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen into cauldrons of violence, chaos, and misery. The power to destroy is an intoxicating drug that is its own justification.

Like Cato the Censor, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies are, if history is any guide, at this moment planning to destabilize Afghanistan by funding, arming, and backing any militia, warlord or terrorist organization willing to strike at the Taliban. The CIA, which should exclusively gather intelligence, is a rogue paramilitary organization that oversees secret kidnappings, interrogation at black sites, torture, manhunts, and targeted assassinations across the globe. It carried out commando raids in Afghanistan that killed a large number of Afghan civilians, which repeatedly sent enraged family members and villagers into the arms of the Taliban. It is, I expect, reaching out to Amrullah Saleh, who was Ashraf Ghani’s vice president and who has declared himself “the legitimate caretaker president” of Afghanistan. Saleh is holed up in the Panjashir Valley.  He, along with warlords Afgand Massoud, Mohammad Atta Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum, are clamoring to be armed and supported to perpetuate conflict in Afghanistan.

“I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban,” Ahmad Massoud wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post. “The United States and its allies have left the battlefield, but America can still be a ‘great arsenal of democracy,’ as Franklin D. Roosevelt said when coming to the aid of the beleaguered British before the U.S. entry into World War II,” he went on, adding that he and his fighters need “more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies.”

These warlords have done the bidding of the Americans before. They will do the bidding of the Americans again. And since the hubris of empire is unaffected by reality, the empire will continue to sow dragon’s teeth in Afghanistan as it has since it spent $9 billion—some estimates double that figure—to back the mujahedeen that fought the Soviets, leading to a bloody civil war between rival warlords once the Soviets withdrew in 1989 and the ascendancy in 1996 of the Taliban.

The cynicism of arming and funding the mujahedeen against the Soviets exposes the lie of America’s humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan. One million Afghan civilians were killed in the nine-year conflict with the Soviets, along with 90,000 mujahedeen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers.  But these deaths, along with the destruction of Afghanistan, were “worth it” to cripple the Soviets.

Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, along with the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, oversaw the arming of the most radical Islamic mujahedeen groups fighting the Soviet occupation forces, leading to the extinguishing of the secular, democratic Afghan opposition. Brzezinski detailed the strategy, designed as he said to give the Soviet Union its Vietnam, taken by the Carter administration following the 1979 Soviet invasion to prop up the Marxist regime of Hafizullah Amin in Kabul:

We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet   Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Agency prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to   make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again — for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujahedeen from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.

The clandestine campaign to destabilize the Soviet Union by making it “bleed for as much and as long as is possible” was carried out, like the arming of the contra forces in Nicaragua, largely off the books. It did not, as far as official Washington was concerned, exist, a way to avoid the unwelcome scrutiny of covert operations carried out by the Church Committee hearings in the 1970s that made public the three decades of CIA-backed coups, assassinations, blackmail, intimidation, dark propaganda, and torture. The Saudi government agreed to match the U.S. funding for the Afghan insurgents. The Saudi involvement gave rise to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, which fought with the mujahedeen. The rogue operation, led by Brzezinski, organized secret units of assassination teams and paramilitary squads that carried out lethal attacks on perceived enemies around the globe. It trained Afghan mujahedeen in Pakistan and China’s Xinjiang province. It shifted the heroin trade, used to fund the insurgency, from southeast Asia to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This pattern of behavior, which destabilized Afghanistan and the region, is reflexive in the military and the intelligence community. It will, without doubt, be repeated now in Afghanistan, with the same catastrophic results. The chaos these intelligence agencies create becomes the chaos that justifies their existence and the chaos that sees them demand more resources and ever greater levels of violence.

All empires die. The end is usually unpleasant. The American empire, humiliated in Afghanistan, as it was in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, as it was at the Bay of Pigs and in Vietnam, is blind to its own declining strength, ineptitude, and savagery. Its entire economy, a “military Keynesianism,” revolves around the war industry. Military spending and war are the engine behind the nation’s economic survival and identity. It does not matter that with each new debacle the United States turns larger and larger parts of the globe against it and all it claims to represent. It has no mechanism to stop itself, despite its numerous defeats, fiascos, blunders and diminishing power, from striking out irrationally like a wounded animal. The mandarins who oversee our collective suicide, despite repeated failure, doggedly insist we can reshape the world in our own image. This myopia creates the very conditions that accelerate the empire’s demise.

The Soviet Union collapsed, like all empires, because of its ossified, out-of-touch rulers, its imperial overreach, and its inability to critique and reform itself. We are not immune from these fatal diseases. We silence our most prescient critics of empire, such as Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Andrew Bacevich, Alfred McCoy, and Ralph Nader, and persecute those who expose the truths about empire, including Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Daniel Hale, and John Kiriakou. At the same time a bankrupt media, whether on MSNBC, CNN or FOX, lionizes and amplifies the voices of the inept and corrupt political, military and intelligence class including John Bolton, Leon Panetta, Karl Rove, H.R. McMaster and David Petraeus, which blindly drives the nation into the morass.

Chalmers Johnson in his trilogy on the fall of the American empire – “Blowback,” “The Sorrows of Empire” and “Nemesis” – reminds readers that the Greek goddess Nemesis is “the spirit of retribution, a corrective to the greed and stupidity that sometimes governs relations among people.” She stands for “righteous anger,” a deity who “punishes human transgression of the natural, right order of things and the arrogance that causes it.” He warns that if we continue to cling to our empire, as the Roman Republic did, “we will certainly lose our democracy and grimly await the eventual blowback that imperialism generates.”

“I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and, in the end, produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent,” Johnson writes. “The founders of our nation understood this well and tried to create a form of government – a republic – that would prevent this from occurring. But the combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play – isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialism, and bankruptcy. Nemesis stalks our life as a free nation.”

If the empire was capable of introspection and forgiveness, it could free itself from its death spiral. If the empire disbanded, much as the British empire did, and retreated to focus on the ills that beset the United States it could free itself from its death spiral. But those who manipulate the levers of empire are unaccountable. They are hidden from public view and beyond public scrutiny. They are determined to keep playing the great game, rolling the dice with lives and national treasure. They will, I expect, preside gleefully over the deaths of even more Afghans, assuring themselves it is worth it, without realizing that the gallows they erect are for themselves.  


Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. 

Copyright 2021 Chris Hedges

68 comments

  1. So sobering and so true. Our situation leaves me feeling powerless. I remember the Vietnam years very well…….

    1. There is one important detail regarding the Carter administration / Brzezenski covert arming of the Mujahideen that I believe is absent in most narratives of this period. The Soviet “invasion” occurred in December of 1979. The secret arming of the Mujahideen began in June of that year; six months before the the Soviets took the bait and entered Brzezenski’s trap. The whole diabolical Kissinger- like plan, with it’s catastrophic ongoing impacts, became like a self-morphing Rube Goldberg device that can never be dismantled.

      1. A thousand hurrahs!

        Time long past to make it widely known that it was smiling, supposedly “liberal”Jimmy Carter that, along with Zbig Nosferatu — launched the global jihadi menace.

      2. …. And meanwhile in Latin America, horrendous Nazi-inspired dictatorships acting at the behest of Washington riddle the backyard ….

  2. Excellent insights. Although the Taliban seemed to negotiate in good faith, they have no idea what they are up against. The bipartisan outcry in DC to ending the War just shows how rotten our Establishment is to its core.

  3. The only victors in twenty- year Afghanistan fiasco are the war profiteers: the armament industry, military brass, and the myriad assortment of private contractors and consultants enriching themselves on the age old business of killing and plunder.

  4. Skimmed and will post to read later. Lots to process here and I want to read it critically. Have Chris Hedges and Heather Cox Richardson ever been on the same show or other venue? I would love to hear that.

    1. As citizens , we are all responsible. Our Federal taxes fill the National treasury and pour into the coffers of arms merchants and corporate murderers . The consequences of our tax paying is clearly described by Chris Hedges. We must all heed the example of Dorothy Day and refuse to pay federal taxes for the Empire’s wars. Contact the National War Tax
      Resistance Coordinating Committee for information to end complicity in war.
      Kathy Boylan

    2. Why did you not share my call for tax resistance? Certainly, it is a nonviolent response to evil.

      1. Our wars are on the credit card, they are not financed by taxes. the 6.4 trillion dollars spent on the so called war on terror has been financed by printing money by the US Federal Reserve.

  5. One of the truly great essays on empire and imperialism. Thank you Chris. My only plaint is that I wanted to hear more about Hannibal and his army’s tactics in coming within spitting distance of defeating the Roman Empire. Really great stuff.

    Mitchel Cohen

  6. This time the gallows they build will be for all of us. These men are downright psychopaths and one day you too will be their victim. It’s what they do, it’s how this works. Only this time it’s global and there is no where to run and no place to hide. In short it’s a matter of survival. You and yours.

    I fully expect no one to do anything and for us to fall into a darkness unimagined. I would love to be wrong but unfortunately even if we were able to dodge that bullet we have created an entire society of cult of me creatures who at the first sign of full system failure will become monsters and inflict their horror on the society that made them.

    You reap what you sow.

  7. And on that cheery note…what ever happened to “think globally, act locally?” All the “money going to prop up the corrupt…military and the rest devoted to funding economic development projects, aid programs and anti-drug initiatives, with the bulk of those funds being siphoned off by (front groups), private contractors, and outside consultants,” is getting flushed down the toilet on similar, proven to fail, asinine projects right here in the good ol’ USA. Maybe if we ended the idiotic Drug War and stopped expanding the concrete project mess here at home, we wouldn’t be so keen on exporting it to Afghanistan.

    What’s Chris Hedges doing to end the corruption in Princeton or wherever he’s holed up these days?

  8. This article ought to be sent to the editors and editorial page editors of all major newspapers in at least the Western “democracies” to let them know we understand what they are purveying, and that We, the People are not happy with their lying for the corrupt leaders.
    We also need more widespread, genuinely free press which publishes widely Chris Hedges and the other Truth-tellers out there now..can we not get some wealthy people who have at least minimal morals to fund this project?
    Informing the populace of what’s going on is critical since there will be no action without pre-knowledge.

  9. The god Nemesis has smote the US and other “empires” in
    a more fundamental, irreversible manner. Mother Earth has struck back remorselessly and we are all dying from the climate crisis, which our cynical, nearsighted leaders continue to ignore.

    1. I have read you Mr. Hedges for many years. You show me the darkness and the monsters who lurk everywhere. But I would rather know about it than not. I can treasure every day – even the smoky ones.
      The pain of the read always leads me to the work of building healthy living soil and growing as much healthy food and herbs as I can and gift what I can not use. Sit with the flowers, soak up that moment.

      Then, pay attention. Do what you can, where you are with what you have.

  10. It’s emotionally gratifying to read about evildoers quickly getting their comeuppance, but how many centuries did it take the Roman Empire to unwind, for the rise of the Christians to supplant them, and then in turn become corrupted? So the wheel turns and we slowly lurch from one rotten utopia to the next. Cultivate your gardens, my friends and keep your heads down? Or rise up and become martyrs? They are both honorable choices. There is no correct solution.

    1. Well said. 4 survival crops for North America given to us from the first peoples:
      beans, squash, corn and potatoes. Master these 4 and you might have a chance….
      at least you will have good days while you try.

  11. I agree with you! Yet as dual Greek/Swiss national, I struggle to understand how Papandreou figures in the list! His son George, whom acted as prime minister of Greece and holds US citizenship, secretely bought large positions of put options on the Greek debt at the behest of Goldman Sachs while he was holding office . Sank our country purposedly, cashed a hefty profit and then fled to California. Also, how can any empire be capable of self criticism? This is clearly antinomic, since the whole point of being an empire is overbloatness, the promotion of widespread injustice and arrogance wearing blinders. Let us not forget that the first Greeks always doubted that the democratic values they invented could survive in a society beyond the city state (polis). Keep up the great work!

  12. Chris is courageous and spot on as usual. I feel like the human species should have remained tribal for much longer in order for evolution to take us to a place where we would act responsibly towards the earth and its inhabitants rather than to become the monsters and destroyers of it.

    1. You’re not quite understanding. Human tribes ARE responsible towards the earth and its inhabitants, exponentially more so than civilizations are. Civilizations aren’t a function of “evolution,” they’re actually a sort of devolution, a societal cancer, a rot. They represent cancer/rot – you can see that in the way they grow so large, have “colonies,” etc. When a person has cancer/rot in their body, that’s not evolution, that’s just a sign of ill health in the mindbody (spurred by trauma) – which can be brought back into health and vitality. Human societies can be brought back to social/psychological health, which would reduce our numbers and our lifestyle back towards tribal numbers and ways. This is not evolution we’re seeing, but sickness, so we’d do well to learn a lot more about trauma, and healing.

  13. The story of Carthage is supportive in the extreme. The Romans destroyed everything beyoud what Cris reports. They burned everything they could, knocked down all the masonry walls and spread salt over every inch of what was left as an example to anyone else who would violate the Roman dictates. The salt left a dead zone that lasted for years. Beware the aftermath. It aint over till —-…

  14. “It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman emperors since Hannibal’s invasion.”

    Caesar Augustus became the first emperor of Rome 154 years later in 27 BC so you might want to fix that sentence.

  15. “He had humiliated Rome. He had punctured its myth of omnipotence. And he would pay… Imperial powers do not forgive those who expose their weaknesses or make public the sordid and immoral inner workings of empire.”

    In this Life, there is the principle of Karma. You shall reap what you sow. Cause and effect. One’s actions result in inescapable consequences.

    Many people know and accept this fundamental principle of Existence as a given. They see it in their own lives. And the lives of others. Routinely.

    Others do not accept Karma and act without regard to consequences of any kind. But the thing is, Karma does not wait to find out if you believe in it or not. Karma just Is. The power of Karma is built deeply into the fabric of Life, regardless of one’s personal opinion.

    This Karma principle is important at all times. But World events can barge into daily life and demand immediate and widespread attention. And contemplation and reflection. And when Empire acts, the World at large is shaken from its own preoccupations and suddenly must react to the blaring overreach and inhumane encroachment from unrestrained and unaccountable power.

    The question: Who bears the Karmic burden for the acts of Empire? We know that those with their hands of control will certainly carry their personal Karmic debt and burden for their actions. But what about the People who live in Empire? What is their spiritual Karma for funding and allowing Empire to inflict its will on others without regard to consequences? And for doing so… repeatedly… in standing by and watching various acts of raw power-wielding in their names over the years over so many innocents? Are the People in Empire responsible for their share of this massive Karmic debt, or are they victims just like those who are devastated by the actions of Empire?

    It’s not an easy answer. It’s tough to blame people who just want to live their lives in peace. But so did those people who are victims of Empire, and that desire to just live their lives didn’t exactly work out too well for them.

    And if the People who live in Empire do bear Karmic responsibility for their acts of contributing to the process of Empire, what is the Karmic response and blowback to them going to be? How will they see this manifest in their lives and futures?

    It’s not a pretty picture. It’s not an easy answer. But we’d better be asking these questions these days and finding our spiritual bearings… and fast. Sometimes Karma lacks patience.

    We need to get deeply in touch with Source Energy and Intelligence. And also, beg for wisdom and forgiveness. At least, that’s the start of our answers.

  16. Again I am impressed with Hedges writing, showing us all how screwed we are when power-over is the god, the lord and king of this abused planet. This is the mental illness of our species.

    1. Indeed… unresolved narcissistic issues (narcissism), a developmental trauma… centuries/millennia of widespread child abuse and neglect that goes unaddressed out of the fear we all (most of us) still have of our parents, of seeing how they really were and what they really did to us, that their lies (that they loved us; that it was we who were wrong, not they) were really lies and they really weren’t there for us, that we were deeply harmed and even life-threatened by them. This is the crushing fact of life that many of us would prefer not to face and deal with the pain and fear of. And so we remain in denial. And our emotional intelligence and true adult maturation and responsibility remain, with that, elusive. And we continue to destroy, and be complicit, and pass the buck.

      It really is all about childhood/developmental trauma. It’s fitting that this, the most important topic in all of society, is barely known about or ever uttered by most people today.

      1. I’ve lived a fairly long time now, learned a lot about a lot and observed a wide spectrum of the human condition.

        Your comment rings far truer than most. All the wounds of the world begin in the cradle and at the hearth of our homes.

  17. Chris Hedges is the most astute analyist of foreign affairs that I know of.

    Chris: ? Has America Morally collapsed?

  18. Oh ffs:

    “It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman emperors since Hannibal’s invasion.”

    Actually, there had been precisely 0 Roman emperors before 181 BC, because the first (Augustus) didn’t come along until 27 BC.

  19. Hedges equates the fall of the American empire with Rome or the USSR. In fact it is quite different. The real empire is that of the rich, and its members cross national boundaries. The wealthy of the US, China, Russia, and Europe share the same goal: the preservation of themselves, their family, and their property. They achieve what they want by means of buying political interest in the parts of the world that are relevant to them. This empire of the rich began only a decade or two ago, but continues to expand its power everywhere. I do not see an early end to it.

  20. As an Australian, I am ashamed of our part in this disgusting and inexcusable chapter in our history.
    Both of our major political parties are as guilty as each other.
    Bush, Blair, Howard and their ilk are insidious war criminals and should be prosecuted as such.

  21. The only question not asked is: who profits. The elite remain in whatever ideology that is neccesssry to maintain their coffers. The elite dont care what it looks like—Communist. Capitalist, socialist, etc, the outward form is absolutely irreverent. Down the long history it has always been the same. The elite want wealth s and power, and will enlist the powers od universities, religions. It is a grift of the highest order. Their grip is absolute.

  22. The redemption being sought in infrastructure repair and replacement to fight against climate horrors may be of some use short term, if, the monies come from the MIC. We are being consumed by the environment. The planet is eating us all for lunch. If, we can focus here, at home, maybe others on the global stage will live a bit longer. If not, Chaos! You cannot fight an effective war in drought or flood zones. That is what the world is becoming. Now. If, Mr. Hedges’ projections are correct, we are doomed to climate chaos with no infrastructure to assist us. Billions and billions of people just like Afghanistan residents tomorrow morning. There is no empire, there is no nation state, there is no IMF, there is no money, there is only the environment. We have killed it. It is now killing us. Plagues, famine, extinction. Lot’s of “if’s” up above. Too many strings being pulled on to prevent Chaos. Are you ready yet?

  23. History repeats,
    Some of the main factors for the fall of the Roman Empire is now occuring today.
    Such as: climate change ( severe droughts) which leads to lower agricultural productivity; poor water quality ( lead, floods) ; plagues / diseases ( Covid-19 & variants) ; incompetent leadership; a large portion of population under taking a new religion – QAnon., and others reasons.

    History repeats.

    1. “a new religion – QAnon., *Scientism…” Scientism is the religion of Science and all its trappings, generally of the left and liberals.

  24. ““bleed for as much and as long as is possible”” It would appear that with the current domestic situation in the U.S. no foreign interference is needed as they will hemorrhage internally – and hopefully not take out the rest of the world as they react to their self-inflicted pain.

  25. Afghanistan has been called the death of empires … their mountainous geography makes it so their country is incredibly difficult to maintain control over … using military force there is a fool’s errand … if we want their resources, diplomacy and trade are a much better idea.

    1. How about leaving their resources be. How about learning how to control our appetites so we’re not constantly gorging ourselves on all of the world’s resources no matter where they be. Our addiction is the problem. Leave Afghan “resources” to Afghanistan, there are plenty of “resources” here. We don’t need as much as we think we do. We need to fix ourselves and our thinking.

  26. “It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman emperors since Hannibal’s invasion. ”

    Great article but Rome during the Punic Wars was a Republic. The first “emperor” was Julias Caesar.

  27. Scheerpost excludes my posts for no good reason.
    My comments tend to expand the issue at hand while being on point. If this exclusion continues I will simply cease reading Scheerpost.

  28. “… without realizing that the gallows they erect are for themselves. ”

    Only those there at the end, and maybe not even them. On the other side of the coin that is vengeance for critics, truth-tellers and enemies, is the protection of those that have served… on the heights.

    And agreed, the faux pity for the people of Afghanistan runs second only to the 13 service members blown up at the Kabul airport.
    When all the system’s institutions are discredited and humiliate themselves, it makes heroes of those otherwise anonymous individuals it’s gotten killed. Extracting even from… no, even before, the grave.
    The goDevils of the culture of celebrity smile, laugh.

  29. Why did you not share my call for tax resistance? Certainly, it is a nonviolent response to evil Where did my comment go?

  30. Another gem of a piece from Chris Hedges. So eloquently detailed the historic realities in Afghanistan.

  31. I can never forget the words of Sec. Albright when she was asked about the 500,000 infants who died due to American sanctions against Iraq.

    Most politicians, including her boss Bill Clinton simply denied that this had even happened. But Sec. Albright turned to the interviewer and said “It’s a small price to pay for advancing America’s interests.”

    If these words had been uttered by a German in 1946 they would be standing trial in Nuremberg. But the American media glossed over her comments as if she were talking the weather rather than the needless deaths of a half million innocent souls.

    That moment told me that there are elements in our national security state who are psychopaths and will unleash any amount of death and destruction on anyone who gets in their way, including our own citizens.

    1. I remember it like it was yesterday… one of the most cruel and inhuman comments in history.

      And almost no one cared…

  32. Some day the world will unite against the US Empire and we Americans will find out what it is like to have bombs raining down on us.

  33. One can only wonder what a different world this would be if everybody in it, and all the world’s governments could somehow learn to simply mind their own business and let other folks mind theirs. To quote a classic Kelly Bundyism “the mind fairly wobbles”.

  34. Machiavelli admired by both Marx and Gramsci observed that as a people become corrupted weak immoral they require incompetent military and political leaders…and he observed that successful empires often attracted many that sought to join while decayed failing empires invaded yet were ultimately defeated

    1. So this is boring I know but my tendency to choose integrity over expedience is mostly driven by a laziness on my part because it seems that justice in practice is easier in the long run. For example if the UK and US had done what was best of Afghans and allowed their experts to dwell in compassion, everyone might be better off. Now we are looking at more global darkness.

  35. I’m here a little late, but I seem to recall that the position of emperor existed
    in the Roman Empire before The Divine Julius and Augustus. It was a relatively
    minor position, and Augustus took the title to give the false appearance of modesty.
    He was like the older mafiosi, who liked to keep out of the public eye as they controlled
    all the strings behind the scenes. In our modern times, the rulers happily display their
    criminality out in the open – full in the knowledge that nothing will be done about it.

    In a certain perverse sense, our modern mafiosi are really more honest than their more
    circumspect predecessors. What a privilege to live in such times.

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