Ruling the Empire
U.S. elites mean to prevent
anyone, anywhere, from ever challenging the preeminence of American
imperial power. Just ask them.
by Alejandro Ruess
Dollars and Sense magazine,
Every few years, the President issues
a document called the "National Security Strategy of the
United States." Always eagerly awaited, the document is often
described as the administration's "blueprint" for U.S.
foreign policy. But it's really more like a press release, designed
to give the U.S. government's global aims a noble-sounding spin..
The Bush administration's new "National
Security Strategy," issued September 2002, abounds with pious
lip service: On the subject of democracy, it applauds the "elected
leaders replac[ing] generals in Latin America" without mentioning
who put the generals in power in the first place. On the environment,
it calls for "global efforts to stabilize greenhouse gas
concentrations" without mentioning that the U.S. government
had scuttled the Kyoto Protocol. On the global economy, it decries
as "neither just nor stable" a state of affairs "where
some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race
lives on less than $2 a day," yet it offers no solution other
than more "free markets and free trade."
The document's crowning hypocrisy, however,
is its repeated use of the buzz-phrase "a balance of power
that favors freedom," as if that were what the U.S. government
was really after. You get the distinct feeling that the drafters
don't believe in it for a minute. By its final and most important
]8% section, on the country's "National Security Institutions,"
the document abandons all pretext. The "unparalleled strength
of the United States armed forces, and their forward presence,
have maintained the peace," it declares. The United States
must "reaffirm the essential role of American military strength"
and "build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge."
It must maintain forces "strong enough to dissuade potential
adversaries" from the dream of ever "surpassing, or
equaling, the power of the United States. "
Well, if those are the real aims of U.S.
ruling elites, they're off to a good start. In 2001, U.S. military
spending-the highest, by far, of any country in the world-exceeded
the combined spending of the next eight countries-Russia, France,
Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Saudi Arabia, and Italy.
In fact, U.S. military spending represented over one third of
the total of the entire world. This grotesquely overgrown war
machine comes at no little cost. In 2001, total federal military
spending (including interest payments on past military spending
and benefits for former military personnel) devoured about one
third of the federal funds portion of the budget (not including
trust fund items like Social Security), as much as spending on
health, income security, education, nutrition, and housing combined.
In light of these realities, the "balance
of power" rhetoric isn't really fooling anybody. Writing
in the mainstream Christian Science Monitor, Gail Russell Chaddock
argues that the document "asserts American dominance as the
lone superpower -a status no rival power will be allowed to challenge."
It is a vision, she says, of a "Pax Americana" (the
modern-day equivalent of Roman imperial power). Even the senior
defense policy analyst at the right-wing Cato Institute, Charles
V. Pena, writes that "although it's all dressed up with the
rationale of extending liberty, democracy, and freedom around
the globe (except, of course, in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan)"
the document really envisions a "Pax Americana enforced by
dominant military power and ... U.S. forces deployed around the
None of this is exactly news. The United
States, after all, has been a major imperial power in the Western
Hemisphere for over a century. And it has been the single dominant
capitalist power for more than half that period. The truth, however,
should be clearer than ever. As the title of Pena's article puts
it: "The New National Security Strategy Is American Empire."
Alejandro Reuss is a member of the Dollars
and Sense collective.
Imperialism / Neocolonialism