The empire of America is over a hundred years old if we consider their military hostilities in the late 19th century against China and Spain were the birth of the empire. These victories gained them control over vast territories in China and countries such as Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The Boxer Rebellion was squashed within two years – fists of fury did not match guns and gunboats employed by the Westerners. The Boxer Protocol was signed by the Qing government on September 7, 1901 to allow foreign troops to remain in China.
The Spanish-American War lasted a mere ten weeks, such was the might of the US Navy over the once mighty empire known in the 17th century as the “empire on which the sun never sets”. The US joined the Allies some three years after WW1 started. I suppose by then the warring nations were all sufficiently weakened for the Americans to make a significant contribution to end the war as a victor. The Spanish Flu in 1919-1920 killed over 675,000 Americans, many of whom were adult-age workers, and it hastened the severe downturn of the global economy. The Great Depression of 1920-1921 saw a massive crash in the economy due to deflationary pressures caused by the surge in millions of returnees of WW1 veterans flooding the job market. The more famous Great Depression of 1929 that started from the Wall Street stock market crash lasted till 1940, although some countries began their mini steps to recovery in 1933. Countries that did not devalue their currency and engaged in protectionist policies such as tariff wars and trade quotas fared worse than those that abandoned the gold standard early. The money supply growth in the US, the result of gold inflows which were partly due to the devaluation of the US dollar and partly due to deterioration of the political situation in Europe, was the crucial reason for America’s eventual economic recovery. The US again did not involve themselves early in the next Great War. They did so only after the warring countries had fought one another for over two years. It was really after WW2 that America became the world’s super power, with the demonstration of their military power in the form of two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The deliberate massacre of over two hundred thousand civilians was brushed aside amidst the world’s gratitude and joyous celebrations that accompanied the end of the Great War. The victor’s glory was not tarnished by any accusations of state terrorism or human rights violations. Ethical justifications were offered by scholars that this was the lesser evil, saving many more lives in the end. America became leader of the free world and the president of the United States (POTUS) has wielded much power and commanded global respect ever since. Until now. The 45th POTUS has done much in his three years on the job to prove that he is not capable of doing his job. During the ascendency of his election campaign over his rivals in 2016, I found him to be entertaining. As entertaining as a clown. He lit up late night shows and sparked a revival of sorts for stand-up comedians. Admittedly, it was he who stoked my interest in US affairs. His immediate predecessor was reliable but boring – he did not achieve very much in his two terms. He could have curtailed the swine flu pandemic and he ought to have foreseen the destruction to investments and savings from the housing bubble that caused the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
I was incensed to discover that we were all lied to when Saddam Hussein died without any WMDs in Iraq. The POTUS lied about the non-existent weapons of mass destruction so that they could invade Iraq and end the rule of an adversary thereby gaining control of their vast oil reserves. I still remember the vile man, Colin Powell, holding a vial pretending it to contain anthrax that Iraq was creating for their germ warfare. The real reason was to protect the US dollar as the “petro-dollar” and to end the threat to US economic hegemony from the euro which was being promoted as an alternative oil transaction currency. The petro-dollar is like a genie’s bottle. The world produces whatever goods and services the US wants and the US simply pays the world with money they create digitally. No sweat. No printing of paper money required anymore, just add a few zeros to their balance sheet. It is therefore a bottomless pot of gold the Americans guard zealously. The US dollar is not backed by gold and with barrels of oil now trading at near or sub zero values, it means the USD is only backed by military force, implied or threatened. Libya, Iran and now Venezuela have found out this inconvenient truth. The POTUS in the White House lied about the Vietnam War too and sent a hundred thousand soldiers to fight a war “what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves”, but he basically lied to his own people, so I did not care as much. The next incumbent lied about the same war and the Watergate burglary too, but at least the bungled burglary did not harm lives. The POTUS who lied about his sexual exploits with his intern made life interesting for us, especially with his cigar. He too was a bad liar, but apart from his wife and his mistress, he did not harm anyone else. Forgivable, since they forgave him. The POTUS who lied about his affair with Marilyn Monroe and the non-existence “missile gap”, well, he died a legend and may he rest in peace. The truth is the US never lagged behind the Soviets in ballistic missile technology. But, the POTUS who sent soldiers to die in Iraq lied to the world. That was a crime against humanity. Unforgivable, especially when the one I previously considered as the undisputed statesman of Australian politics, John Howard, has been irrevocably painted as a fool in my mind – ever since he showed his gullibility to act enthusiastically as the American lapdog down under. The US has a long history of lying, even “unwittingly” or under oath as did James Clapper, the former NSA director who called a lie an untruth. It needed Edward Snowden to sacrifice his American freedom, fleeing to Russia after his revelations of major crimes committed by the NSA such as spying on Americans’ phone calls as well as on foreign governments and leaders, and the existence of PRISM which compelled tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft to secretly provide private user data to the government. But the present POTUS has made lying an art form – lying not unwittingly but habitually. The deception and trickery he burdens on the world, I initially thought, was a deliberate strategy to cause confusion and diversion in the media and in the United Nations. His adversaries would be handicapped by the mayhem he unleashes on the world, thus allowing him unfair leverage as he negotiates better trade deals to realise his MAGA dream. It is very possible that the see-sawing sharemarket from his conflicting announcements about virtually anything would make it a fertile environment to deliver those in-the-know mega-profits from share trades. The hocus pocus mumbo jumbo trickery of a real estate salesman, I suspected. Why else would a person lie? To make money, right? To have the upper hand. To win, dishonestly. But, the coronavirus pandemic has started to make me ask myself this question. Maybe the POTUS is simply a stupid idiot? He lies simply because he doesn’t know better? Maybe he is, as James Clapper said in his perjury to Congress in 2013, simply lying unwittingly? I mean, this is the bloke who said windmills cause cancer. He is also the idiot who claimed recently that injecting bleach or shining light into a human body can kill a coronavirus. But, sadly, his lies are not of the harmless type – they have killed many thousands. He lied on February 26 that the virus would simply disappear one day when the weather warms up in April. It did not go down to zero as we all knew it wouldn’t but to over 1.3 million cases this week. Now, he is saying that it will disappear before the end of this year and next year will be a tremendous year for America. He suggested that we do not even need a vaccine for the virus to go away. This is as irresponsible as saying America has more cases than anybody because they do more testing. “If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” Wow. That’s mind-blowing stupidity from today’s POTUS. That is as accurate as saying the virus attacks only those who are tested. Sadly, many of his supporters believe every lie he makes. The death toll in America from COVID-19 is well over 85,000 and they have not seen the peak yet. Earlier this week, the POTUS stood in front of a big banner that read “America leads the world in testing”. Let me finish the sentence for him. America leads the world in testing our patience.