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The American Empire Is Collapsing Before Our Eyes in the Mideast

As the sun peeks over the horizon of the Arab world, dusk is descending on America.

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Here’s how Ginger Thompson and Alissa J. Rubin of the New York Times contextualized that act: “The move is part of a delicate balancing act by the Obama administration, which aims to crack down on the corruption that reaches the highest levels of the Afghan government without derailing the counterinsurgency efforts that are dependent on Mr. Karzai’s cooperation."

In a world in which Washington’s word seems to travel ever less far with ever less authority, the response to this echo-chamber-style description, and especially its central image -- “a delicate balancing act” -- would be: no, not by a long shot.

In relation to a country that’s the prime narco-state on the planet, what could really be “delicate”?  If you wanted to describe the Obama administration’s bizarre, pretzled relationship with President Karzai and his people, words like “contorted,” “confused,” and “hypocritical” would have to be trotted out.  If realism prevailed, the phrase “indelicate imbalance” might be a more appropriate one to use.

5.  Finally, journalist Dexter Filkins recently wrote a striking piece, “The Afghan Bank Heist,” in the New Yorker magazine on the shenanigans that brought Kabul Bank , one of Afghanistan's top financial institutions, to the edge of collapse .  While bankrolling Hamid Karzai and his cronies by slipping them staggering sums of cash, the bank’s officials essentially ran off with the deposits of its customers.  (Think of Kabul Bank as the institutional Bernie Madoff of Afghanistan.)  In his piece, Filkins quotes an anonymous American official this way on the crooked goings-on he observed: “If this were America, fifty people would have been arrested by now.”

Consider that line the echo-chamber version of stand-up comedy as well as a reminder that only mad dogs and Americans stay out in the Afghan sun.  Like a lot of Americans now in Afghanistan, that poor diplomat needs to be brought home -- and soon. He’s lost touch with the changing nature of his own country.  While we claim it as our duty to bring “nation-building” and “good governance” to the benighted Afghans, at home the U.S. is being unbuilt, democracy is essentially gone with the wind, the oligarchsare having a field day, the Supreme Court has insured that massive influxes of money will rule any future elections, and the biggest crooks of all get to play their get-out-of-jail-free cards whenever they want.  In fact, the Kabul Bank racket -- a big deal in an utterly impoverished society -- is a minor sideshow compared to what American banks, brokerages, mortgage and insurance companies, and other financial institutions did via their “ponzi schemes of securitization” when, in 2008, they drove the U.S. and global economies into meltdown mode.

And none of the individuals responsible went to prison, just old-fashioned Ponzi schemers like Madoff.  Not one of them was even put on trial. 

Just the other day, federal prosecutors dropped one of the last possible cases from the 2008 meltdown.  Angelo R. Mozilo, the former chairman of Countrywide Financial Corp., once the nation’s top mortgage company, did have to settle a civil suit focused on his “ill-gotten gains” in the subprime mortgage debacle for $67.5 million, but as with his peers, no criminal charges will be filed.

We’re Not the Good Guys

Imagine this: for the first time in history, a movement of Arabs is inspiring Americans in Wisconsin and possibly elsewhere.  Right now, in other words, there is something new under the sun and we didn’t invent it.  It’s not ours.  We’re not -- catch your breath here -- even the good guys.   They were the ones calling for freedom and democracy in the streets of Middle Eastern cities, while the U.S. performed another of those indelicate imbalances in favor of the thugs we’ve long supported in the Middle East.

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