It seems to me that Phil's analysis assumes a far greater degree of
coeherence and rationality to the so-called ruling class than is in fact the
It is true that the US has a huge military, and in the face of a world full
of uncertainty and very little leeway for domestic moves of any great
significance or popularity, the tempatiion to use the military muscle in a
decisive way was overwhelming. But here as elsewhere, most "ruling-class"
people lack informed opinions of their own and tend to trust whoever seems
competent and to have a self-confident postition. In this cqse, those
trusted weere the neo-cons in the Pentagon. Earlier, among the trusted were
companies like Enron, along with stock analysts with hidden vested
interests. In the same way, some of the German rulaing class put their trust
in Hitler, etc. Let's face it, the "smart money" is just not all that smart.


Michael H. Goldhaber

Phil Gasper wrote:

> >The Media are probably a fairly good representation of the ruling class.
> >Hence the main question that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq
> >present, it seems to me, is _why_ is the ruling class going along with
> >what seems on the surface to be an utterly mad and self-destructive
> >foreign policy.
> The Bush doctrine may well turn out to be self-destructive, and
> certainly there is enormous arrogance in the administration, but
> there is also a rational core to current policy. A huge increase in
> the military budget, "pre-emptive" wars, and generally a much more
> aggressive and unilateralist foreign policy is a big gamble-but it
> can be rational to take a gamble if the potential payoff is high
> enough and if the alternatives contain risks of their own.
> The big problem facing the US ruling class is that the globalization
> of finance, investment and trade over the last three decades has left
> US capitalism increasingly vulnerable to events in other parts of the
> world. The Bush doctrine represents an attempt to gain more control
> over those events and to leverage its massive military superiority
> into economic advantage over its main competitors (the EU, Japan and
> in the medium term China). The increase in the defense budget can
> give the US greater control over trade (most obvious in the case of
> the seizure of Iraq's oil fields), provide a boost to the domestic
> economy, finance hi-tech R&D, and give the US greater ability to push
> its competitors around. And for the time being, everything is paid
> for by those same competitors, who are investing $500 billion in the
> US economy every year.
> The problem (from the ruling class's own point of view) is that this
> more aggressive stance commits the US to endless wars to maintain its
> hegemony, any one of which may blow up in its face, and obviously the
> administration has already provoked resistance from the people of
> Iraq, other ruling classes, and even domestically, including
> considerable discontent in the armed forces--and that's only after
> two quick wars. And while the US gets a big boost from foreign
> investment, that also continues to leave it highly vulnerable if
> significant sectors of European and Japanese capital decide to pull
> out.
> But from the perspective of the US ruling class, alternatives which
> saw the US continuing to lose ground economically to Europe and
> China, and in which US military spending was not translating into
> economic advantage (which was the complaint at the end of the Clinton
> administration), were equally risky. It hopes that the resistance can
> be managed, and that as a result of its aggressive posture the US
> will be able to grab a bigger slice of the world's surplus value. At
> any rate, no other coherent strategy for maintaining US dominance
> emerged before 9/11, and now the entire ruling class is locked into
> the new policy, since retreat from Iraq is unthinkable. The
> neo-conservative ideologues who pushed this policy are not mad--they
> are rational administrators of a system which is itself insane.
> --PG