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Maintaining empire is not free. If deforms the host. One universal tendency of empires is sliding into neo-fascist, national security state. Paul Craig Roberts wrote well about his tendency in his Amerika's Future is Death (August 20, 2012):
February 11, 2014 | mises.org | Comments (378)
Editors note: This selection is from chapter 7 of Laurence Vance's War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy, now available in the Mises Store.
The WikiLeaks revelations have shined a light on the dark nature of U.S. foreign policy, including, as Eric Margolis recently described it: "Washington's heavy-handed treatment of friends and foes alike, its bullying, use of diplomats as junior-grade spies, narrow-minded views, and snide remarks about world leaders."
As much as I, an American, hate to say it, U.S. foreign policy is actually much worse. It is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. It sanctions the destabilization and overthrow of governments, the assassination of leaders, the destruction of industry and infrastructure, the backing of military coups, death squads, and drug traffickers, and imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism. It supports corrupt and tyrannical governments and brutal sanctions and embargoes. It results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States.
The question, then, is simply this: Can U.S. foreign policy be fixed? Although I am not very optimistic that it will be, I am more than confident that it can be.
I propose a four-pronged solution from the following perspectives: Founding Fathers, military, congressional, libertarian. In brief, to fix its foreign policy the United States should implement a Jeffersonian foreign policy, adopt Major General Smedley Butler's Amendment for Peace, follow the advice of Congressman Ron Paul, and do it all within the libertarian framework of philosopher Murray Rothbard.
Thomas Jefferson, our first secretary of state and third president, favored a foreign policy of "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none." This policy was basically followed until the Spanish-American War of 1898. Here is the simple but profound wisdom of Jefferson:
- "No one nation has a right to sit in judgment over another."
- "We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country, nor with the general affairs of Europe."
- "I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment."
- "We have produced proofs, from the most enlightened and approved writers on the subject, that a neutral nation must, in all things relating to the war, observe an exact impartiality towards the parties."
No judgment, no meddling, no political connection, and no partiality: this is a Jeffersonian foreign policy.
U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. After leaving the military, he authored the classic work War Is a Racket. Butler proposed an Amendment for Peace to provide an "absolute guarantee to the women of America that their loved ones never would be sent overseas to be needlessly shot down in European or Asiatic or African wars that are no concern of our people." Here are its three planks:
1. The removal of members of the land armed forces from within the continental limits of the United States and the Panama Canal Zone for any cause whatsoever is hereby prohibited.
2. The vessels of the United States Navy, or of the other branches of the armed services, are hereby prohibited from steaming, for any reason whatsoever except on an errand of mercy, more than five hundred miles from our coast.
3. Aircraft of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps is hereby prohibited from flying, for any reason whatsoever, more than seven hundred and fifty miles beyond the coast of the United States.
Butler also reasoned that because of "our geographical position, it is all but impossible for any foreign power to muster, transport and land sufficient troops on our shores for a successful invasion." In this he was echoing Jefferson, who recognized that geography was one of the great advantages of the United States: "At such a distance from Europe and with such an ocean between us, we hope to meddle little in its quarrels or combinations. Its peace and its commerce are what we shall court."
And then there is our modern Jeffersonian in Congress, Rep. Ron Paul, the only consistent voice in Congress from either party for a foreign policy of peace and nonintervention. In a speech on the House floor several months before the invasion of Iraq, Ron Paul made the case for a foreign policy of peace through commerce and nonintervention:
A proper foreign policy of non-intervention is built on friendship with other nations, free trade, and open travel, maximizing the exchanges of goods and services and ideas.
We should avoid entangling alliances and stop meddling in the internal affairs of other nations - no matter how many special interests demand otherwise. The entangling alliances that we should avoid include the complex alliances in the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO.
The basic moral principle underpinning a non-interventionist foreign policy is that of rejecting the initiation of force against others. It is based on non-violence and friendship unless attacked, self-determination, and self-defense while avoiding confrontation, even when we disagree with the way other countries run their affairs. It simply means that we should mind our own business and not be influenced by special interests that have an ax to grind or benefits to gain by controlling our foreign policy. Manipulating our country into conflicts that are none of our business and unrelated to national security provides no benefits to us, while exposing us to great risks financially and militarily.
For the libertarian framework necessary to ensure a foreign policy of peace and nonintervention, we can turn to libertarian political philosopher and theoretician Murray Rothbard:
The primary plank of a libertarian foreign policy program for America must be to call upon the United States to abandon its policy of global interventionism: to withdraw immediately and completely, militarily and politically, from Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, from everywhere. The cry among American libertarians should be for the United States to withdraw now, in every way that involves the U.S. government. The United States should dismantle its bases, withdraw its troops, stop its incessant political meddling, and abolish the CIA. It should also end all foreign aid - which is simply a device to coerce the American taxpayer into subsidizing American exports and favored foreign States, all in the name of "helping the starving peoples of the world." In short, the United States government should withdraw totally to within its own boundaries and maintain a policy of strict political "isolation" or neutrality everywhere.
The U.S. global empire with its 1,000 foreign military bases and half a million troops and mercenary contractors in three-fourths of the world's countries must be dismantled. This along with the empire's spies, covert operations, foreign aid, gargantuan military budgets, abuse and misuse of the military, prison camps, torture, extraordinary renditions, assassinations, nation building, spreading democracy at the point of a gun, jingoism, regime changes, military alliances, security guarantees, and meddling in the affairs of other countries.
U.S. foreign policy can be fixed. The United States would never tolerate another country building a string of bases around North America, stationing thousands of its troops on our soil, enforcing a no-fly zone over American territory, or sending their fleets to patrol off our coasts. How much longer will other countries tolerate these actions by the United States? We have already experienced blowback from the Muslim world for our foreign policy. And how much longer can the United States afford to maintain its empire?
It is time for the world's policeman, fireman, security guard, social worker, and busybody to announce its retirement.
[Originally published by the Future of Freedom Foundation.]
THE ROVING EYE
The illusory state of the Empire
By Pepe Escobar
Barack Obama would never be so crass as to use a State of the Union (SOTU) address to announce an "axis of evil".
No. Double O Bama, equipped with his exclusive license to kill (list), is way slicker. As much as he self-confidently pitched a blueprint for a "smart" - not bigger - US government, he kept his foreign policy cards very close to his chest.
Few eyebrows were raised on the promise that "by the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over"; it won't be, of course, because Washington will fight to the finish to keep sizeable counterinsurgency boots on the ground - ostensibly to fight, in Obama's words, those evil "remnants of al-Qaeda".
Obama promised to "help" Libya, Yemen and Somalia, not to mention Mali. He promised to "engage" Russia. He promised to seduce Asia with the Trans-Pacific Partnership - essentially a collection of corporate-friendly free-trade agreements. On the Middle East, he promised to "stand" with those who want freedom; that presumably does not include people from Bahrain.
As this was Capitol Hill, he could not help but include the token "preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons"; putting more "pressure" on Syria - whose "regime kills its own people"; and to remain "steadfast" with Israel.
North Korea was mentioned. Always knowing what to expect from the horse's mouth, the foreign ministry in Pyongyang even issued a preemptive attack, stressing that this week's nuclear test was just a "first response" to US threats; "second and third measures of greater intensity" would be unleashed if Washington continued to be hostile.
Obama didn't even bother to answer criticism of his shadow wars, the Drone Empire and the legal justification for unleashing target practice on US citizens; he mentioned, in passing, that all these operations would be conducted in a "transparent" way. Is that all there is? Oh no, there's way more.
Double O's game
Since 9/11, Washington's strategy during the George W Bush years - penned by the neo-cons - read like a modified return to land war. But then, after the Iraq quagmire, came a late strategic adjustment, which could be defined as the Petraeus vs Rumsfeld match. The Petraeus "victory" myth, based on his Mesopotamian surge, in fact provided Obama with an opening for leaving Iraq with the illusion of a relative success (a myth comprehensively bought and sold by US corporate media).
Then came the Lisbon summit in late 2010, which was set up to turn the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into a clone of the UN Security Council in a purely Western format, capable of deploying autonomous military interventions - preemption included - all over the world. This was nothing less than classic Bush-Obama continuum.
NATO's Lisbon summit seemed to have enthroned a Neoliberal Paradise vision of the complex relations between war and the economy; between the military and police operations; and between perennial military hardware upgrading and the political design of preemptive global intervention. Everything, once again, under Obama's supervision.
The war in Afghanistan, for its part, was quite useful to promote NATO as much as NATO was useful to promote the war in Afghanistan - even if NATO did not succeed in becoming the Security Council of the global American Empire, always bent on dominating, or circumventing, the UN.
Whatever mission NATO is involved in, command and control is always Washington's. Only the Pentagon is able to come up with the logistics for a transcontinental, global military operation. Libya 2011 is another prime example. At the start, the French and the Brits were coordinating with the Americans. But then Stuttgart-based AFRICOM took over the command and control of Libyan skies. Everything NATO did afterwards in Libya, the virtual commander in chief was Barack Obama.
So Obama owns Libya. As much as Obama owns the Benghazi blowback in Libya.
Libya seemed to announce the arrival of NATO as a coalition assembly line on a global scale, capable of organizing wars all across the world by creating the appearance of a political and military consensus, unified by an all-American doctrine of global order pompously titled "NATO's strategic concept".
Libya may have been "won" by the NATO-AFRICOM combo. But then came the Syria red line, duly imposed by Russia and China. And in Mali - which is blowback from Libya - NATO is not even part of the picture; the French may believe they will secure all the gold and uranium they need in the Sahel - but it's AFRICOM who stands to benefit in the long term, boosting its military surge against Chinese interests in Africa.
What is certain is that throughout this convoluted process Obama has been totally embedded in the logic of what sterling French geopolitical analyst Alain Joxe described as "war neoliberalism", inherited from the Bush years; one may see it as a champagne definition of the Pentagon's long, or infinite, war.
Double O's legacy
Obama's legacy may be in the process of being forged. We might call it Shadow War Forever - coupled with the noxious permanence of Guantanamo. The Pentagon for its part will never abandon its "full spectrum" dream of military hegemony, ideally controlling the future of the world in all those shades of grey zones between Russia and China, the lands of Islam and India, and Africa and Asia.
Were lessons learned? Of course not. Double O Bama may have hardly read Nick Turse's exceptional book Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, where he painstakingly documents how the Pentagon produced "a veritable system of suffering". Similar analysis of the long war on Iraq might only be published by 2040.
Obama can afford to be self-confident because the Drone Empire is safe.  Most Americans seem to absent-mindedly endorse it - as long as "the terrorists" are alien, not US citizens. And in the minor netherworlds of the global war on terror (GWOT), myriad profiteers gleefully dwell.
A former Navy SEAL and a former Green Beret have published a book this week, Benghazi: the Definitive Report, where they actually admit Benghazi was blowback for the shadow war conducted by John Brennan, later rewarded by Obama as the new head of the CIA.
The book claims that Petraeus was done in by an internal CIA coup, with senior officers forcing the FBI to launch an investigation of his affair with foxy biographer Paula Broadwell. The motive: these CIA insiders were furious because Petraeus turned the agency into a paramilitary force. Yet that's exactly what Brennan will keep on doing: Drone Empire, shadow wars, kill list, it's all there. Petraeus-Brennan is also classic continuum.
Then there's Esquire milking for all it's worth the story of an anonymous former SEAL Team 6 member, the man who shot Geronimo, aka Osama bin Laden.  This is familiar territory, the hagiography of a Great American Killer, whose "three shots changed history", now abandoned by a couldn't-care-less government machinery but certainly not by those who can get profitable kicks from his saga way beyond the technically proficient torture-enabling flick - and Oscar contender - Zero Dark Thirty.
Meanwhile, this is what's happening in the real world. China has surpassed the US and is now the biggest trading nation in the world - and counting.  This is just the first step towards the establishment of the yuan as a globally traded currency; then will come the yuan as the new global reserve currency, connected to the end of the primacy of the petrodollar... Well, we all know the drill.
So that would lead us to reflect on the real political role of the US in the Obama era. Defeated (by Iraqi nationalism) - and in retreat - in Iraq. Defeated (by Pashtun nationalism) - and in retreat - in Afghanistan. Forever cozy with the medieval House of Saud - "secret" drone bases included (something that was widely known as early as July 2011).  "Pivoting" to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and pivoting to a whole bunch of African latitudes; all that to try to "contain" China.
Thus the question Obama would never dare to ask in a SOTU address (much less in a SOTE - State of the Empire - address). Does the US remain a global imperial power? Or are the Pentagon's - and the shadow CIA's - armies nothing more than mercenaries of a global neoliberal system the US still entertains the illusion of controlling?
1. Poll: 45% approve of Obama's handling of the economy, CBS News, February 12, 2013.
2. The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden... Is Screwed,
Esquire, February 11, 2013. 3. China Eclipses U.S. as Biggest Trading Nation, Bloomberg News, February 10, 2013.
4. Secret drone bases mark latest shift in US attacks on al-Qaeda, The Times, July 26, 2011.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Copyright 2013 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
Parenti Pulls the Mask off the Face of Imperialism, May 25, 2011
Michael Parenti does it again. He takes a complex and vital subject and presents it to us with clarity and insight. He writes clearly and engagingly. He shows how U.S. foreign policy is neither inept nor confused. U.S. imperial policy is consistent and successful in serving the interests of the rich and powerful, in keeping the world safe for the transnational corporations, in making sure that most of the world remains weak, poor, compliant, so that the plutocracy remains strong, rich, and dominant.
Parenti always goes that extra step. He doesn't backpedal or say less than he sees. He doesn't worry about keeping close to the "respectable opinions" handed out by the media and the White House.
After reading this book, we come away knowing much more about the world and much more about what the U.S. empire really is doing to us and everyone else. We come to understand why U.S. leaders (be they Democrats or Republicans) support certain kinds of dictators and "democracies" while opposing other kinds. I find this book very handy in helping me understand what is happening in the Arab world.
America's Imperialism exposed, May 20, 2011
An easy read yet typical of Dr. Parenti's writing full of important facts, the Face of Imperialism is a brilliant exegesis of America's imperialistic policies vis a vis many countries around the world, including Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, and other important sites. In his usual tempered and carefully crafted style, including a bit of his usual dry wit, he helps the reader to understand many current issues which are not usually noticed in mainstream media, or if they are , with very little instructive or deep analysis. Extremely important to any student of international affairs or even just those who are curious about seemingly "inexplicable" responses of so many countries to US policy.
Most importantly, Dr. Parenti offers the facts that are so desperately missing in most political writing and even in books -- uncovering a wealth of information that helps the reader understand better the foreign policy of this unprecedented imperialistic power in the history of the world.
Brief but a powerhouse of information.
Brilliant study of present-day imperialism, November 7, 2011
This splendid book is a well-informed and well-written study of imperialism today.
Empires, like wars, are not made by accident. They are built on the denial of the democratic right of nations to self-determination. They are imposed and maintained by force and fraud, through a variety of economic, political, military and cultural institutions and arrangements.
Parenti points out empires depend on the countries they run: the poor countries in the world are not so much under-developed as over-exploited.
He notes an October 1970 cable to CIA operatives in Chile from Kissinger's `Track Two' group (released more than 30 years later) said, "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup ... We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [United States Government] and American hand be well hidden." This combination of violence and denial is all too typical of imperial behaviour and is a pattern repeated today.
The US state regularly denounces Cuba as a dictatorship, but Parenti observes that Fidel Castro promised to open Cuba's press to counter-revolutionaries when the US state allowed American communists regular exposure in the USA's major media.
And even the US Interests Section had to admit that Cuba's `human rights groups' "lack demonstrable evidence of persecution ... Almost none show proof of house searches, interrogations, detention, or arrest."
Empire for Liberty, December 3, 2010
From the standpoint of understanding America's recent history, Empire for Liberty is an exciting book. American exceptionalism, manifest destiny, liberty, American expansion from a collection of thirteen British colonies to the greatest empire the world has ever seen (though some will argue that point) - all of those things that are so prominent in today's political maneuverings and pundit rants - are shown to be deeply embedded not only in the American psyche, but in American history. Though some will argue that the U.S. has never sought empire, historian Richard Immerman shows that, in fact, it has been a part of our thinking from Benjamin Franklin and his compatriots to the present day.
What seems to bother its critics is that liberty and empire fit together like oil and water. The notion of empire seems to subvert the whole idea of liberty which, in fact, it does. Yet they are the engine that has driven American commercial, military and political expansionism and dominance from the beginning. The progression and dominance of the American empire have been steady and unyielding from the day the Pilgrims landed on what became the Massachusetts Colony. Anyone standing in the way has been removed, shoved aside or, where possible, assimilated.
Thomas Jefferson, for whom the idea of liberty was of central importance, found it difficult to reconcile liberty and empire. As the American empire expanded, he came to think of it as an empire that would promote America's concept of liberty around the world. It would be an empire for, not of liberty. And therein lays a major contradiction: Empires have to do with security, prosperity, and the projection of power and greatness; liberty has to do with freedom. America's claim that it is preserving and promoting liberty leads to conflict when liberty and freedom are defined in American terms and America's security concerns become paramount, which happened at the beginning of the Cold War when Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles established what Immerman calls an "Empire for Security" to confront the Soviet Union and Communist China that Dulles thought of as empires of evil. From there the U.S. road led to what Immerman calls "the collision of empire and liberty at Abu Ghraib and Guantànamo."
When an empire promotes liberty it is inevitably paternalistic, dominant and intended to be accepted by others "because it is the best," which unavoidably leads to confrontation and conflict. As we saw at Abu Ghraib and Guantànamo, it also leads to violations of human rights and excusing (or ignoring) the blatant human rights violations of allies, as the U.S. has done with Israel for over sixty-two years. Both have badly damaged America's reputation in the world, and both are inexcusable; yet Guantànamo remains unresolved, and Israel continues its predatory treatment of the non-Jewish population of the Occupied Territories without a word of disapproval from the Obama administration, calling our commitment to liberty into question.
It is the chapter on Paul Wolfowitz that is the most revealing in relation to current U.S. history and politics. In his mind there is a dichotomy between America those who are perceived as "evil" (Iran, North Korea and Saddam's Iraq). Those who are "good" represent America's politics of liberty, those who are "evil" stand in the way of them. These are defined in terms of America's missionary impulses of exporting her concepts of liberty and her national interests, which are seen as identical. In Wolfowitz' mind, "the United States must remain engaged ... until it had ridded the world of all those tyrants who [hold] in contempt the values and liberties that the United States [stand] for. Monsters cannot be contained... They [have] to be defanged before they [can] bite. Wolfowitz became a convert to preemption." "[T]he United States must support constructive policies and programs that [co-opt] potential opposition and [generate] a tidal wave of support for American leadership." "Destroying monsters" in Wolfowitz' mind "was the prerequisite for establishing an American empire and an American empire was the prerequisite for an Empire for Liberty" No interference was to be permitted.
Wolfowitz' missionary zeal, combined with his myopic vision quickly became an arrogance that bordered on the delusional. As Immerman says, it "led to what may turn out to be the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, a blunder that could prove fatal to the American empire." The blunder was the decision to invade Iraq, decapitate its leadership, and free its people who, in Wolfowitz' mind, would welcome the Americans much as the French had done in Paris at the end of World War II. There was no need to plan for an occupation, as the newly-freed Iraqis, grateful for their freedom, would create an American-style democracy to replace Saddam's dictatorship. Our military would be in and out in six weeks' time. I still remember Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gleefully chortling about it.
Reality has proven to be quite different. The fragile fabric of Iraqi society exploded in internecine warfare and terror, terrorists swept into the country, thousands of American lives were lost, over a million Iraqis were killed and millions more uprooted and injured. Over seven years later (not six or seven weeks) American troops and installations are still there, though no longer in a combat role. It was an enterprise born of the ignorance of arrogance, an ignorance that blinds its afflicted with the inability to see. Most, if not all of American leadership still doesn't see it.
The Tragedy of the American Empire, May 15, 2010
The chances are that when the reader picks up to read this tiny book, he will wonder or be in doubt whether it is possible to write about such an enormous subject concerning the theory and practice of American Imperialism in less than 250 pages of text. However, this impression will soon evaporate.
Richard Immerman's new book is one of those few that can present an argument in a very concise and precise way. In his introduction,the author explains that his purpose "is not to judge the American empire in terms of good or bad....Rather, it seeks to persuade the reader that America is and always has been an empire"(p.4)
By picking up six different individuals who influenced U.S behaviour in a variety of ways,the book shows the "trajectory of the rising American Empire from its inception to the present,analyzing waht the phrase means and how the meaning has evolved".
It was Thomas Jefferson who famously labeled the United States the "Empire of Liberty". What the meaning of "liberty" entails is even more difficult to define than "empire". Broadly speaking, Immmerman's view is that by building an empire the United States has frequently done evil in the name of good. In the times of George Washington the empire was responsible for the expansion and security of a large expanse of territory that included many peoples of diverse races and nationalities. In the nineteeth century, the meaning of empire changed; after 1850,white Americans,blacks,Native Americans,Mexican Americans and others challenged the central governmen's authority to deny them self-rule.
The empire that America created in the twentieth century was the most powerful empire in world history. Its rival Soviet empire, and the antecedent British one, pale in comparison. Its global leadership, the technological innovations, the manufacturing gross domestic product far eclipse all competitors. The military superiority and its growth, the commercial muscle and the world organizations the US helped to establish provided potent mechanisms for global management.
Benjamin Franklin is the first individual to begin the list of individuals who shaped Amerian imperialism. Franklin was "the foremost believer in an expanding American empire" and the one who consciously articulated the "first conscious comprehensive formulation of 'Manifest Destiny', and he personified the link between the American and British empires expressed in the reciprocal principles which allowed the empire to function properly.
John Quincy Adams follows. This Secretary of State was the one who insisted that America had to be an empire of,and not for, liberty. He turned his back on what he judged to be an empire of slavery and he also pronounced himself against the notion that Americans must go abroad in order to destroy various monsters. Adams identified slavery as an "evil that perverted human reason and tainted the very sources of moral principle"; he wanted it banned everywhere and hoped, for the sake of Union, that the Peculiar Institution would die a natural death. He was a firm believer in George Washington's caution against international political entanglements, although we are told that Adams was far from being an isolationist. America's purpose was to cement liberty within the United States. Thus, the priciples he advocated became the famous Monroe Doctrine. Adams did not hesitate to condem and indict Andrew Jackson for the extermination of Indians whom "we have been driving like swine into a pen west of the Mississippi". He was the most resolute and celebrated opponent of the Mexican War waged by President Folk.
One of his disciples was William Henry Seward, who strongly believed the United States could exercise political control of foreign territories without bearing the costs of establishing colonies. He proposed to negotiate reciprocal treaties, acquire scattered startegic outposts across the Pacific and purchase Alaska in order to facilitate the Chienese market.
The next in line is Henry Cabot Lodge,who accepted Webster's dictum: "Liberty and Union now and forever". He was responsible for supporting an aggressive policy exercised by Mckinley and Roosevelt in the 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century. Lodge believed that US imperialists were agents of international reform and did not care very much about the anti-imperialists like Mark Twain, the industrialist and magnate Andrew Carnegie or the Democratic presidential aspirant William B.Bryant, even when the horrible news about the crimes in the Philippines reached the American public. Lodge's arguments rested on racial premises and he did not believe in the equality of races. It came as no surprise to anyone that Lodge also strongly supported s a policy of restricting immigration in the name of keeping America's racial purity. He bitterly resented Wilson's ideals and ideas as well as the famous Fourteen Points which formed the foundation of the peacemaking process after WW1.
John Foster Dulles combined Wilson's crusading moralist with Lodge's faith in force and wrote a damning indictment of the traditional European empires. He was against America's colonialism and was a Cold War zealot who regarded the USSR as the Evil Empire or, to put it in his words, "the empire against liberty".
The last chapter is about Paul Wolfowitz, who extended the Manichean view perpetuated by the Bush administration. Wolfowitz is, rightly in my view regarded as the "Ugly American",who had influenced the Bush policy makers into adopting a policy of lying, cheating and truth-twisting -- a thing for which the American people are still paying the price these very days.
This book is a brilliant synthesis and analysis of the ways the American conceptions of empire came to fruition and the way this empire is going these days.It is a provocative and riveting book that should be read by anyone who wants to learn about the American foreign policy and its tragedies.
They did not teach this aspect of American history in high school, August 13, 2013
If you enjoy the illusion and arrogance that we as a people are morally superior, this book may be disturbing. We were and still are an imperialist nation.
But we were no worse than the others. The details of how we achieved our expansion, by force, lies, diplomacy, illegal immigration, legitimate purchases, but most of all by rapid population growth are fascinating, in many ways better than fiction.
Herbert L Calhoun
When the Facts become legend still go with the facts, August 12, 2008
In some ways this is a surprisingly iconoclastic but not an entirely polemic free rendition of American history: a virtual potpourri of vignettes and excursions down interesting side trails not usually covered in such great detail in similar sources. Many events are of first hand narrations of how familiar themes of purposeful U.S. trickery and diplomatic duplicity, out right lies, many un-kept promises, broken treaties, and genocide were used to "win the West."
However to the author's credit, with only a few exceptions (including the book's overall tone), his version of the U.S. story is told with the dispassion of a disinterested historian, not by "playing to" the patriotic heart strings of a "legend seeking public" (as say Lynne Chaney did in her "A Time for Freedom"). But nevertheless this rather skilful and detailed elaboration of American history comes at a distinct cost: other more interesting (and arguably more important) historical vignettes had to be excluded. In short, Nugent's side road excursions sucked up a lot of historical time and space. Either the book should have been longer, or the topics should have been more carefully prioritized. The most contentious (and in this reader's view also the least interesting), was the author's resurrection of a rather obscure Canadian historian's theory that U.S. military bases near the Canadian border are in fact a kind of pre-positioning for a future invasion of that nation. And speaking of delving into the obscure, I would have been pleased if he had explored more about the connection between slavery and U.S. expansionist designs.
Little is new about how American history can be divided into three continuous waves of imperialist expansion that began with the Treaty of Paris, continuing through the Louisiana Purchase, Manifest Destiny, the ejection of Mexicans from the Southwest, all the way up the time-scale until the continent was completely secured from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. That theme has been "milked" repeatedly. However, what is new here is Nugent's view that the process of U.S. imperialist expansion continues in straight line into the present and obviously by logical extension would also include GW Bush Jr. administration's folly into Iraq.
While on its face, this is not an entirely implausible line of argument, especially if one is allowed to give undue weight to U.S. acquisitions such as Guam, the Philippines, and Samoa, as Nugent does. [What kind of "dumbed-down" imperialism does such acquisitions represent, any way?]
This, even more so than the expected future invasion of Canada, is altogether a tantalizing but implausible stretch, even to a clear eyed anti-Bush ex-Republican like myself. The author simply does not connect the dots between the last "wave of Western expansionism" to the present era in a convincing way. And here he had lots of material from which to draw: Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, etc. Yet, since none of these leaves much of a hegemonic footprint, let along rich acquisitions of land, his analysis does not ring true and leaves even me cold and asking questions about the sweeping character of the author's overarching but disconnected thesis?
Even so, it would not be unfair to say that Nugent's version of American history, which is so well documented especially in the first two phases, is definitely not Robert's Whul's version of "when the facts become legend, then go with the legend." In fact, it is more on the order of a suitable fix for that famous edict: "When the facts become legend, still go with the facts."
For sticking to the facts at least through the first two waves of expansionism, and not enlarging or embellishing on popular themes and legends (like groveling over the "last stand at the Alamo"), the book deserves serious consideration and five stars. But for failing to acknowledge that contemporary U.S. imperialism does not fit the same mode as say Manifest Destiny, or even the "global real politic" mode of contemporary international relations, minus one star.
The emperor has no clothes, July 8, 2006
"Naked Imperialism" by John Bellamy Foster is an outstanding collection of essays on the topic of U.S. imperialism and the Iraq War. Each chapter consists of an article previously published in the Monthly Review between November, 2001 and January, 2005 and also includes a preface and introduction written in late 2005. With astounding clarity and intelligence, Mr. Foster's analysis helps us understand why America has come to openly embrace imperialism as a means to control the world economy and the ramifications of this strategy for us now and in the future.
Mr. Foster's work is distinguished by its historical perspective and application of Marxist economic theory, where the rise of imperialism in Europe and the U.S. is inextricably tied to the need to satisfy the expansion of capitalism in its host countries. But with the European empires crumbled through war and the USSR dissolved through economic crisis, a politically, militarily and economically powerful U.S. has lately emerged to dominate a 'unipolar' world. Mr. Foster debunks the popular but simplistic notion that a neoconservative cabal headed by George W. Bush has somehow 'hijacked' the U.S. government. Rather, the only difference today is that the emperor simply has no clothes as brutal wars of imperial control of Mideast energy resources are unleashed with little concern for world opinion or innocent lives lost; Donald Rumsfeld's statement that "the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed" is cited as a prime example of the administration's callousness to the effects of its policies on civilian populations.
Mr. Foster muses about the barbarism that is inherent in a capitalist system that extracts wealth from peripheral nations in order to enrich the center. In the era of globalization, multinational corporations act as monopolies that slow domestic economic growth but apply intense pressures to build and deploy weapons of war. Following the work of the late Harry Magdoff, he argues that perpetual indebtedness and dependency in the so-called developing nations of the world inexorably leads to political instability and, ultimately, conflict. Interestingly, Mr. Foster shows us how the U.S., like the British and Roman empires of ages past, uses propaganda in order to justify conquest and interventionist wars. Consequently, the Iraq War is publicly promoted in the U.S. as a cause for freedom and democracy; whereas in private decision-making circles, the imperative to gain access to Iraq's vast oil resources is widely acknowledged.
Mr. Foster addresses a number of related topics, including a comparison of the Iraq War with the Vietnam War; an overview of U.S. military bases around the world and their shifting strategic importance over time; widening income gaps between the wealthy and the poor; the illusion of a Pax Americana versus the reality of a Pox Americana; what the U.S. might need to do as a consequence of a military stalemate in Iraq; and more. The author is hopeful that as U.S. imperialism becomes more visible, resistance movements might arise that can help steer the U.S. and the world economic system away from a road that is leading towards environmental devastation, economic collapse and barbarism.
I give this insightful book the highest possible recommendation.
Useful, pertinent, honest essays December 31, 2004The authors of Chapter one, Magdoff, Mchesney and Bellamy Foster give some insights into the U.S. war in the Philipines. Villages were regularly burned and their inhabitants placed in concentration camps. The "water torture" was regularly used on Filipino detainees. One general told his troops to attack anyone over ten, to burn everything they saw and to turn the island of Sumara into a howling wilderness. Another said in California said that the U.S. might have to kill half of all Filipinos. It came out in Congressional testimony that the Americans killed fifteen times more Filipinos that they wounded, probably killing several hundred thousand. According to a private letter of General Arthur Macarthur in 1899; it appeared that, the vast majority of the country supported the anti-U.S. army. It took quite a few years to subdue the Moro Moslems in the Southern part of the islands(the U.S. of course has military "advisors" in this area today under cover of fighting terrorism). The culmination of that effort was the massacre of about 900 Moros hiding in a volcanic pit, by artillery bombarding, many of them women and children. Mark Twain wrote sarcastically "this is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States." President TR was perfectly serious however when he congratulated the troops on this event.
Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz shows how opposition to British rule in Ireland from the sixteenth century onward was repressed by exterminating whole clans, relocating villagers, suppressing indigenous Irish culture. She quotes a governor of an Irish province Sir Humphrey Gilbert as recommending that severed heads and scalp of Irish be placed along paths to homes to sufficiently terrorize the people. Imported to North America from Britain's Irish wars was the practice of placing bounties on the heads and scalps of the rebels. The Irish were soon to be declared as barbaric people, on the level with non-whites, by European ideologues. Americans would take up the burden of expansion for the superior races. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson denounced King George for preventing WASP expansionism west of the Alleghenies and blamed him for the villainies of the "merciless Indian savages." Andrew Jackson spoke about "expanding the realm of freedom" as he cleansed Indians east of the Mississippi and helped white settlers introduce slavery into and eventually annex Texas.
. By the Vietnam War era, the European Union and Japan had grown to be economic rivals of the U.S. In that new competitive environment, the U.S. could no longer tolerate regulated exchange rates, capital controls, or strong unions within the U.S. Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein and Michael Klare all write that control over the dispersion of Persian Gulf Oil, not necessarily direct control over it, is what has always motivated the U.S. in the Middle East. Europe and Asia are more than ever dependent on Persian Gulf oil; the U.S. primarily gets its oil from Latin America and West Africa. The American puppet state in Iraq will disperse oil at prices and amounts which the U.S. approves, to U.S. economic rivals. Meanwhile, on the domestic fronts, Europe and Japan have been trying to imitate the U.S. economic model. It is not much observed, by planners in those countries that the boom of the Clinton years was actually a bubble based on stock market fraud and speculation. America's only really successful sectors vis a vis Europe and Japan have been related to the Pentagon run military industrial complex, out of which things like fighter jets and the internet have come. Even these sectors have been surpassed by Europe and Japan.
Klare notes that Laurence Eagleburger, declared that George W. Bush should be impeached if he invades Syria. Eagleburger was perhaps speaking for business elites uneasy about the open flouting of international law (which the U.S. has always engaged in Chomsky observes) and are worried that economic cooperation with Europe was being disrupted. Joseph Halevi and Yanis Varoufakis point out that since the worldwide stagflation of the seventies, securities investments from Europe, Japan and the third world have flooded to the U.S., are what keep our economy afloat and allow us to maintain such levels of debt from households on up. As George W. Bush drove up our deficit to previously unheard of heights while cutting taxes for the rich, the message to "Old Europe' was obviously that it better increase its investments in the U.S. to keep pace in covering for the U.S. debt. The Germans and French were not pleased. Related to this, Halevi, et.al, quote a Unocal executive testifying before congress. This man proposed to intimidate China into easing its restriction on its foreign investment in Western securities by occupying Afghanistan and increasing the U.S. military presence in Central Asia and the Gulf where China is becoming exclusively dependent for its gas and oil supplies.
Amiya Kumar Bachi writes that there has been heartening opposition within India to Hindutva fascism, which triggered the slaughter of 3,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. She writes that the anti-dam movement in India, the picquitaroes in Argentina and the Landless Workers movement that elected Lula in Brazil have been hamstrung by the power of international finance. Bernadine Dohrn notes the use of fear as an instrument of control in the U.S.; she notes how many Muslims were held incommunicado for months in terrible conditions and ordered to undergo insulting and stressful registration with the govt. These methods found no 9-11 plotters. Ashcroft melodramatically announced terrorist charges against two Muslim charities; both were quietly acquitted some time later. Barbara Epstein recalls that the executive order to intern Japanese-Americans, signed by FDR was based on reports that later turned out to be fabricated of radio and light communications from the Pacific to spots on the West coast.
Some of these essays are harder to read than others, but they are all outstanding.
5.0 out of 5 stars A lighter and fancier rendition of imperialism April 11, 2006 By Vahit Sametoglu Format:Paperback"Globalization" is deemed to be something very cool and new age. We hear people say things like "we live in a small village called the World and globalization what makes this happen". It all sounds very nice, fancy and cool!
But, do you think it is really cool for those who are "globalized"? The authors basically argue that globalization is some sort of new fancy name for imperialism with lighter rendition. People of the underdeveloped and developing countries should be very cautions as to the activities of some worldwide organizations IMF, World Bank etc.
One of the most eye-opening chapters of the book was the one about non-governmental organizations (NGO's). They argue that even though the majority of the administrators of these organizations are local people, they have, in general, very strong ties with those infamous worldwide organizations and powerful countries. They are paid by those institutions / countries in large sums and used as the tools of propaganda and promotion. These (relatively) poor countries essentially become more and more connected and dependent on the (seemingly) benefactor / benevolent countries.
This book carries a message to the people of underdeveloped and developing countries that they should stay away these NGO's and similar organizations as much as possible.
This is the second book that I have read by James Petras -- the first was 'The Power of Israel in the United States'. I enjoyed his first book as well as this one. He is quite an academic virtuoso providing a sociological, historical, organizational, and political perspective as to whom controls the world and its money, resources, and, of course, politicians.
Mainly, he points the finger at MNC's (Multinational Corporations) that are quite effective at neutralizing any dissent, exploiting indigenous populations, and bribing politicians. He discusses somewhat the influence of Zionists in their quest to control the Middle East and the influence of money interests, i.e., hedge funds, equity firms, and investment banks, in capturing world industry and resources.
Moreover, Petras argues that China is simply a puppet of the Central Imperial Power -- the United States given the amount of foreign investment in the country.
I enjoyed this book very much -- he is indeed thought provoking, challenging, and difficult read due to his complex and academic writing style. I think this book should be viewed as an academic reference- this is definitely not simple casual reading. The only few criticisms I had of the book was at times, he would have emotional outbursts against the Zionists and Capitalism in general- personally, I would refrain from this because I believe it leaves less room for credibility. Moreover, I do not agree with his idea that nationalizing industries is the way to go when it comes to foreign trade. Nevertheless, I recommend anybody read this book if your up for the challenge.
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