January 3, 2020

World War III Watch – US Escalates Provocations Against Irak and Iran

Filed under: Dance of Death, Global War On Terror — Tags: , , , , , — Russ @ 1:17 pm


2020 looks like the year. The neocons at the helm of the US imperial state must think now is the time to do whatever’s necessary to get the hot war going with Iran, hell or high water. That’s why they’re effectively declaring war simultaneously on Iran and Irak.
They are psychopaths, they are willing to perpetrate any kind of terrorist attack, they have a weak befuddled president who tends to agree with them, the balance of power in the Mideast can only get worse for the US and the Zionists, their political and therefore legally-existential position in Irak has been deteriorating and now is untenable, the Saudi regime could collapse or be overthrown any time, the financial markets and dollar as well can’t keep running in mid-air forever nor continue much longer to command global hegemony, the American people are in a narcotic stupor, neither China nor Russia seems ready to do anything significant about it (short of Russia’s red-line warning about nukes), Europe is still compliant or at least not resistant.
The US regime is as dead set on war as Hitler was by 1939, and they have the same sense that time is running out and the situation is not going to get better with age. That’s why the US government has greatly escalated its provocations against Iran in recent days.
A few hours ago the US government assassinated Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani, commander of its Quds Force which has been a major participant in the war of Syria and Iraq against the US proxy forces al Qaida and ISIS (Islamic State in Syria). This terrorist attack significantly escalates the ongoing US “maximum pressure” campaign of aggression against Iran, a campaign designed to provoke Iran into retaliation which the US could seize upon as its fake pretext to launch a full-scale war. The campaign consists of economic warfare, political aggression and military provocations.
The attack also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, deputy commander of Iraki security forces directly under the prime minister, and several others.
This great crime against Iraki sovereignty immediately follows a series of egregious insults.
The latest crisis began several days ago. A US oil extraction/military base was hit with some lobbed rockets, some US soldiers were wounded and a mercenary was killed. No one knows who launched the rockets, but the US seized this pretext to inflict an air-launched missile attack on Iraki military positions in the southwest of the country, near the Syrian border. These Iraki forces had been waging a longstanding successful campaign to suppress ISIS in the region.
The recent surge in direct US military aggression in Irak is in part a response to the suppression of its ISIS proxies in Syria and western Irak. Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have taken a leading role in the successful war against ISIS and have some ties with Iran. Those are the real reasons the US to targeted them, not as reprisal for the rocket attack. But the PMU is part of the official Irak military structure. The US directly attacked its own supposed ally and host.
Just like with 9/11 where the US government immediately pushed its pre-existing agenda to invade Afghanistan and Irak, so the US doesn’t care who really launches attacks on US and US-client positions in Irak and Syria but automatically casts blame on Hezbollah and Iran, in accord with the pre-existing neocon wet dream of provoking a full-scale war with Iran.
Iraki mourners responded with an angry protest at the US military compound/embassy in Baghdad. Trump sanctimoniously declared the Irak government has the responsibility to defend the embassy while simultaneously sending hundreds more troops to the Baghdad fortress and mustering several thousand more to follow.
Soleimani embarked from Iran on a planned series of state visits to Baghdad and Turkey. He was planning to attend a service for the 31 Iraki soldiers killed in the previous US attack. In cold blood the US, using attack helicopters and/or drones, ambushed and destroyed Soleimani’s two-car group leaving the airport. Soleimani, an Iraki militia commander and several others were killed. As with the previous escalations, the US gave a fake reason for the outrage, in this case that the attack was in revenge for the protest at its embassy. But clearly it was premeditated for many months, and the fake-legalistic justifications for it were put in motion when the US declared Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, of which Soleimani was a commander, a “terrorist organization”. In reality the US and Zionist armed forces are by many orders of magnitude the worst terrorist organizations in the Mideast, with their head-chopper proxies ISIS and al-Qaida and others in second place.
As if this terrorist attack wasn’t enough, at the same time US marines launched a raid which seized an Iraki parliamentary leader and a militia leader. Trump and his neocons seem determined to express the most total contempt for Iraki sovereignty possible at the same moment they work hard to provoke full scale war with Iran. They seem deliberately to want to generate as much hatred against them in both Irak and Iran as possible. They already must be figuring there’s no way to use Irak as a staging ground other than to escalate to full-scale brutal occupation there.
Irak’s prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi denounced the murder, called it a violation of the agreement under which the US is granted occupancy in Irak, and called for an emergency session of parliament to formulate a response. It will be near-impossible politically for the government to desist from demanding that US forces leave the country. Meanwhile the US embassy ordered all American civilians to leave the country immediately.
Iran already has promised an appropriate response. If they feel unready for a direct test of military strength, their best course will be to seize the political advantage and work most directly with Irak to politically expel the US from that country while engaging in counter-economic warfare like placing various obstacles against passage of the Straits of Hormuz, and supporting allied strikes from Yemen’s Houthis against the Saudi regime and similar peripheral strikes.
This in itself will be very difficult. Now that the US looks determined to use the most brutal force in Irak, it’s unlikely they’ll comply with any Iraki government demand that they leave. They’re not going anywhere without a fight. They’ll attempt South Vietnam-style regime change, and if that doesn’t work try to wreck the country and turn it into another Somalia. The main proximate goal in Irak is to use that country as a staging ground for the desired war with Iran.
Once the war is hot the government might use it as a pretext to resume the military buildup in Afghanistan, ostensibly for the Iran war but primarily toward the original purpose of the war, to take its extensive mineral resources, especially lithium.
Looking at today’s perspective from an eagle’s eye which also takes in the Bolivia coup and whatever the US plans to do to stop the Russia-to-Germany Nordstream pipeline, it all takes shape as a plan to drive up the cost of oil and gas for the benefit of all the unprofitable Extreme-Energy-Economy factions – fracking, “unconventional oil” like shale oil and the tar sands, nukes, and the green-industrial fake-“renewables” crew as well (lithium etc.).
Of course that’s insane – no consumerist regime could sustain such costs, and demand destruction will be rampant as the depression grips. But then no sane person thinks the neocon war-mongers or the extreme-energy “growth”-mongers (mostly the same people) are sane.
The US regime is dead set on war – to prop up the empire, to stave off collapse on every level, to drive up energy prices to render the entire extreme-energy “toolkit” profitable, to indulge their fantasies that world domination still is possible, and out of sheer lust for destruction. They sense that time is running out and the situation is not going to get better with age.
That includes the election. If they can launch the hot war beforehand that pretty much forces any candidate, and whatever geek wins the election, to support the war and pledge to continue waging it. Not that any of the likely contenders would need any special persuasion to be war-mongers. All of them already are. So far as I’ve seen this morning the Democrats hypocritically are denouncing the terrorist assassination, but as you’d expect they object not on moral or anti-imperial grounds but because Trump didn’t consult congress, or similar hypocritical partisan irrelevancy. I don’t recall Obama consulting with congress every time he indulged his favorite bloodlust, murder-by-drone.
So while Iran may continue to proceed cautiously and not let itself be provoked into too overt an act, that likely won’t matter – the US empire is running berserk and will get its war no matter what it has to do. In the early hours of September 1 1939 while the German attack was already commencing the SS staged a fake Polish attack on a German radio station near the border. They dumped some freshly killed corpses from a concentration camp, fired their weapons so the sound would be broadcast, shouted some Polish slogans over the air, and that was it – the most pathetic “false flag” ever, which convinced literally no one. Didn’t matter – Hitler had his sufficient pretext to his own satisfaction, and he had his war.
If the neocons have to resort to something so ridiculous to get their mainstream media-amplified cause for war, they won’t stop short of sinking so low. The only question is how radical the escalation will go.

January 10, 2010

Why We Fight

Filed under: Global War On Terror, Mainstream Media — Tags: — Russ @ 2:24 am


The NYT’s “Week in Review” started off badly with a stupid neocon spiel masquerading as a think piece.
But then I was intrigued to see this headline for the next piece: The Terrorist Mind: An Update.
Actually pondering why they fight? Pretty edgy stuff, especially for the NYT. I thought they were just “evil”.
After all, just because the fighters themselves claim to fight because the American war machine invades their land and destroys their people is no reason to take what they say seriously. We’re Americans. We’re the good guys. If we invade and destroy we must have the highest motivations.
“Caesar never did wrong, but with good cause”, as Shakespeare has Caesar say. Ben Jonson may have goofed on that line and called it incoherent, but he was just jealous.
Anyway, I was hoping to read a real essay in the MSM on the motivations of terrorists.
Alas, it’s just armchair psychoanalytical gobbledygook. Once again those who fight couldn’t possibly have rationally and morally comprehensible motives. Nope, it’s a “mystery of the mind”, to be analyzed as if diagnosing an exotic pathology.
I did find this paragraph interesting. It purports to summarize the delusional mindset of the terrorist. But it struck me as very apropos for many Americans themselves, and certainly for the “war on terror” mindset.

Despite the lack of a single terrorist profile, researchers have largely agreed on the risk factors for involvement. They include what Jerrold M. Post, a professor of psychiatry, political psychology and international affairs at George Washington University, calls “generational transmission” of extremist beliefs, which begins early in life; a strong sense of victimization and alienation; the belief that moral violations by the enemy justify violence in pursuit of a “higher moral condition;” the belief that the terrorists’ ethnic, religious or nationalist group is special and in danger of extinction, and that they lack the political power to effect change without violence.

1. “Generational transmission of extremist beliefs, which begins early in life”.
Yup. Believe it or not, neoliberal globalization is an extremist policy and American-style corporatist “capitalism” is an extremist ideology. And the brainwashing does indeed begin in kindergarten and often earlier. But most Americans are so brainwashed they’re incapable of comprehending this.
2. Victimization and alienation.
Americans are prone to combine arrogance and a sense of entitlement with self-righteous paranoia. So whenever they’re subject to any kind of blowback or criticism, their response is to feel victimized and alienated. Cognitive dissonance, digging in, doubling down on one’s untenable position, are part of the standard American mindset.
3. Responding to the enemy’s attack with claims to moral superiority.
As this piece itself (and pretty much everything in the MSM) demonstrates, Americans systematically deny that the terrorists’ motivations have any moral legitimacy whatsoever, while swaddling our own generally tawdry actions and motivations in a fraudulent patina of morality.
4. The danger of extinction.
Although realistically terrorism can never be anything more than a nuisance to America, our “leadership” and its media flunkies have always implicitly and sometimes explicitly claimed that they represent some kind of existential threat. This has always been an intentional Big Lie used to justify power creep and corporate looting. Far too many Americans even now still fall for this lie. It’s almost like they enjoy being the subjects of this kind of domestic establishment terrorism.
The correct word for this is pusillanimity, which adds to cowardice the connotation that you shouldn’t even have been particularly scared of this thing which terrifies you to the point of cowardice. Picture a housewife who leaps screaming onto a chair because she sees a spider.
5. Lacking power to effect change through politics instead of violence.
Americans by their actions have proven they don’t believe there’s a solution to their problems other than violence. Bush rejected diplomacy on principle, and while Obama has tried to talk a better game, his actions show that he agrees with Bush that “the sword will decide” (Jeffers).
More generally, the solution to the problems of an unsustainable empire is to give up the empire, not to pour ever more blood into the engine where you’ve run out of oil. But that’s too political, too rational, too sane, too human. It’s therefore unamerican.
No, America looks committed to violence and the politics of violence, overseas and increasingly at home.
I suppose this NYT piece has helped shed a little light on the terrorist mind after all. 

September 30, 2009

The Iranian Bomb

Filed under: Global War On Terror, Globalization — Tags: , , , — Russ @ 8:59 am
Here’s a rundown on the situation with Iran.
1. In spite of some inflammatory rhetoric on both sides, it’s extremely unlikely that any Iranian regime would launch a bolt out of the blue strike against Israel if they had the bomb. But the neocons at least claim to believe this, which gives them their alleged rationale for beating the war drums.
A neocon always wants war, somewhere, everywhere. It’s the essence of the Global War on Terror. Any pretext will do, and any conceivable threat, however absurd in practice, will be represented as a plausible clear and present danger to the American homeland. Thus we have had the spectacle of the Eastern European missiles (really meant to help reestablish Cold War conditions vis Russia) represented as a critical defense against the existential threat nonexistent Iranian ICBMs pose to our cities.
2. Iran believes it has the right to develop a bomb; that it’s absurd on its face that America and Israel have the right to the bomb but not them.
Indeed, Israel is not an adherent of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its own original grounds for refusal were precisely that the Treaty has no ethical basis for dividing the world into the pre-1967 nuclear powers (who got to keep their nukes) and everybody else, for whom they would be forbidden. This was purely an arbitrary, might-makes-right division.
So by Israel’s own logic, there’s no basis to forbid Iran the bomb. Iran adhered to the NPT only under duress; clearly where the weak agree under the pressure of the bullying of the strong, this agreement is not binding the way it is for what strong impose on themselves.
(American allies India and Pakistan are also non-adherents who have gone on to develop their own bombs.)
Also, one of the “three pillars” of the NPT, along with non-proliferation and “peaceful use”, is nuclear disarmament. In theory signatories are supposed to seek a weapon-free world.
Of course, American and Britain never intended any such thing; for them that provision was just nukewashing. And by now non-signatory Israel fully supports the arbitrary morality of the NPT division which it originally rejected, now that its own rogue nukes have been normalized within the neocon order.
That disposes of the moral right and wrong
3. Are the Iranians absolutely committed to developing a bomb, or are they trying to use it as a bargaining chip? This is unknown, but see (8) below.
4. To the extent they really want the bomb, they want it as a deterrent. Clearly America is an erratically aggressive, bullying power which understands only strength. You can deal with bullies like neocon America only if your position is credibly backed up by the real threat of force. That’s the lesson of Munich, which North Korea took to heart. Not long ago there was a lot of threatening bluster spewed Pyongyang’s way. Since it’s come to be believed that the North now has the bomb, we don’t hear the Korean war drums as much anymore.
5. What’s America’s circumstance? By any reality-based measure, it’s not prepared to start another war. The military is already overstretched (even not counting another escalation in Afghanistan), and fantasies of a few “smart” strikes are not likely to get the job done. Of course our financial and physical resources are spent. As for the politics, the American people have definitively turned against the Iraq war, the polls now run against Afghan escalations and even the war itself. Nobody except the neocons and the corporations wants to launch another war.
6. In the event of an attack, Iran’s most likely retaliation would be to mine the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil exports pass. They have said they would do this, and it’s the only effective thing they could do anyway.
The results of the subsequent oil shock and price shock would be devastating to the “recovery”. The green shoots would wither and die without the constant watering of relatively cheap oil. 
To mine the Straits they would use a vast fleet of small boats. While America’s military flyswatter can swat fly after fly, we’re talking one huge swarm of flies. If these boats could launch their coordinated sowing, as they would be able if Israel struck unilaterally, it would be excruciating to sweep out the place afterward. 
So attack, if it’s to make any tactical sense, has to be coordinated ahead of time between America and Israel (or just launched by America by itself). The attacks would have to try to destroy the whole minelayer fleet preemptively, even though that’s hundreds of small boats all along the Iranian coast. Israel could never do it by itself. 
7. So a unilateral Israeli strike is no good. But, if Obama hesitates, could Israel engage in Strangelovian extortion? Could it insist that it will attack, unilaterally if need be and to hell with the consequences, thereby presenting Obama with the equivalent of General Ripper saying “you boys better send SAC in after them or you’ll get destroyed by the commie retaliation”? Could Israel’s equivalent be “you’d better go in with us or face the straits mining without preemption”?
So as we can see from 5-7, the military “option” is no good. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not crazy enough to do it anyway.)
8. Diplomacy? What’s the carrot, what’s the stick? The stick would supposedly be sanctions (Iran is most vulnerable in its gasoline imports). But the requisite Russian and Chinese consent are not likely. Since it’s also unlikely that the Americans would really try to sanction Chinese energy companies (important Chimerica players), it seems that just like with “financial regulation” and “health care reform”, so for Obama “sanctions” looks like yet another empty word.
The carrot probably doesn’t exist. Peaceful nuke technological assistance? (The third pillar.) But this would come at the price of bowing to American diktat. So from the Iranians’ point of view this wouldn’t be a carrot at all, but a lesser stick. So far as I’ve read, America has nothing they want; they want America out of their face.
9. So it looks like they’ll continue on their current path. They’ll delay talks, go through the motions, but not let American threats, which they perceive to be impotent bluster, to deter them from their goal.
If that’s the case, then America must resign itself to the Iranian bomb or take the crazy route of war, which probably won’t work anyway.
10. As for we Americans, to us this bomb is of course not a joke. Proliferation is a bad thing, and it’s too bad the corporatist faction in America chose the globalist path which both rendered proliferation more likely and guaranteed that the proliferators would see America as the predator they were seeking to deter.
We should see that the real enemy is domestic, and permanent war empowers him. The best way to start waging war against the real enemy is to prevent him from using hijacked American resources to wage imperial war abroad. That means ending the GWOT: shutting down existing theaters and preventing the opening of new ones.  

September 11, 2009

Permanent War


In the early years of the Soviet regime there was much consternation over the future course of the revolution. The Russian Revolution had not occurred according to the progression of classical Marxism, and the Marxist ideologues had to square events with ideals. They also faced imperialist intervention on many fronts. It looked like global capitalism was going to try to “strangle Bolshevism in its cradle” as Churchill fondly put it. Given these problems the Bolsheviks had to come up with a master strategy for the future.
Trotsky’s contribution was the doctrine of Permanent Revolution. The socialist USSR could not stand alone; as the first proletarian society it would exist in a state of never-ending war with global capitalism until one side or the other achieved total victory. Therefore the Soviet Union had to constantly foment revolution among all the capitalist powers. Only in this way could it generate multiple fronts to fight the enemy elsewhere than in the homeland, help bring about further revolutions, and eventually defeat world capitalism.
Toward this end all of Soviet society had to be organized as an armed camp and total war economy. This mode of organization would persist until total victory, however many decades it took.
Trotsky’s plan did not appeal to the Bolshevik rank and file who, having won the civil war, wanted to enjoy a peace dividend of power, careerism, even rudimentary material comfort. To them, Stalin’s counterdoctrine of Socialism in One Country had much greater allure. Trotsky went down to political defeat, while Stalin went on to dictatorship.
But Trotsky, who was so fond of citing the “trash heap of history” and might have lamented how his own idea had ended up there if he were prone to self-examination, might be surprised today to see by what a strange path his idea had found new life, and in such a strange place.
The ideology of the modern West is corporatism. Its economic aspect, globalization, is often called “neoliberal”, while its foreign policy is called “neoconservative”. These are two aspects of the same master plan for aggression which has prevailed since the fall of the Soviet Union. In its neoconservative aspect it carried on with the Cold War doctrine of counterinsurgency without missing a beat. The basic goal remained the same: the aggrandizement of multinational corporations and authoritarian governments, abroad and at home.
But no longer having the all-purpose ideological cover of anticommunism, neoconservatism has had to be more opportunistic. Thus its predatory interventions in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo were variously represented as humanitarianism, or to protect national sovereignty vs. “aggression”, or to depose a narcostate. (Though in September 1990 Defense Secretary Cheney did briefly admit before Congress that Desert Shield was about protecting access to oil; Republican discipline not yet the perfected machine it later became, it took them a few weeks to switch over completely to “sovereignty of Kuwait” and “Saddam’s aggression”.)
More recently, of course, they’ve found terrorism as the all-purpose bogeyman to replace communism. But in all cases the imperialist goal has remained fundamental. [Parenthetically I ask, why would those who always openly proclaim the domestic politics of attack-not-defend be believed when they claim their foreign policy outlook is the opposite? Yet there’s no lack of credulous liberals and media types ready to believe this.] The goal is the permanent revolution of capitalism. What does this have to do with Trotsky?
The West has entered the stage of its great economic travail. It depends completely on exponential growth for its power and wealth to continue to burgeon and concentrate and for society to exist at anything approaching its current level of material development. But permanent economic growth relies upon the permanent growth of the supply of oil and on permanent exponential debt. Both of these are unsustainable. American oil production peaked in 1970 and the globe has now reached Peak Oil, while the debt economy has for years been in the permanent crisis stage of boom-bust, bubble and crash. (In classic Orwell fashion this has been called the Great Moderation. What that has really meant is a reliable growth in wealth and power concentration for the elites and reliable degradation of wages and power, insecurity, debt, and disaster for everyone else on Earth.)
So within any finite system growth capitalism must eventually enter its stage of permanent crisis, at which point it must expand and repeat the original capital accumulation. That’s what globalization has done for the last forty years, with the process greatly accelerated and radicalized since the fall of the USSR. Capitalism, reaching the limits of the globe itself, in terms of space, environmental factors, and natural resources, must increasingly cannibalize mankind or else collapse.
Global capitalism is therefore in a position similar to that of the Soviet Union in the 20s as Trotsky saw it. There’s the sense of permanent militarism and power expansion or else collapse. Neoliberalism’s permanent economic war has gone hand in hand with neoconservatism’s permanent military advocacy.
In the age of permanent crisis capitalism, that radical capitalism, finding itself in this similar situation, has taken up the same idea from radical communism, is not an ironic coincidence. The history of ideas is clear on this point. Founding neocons like Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell were originally Trotskyites. They drank deep of Trotsky’s apocalypticism and fanatical will to preserve and expand a system and an ideology no matter what the cost. While over the years, especially during the Vietnam years, they moved from far left to far right along the so-called spectrum, they maintained the old Trotsky fanaticism, bloodthirsty and rather childish.
[We see several examples here of how this spectrum is inadequate to describe ideology and campaigns of action. That mass communism and mass capitalism both tend toward crisis indicates more affinity than difference. The convergence of the very terms neoliberal and neoconservative under the same ideological roof reflects how vapid the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are in general as alleged opposites. These alleged differences are just surface details. Corporatism is the underlying unity.]
So the rise of neoconservatism over the last twenty years, and the rise of its doctrine of Permanent War, must be considered a variation on Trotsky’s original doctrine of Permanent Revolution. This permanent war had for a time the official brand name Global War on Terror, and while politicians may try to give things new names, we should stick with the same name for the same war. “Global War on Terror” it should remain. 
Today the neocon ideology is ever more overt in its proclamations. It’s no accident that Defense Secretary Gates could effortlessly be held over from one administration to the next, for the Global War on Terror, even more than the bank bailouts, is now a constant and will remain so for as long as America remains a corporatist state.
Permanent war is the flip side of domestic colonization. The bailouts, the health care poll tax, the land and food monopoly of Big Agriculture, the total financialization of the economy, are all domestic fronts of the same war being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, a war which according to the administration will be heading to many other theaters.
Perhaps there will be Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia redux, subsaharan Africa, and there will be more domestic Pakistans and Somalias just as we now have domestic Afghanistan and Iraq.
It’s one war, and to counteract one front the people must counteract all. While this counteraction doesn’t have to be “socialism in one country”, it will have to focus on sustainability in one country. Sustainability of economy, resource use, consumption, and of wealth, power, grandiosity, aggression, and all the other things which must be constrained by limits or destroy us all.

April 19, 2009

The Crash and the Future


America’s economic and geopolitical position has certainly become precarious in recent years, and there’s no reason to believe the empire can be sustained in the long run. However, it’s striking how the financial crisis, extending into general economic crisis, has temporarily strengthened imperial America’s relative position.
Let’s look at the situation a year ago. Oil price was surging, while supply was tightening, with almost no spare capacity. This created lots of space for geopolitical disruption or blackmail. Petrostates could have strong domestic spending and assertive foreign policies. In the parlance, they could have both guns and butter. Russia and OPEC were feeling strong. Venezuela was talking tough about replacing the dollar as reserve currency. The dollar was weak, and yet the trade deficit was huge.
Meanwhile in the domestic campaign, where the electorate was clear on the absolute failure of Bush, corporatism, and neoconservatism, all the talk was of the new space for progressive ideas and progressive policy. “Yes we can!” was the watchword.
And today? Oil is in a price doldrum, with ample spare capacity. There’s little geopolitical space for anti-globalism for the time being. The trade deficit has been dampened. The dollar has become relatively stronger, and its status as reserve currency temporarily reaffirmed. Russia and OPEC have been chastened by the plunging oil price, Venezuela is domestically scrambling, Europe and China are in disarray.
In America, although a nominally progressive president was elected, his agenda shifted immediately to “continuity” and appeasement. Obama’s main goal has been to continue the two quintessential corporatist policies: an imperial neocon foreign policy, branded the Global War on Terror (though they want to change the brand name); domestically, class war from above, intensified and accelerated wealth redistribution upwards through the Bailouts. In terms of general politics, Obama’s project has been to appease the Republicans and give them the breathing space they need to try to regroup. That they’ve been inept at this so far is not for lack of Obama giving them an opportunity.
(Why is Obama doing this? Like Clinton, he believes “it’s the economy stupid”, and he is basically a right-of-center corporatist. Therefore he sees the real foe as being not Republicans but true progressives. If you’re interested in 20th century European history, compare it to post-WWI Germany, where the new republic under a Majority Socialist government made an alliance with the hard core reactionaries against the real socialists (the Independent Socialists and Spartacists). Though here today the Right is currently in disarray, and there’s little to no coordination among true progressives, the political fundamentals are similar.)   
What has changed? The crash and the crisis: by generating demand destruction and letting off steam from the oil market, this has temporarily alleviated Peak Oil pressures and reduced the intensity of America’s basic position as oil addict in a world of surging prices and constricting supplies. America is in a vice, but the pressure has been ratcheted down a bit. Meanwhile the producing regimes who were riding high, throwing their weight around internationally and justifying themselves domestically by trickling some of the oil wealth downward, are having to retrench on every front.
Whose positions have been shored up? America’s in general (I refer to the “America” of the power elite, not Main Street), in particular that of the Republicans, the neocons, the FIRE trust, who are being coddled, appeased, bailed out, and in general given time to regroup for the intensified struggle ahead.
Who has been weakened? In a word, everyone else. America’s disaster has become the world’s disaster. Everyone is confounded in the economic turmoil. Meanwhile oil’s death grip has been temporarily weakened. While this has somewhat alleviated the stresses for the American consumer, it’s not enough to offset the disaster befalling him as jobs, investments, pensions, social programs, social contracts, hope for the future in general, are vaporized.
(Always remember that “demand destruction”, like “adaptation” in climate crisis policy, may look like a kind of solution on paper, but its real life meaning is tremendous hardship and misery for the non-rich, and especially the global poor. These are always political fig leaves for the Western power structure and its attempt to prop up the consumption/car/sprawl dystopia. They are always tools of disaster capitalism.)
The main effect of the crash has been to buy some time and political space for the elite to prepare for the post-Peak resource hunt. This will mean a fully corporatized economy and an authoritarian society. It means a more overtly Social Darwinist civilization. The carrot will be aggrofuels, tar sands syncrude, and whatever other “alternative” fuels can be wrested through ever-intensifying environmental and political violence. This will be meant to let the American consumer keep his precious car and McMansion sprawl as long as possible. For dissenters, the sticks will be many and severe.
So when we look at the plan for America over the next twenty, thirty, fifty years, however long the zombie system can be propped up before energy descent definitively kicks in (however long it will be until “peak empire”, “peak zombification”), we should perhaps look to China as a model. There the goal of society has been to keep the Communist Party in power and enrich the coastal elite. The social stability necessary for this comes from trickling some crumbs downward to the peasantry in the form of factory jobs. Dissent, meanwhile, is ferociously suppressed.
China’s ruling elite has of course for a long time now been communist only in name. Rather, seeing how world communism had become a dead end, in the 80s the Chinese elite made the decision to shift to a corporatist globalization model. Similarly, America has for decades been shifting from capitalism to corporatism. Since unlike China America didn’t commence this shift as a de jure authoritarian society, the transition has taken longer and had less central planning. But in the end, from these different directions, America and China are ending up in the same place.
So like China America will have a “fortress system”, dedicated to keeping the elite in power and the rich in their riches. The main detail which is different is that while China seeks to trickle down enough factory jobs to satisfy the peasantry, America will try to prop up a nominal suburban middle class: commuting, McMansion-dwelling, lawn-mowing, flat-screen TV-watching. Since this middle class has no economic basis for existence, the system will try to zombify it through new debt bubbles. It will exist in a state of ever greater financial tension, as its wages and social protections become ever more attenuated. Every middle class family will be existentially closer and closer to being one lost paycheck away from literally living in a box. This will dovetail nicely with a more overtly fascist and authoritarian political system. Such will be the socioeconomic balance of terror which props up the elite’s power foundation.
But evidently, for the American consumer, it’s all worth it for the sake of low prices at Walmart.     
While all this doesn’t mean the crash was consciously premeditated (since exponential debt always had disaster “priced into it”, it’s more likely the power elite were always ready to shift opportunistically into disaster capitalist mode at any time), it does mean the suffering of Americans and of people around the world is being used and intensified for the advantage of America’s rich.