America’s decline: Myth or reality?

At a recent summit in Colombia, Obama's assertion that US influence had not waned highlighted a particularly wide gap between rhetoric and reality.

[The growing debate between imperialist intellectuals, economists and politicians is not Democratic vs. Republican, but “declinists” vs. “ostrichists.”  —  Frontlines ed.]
Reuters | Apr 21, 2012

WASHINGTON: Take note of a new phrase in the seemingly endless debate over whether the days of the United States as the world’s pre-eminent power are numbered: those who doubt the country’s economic decline are said to be holding an “intellectual ostrich position.”

The expression was coined by Edward Luce, author of a deeply-researched new book entitled “Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent”. It notes that the United States accounted for 31 percent of the global economy in 2000 and 23.5 percent in 2010. By 2020, he estimates, it will shrink to around 16 percent.Luce’s diagnosis of America’s decline descent, published in April, was the latest addition to a steadily growing library of books, academic papers and opinion pieces for or against the idea that the United States can maintain its status as the world’s only superpower. If we adopt Luce’s phrase, it’s a discussion between declinists and ostriches. The latter include President Barack Obama and his presumptive Republican rival in next November’s presidential elections.

“It means that we’re going to have a 2012 election where… both candidates will start on a false premise: that relative economic decline is simply to be ignored or dismissed,” Luce said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine. “And I’d describe that as a kind of intellectual ostrich position.” The false premise, in this view, was set out by Robert Kagan, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, in a lengthy analysis entitled “Not Fade Away: Against the Myth of American Decline”. One of the points Kagan made to support his argument was that the U.S. share of world gross domestic product (GDP) has held steady over the past four decades. Plain wrong, says Luce. Continue reading

US bases deal for Colombia up in the air, Colombia-US military ties unaffected

Upside Down World, October 8, 2010

US Base Deal for Colombia: Back to the Status Quo

by John Lindsay-Poland and Susana Pimiento

Colombian President Santos (Middle)As the dust settles on the August 10 Colombian Constitutional Court ruling declaring invalid the U.S.-Colombia military bases agreement, politicians and analysts are saying that the decision was for the better.  Most of those voices come from former supporters of the deal —including Liberal Party presidential candidate, Rafael Pardo.

Last October, the United States and Colombia signed an agreement allowing the United States to use at least seven military bases in Colombia. U.S. troops and contractors already operated from several bases, and U.S. military engagement with Colombia has included more than $6 billion in military assistance since 2000. But the new agreement provoked regional condemnation because of extraterritorial aims outlined for the U.S. presence, and domestic opposition to the imposition on Colombian sovereignty. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez temporarily severed diplomatic relations and suspended billions of dollars worth of trade with Colombia in response.

Increasingly it appears that a new agreement will not be negotiated or submitted for approval by the Colombian Congress any time soon. Such a move would not only provide space for opponents of the agreement, but risk its defeat, if not in Congress, then in the Constitutional Court’s mandated review. On August 27, The Washington Post reported that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was “leaning toward” not submitting the agreement to Congress, and quoted a State Department official as saying “We’re confident that in the intermediate period, or if there is no agreement for whatever reason, our older, existing agreements will permit us to continue our robust and effective cooperation with the Santos administration on counterterrorism and counternarcotics.” Continue reading

US-backed leader of death squads wins Colombian election

Juan Manuel Santos


By James Petras

29 June, 2010,

Juan Manuel Santos, notorious Defense Minister in the regime of outgoing President Alvaro Uribe and closely identified with high crimes against humanity “won” the recent Presidential elections in Colombia, June 2010. The major electronic and print media CNN, FOX News, Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the once liberal Financial Times (FT) hailed Santos election, as a great victory for democracy. According to the FT, “Colombia not Venezuela is (the) best model for Latin America” (FT 6/23/2010 p. 8).

Citing Santos “overwhelming” margin – he garnered 69% of the vote, the FT claimed he won a “strong mandate” (FT 6/22/2010). In what has to be one of the most flagrant cover-ups in recent history, the media accounts exclude the most egregious facts about the elections and the profoundly authoritarian policies pursued by Santos over the past decade.

The Elections: Guns, Elites and Terror

Elections are a process (not merely an event) in which prior political conditions determine the outcome. During the previous eight years of outgoing President Uribe’s and Defense Minister Santos’ rule, over 2 million, mostly rural poor, were forcibly uprooted and driven from their homes and land and displaced across frontiers into neighboring countries, or to urban slums. Continue reading