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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The decline and fall of the American empire (a poem)

(Portland, Oregon)

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (a poem)


Some future historian will update Gibbon’s chronicle of Rome

Portraits of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on the cover

Rumsfeld, Wolfowicz, Halliburton, Rove skulk throughout its fourteen volumes
Which generation shall write it, the only question

More bad news to follow, the likely response


---Sean Cruz, April 2008

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...and the essay:


As the Bush/Cheney administration pushed the nation to the brink of catastrophe, General Eric Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff, testified before Congress that the Iraq operation would require several hundred thousand troops....

The General’s advice was ignored, as the White House ideologues dreamed of parades in Baghdad, Medals of Freedom on their chests, and the books they would write with “Triumph” in the title, all gained with a war fought on the cheap....

General Colin Powell warned, “If you break it you own it,” as the nation sat on its hands, assuaged by the comforting notion that Iraq’s own oil revenues would pay the damages, soothed by the certain knowledge that the blood sacrifices would be borne by people they did not know….

Even a cursory reading of the history of the Middle East shows that the region has been a broken bowl throughout all of recorded time, Iraq itself a notion bred by long-dead British and French diplomats, lines drawn in the sand and dust in a world where permanent political boundaries do not exist….

A calculated risk certainly, bolstered by the knowledge that Americans by and large are not prone to deep thought or historical reflection. The nation has carved out its current glory in the fields of spectator sports, obesity and shopping; no one can touch our heroes here; we are, with absolute calorie-laden certainty, clad in our world-class running shoes and emblematic sports apparel, Number One with a bullet, no one can beat an American for sitting in a chair with a sandwich….

Inheriting a vast budget surplus, the Bush-Cheney Frankenstein monster squandered all, hyper-concentrated wealth in the hands of the few, plundered the hopes of generations to follow, fractured the economic fabric in ways that mere bombs cannot touch, sacked the Nation Unconscious unconscious….

Today, middle-class Americans stand in bread lines of increasing length, manufacturing jobs spun overseas, their Nikes no longer so damn relevant….

In the future, shoes will be merely that; the prudent might learn how to make their own; “Just Tool It!!!” the nation’s new motto, printed on the gift cards we exchange for our beans and rice….

Too shrewd by half, the Nation has invested half a billion dollars into its unready Baghdad embassy as half-finished condo/office towers dominate American skylines, the barrage balloons of this World War, not worth blowing up….

Have you seen New Orleans lately? The Gulf Coast sinks to the bottom of the list, joining the veterans of all wars there, last among the least priority, the focus is on everything economic now….

Finding ever more Americans too obese to serve in the military and too few willing to enlist, the Nation’s armed forces lower enlistment standards to accommodate borderline criminals, a story foretold in Gibbons’ Rome, now here generations deep; try recovering from THAT any time soon….

The last polar bear will walk in the wild before the last backyard pool is dug in the desert; before Las Vegas tones it down a notch; before the last bogus environmentalist jets off on holiday splurge….

The point of decline of a nation, the tipping point of a civilization, becomes apparent when one generation cannot expect to achieve a quality of life equal to its predecessor, when its inheritance arrives pissed-on, pre-mortgaged and omni-leveraged beyond the horizon, the Mother of All Turds-in-the-Pocket, and good luck to you….

See Volume 6: “America before Bush, and After”….

Barack Obama campaign-spoke of “the fierce urgency of now”, these words just coming into bitter November focus for so many, sleepwalking as they were with the legacy of Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the selfish and short-sighted, a nation of individuals fixed on self-interest; now look at where we are, all but the wealthy and privileged fly ham-packed commercial….

Americans need no foreign enemy to wreak havoc among us; the model of righteous self-reliance, we can do it ourselves; this is where listening to talk radio will get you, the professional wrestling of topical discourse….

The laws and habits of the Nation require Change to wait until late January, no matter the dire straits, the urgent ferocity of Catastrophe, the now-ocity of crisis facing us; utter incompetence ticks time away, wastes away the clock, like the last eight years….

The Bush Administration retains its Constitutional right to be woefully wrong for two more endless months, vaporizing American jobs, Absolute Dead Weight, still damage to do before slouching off into exile….

In a parliamentary system, they would be gone already (note to students of American democracy—room for improvement here), the power levers switched over, a new puppy in the White House, no Lame Duck in the oven….

The system requires patience, the problems demand patience, sufficient to bridge to January 20, and then the patience to endure real hardship while change courses through the pond in gravitational waves, rocking the petals….

Somewhere, a foreclosed homeowner sits in the dark with a gun, waiting for the unlucky soul whose job it is to walk through that front door with a packing box, who will pluck out that Last Straw….

Moose-fed Sara Palin stands poised to take the helm in 2012, ready as she will ever be. The mere thought brings cheer to millions; guffaws and foot-stamping warm the most threadbare spots in the soul, protect against winter’s chill, a place for her towards the end of the book, splayed unpunctuated against the tide of reason….

What, me worry…?

--Sean Cruz, November 2008



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"Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters." –Edward Gibbons, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 1

“War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied….War is a grave matter; one is apprehensive lest men embark upon it without due reflection.” –Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“If you invade an oil-producing nation on the other side of the world, it will cost you.” --Sean Cruz, www.Blogoliticalsean

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