Ambitions of Empire
excerpted from the book
The Bush Agenda
Invading the World, One Economy
at a Time
by Antonia Juhasz
HarperCollins, 2006, paper
Free trade is shorthand for a number of economic policies that
expand the rights of multinational corporations and investors
to operate in more locations, under fewer regulations, with less
commitment to any specific location. Advocates contend that these
companies and individuals, freed of burdensome government regulations,
will amass great wealth and become engines of economic growth.
Their wealth, in turn, will filter down through the economy, enriching
even the very poorest members. One common image offered to depict
the benefits of free trade is of a rising tide of wealth lifting
all boats in its wake.
Critics, including myself, refer to the
same policies as corporate globalization, pointing out that while
they do generate vast wealth for certain multinational corporations
and investors, those benefits rarely spread throughout a society.
Instead, governments are restricted from using policies proven
to benefit small local business, workers, consumers, or the environment,
while being required to expand policies that benefit multinational
corporations. The result is increased economic inequality both
within and between nations, and greater economic and political
insecurity, including job loss, poverty, and even disease. While
the policies free multinational corporations from government regulation,
they cost the rest of society a vast amount of economic and social
One year prior to the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency predicted increased religious extremism and violence as
a result of increasing global inequality, warning that "the
rising tide of the global economy will create many economic winners,
but it will not lift all boats .... [It will] spawn conflicts
at home and abroad, ensuring an even wider gap between regional
winners and losers than exists today . ... Regions, countries,
and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation,
political instability, and cultural alienation. They will foster
political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along
with the violence that often accompanies it".
The Bush administration itself represents the first time in history
that the president, vice president, and secretary of state are
all former energy company officials. In fact, the only other U.S.
president to come from the oil and gas industry was Bush's father.
The Bush years have been a record-breaking
bonanza for the oil industry. The twenty-nine major oil and gas
firms in the United States earned $43 billion in profits in 2003
and $68 billion in 2004. Oil profits were so high in 2005, that
the top three companies alone (ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips)
earned nearly $64 billion between them, more than half of which
went to Texas-based ExxonMobil, which recorded the single most
profitable year of any corporation in world history in both 2004
Companies such as Halliburton and Chevron,
which respectively count the vice president and secretary of state
as former officials, are key allies to the Bush Agenda. The Bechtel
Corporation, the largest engineering company in the world, with
extensive work in the oil and gas field, has exercised influence
over the Bush Agenda through its current and past executives,
including current board member and former company president, George
Shultz, Ronald Reagan's secretary of state. Lockheed Martin, the
country's largest military contractor and the world's largest
arms exporter, has also played a lead role, with no fewer than
sixteen current and past company officials having held positions
within the Bush administration.
The George W. Bush years have been remarkably
rewarding for each of these companies, particularly in the post-Iraq
invasion period. Indeed, each company has a long history in Iraq,
played a lead through company executives past and present in advocating
for war against Iraq in 2003, and has since profited greatly from
that war. Chevron had its most profitable year in its 125-year
history in 2004, earning $13.3 billion-nearly double its profits
from the year before. The record did not last long, however, as
2005 brought more than $14 billion in profits. Bechtel's revenue
increased from $11.6 billion in 2002 to $16.3 billion in 2003,
to $17.4 billion in 2004. Halliburton's stock price has nearly
quadrupled in value from March 2003 to January 2006, while Lockheed's
stocks more than tripled from early 2000 to January 2006. Vice
President Cheney is a stockholder in both Halliburton and Lockheed.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO administers agreements
on issues as broad and far-reaching as agriculture, telecommunications,
government procurement, and services on behalf of its members.
It provides a forum for expanding these agreements and negotiating
new ones. The WTO monitors the internal laws of its members, arbitrates
disputes between governments over its rules, and enforces its
rulings through the imposition of sanctions. Every two years,
the WTO holds ministerial level meetings at which high-ranking
government officials finalize negotiations on existing and newly
proposed WTO rules.
Before the WTO, multination trade rules
dealt largely with the movement of goods between countries, primarily
tariffs, which are taxes applied to goods as they enter or exit
a country, and quotas, which dictate the number of a specific
product that can enter or leave a country. While the WTO continued
to regulate these aspects of trade,
it went further, moving inside of countries
and regulating their internal laws. Every law or government policy
that has the potential, whether intended or not, to impact foreign
companies or investors is / open to WTO regulation.
The clearest early rendering of the ideas that would become the
Bush Agenda took shape in the 1992 "Defense Planning Guidance"
(DPG), which was one of the final products of the George H. W.
Bush administration (1989-1993): It provides much of the Bush
Agenda's military framework. The DPG is a classified, internal
planning guide for the Pentagon prepared approximately every two
years. It is not intended for public consumption. It describes
America's overall military strategy and represents "guidance"
from the president and the secretary of defense to the four military
services on how to prepare their budgets and forces for the future.
The 1992 DPG was written by six men who
served in the administrations of both Bush presidents: Dick Cheney,
Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Scooter Libby, Eric Edelman,
and Cohn Powell. These men, together with later authors of key
Bush Agenda documents, have known and worked with each other,
shared and sculpted ideas, and refined their positions for well
over a quarter of a century.
The authors of the draft DPG ... called for the continuation of
the war economy, including maintenance of existing troop levels
and expansion of U.S. security commitments abroad. They envisioned
a world in which the peace dividend was translated into the creation
of a superpower so militarily and economically dominant that no
other nation would even strive to compete against it, now or in
As written in the draft DPG, they envisioned
a system where "the world order is ultimately backed by the
US ." The United States would "show the leadership necessary
to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of
convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to
a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect
their legitimate interests. Second, in the non-defense areas,
we must... discourage them [the advanced industrial nations] from
challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established
political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms
for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger
regional or global role".
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was established
in 1997 as an advocacy group dedicated to the proposition that
"American leadership is good both for America and for the
world." The signatories to the Project's original statement
of purpose include six people who served in both Bush administrations:
Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Zalmay Khalilzad,
Peter Rodman, and Paula Dobriansky. Five others served both Bush
presidents in either formal or advisory positions: Richard Perle,
Eliot Cohen, Francis Fukuyama, Dan Quayle, and Henry S. Rowen.
In addition, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Zoellick, Elliott Abrams,
and Richard Armitage have all signed key Project letters.
While the bulk of the eighty-plus-page report is focused on expanding
America's armed forces, military might is not the only consideration.
The authors explain that "American containment strategy did
not proceed from the assumption that the Cold War would be a purely
military struggle ... ; rather, the United States would seek to
Soviets militarily while defeating them
economically and ideologically over time." The authors indicate
that America's superpower status comes from the combination of
its military might, technological know-how, and its possession
of the "world's largest economy." They also state that
America's "political and economic principles are almost universally
embraced" and that the "challenge for the coming century
to preserve and enhance this American peace.
In 2000, PNAC's report established the Axis of Evil by explaining
that "adversaries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are rushing
to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent
to American intervention in regions they seek to dominate' The
report places Iran next in the shooting order after Iraq: "Over
the long-term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests
in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations
improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still
be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding
American interests in the region."
The National Security Strategy begins by declaring, once and for
all, I that the Cold War is over and the United States has won.
This victory is interpreted to mean that "our way" is
not only the right way but also the only way for the entire world:
"The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty
and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory of the forces
of freedom-and a single sustainable model for national success:
freedom, democracy, and free enterprise." The National Security
Strategy adds, "We will actively work to bring the hope of
democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every
corner of the world." If, for the moment, we take at face
value that America's way is "freedom, democracy, and free
enterprise," it becomes clear that the goal of the NSS is
Americanization of the world, using the American model of government
and the American model of economics.
In order to fund a military that has the capacity to fight a phantom
( menace anywhere at anytime, or everywhere all of the time, the
annual U.S. defense budget under Bush (as reported by the U.S.
Department of Defense comptroller) has steadily skyrocketed. Bush's
first defense budget, at $317 billion in 2002 (set prior to September
11, 2001) was larger than those of the next twenty-five nations
combined. The budgets steadily increased from there to $355 billion
in 2003, $368 billion in 2004, $416 billion in 2005, and $419
billion in 2006. The price tag for the War on Terror itself goes
even higher, in addition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,
as all three wars have been funded separately from the defense
budget through supplemental spending bills to the amount of some
$300 billion by 2006.
The uniting of corporate globalization policy and military warfare
is crystallized in the 2002 National Security Strategy. Unlike
the earlier documents in which economic policy is mentioned mainly
as an afterthought to military strategy, President Bush devotes
a full one-third of his national security agenda to defining his
global economic strategy.
Under the heading, "Ignite a New Era of Global Economic Growth
Through Free Markets and Free Trade' the National Security Strategy
provides a list of policies that the administration will advance
with other countries to loosen government regulations on corporations.
They include: legal and regulatory policies; policies that encourage
business investment, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity;
tax policies-"particularly lower marginal tax rates that
improve incentives for work and investment"; "sound
fiscal polices to support business activity"; and, of course,
Specific proposals are saved for the president's
free trade agenda. A comprehensive corporate globalization agenda,
in which policies that free American corporations abroad are used
as tools for advancing the administration's national security
interests, clearly emerges as a central component of Bush's National
The Bush Agenda