One of the most fascinating aspects of living under imperialism is the lexicon that this philosophy brings into existence. It’s called Empire-Speak. Given the complexity of this specialized language, it usually takes people years of education and training to master it.
One of the finest examples of Empire-Speak appeared last week in a Washington Post op-ed by Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, who often appears as a commentator on Fox News. Krauthammer penned an op-ed entitled “The Great Muslim Civil War – and Us” that is an absolute masterpiece of Empire-Speak.
Comparing what is happening in the Middle East to Europe 1945, Krauthammer describes the “great Muslim civil war” that has enveloped the Middle East, which he writes, is “approaching its post-Islamic phase.” ISIS is about to be defeated on the battlefield, he writes, and the parties are now maneuvering, as they did after World War II, to “determine postwar boundaries and spheres of influence.” Once ISIS loses its hold on Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, “the caliphate dies.”
So does that mean that the Pentagon and the CIA can finally declare victory in the Middle East and come home after more than 25 years of warfare in the Middle East? Does that mean that there can now be a ticker-tape parade in New York City honoring the victorious American forces?
Are you kidding? As Krauthammer points out, all that has gone before is just “the end of the beginning.” Things are just getting started. After all, as Krauthammer points out, “At stake is consolidation of the Shite Crescent.”
Who would have known? I’ll bet that 99 percent of Americans haven’t even heard of the “Shite Crescent” or that it’s being consolidated. Thank goodness we have Krauthammer and other people well-versed in Empire-Speak to tell us about it.
According to Krauthammer, the world is witnessing a gigantic battle between Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims.
Leading the Shiite side is Iran. Combined with Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Hezbollah (“which Krauthammer labels the “tip of the Iranian spear”), this is the so-called “Shiite Crescent.” According to Krauthammer, it poses a “nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle East.”
On the opposing side of this gigantic battle are the Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the United States. Needless to say, this is considered the good side of the war.
As I was reading through his op-ed, I kept hoping that Krauthammer would not omit one of my favorite terms in Empire-Speak: “the hegemon.” Isn’t that a great term? Whenever I hear an imperialist refer to the danger of the rise of a “regional hegemon,” I think of Transformers or Godzilla.
Krauthammer didn’t disappoint. He states that Syria is “the central theater of a Shiite-Sunni war for regional hegemony.” Moreover, Russia — yes, that Russia! — Krauthammer labeled “the outside hegemon.” OMG! Scary, right? Maybe even scarier than rise of communism and the Soviet Union, the two official enemies of the Cold War era.
What’s really going on here?
Krauthammer is simply preparing the American people for what lies ahead — more interventionism, more imperialism, more militarism, and more death and destruction at the hands of the US Empire. And, of course, more official enemies as old official enemies are defeated or disappeared.
You see, I bet you thought that once ISIS was defeated, the troops could finally be brought home and revel in their glorious victory. Sort of like “Mission Accomplished” after the US invasion of Iraq.
Not so. Undoubtedly expressing the mindset of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the rest of the US national-security establishment, Krauthammer is telling us that unfortunately we cannot rest. We must continue to soldier on, presumably until the Shiite Crescent is defeated and the world is no longer facing the possibility of a rise of a “regional hegemon.” And don’t even think for a moment that once that is accomplished, the war will finally be over. It will simply spell the beginning of the end of the beginning.
As I stated soon after the 9/11 attacks, the “war on terrorism” is going to be just like the war on drugs, where every drug lord they kill or capture is soon replaced by dozens more.
The real problem is that the US Empire keeps running out of official enemies. If we go back to the maneuvering after World War II to which Krauthammer refers, we see US officials converting their World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, to a new official enemy, one that necessitated, they said, the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state.
As we all know, for the next 45 years the Cold War was a bonanza for the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.” Ever-increasing budgets and powers. The best part, for them, was that it was never supposed to end. The Cold War was supposed to go on forever because communism and the Soviet Union were supposed to go on forever.
But life can be cruel. In 1989, the Soviet Union suddenly and unexpectedly dismantled itself, declared socialism a bankrupt philosophy, and unilaterally declared an end to the Cold War, thereby depriving the US Empire of its big official Cold War enemy.
No problem. A new official enemy was soon announced: Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq and former partner of the US Empire (just like Stalin had been). Throughout the 1990s, Americans obsessed over Saddam Hussein and how he was coming to get us and the rest of the world with his WMDs.
To oust Saddam from power, the Pentagon and the CIA began wreaking death and destruction in Iraq, including 11 years of sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
That led to terrorist blowback and a new official enemy: “terrorism,” which ultimately enabled US officials to invade Iraq and oust their official enemy, Saddam Hussein, from power, and install a new regime in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim regime.
Over time, the “terrorists” have morphed into “the Muslims,” which are now viewed as the new official enemy.
Which brings us back to Krauthammer’s op-ed. If the Muslims are the new official enemy, how is that the United States is on the side of the Sunnis in what Krauthammer describes as a giant Muslim civil war that is now supposedly taking place? Aren’t Sunnis Muslims too?
Hmmm. So does this mean that we are no longer supposed to focus on Muslims in general or even “radical Muslims” or “extreme Muslims” but instead on “Shiite Muslims” as the new official enemy?
Oh, another thing Krauthammer doesn’t make clear: If we are now battling the Shiite Muslims, why did the US government use its invasion and occupation of Iraq to install a Shiite regime there? And why is it that US troops have been killing and dying for some 14 years to preserve the existence of that Shiite regime? Why are they still doing so? Were Americans wrong to thank the troops for their service in Iraq by bringing into existence a regime that is now part of the “Shiite Crescent,” which, according to Krauthammer, is now facing us on the field of battle?
Boy, imperialism sure is hard to learn and comprehend. Just like Empire-Speak.
Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.