America, the powerful and the powerless

    By Mahboob A. Khawaja,

    Hans Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations (1948) related the concept of power to psychology, proposing that in a nation state, leaders use their mind to transform the power vested in them into political acts.

    What the late professor Morgenthau offered was a leader in his attempts to reveal the essence of real politics and to explain the search for peace in global relationships. Perhaps he never imagined that America, the most powerful force in moral and intellectual history, could become a nation devoid of the most basic tenets of global political affairs.

    The political realism envisaged by Morgenthau ruled American foreign policy and relations for several decades, until George W Bush and Barack Obama assumed the political leadership. America is not what it used be in terms of an idealistic moral, political and intellectual historical reference point.

    Those who assumed power in recent decades and claim legitimacy on behalf of the people are fast becoming a source of hatred, illegitimacy and war crimes. Unpredictable, paranoid and vengeful political monsters have incapacitated the nation. This was not accidental but a planned scheme. America has fallen victim to its own obsession with power.

    Mindless politicians claiming to have accomplished victory in the war on terror have done so at the cost of millions of fellow humans in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They lacked political imagination as men of universal hatred, and it seems America is entrenched in the dirty politics of the few.

    All the monsters of history exercised absolute power in disregard of the interests of their people. If America cannot deal with its own domestic problems, how can it be helpful to others in global political domains?

    What went wrong with America? The questions deserve a rational answer. Stephen Lendman (“Eroding Freedom in America,” Information Clearing House, May 2013), is a Chicago-based international peace activist, man of conscience and author ofBanker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity (2013), spells it out:

    Freedom is a four-letter word. It’s fast disappearing. It’s an endangered species. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. America’s war on terror priorities advance them … Tyranny isn’t in the eye of the beholder. It’s escalating in plain sight. It’s just a matter of time until it’s full-blown. Washington’s bipartisan criminal class plans it…. It’s dangerous living in America at the wrong time. Supporting right over wrong is threatened. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. Guilt by accusation is policy. Diktat authority has final say…. War on terror priorities breached First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment freedoms. At issue are search and surveillance authority, indefinitely detaining citizens and non-citizens uncharged, and undermining free expression, due process, and equal protection.

    Glenn Greenwald shares a foresight to make us think hard about the future:

    There’s no question that this “war” will continue indefinitely. There is no question that US actions are the cause of that, the gasoline that fuels the fire. The only question – and it’s becoming less of a question for me all the time – is whether this endless war is the intended result of US actions or just an unwanted miscalculation. Why would anyone in the US government or its owners have any interest in putting an end to this sham bonanza of power and profit called “the war on terror”? Johnson is right that there must be an end to this war imminently, and Maddow is right that the failure to do so will render all the due-process-free and lawless killing and imprisoning and invading and bombing morally indefensible and historically unforgivable. But the notion that the US government is even entertaining putting an end to any of this is a pipe dream, and the belief that they even want to is fantasy. They’re preparing for more endless war; their actions are fueling that war; and they continue to reap untold benefits from its continuation. [1]

    Politics is a game of pretence and will always remains problematic. Politicians need problems to get public attention and to argue that they are deliverers from our troubles. Most politicians are self-centered, often naive about the real world. Did Obama learn anything from the past? Even when facts warrant a change, be it in policy making or global interactive behavior? After all listening and learning are critical factors for the changing role of 21st-century political leadership.

    Today, there are no intelligent and proactive leaders such as Professor Morgenthau, who had enough vision to see the imperatives of real power and of emerging as one humanity. instead we have except naive egomaniacs using sadistic viciousness to torture and kill mankind and destroy ecological habitats.

    Contrary to the brutal perceptions and actions of the US-European imperialists, the international community is informed, mature, and enjoys the moral and intellectual capacity to know and understand the facts of life and to challenge the politically imperiled insensitivity to universal accord.

    We live in one world and on one planet and America is one of the most scientifically and technologically advanced nations. It cannot be ignored by any or all as we hold certain principles and obligations in global political affairs.

    What happens to America will affect all on the planet. But no humans can become God or act like God – its a plain fact of life.

    American politics is increasingly showing ignorance and willful arrogance in its global policies and practices. America as it appears is not heeding to warnings from God.

    When people and nations challenge the sanctity and limits of the Laws of God and violate all known norms and principles of human behavior, they could well become an object of unthinkable natural calamities and disasters.

    The Holy Bible and Al-Qura’an are full of such revelations and warnings as reminders to those people who are open to listening and learning and care for accountability and the future.

    On the recent Egyptian military coup against elected President Mohammed Morsi, the Obama administration showed hypocrisy not to support an elected president over generals. Military coups will not help Egypt to rebuild a democratic nation and to foster change in overwhelmingly authoritarian Arab Middle East.

    Obama failed to see the interests of the global community and take a peaceful approach to conflict management through dialogue and non-rhetoric belligerent statements. Be it the issue of Palestine or nuclear Iran, naive egoism and one-sided complacency to Israel’s interests cannot further the cause of peace in the region.

    Paul Craig Roberts has offered a rational context to the current problem:

    In the 21st century the 200-old propaganda that the American people control their government has been completely shattered. Both the Bush and Obama regimes have made it unmistakably clear that the American people don’t even influence, much less control, the government. As far as Washington is concerned, the people are nothing but chaff in the wind….Washington’s double-speak is now obvious to the world. Not only Assad, but also the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and every US puppet state which includes all of NATO and Japan, are fully aware that Washington is again lying through its teeth. The Russians, Chinese, and Iranians are trying to avoid confrontation with Washington, as war with the modern nuclear weapons would destroy all life on planet earth…. Considering the utterly insane government ruling in Washington, if human life exists in 2020, it will be a miracle. [2]

    Do politicians who have small wisdom but big mouths determine the future of mankind? If history is relevant and is seen as a source of learning and warning, undeniably all those superpowers well equipped with weapons and animosity to destroy others or all have met the same fate of self annihilation.

    It is beyond doubts that when they challenged the sanctity of the Laws of God governing the earth and the living Universe, and invaded small and poor nations in farfetched lands, they ultimately met their own end. This is how the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany, British, Russian (USSR) and so many others have ended up in human history. Is this is what the US Empire in its infancy is waiting to endure?

    One wonders, if there is a cure to such a cruel mindset? Morgenthau was a rational thinker, realist humanitarian and a teacher to define political power as the outcome of the psychology of mind. But absolute political power cannot be justified as simple favorable perversion to torture, kill the innocent mankind and destroy the universal harmony and natural habitats on the Earth. A few centuries earlier, Alexander Pope (1688-1744) in An Essay on Man envisaged this startling insight as a reminder to mankind:

    Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
    The proper study of Mankind is Man.
    Plac’d on this isthmus of a middle state,
    A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
    With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
    With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
    He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest,
    In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
    In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer,
    Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
    Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
    Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
    Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
    Still by himself abus’d, or disabus’d;
    Created half to rise, and half to fall;
    Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
    Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl’d:
    The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

    1. The ‘War on Terror’ – by Design – Can Never End, The Guardian, January 4, 2013.
    2. Washington is Insane,, June 17, 2013.

    (Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012.)