A house of mirrors is an immersive, highly distorted and intentionally confusing version of reality. Those walking its corridors are sometimes amused and sometimes frightened by the disorienting experience, but luckily for them, it is only temporary. There is an exit, and they will walk through it, back to reality.
But what if one existed their entire lives in such a distorted reality and knew of no exits? Would they convince themselves that these distorted images reflected back at them were in fact reality no matter how unnatural they appeared? Could they convince themselves to enjoy and even embrace this distorted reality?
One ponders such questions when looking from the outside-in on American politics. It too is a house of mirrors reflecting back a reality entirely distorted. Also like a house of mirrors, American politics have been intentionally constructed this way, to confuse, disorient and even frighten the American people when necessary to exercise mass persuasion over them. The final result is perpetual impunity granted to the powers that truly be, hiding behind the powers that allegedly were “elected,” and powers whose authority only exists in this house of mirrors and no further.
New Leaders, Old Wars
Consider US President George Bush Sr. He launched the inaugural war of what he himself called a “New World Order.” Operation Desert Storm included multiple nations comprising of nearly a million soldiers who swept from the map one of the largest conventional armies (4th largest) in the world. Bush Sr., however, paused just ahead of sweeping the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power. His successor, US President William Jefferson Clinton would keep Iraq subdued with periodic bombing campaigns and the imposition of both crippling sanctions and no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq.
Clinton would serve 8 years in office and lock horns with Russia in Serbia in a proto-Ukraine-style conflict. In 2000, we should remember that George Bush Jr. ran on a platform opposed to global interventionism. For those trapped in the house of mirrors, this distortion of reality seemed very convincing. For those who understood the hegemonic mission of America’s special interests, those that transcend elections and political parties, they knew Bush Sr.’s desires for a “New World” endured and would manifest themselves in a yet revealed, muscular foreign policy that only needed the right impetus to be justified in the eyes of the American people.
Conveniently, the events of September 11, 2001 delivered just that. So began the 8 year “War on Terror.” So sick of wars were Americans at the end of those 8 years, that anyone promising to end them would likely win the 2008 elections. And so Barack Obama did and thus became “US President.” However, not only did the wars not end, and not only were they in fact expanded, new wars were begun. In fact, these new wars were all the planned wars Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. never got around to fighting.
Yet, no matter how unnatural this distorted reflection appeared in the American politics house of mirrors, those trapped perpetually within its mirrored walls found it perfectly acceptable for a Democratic president to continue Republican wars and start new wars the Republicans could only have dreamed of starting but couldn’t because of left-wing anti-war movements now silent because “their guy” was in office.
Hillary = Obama = Bush Jr. = Clinton = Bush Sr.
With Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she is running for office in 2016 with President Obama’s full endorsement, those infected with neo-liberalism and wandering the corridors of this house of mirrors see yet another distorted, ghoulish image staring back, but one they are yet again ready to embrace.
Here is a woman who as US Secretary of State laughed and mocked the Libyan people upon hearing their leader had been murdered by terrorists in what constituted by all accounts a war crime. Before that, she played an active role in selling the war upon Libya in 2011 to the American left (as the American right had already desired such a war for years and needed no convincing). By 2016 we may have yet another Clinton in office, and a Clinton fully dedicated to carrying on the wars of both the Democrats and Republicans that came before her.
To say this is continuity of agenda is a bit of an understatement. American foreign policy has been so singular in purpose and focus for the past several decades that it is clear that behind the distortions of this house of mirrors, something singular and very nasty has been there the entire time. Who or what could it be?
The Real President of the United States Lives on Wall Street, not Pennsylvania Avenue
How about we look at the people who pay for the political campaigns to put these various spokesmen and women-in-chiefs into office in the first place? Or the immense interests driving lobbying efforts that target and control both sides of the political aisle in American politics? A single Fortune 100 corporation has enough money to buy out every relevant politician on Capital Hill and still finish up the fiscal year bloated with billions in profits. And what happens when these interests converge across various think-tanks they themselves have set up and created to generate the singular foreign and domestic policies we see carried forward from presidency to presidency, from congressional session to session?
We see complete control exerted over American politics as well as across the media, allegedly charged to serve as watchdogs and a check and balance, but instead turned into an echo chamber and instrument of mass persuasion by those who have clearly consolidated the summation of American politics in their pockets.
While policy might be debated over by these special interests, and groups moved in one direction or another to exert influence against competing special interests among this exclusive club, one thing is for sure, the American voter is the last voice considered in this process.
Since the American voter is incapable of seeing that they are in fact in a house of mirrors to begin with, and think they are “outside” in reality making real decisions, their decisions are completely irrelevant to those who really do live outside in reality and are actually making real decisions.
We must understand that for special interests that collectively control trillions of dollars in assets, profits and infrastructure all over the planet, the last thing they are willing to do is allow for the existence of a system that might actually put into power a form of authority above their own, that would set policy predicated upon the interests of the people, rather than their own. They have the money, the power and the ability to ensure policy is set to suit them, and them alone, and they clearly have done just that.
This is why US troops are still in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars are still being waged either directly or indirectly against Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Russia and destabilization targeting China and other targets of Washington and Wall Street’s special interests continues unabated, albeit distorted within the house of mirrors, regardless of who is president.
So Americans may think they are voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and those infected with neo-liberalism the world over may think another enlightened champion of their progressive cause has taken the reins of the free world, but they might as well have voted for another Bush. The reality is, that as along as Americans and those who look to America from abroad for leadership dwell in this house of mirrors, the special interests that intentionally built this carnival called “democracy” will have their way back in actual reality.
Instead of fumbling through another four years trapped inside this carnival attraction, let’s find the exits. Let’s leave this house of mirrors and breathe a breath of fresh air. Are we really going to listen to another round of campaign promises, holding our breath hoping that this time they mean it? Or will we begin divesting from this system and building our own, one that might actually truly represent us this time, far from the mirrored walls that held us for so long?
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.