‘TIME’ CONTRO 5 MITI AMERICANI

A leggerla in fretta, la cover story pubblicata il 20 giugno 2011 dal settimanale della Time Warner, autore Rana Foroohar, potrebbe essere presa per un manifesto antiliberista e ‘unamerican’. Non lo è se non in parte; in ogni caso contiene ammissioni di peso. Titolo: ‘The Five Miths About the U:S:Economy’.

Premesse: la congiuntura resta cattiva, con disoccupazione al 9,1%; di settimana in settimana l’americano della strada si sente più povero; c’è un’intera generazione che non troverà il lavoro ben pagato di un tempo; è incredibile che l’opposizione repubblicana proponga ancora, come stimoli alla ripresa, l’abbassamento delle tasse (che avvantaggia i soli ricchi e le corporations) e i tagli sul Welfare; fuori degli USA c’è almeno mezzo miliardo di persone ‘who can do our jobs’.

Seguono l’elenco e la confutazione dei Five Miths. Primo: sei mesi basteranno, come un tempo bastavano, per far tornare i buoni livelli d’occupazione. Occorreranno sessanta e più mesi. Secondo: agiranno gli stimoli tradizionali. Invece non affronteranno i problemi di fondo del sistema-paese. Terzo: il settore privato ha le soluzioni. In realtà il settore privato investirà nei paesi emergenti, non negli Stati Uniti. Quarto: rimedierà la mobilità dei lavoratori. Negli anni Ottanta si trasferiva il 20% di essi, oggi il 10% (anche perché lavorano di più le donne, ed esse hanno difficoltà a seguire i mariti con un lavoro). Quinto: lo spirito d’iniziativa è sempre la grande risorsa dell’America. In realtà  dagli anni Ottanta  la creazione di nuove aziende si indebolisce.

Conclusione: occorrono novità grosse. Nell’immediato, sostiene l’autore, il governo deve aiutare i tanti che stanno perdendo la casa per l’impossibilità di pagare i mutui. Poi gli americani dovranno ricredersi: ai giovani non basta più andare all’università per trovare un buon lavoro: “not everyone can or should shell out money for a four-year liberal-arts degree”. Sono richiesti più saldatori e impiegati d’ordine che laureati.  E’ necessario mettere fine a un sistema di detrazioni e favori ai ricchi, per il quale i 400 redditi statunitensi più alti non pagano più del 18% in tasse.

Per ultimo gli americani devono smettere di considerare ‘patriottico’ il rifiuto di una politica industriale. Non si tratta di passare a un’economia di comando come quella della Cina, ma di concertare pubblico e privato come fa la Germania. Imitiamo la Germania. Qui, con la cogestione, i capitalisti e i sindacati sono diventati partner. “In una società polarizzata come la nostra questa partnership appare impossibile. Ma alle crisi serie come l’attuale devono seguire i cambiamenti seri. Da come affronteremo i mali strutturali dipende non l’andamento dei prossimi mesi ma il futuro dei  decenni”.

J.J.J.

MILITARISM MAKES AMERICA THE NUT OF THE WORLD

TIME’s powerful indictment

It’s my moral duty to call your attention on a press event which is far more important, say, than  the historical one which uncovered the Watergate scandal. Watergate was small fry and venial sin if compared with the horrific reality of the U.S. war spending. On April 25 past TIME carried “How to save $1 trillion”, a thundering prosecuting speech by Mark Thompson against the senselessness of the American defense overspending.

The facts, figures and ideas of TIME will convince many readers that America has gone awry. That it has become the nut or crank of the world. That it has to do something really bold, lest the obsession for weapons and (illusory) planetary egemony forces its taxpayers to pay vigintillions for arms and professional warriors -from the Table of Numbers I learned that one vigintillion is a figure made by 1 followed by 63 zeros. At $700 billions per year the U.S. is already spending as much on his military as the rest of the world combined. It’s on the road to vigintillions.

The simplest and most honest way of informing you on the TIME reckoning is simply to transcribe some of its findings and concepts.

The U.S. Navy operates an 11-aircraft carrier fleet- each vessel costing $15 billions and being likely to be sunk by missiles in a real conflict with China. The Chinese capability will be such that the American carriers will have to stay so far away from China that the short-range aircraft they bear will be useless. A number of months ago a “Daily Babel” article pointed out that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was struggling with admirals who defended the carriers, arguing (Gates) that the carriers are too big targets and will be prone to be destroyed by missiles. TIME reported that Gates “warned last year on the growing antiship capabilities of our adversaries before asking the unaskable question <Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years?>. Needless to say, each carrier requires the protection of several destroyers and submarines. “It’s just tradition, the industrial base and some other old and musty arguments that keep the shipyards building them” TIME comments.

Other unaskable questions. “Can the U.S. really afford more that 500 bases at home and around the world? Do the Air Force, Navy and Marines really need $400 billions in new jet fighters when their present fleets give them vast air superiority for years to come? Does the Navy really need 50 attack submarines when America’s main enemy hides in caves?”

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has admonished that “the single biggest threat to our national security is our debt”. TIME calls it “an almost tragic irony the fact that we are borrowing cash from China to pay for weapons (…) If the Chinese want to slay us, they don’t even need to attack us with their missiles. They just have to call in their loans”. “We’ve waged war non stop for nearly a decade in Afghanistan, at a cost of nearly half a trillion dollars, against a foe with no army, no navy, no air force. We send $1 billion destroyers to handle five Somali pirates in a fiberglass skiff (…) As long as the U.S. is overspending on its defense, it lets its allies skimp on theirs and instead pour the savings into infrastructure, education and health care. Our tax dollars are paying for a military that is subsidizing the health care of our European allies”.

The personnel costs (pay, benefits et cet:) are exorbitant. ”Recently 60 members of the crew of the carrier Abraham Lincoln pocketed $57,000 each, tax free, simply to re-enlist. Pentagon medical costs have soared from $19 billions in 2001 to more than $50 billions. Secretary Gates has proposed cutting 102 on 952 generals and admirals. A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that citizens (55%) were willing to cut defense. Yet Congress continues to resist even minor reductions. One carrier generates 6,000 jobs and $400 millions in annual local spending. With numbers like that, who needs pork?

Aircraft carriers become harder to kill as more states of the Union invest in their future. “It’s a disease that infects the entire defense budget” says Gordon Adams, who oversaw Pentagon spending during the Clinton Administration. 

My comment: the laws of electoralism and pork make it impossible that elected politicians will ever trim wrong expenses producing jobs, business, votes and careers.

The American folly according to TIME is the insane mentality that Howard McKeon (R), the Representative who chairs the Armed Services Committee, enunciated like this: “A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline”. “Attitudes like that can bankrupt a nation and the public senses it” (TIME).

The weapons obsession began as a love affair of the Americans with the cavalry regiments which subjugated Indians in the West and easily defeated Mexicans. Today it has condemned the U.S.“to be at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight” (the remark was made by Univ.of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer).

“The Nemesis of American happiness” was the heading of an old column of mine in The Daily Babel. Planetary (tentative) hegemony itself is such frightful Goddess of retribution. 

It’s my moral duty to call your attention on a press event which is far more important, say, than  the historical one which uncovered the Watergate scandal. Watergate was small fry and venial sin if compared with the horrific reality of the U.S. war spending. On April 25 past TIME carried “How to save $1 trillion”, a thundering prosecuting speech by Mark Thompson against the senselessness of the American defense overspending.

The facts, figures and ideas of TIME will convince many readers that America has gone awry. That it has become the nut or crank of the world. That it has to do something really bold, lest the obsession for weapons and (illusory) planetary egemony forces its taxpayers to pay vigintillions for arms and professional warriors -from the Table of Numbers I learned that one vigintillion is a figure made by 1 followed by 63 zeros. At $700 billions per year the U.S. is already spending as much on his military as the rest of the world combined. It’s on the road to vigintillions.

The simplest and most honest way of informing you on the TIME reckoning is simply to transcribe some of its findings and concepts.

The U.S. Navy operates an 11-aircraft carrier fleet- each vessel costing $15 billions and being likely to be sunk by missiles in a real conflict with China. The Chinese capability will be such that the American carriers will have to stay so far away from China that the short-range aircraft they bear will be useless. A number of months ago a “Daily Babel” article pointed out that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was struggling with admirals who defended the carriers, arguing (Gates) that the carriers are too big targets and will be prone to be destroyed by missiles. TIME reported that Gates “warned last year on the growing antiship capabilities of our adversaries before asking the unaskable question <Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years?>. Needless to say, each carrier requires the protection of several destroyers and submarines. “It’s just tradition, the industrial base and some other old and musty arguments that keep the shipyards building them” TIME comments.

 

Other unaskable questions. “Can the U.S. really afford more that 500 bases at home and around the world? Do the Air Force, Navy and Marines really need $400 billions in new jet fighters when their present fleets give them vast air superiority for years to come? Does the Navy really need 50 attack submarines when America’s main enemy hides in caves?”

 

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has admonished that “the single biggest threat to our national security is our debt”. TIME calls it “an almost tragic irony the fact that we are borrowing cash from China to pay for weapons (…) If the Chinese want to slay us, they don’t even need to attack us with their missiles. They just have to call in their loans”. “We’ve waged war non stop for nearly a decade in Afghanistan, at a cost of nearly half a trillion dollars, against a foe with no army, no navy, no air force. We send $1 billion destroyers to handle five Somali pirates in a fiberglass skiff (…) As long as the U.S. is overspending on its defense, it lets its allies skimp on theirs and instead pour the savings into infrastructure, education and health care. Our tax dollars are paying for a military that is subsidizing the health care of our European allies”.

The personnel costs (pay, benefits et cet:) are exorbitant. ”Recently 60 members of the crew of the carrier Abraham Lincoln pocketed $57,000 each, tax free, simply to re-enlist. Pentagon medical costs have soared from $19 billions in 2001 to more than $50 billions. Secretary Gates has proposed cutting 102 on 952 generals and admirals. A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that citizens (55%) were willing to cut defense. Yet Congress continues to resist even minor reductions. One carrier generates 6,000 jobs and $400 millions in annual local spending. With numbers like that, who needs pork?

Aircraft carriers become harder to kill as more states of the Union invest in their future. “It’s a disease that infects the entire defense budget” says Gordon Adams, who oversaw Pentagon spending during the Clinton Administration. 

My comment: the laws of electoralism and pork make it impossible that elected politicians will ever trim wrong expenses producing jobs, business, votes and careers.

The American folly according to TIME is the insane mentality that Howard McKeon (R), the Representative who chairs the Armed Services Committee, enunciated like this: “A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline”. “Attitudes like that can bankrupt a nation and the public senses it” (TIME).

The weapons obsession began as a love affair of the Americans with the cavalry regiments which subjugated Indians in the West and easily defeated Mexicans. Today it has condemned the U.S.“to be at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight” (the remark was made by Univ.of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer).

“The Nemesis of American happiness” was the heading of an old column of mine in The Daily Babel. Planetary (tentative) hegemony itself is such frightful Goddess of retribution.

JJJ

TIME: OBAMA COME BUSH

Il titolo-calembour dell’articolo di Stephen L. Carter (TIME Jan.10, 2011) è “Man of war”. Com’è noto,”man of war” è anche lo strano nome di una fregata d’altri tempi. Recita il catenaccio: How does Barack Obama differ as a commander in chief from his swaggering predecessor? A lot less than you might think. A questo punto s’è capito quasi tutto, leggere l’articolo sarebbe quasi un di più. Invece no, leggiamo alcuni stralci. Nel frenocomio che è il Nord Europa radical-chic non c’è chi ha assegnato al presidente degli Stati Uniti il premio Nobel per la pace? E non siamo attorniati in ogni tram, in ogni bar, più ancora in ogni libreria, da belle anime per le quali il binomio nero e progressista è sicura garanzia di umanitarismo?

L’elezione di Obama, può darsi abbia aperto un’era nuova nella politica estera degli USA: Non però nella condotta delle nostre guerre. Le facciamo sotto Obama all’incirca come le facevamo sotto il suo predecessore. Forse nel 2008 Obama si è proposto come il presidente della pace, ma la prossima volta correrà come presidente della guerra. Le presidenziali del 2012 saranno anche un referendum sul capo delle forze armate più possenti della terra. Semplicemente, abbiamo eletto un presidente nella tradizione delle nostre guerre: un uomo che in ultima analisi sacrificherà l’idealismo nel nome della sicurezza.

Obama ha portato avanti nell’Irak l’approccio di Bush, e lo stesso fa nell’Afghanistan. Ha pienamente applicato la dottrina Bush: siamo decisi ad andare oltremare a combattere i nostri nemici, eliminandoli dovunque possibile, piuttosto che aspettare d’essere attaccati. E’ vero, Obama evita di parlare di vittoria: e questo è sbagliato. Se credi in ciò che fai, meglio vincere che perdere. Se ci sono guerre sbagliate, Obama dovrebbe porvi fine immediatamente, non in qualche data futura. Se sono giuste, dovrebbe dire chiaro che è obbligato a vincere. Anche continuando a torturare i prigionieri. Il modo più veloce per smettere di farlo è vincere la guerra. Se il presidente mettesse tutta la passione di cui è capace nel galvanizzare il paese in appoggio delle sue guerre -oggi sono le guerre sue e di nessun altro- sosterrebbe i suoi combattenti come nessun altro al mondo.

Obama è arrivato a rivendicare la liceità di metodi quali Bush non aveva reclamato -per esempio l’assassinio di cittadini americani, e sembra avere molto allargato le operazioni militari segrete, gli attacchi missilistici a grande distanza e simili. Forse gli avversari più feroci di Bush gli dovrebbero delle scuse.

Gli stralci dall’articolo di Carter -del quale è appena uscito il libro The violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama, Beast Books, 2011- finiscono qui. Una settimana dopo, 17 gennaio, la copertina del successivo numero di TIME reca la foto di un bambino afghano dilaniato (“by coalition aircraft“ dice la didascalia). E’ la regressione a ciò che tormentò il mondo negli anni del Vietnam. Ma anche gli occhi del Marine che porta in braccio gli stracci insanguinati racchiudenti il bambino dicono la tragedia dell’America: l,America ha ucciso la sua leggenda di fidanzata del mondo.. Per le sue dimensioni è diventata la nazione più militarista della storia, incapace di perseguire i suoi fini senza sparare alla cieca. Sta riabilitando Hitler. Riflettano i personaggi ‘democratici’ per i quali l’Irak e il Vietnam no, ma l’Afghanistan è una guerra giusta.

A.M.C.