Timeline 2000-2010: United States
2000: President Bill Clinton signs Commodities Futures Modernization Act (CFMA), deregulating the derivatives markets and credit-default swaps. Enron would go on to become the largest corporate fraud in histsory. Washington would become unashamedly captive to Wall Street. Presidential election stolen by George W Bush.
2001: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” August Presidential Briefing brushed aside, one month before 9/11; John Walker Lindh “American Taliban” captured and later sentenced to 20 years; plans to invade Iraq “leaked”.
2002: Bush/Blair produce fake evidence of WMDs in Iraq; Defense Secretary Donald (“There are also unknown unknowns”) Rumsfeld’s military doctrine — carpet bomb and scrimp on troops — a disaster; Enron scandal (see 2000 CFMA and 2008 Madoff).
2003: Defense Secretary Colin Powell’s UN speech justifying invasion of Iraq; “Mission accomplished” speech of Bush on aircraft carrier; CIA officer Valerie Plame’s cover leaked, leading to deputy chief of staff Karl Rove’s resignation.
2004: Falluja residents kill four Blackwater mercenaries leading the US Army to flatten the city in revenge; Abu Ghraib torture photos flood the Internet; Pakistan added to US bombing list; Save Darfur coaltion formed in NY; Bush re-elected.
2005: Iraq descends into chaos; hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans; Bush bungles rescue operations while commending FEMA head Michael Brown: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
2006: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s Iraq surge; Democrats win majority in Congress and Senate, beginning to turn the tide against Bush’s domestic agenda.
2007: Somalia added to US bombing list; Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduces bill to impeach vice-president Richard Cheney.
2008: Oil hits $147 a barrel; Republican VP hopeful Sarah Palin: “The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick;” Barack Obama elected; stock market/ bank crisis (Dow drops 34 per cent, the worst decline since 1931); Wall Street pyramids (Madoff pleads guilty to $65 billion fraud); $2 trillion (not $700b) bank bailout while bankers give themselves huge bonuses.
2009: AfPak; Yemen added to US bombing list; Chrysler and GM declare bankruptcy and government becomes part owner; unemployment reaches over 10 per cent; $787 billion stimulus package and $1.75 trillion budget deficit; Paul-Grayson amendment to audit Federal Reserve (FR) approved by House Financial Services Committee but stymied by FR chairman as it “would shatter the Fed’s independence.”
Timeline 2000-2010: Europe
2000 – Vladimir Putin elected president of Russia; Serbian October “revolution” ousting Slobodan Milosevic following 1999 NATO bombing, resulting in creation of Kosovo as first NATO “republic”.
2002 – EU expansion with plans for 10 new members in 2004.
2003 – Ukraine Orange Revolution in December bringing Viktor Yushchenko to power; Russian Jewish oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and others arrested/ imprisoned/ exiled; France and Germany refuse to back invasion of Iraq.
2004 – Chechen rebels take 1000 hostages at Beslan, North Ossetia school, resulting in 300 deaths; Ukraine’s Leonid Kuchma targetted by Western democracy-promotion groups; Russian theatre hostage-taking by Chechens in October (140 deaths); Turkey elects Islamists; Catholic Church sex scandal media frenzy.
2005 – Pope John-Paul II dies and Benedict XVI elected; Blair re-elected to third term, London awarded 2012 Olympics, but 7 July Underground bombing; Paris race riots; Merkel becomes first German woman chancellor, heading a “grand coalition” of CDU and SPD; Georgia Rose Revolution brings Mikheil Saakashvili to power.
2006 – Alexander Litvinenko dies of polonium poisoning as West orchestrates new Cold War; Slobodan Milosevic dies in War Criminal Prison in the Hague after a five year trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the West now deciding which dictators should be held to account (see 2008 Sudan); Danish newspaper publishes cartoons insulting the Prophet Mohammad.
2007 – Nicolai Sarkozy elected, returning France to NATO command and pledging warm relationship with US; Kosovo declares independence; transition in Russia from Putin to Medvedev;
2008 – Georgia invades South Ossetia in August while Putin at Beijing Olympics; Moldova’s Communist government narrowly defeated in the first twitter revolution.
2009 – Angela Merkel’s CDU re-elected in Germany with socialist Die Linke now rivalling a weakened SDP; British judge issues arrest warrant for Israeli ex-PM Tzipi Livni, forcing her to cancel her trip to London.
Timeline 2000-2010: Latin America
2000 – Pinochet’s arrest in 1998 in the UK finally ends when he is sent back to Chile without trial, on medical grounds. The arrest warrant by a Spanish judge infuriated Western governments which vow to change legislation to prevent this happening again. This process differs from the official Western mechanism to persecute leaders opposed to the empire’s agenda, such as Milosevic (see Europe timeline above) and Al-Bashir (see Africa timeline below), and prompted Livni and other USraelis, including Rumsfeld himself to cancel travel plans (see Europe timeline above).
2001 – Argentina’s president Ferdinand de Rua resigns as Argentine economy collapses in a “Back to the Future” moment (see 2008 US).
2003 – President Lula da Silva launches land reform in Brazil; anti-Chavez general strike broken in Venezuela leading to nationalisation of the entire petrochemical industry; Peru’s Shining Path Maoists resurface (see 2008 Asia).
2004 – US/Canadian military plot the overthrow of Haiti’s president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and spirit him into exile; Venezuela and Cuba found the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) between Caribbean and Latin American countries fuelled by Venezuelan oil revenues; Brazil emerges as world power, leading to the BRIC alliance with Russia, India and China.
2005 – Bolivia elects socialist Evo Morales; Ecuador elects socialist Raphael Correa who ushered in a new constitution in 2008, the first in the world to recognise legally enforceable Rights of Nature.
2008 – Paraguay elects socialist ex-priest Fernando Lugo as president.
2009 – US sponsors (and denies involvement in) coup deposing pro-ALBA Honduran president Manuel Zelaya; ALBA countries stop using US dollar in their trade; Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez meets Obama at the 5th Summit of the Americas and gives him Eduardo Galeano’s The Open Veins of Latin America.
Obama later tells White House press correspondents, “Just because he handed me Peter Pan, that doesn’t mean I’m going to read it, but it’s good diplomatic practice to just accept these gifts.”
Timeline 2000-2010: Africa and Asia
2000 – Robert Mugabe celebrates two decades in power in Zimbabwe, but faces widespread unrest. His new constitution is defeated, leading to a decade of instability and isolation, targeted by the Western democracy movement, but no “colour revolution”, instead land reforms marred by violence.
2002 – Kenya elects opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki.
2004 – Sudan civil war becomes acute; Indian Ocean Tsunami in December kills 300,000.
2006 – Joseph Kabila, son of ex-president Laurent-Desire Kabila, wins Congo elections amidst civil war.
2007 – Jacob Zuma takes over from Thabo Mbeki as South African president.
2008 – Congo civil war intensifies; Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir becomes the first national leader to be indicted by the International Criminal Court; Nepals Maoists come to power, while India’s gain strength.
2009 – Somalia civil war intensifies; Japan elects the Democratic Party, bringing to an end more than 50 years of rule by the pro-US Liberal Democratic Party; China weathers the financial storm and prepares to ascend to Number One in the world economy.
2000-2010 IN A NUTSHELL: These were contradictory years:
- an economic boom turned into a crash; by the end, a US that seemed omnipotent is more vulnerable and weaker than ever even as the militarisation of the US economy accelerates;
- the unification of Europe reveals a directionless, faction-ridden agglomeration without the political means or will to address pressing crises such as the financial meltdown of 2008 or the many worsening international problems.
The downward trajectory of the empire is well illustrated by Time‘s Persons of the Year:
- Bush (2000),
- New York mayor Rudy Giuliani “NY’s Churchill” (2001),
- whistleblowers Cynthia Cooper (Worldcom), Coleen Rowley (FBI), Sharron Watkins (Enron) (2002),
- the American soldier (2003),
- Bush again (2004),
- Bono/ Gates (2005),
- the “wired American” (2006),
- Putin (2007) and
- Obama (2008) — from imperial overlord and his minions to anti-corruption fighters, the resurgent Russians and finally a US president whose mission is to downplay and even reverse the imperial trajectory.
The icing on the cake is Time’s Person of 2009 — Baleout Ben, chairman of the Federal Reserve, “patron saint of Wall Street greedheads” as Time itself admits. “King Ben is the unelected general of the fourth branch of government.” Recall, the fourth estate was once considered the press. Ben Shalom Bernanke was honoured as “the most important player guiding the world’s most important economy”, whose give-away of trillions to his friends apparently helped “to protect ordinary folk on Main Street.” So it’s no longer just a wacko conspiracy theory after all: the banks really do control the world. The empire is on its economic knees and has no shame.
The entrenchment of the Chinese Communist Party and the resurgence of socialism in Latin America, along with the resistance of Islam to accept the Western separation of religion and politics, means that the Western model of capitalism without a mechanism of social/political/religious control has been resoundingly discredited. Fukayama’s 1992 pronouncement that we have reached the “end of history”, embodied in the Western model of electoral democracy and capitalism, was thrown in history’s dustbin. A BBC poll in 2009 revealed that 90 per cent of those polled disapprove of the current capitalist order.
This decade, as acknowledged even by the mainstream Western media, was a turning point for the West and the US in particular. It was dominated by US military interventions and threats, and the attempt to turn NATO into the world police force through wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. However, these wars have been indecisive and did more to bankrupt the US economy than consolidate its influence around the world.
The rise of the BRICs and the growing influence of especially Russia and China on the world stage contrasts with the crises, both domestic and internationally, of the US and its imperial world order.
Though Africa experienced a few glimmers of development and democracy (South Africa, Ghana), its headlines were dominated more by tragic pandemics and civil wars, as China and the West plotted to control not only its oil and mineral but land resources.