Iraq Wars,

Whatever Happened to Globalization?

excerpted from the book

The Sorrows of Empire

Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

by Chalmers Johnson

Henry Holt, 2004, paper


President Carter [1980] proclaimed the Carter Doctrine

"Any attempts by any outside force to gain control of the Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

In July 1979, Iraq acquired a new leader, Saddam Hussein al Takrite of the Ba'ath Party. Slightly more than twenty years earlier, in 1958, Iraqi military officers, inspired by Gamal Abdel Nasser's nationalist revolt in 1952 against the British-backed monarchy in Egypt, had seized power and taken the country in a Soviet-leaning direction. The leader of the coup, General Abdel-Karim Kassem, proclaimed a republic, withdrew from the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact, legalized the Communist Party, decreed wide-ranging land reform, and even granted autonomy to the Kurds in the north. These shifts, coming at the height of the Cold War, were too much for the United States-CIA director Allan Dulles publicly called Iraq "the most dangerous spot in the world"-and in 1963, the CIA supported the anti-Communist Ba'ath Party's efforts to bring Kassem's republic to an end. Ba'ath activists, including a youthful Saddam Hussein, gunned down Kassem and many others on a list the CIA supplied. The plotters were able, however, only to create a coalition government. In 1968, the CIA again fomented a palace revolt in which the Ba'athists eliminated their coalition partners and assumed direct control. According to Roger Morris, a staff member of the National Security Council during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, "It was a regime that was unquestionably midwived by the United States and the CIA's involvement there was really primary."' In July 1979, the same year as the anti-American revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein replaced his mentor, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, as president, a position he held until 2003. He was, like many other famous beneficiaries of American political intrigue before and since, a CIA "asset:'

In September 1980, Saddam, fearing Iranian influence among Iraq's majority Shi'ites, invaded Iran. When, in early 1982, Iranian forces gained the upper hand on the battlefield, the United States launched another covert operation to arm and aid Saddam. NSDD (National Security Decision Directive) 114 of November 26, 1983, is one of the few important Reagan-era foreign policy decisions that still remain classified. The only line from the text that has ever been leaked said that the United States would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing the war. The Reagan administration soon abandoned its scruples about what was legal.' It began clandestinely to supply Saddam with satellite intelligence on Iran's deployments. As much as $5.5 billion in fraudulent loans to help Iraq buy arms was channeled through the Atlanta branch of an Italian Bank (Banca Nazionale del Lavoro), all of it guaranteed by the Commodity Credit Corporation "to promote American farm exports?' Weapons were also sent via CIA fronts in Chile and Saudi Arabia directly to Baghdad. Between 1986 and 1989, some seventy-three transactions took place that included bacterial cultures to make weapons-grade anthrax, advanced computers, and equipment to repair jet engines and rockets. In December 2002, when Iraq was forced to deliver to the U.N. Security Council an 11,800-page dossier on the history of its weapons programs in accordance with resolution 1441, officials of the Bush administration hurried to New York to take possession of it before any other member could have a look. They then excised and suppressed 8,000 pages that detailed the weapons and dual-use technologies American and other Western companies had sold to Iraq prior to 1991. The American companies included Honeywell, Unisys, Rockwell, Sperry, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, and many others.'°

The United States had not had diplomatic relations with Iraq since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In December 1983, however, President Reagan sent his personal envoy, former secretary of defense in the Ford administration Donald Rumsfeld, to Baghdad to meet with Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld returned to Iraq in March 1984, precisely when both Iran and the United Nations were accusing Saddam's regime of using chemical weapons in an increasingly brutal war. Rumsfeld, however, made no reference to the Iraqi gas attacks. Instead, he declared that "the defeat of Iraq in the three-year-old war with Iran would be contrary to U.S. interests?" In November 1984, Washington restored full diplomatic relations with Baghdad and stepped up the sales to Saddam of a range of munitions, including helicopters used in subsequent gas attacks. One of these assaults was the March 1988 gassing of Kurds in the village of Halabja that killed some 5,000 people. The United States maintained friendly relations with Iraq right up until the moment that Saddam revived Iraq's old territorial claims on Kuwait and on August 2, 1990, carried out his surprise attack against that country. It was barely two years since the end of Iraq's bloody war with Iran.

In response, the United States at first seemed indecisive. President Bush and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain were attending a conference in Colorado shortly after the attack. According to those in attendance, Bush muttered something like, "It's all right going in, but how are we going to get out?" and commented that most Americans couldn't find Kuwait on the map. At this point, Thatcher allegedly took the microphone and said, "Look, George, this is no time to go wobbly. We can't fall at the first fence?' Nonetheless, the evidence suggests that the administration allowed Saddam to invade and then rebuffed all efforts by other Middle Eastern nations and the United Nations to resolve the issue peacefully. Bush contended that it was his responsibility to maintain human rights in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Middle East, despite the fact that Kuwait's record on human rights is hardly admirable.

The United States assembled a coalition force of more than 600,000 ground, sea, and air force personnel (573,000 of whom were American) in Saudi Arabia and on January 16, 1991, launched Operation Desert Storm to "liberate" Kuwait. By February 28, 1991, the operation was declared over. The United States had flown some 110,000 sorties against Iraq, dropping 88,500 tons of bombs, including cluster bombs and depleted uranium devices. It destroyed water-purification plants, food processing plants, electric power stations, hospitals, schools, telephone exchanges, bridges, and roads throughout the country. Iraqi forces were definitively expelled from Kuwait and decimated in the field (thousands of retreating soldiers were slaughtered in what American pilots referred to as a "turkey shoot"), but the coalition did not press on to Baghdad and attempt to capture or oust Saddam Hussein.

Instead, the period between the two Iraq wars-from January 16, 1991, when General Norman Schwarzkopf launched his assault, to March 19, 2003, when General Tommy Franks ordered the start of the AngloAmerican invasion of Iraq-saw a vast expansion of our empire of military bases in the Persian Gulf region. After the truce following the first war, we consolidated the bases we had acquired in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and prepositioned the tanks and ammunition that would be needed if we reopened hostilities. In the middle of this period, around 1995, a series of terrorist incidents led us to move much of our armor, aircraft, and troops into hardened or extremely remote sites, such as Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia the late 1990s, during the second Clinton administration, the Pentagon began seriously to prepare for a renewed war with Iraq. The Joint Chiefs of Staff's Strategic Assessment 1999 specifically said that an "oil war" in the Persian Gulf was a serious contingency and that "U.S. forces might be used to ensure adequate supplies? "2 It was reasoned that a new war would eliminate once and for all the influence of Saddam Hussein, gain control of his oil, and extend our influence into the vacuum created in the oil-rich lands of southern Eurasia by the demise of the Soviet Union.

... [the] renewed interest in Central, South, and Southwest Asia included the opening of military-to-military ties with the independent Central Asian republics of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and support for a Taliban government in Afghanistan as a way to obtain gas and oil pipeline rights for an American-led consortium. But the jewel in the crown of this grand strategy was a plan to replace the Ba'ath regime in Iraq with a pro-American puppet government and build permanent military bases there. In preparation for the military campaign, the Pentagon made huge efforts in all its client states surrounding the Persian Gulf to isolate our bases from the predominantly anti-American peoples living there and get them ready to support an expeditionary force for the conquest of Iraq. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, the war against the Taliban, and Bush's "war on terror" merely provided further impetus for a plan that had been in the works for at least a decade.

In the hours following the September 11, 2001, attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked for an immediate assault on Iraq. The following day, in a cabinet meeting at the White House, Rumsfeld again insisted that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism!" The president reportedly was advised that "public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible" and instead chose Afghanistan as a much softer target.

These statements and their timing are noteworthy because at that point the United States had not even determined that the suicide bombers came from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and, though the president would later damn Saddam Hussein as an "ally" of al-Qaeda, the Bush administration never provided any evidence substantiating that connection. In fact, the 2001 edition of the Department of State's annual Patterns of Global Terrorism listed no acts of global terrorism linked to the government of Iraq.

Rumsfeld's early targeting of Iraq therefore suggest that the Bush administration and the Pentagon had long had a hidden agenda involving a "regime change" there.

Ever since the first American war against Iraq, the Gulf War of 1991,a number of the key people who planned and executed it in the White House and the Pentagon have wanted to go back and finish what they started. They said so in reports written for then Secretary of Defense Cheney in the last years of the first Bush administration; and during the period from 1992 to 2000, when they were out of power, they drafted extensive plans for what should be done if the Republicans retook the White House. In the spring of 1997, they organized themselves as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and began to lobby vigorously for aggression against Iraq and the remaking of the Middle East.

In a letter to President Clinton dated January 26, 1998, they called for the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power," and in a letter dated May 29 1998 to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate majority leader Trent Lott, complaining that Clinton had not listened to them, they reiterated their recommendation that Saddam be overthrown. As they put the matter, "We should establish and maintain a strong US. military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the [Persian] Gulf-and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power?' These letters were signed by Donald Rumsfeld; William Kristol, editor of the right-wing Weekly Standard magazine and chairman of PNAC; Elliott Abrams, a convicted Iran-Contra conspirator who would be named in 2002 as director of Middle Eastern policy on the National Security Council; Paul Wolfowitz, who would become Rumsfeld's deputy at the Pentagon; John Bolton, who would become undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush fils administration; Richard Perle, who would become chairman of the Defense Science Board; William J. Bennett, President Reagan's education secretary; Richard Armitage, who would become Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department; Zalmay Khjad, a former Unocal consultant who would become Bush's "ambassador" to Afghanistan and later the chief liaison with the Kurds and anti-Saddam exiles in Iraq; and several other prominent American militarists. In addition to the signatories PNAC included Vice President Dick Cheney; I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff; and Stephen Cambone, a Pentagon bureaucrat in both Bush administrations. They have made their ideas readily available in a report issued in September 2000 entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century and in a book edited by Robert Kagan and William Kristol, Present Daniers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy.

After George W. Bush became president, ten of the eighteen signers of the letters to Clinton and Republican congressional leaders became members of the administration. They bided their time for nine months. In the words of the PNAC's Rebuilding America's Defenses, they were waiting for a "catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor" that would mobilize the public and allow them to put their theories and plans into action. September 11 was, of course, precisely what they were looking for.

The strongest evidence that oil was a prime motive [in the Invasion of Iraq] was the behavior of the American troops in Baghdad after they entered the city on April 9, 2003. They very effectively protected the headquarters of Iraq's Ministry of Oil but were indifferent to looters who spent two days ransacking the National Museum of its priceless antiquities and burning the National Archives and the city's famed Quranic Library. The same thing happened to the National Museum in Mosul. While the marines defaced some of the world's most ancient walls at the site of the Sumerian city of Ur, near Nasiriya, the army was already busy building a permanent garrison at the adjacent Tall Air Base to protect the southern oil fields .

Another popular theory has been that the Likud Party of Israel was and continues to be the primary influence on the Bush administration's thinking about the Middle East and that the desire to oust Saddam reflected the long-range interests of Israeli rightists who want to ensure their country's continuing regional military superiority. Many of the key figures in the second Bush administration and in PNAC have intimate connections with Ariel Sharon and Likud. Among these are chairman of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser, special assistant to a PNAC founder, John Bolton, who is undersecretary of state for arms control. Michael Ledeen a former IranContra conspirator and a member of the board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs of Washington, DC, cooperates closely with his colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute to promote Israeli causes. All these men have long records of opposing peace initiatives and accords between Israel and the Palestinians and of calling for American wars not just against Iraq but also against Syria, Lebanon, and Iran-indeed, for a remaking of the whole region that would only benefit Israel.

In July 1996, these four [Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser] wrote a position paper for Israel's incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." It called on Israel to repudiate the Oslo Accords and the underlying concept of "land for peace" and to permanently annex the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip. It also recommended that Israel advocate the elimination of Saddam Hussein as a first step toward regime changes in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

Jay Bookman, a columnist at the AtlantaJournal-Constitution, asked the relevant question months before the war began:

"Why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled? Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran .

The permanent deployment of American soldiers, sailors, and airmen whose culture, lifestyles, wealth, and physical appearance guarantee conflicts with the peoples who live in the Middle East, is irrational in terms of any cost-benefit analysis. In fact, given the widespread political unrest and a strong revival of militant Islam, the United States seems inexplicably intent on providing future enemies with enough grievances to do us considerable damage. One need only recall the arming of Saddam Hussein or the Stinger shoulder-launched missiles that the United States gave so freely to Afghan "freedom fighters" and that were ultimately turned against us. The question is: Have these bases become ends in themselves? Does their existence cause the United States to look for ways to use them? Was the assault against Iraq driven by Iraq's actions or by military capabilities in American hands? It may be that the ultimate causes of twenty-first-century mayhem in the Middle East are American militarism and imperialism-that is, our empire of bases itself.



The aftermath of September 11, 2001, more or less spelled the end of globalization. Whereas the Clinton administration strongly espoused economic imperialism, the second Bush government was unequivocally committed to military imperialism. The Bush administration's adoption of unilateral preventative military action undercut the international rules and norms on which commerce depends. Increasingly, even people who believed in globalist solutions to international economic and environmental problems threw up their hands in despair. At the August 2002 world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg, the dele- I gates wore badges asking, "What do we do about the United States?"

As even the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a former director of research at the World Bank, has come to acknowledge, "It is now a commonplace that the international trade agreements about which the United States spoke so proudly only a few years ago were grossly unfair to countries in the Third World .... The problem with globalists is their fundamentalist market ideology, a faith in free, unfettered markets that is supported by neither modern theory nor historical experience? "

It must be added that, until November 1999, when 50,000 protesters confronted the World Trade Organization in Seattle and began forcing a reluctant First World to acknowledge its exploitation and hypocrisy, statements like Stiglitz's were not "commonplace:' nor had "modern" academic economic theory come to grips with the real nature of globalism.

There is no known case in which globalization has led to prosperity in any Third World country, and none of the world's twenty-four reasonably developed capitalist nations, regardless of their ideological explanations, got where they are by following any of the prescriptions contained in globalization doctrine. What globalization has produced, in the words of de Rivero, is not NICs (newly industrialized countries) but about 130 NNEs (nonviable national economies) or, even worse, UCEs (ungovernable chaotic entities). There is occasional evidence that this result is precisely what the authors of globalization intended.

In 1841, the prominent German political economist Friedrich List who had immigrated to America wrote in his masterpiece, The National System of Political Economy, "It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him."' Much of modern Anglo-American economics and all of the theory of globalization are attempts to disguise this kicking away of the ladder.

Leaving aside the former Soviet Union, the main developed countries - Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, and the East Asian NICs (South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore)-all got rich in more or less the same way. Regardless of how they justified their policies, in actual practice they protected their domestic markets using high tariff walls and myriad "nontariff barriers" to trade. Britain, for example, did not accept free trade until the 1840s, long after it had become the world's leading industrial power. Between 1790 and 1940, the United States was probably the most highly protected economy on earth. In the 1970s and 1980s, the only country in the world without a single Japanese car in it was South Korea, because it was nurturing its own automobile industry. All these "developing" nations begged, bought, or stole advanced technology from the countries that first pioneered it and then, through reverse engineering and targeted investment, improved on it. They used state power to support and protect efficient capitalists within their own national boundaries who had the potential to become exporters. They poured subsidies into uncompetitive industries in order to substitute domestically produced goods for imports, often at almost any price. Some of them captured overseas markets through imperial conquest and colonialism and then defended these markets from other would-be conquerors, using powerful navies and armies. Even when defeated, like Japan after World War II and the USSR and the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe after the Cold War, they used every device and all the artifice in their power to subvert the economic reform programs that American economists applied to try to turn them into textbook capitalist economies. 16 They understood, as the academicians did not, that a premature introduction of American economic norms was much more likely to produce mafia capitalism than development, as it did in Russia.

In short, the few successful economies on earth did exactly the opposite of what the gurus of globalization said they should have done. In places where economic managers had no choice but to follow the guidelines of globalization-"free" trade, sell-offs of public utilities, no controls over capital movements, the end of all national preferences-the results have been catastrophic. In de Rivero's own Peru, in the twenty-four years preceding the great outburst of terrorist violence by the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru guerrillas, the average yearly per capita income growth rate was 0.1 percent, while the yearly population increase was more than 2.3 percent. In all of Latin America and the Caribbean between 1960 and 1980, gross domestic product grew by 75 percent per person, but over the next twenty years-the high tide of globalization-GDP rose only 6 percent."

Starting in approximately 1981, the United States introduced, under the cover of globalization, a new strategy intended to accomplish two major goals: first, to discredit state-assisted capitalism like Japan's and prevent its spread to any countries other than the East Asian NICs, which had already industrialized by following the Japanese model; and second, to weaken the sovereignty of Third World nations so that they would become even more dependent on the largesse of the advanced capitalist nations and unable to organize themselves as a power bloc to negotiate equitably with the rich countries.

The United States's chosen instruments for putting this strategy into effect were the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the World Bank and the IMF were created after World War II to manage the international economy and prevent a recurrence of the beggar-thy-neighbor policies of the 1930s. What has to be understood is that both the fund and the bank are actually surrogates for the U.S. Treasury. They are both located at 19th and H Streets, Northwest, in Washington, DC, and their voting rules ensure that they can do nothing without the approval of the secretary of the Treasury.

In the early 1980s, following the international loan debacle, the United States put the IMF and the World Bank in charge of the Third World debt problem and essentially instructed them to do two things: keep the debtor countries paying something so that official defaults could be avoided and squeeze as much money out of them as possible. The two semi-moribund institutions accepted their new role with alacrity, delighted to act as collection agencies for banks that had made bad loans. Thus were born the World Bank's "structural adjustment loans" and the IMF's "structural adjustment programs."

Under structural adjustment, the World Bank lends funds to a debtor nation so that the nation can continue to "service" its debts in small, pro forma ways. As a condition for the loan, however, the IMF imposes a drastic socioeconomic overhaul of the country in accordance with the neoliberal agenda. If a debtor nation does not accept these terms, all access to international capital is denied it, thereby destabilizing its economy still further and perhaps setting it up for a CIA-abetted coup d'etat. The overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and the installation of the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet were an early and classic example of this process, but there have been many others since. The entire Third World very quickly came under the supervision of the IMF's economic ideologues, and by the late 1990s, close to ninety countries were being "structurally adjusted" by means of shock therapy ordered up in Washington."

In a typical structural adjustment program, the IMF and World Bank require that a country "liberalize" trade-that is, give foreigners free access to its economy. The country is also forced to reduce spending on social programs such as health care and education in order to release public funds to repay debts to foreign banks and transnational corporations. Subsidies to local agriculture are eliminated, usually rendering it unprofitable, while subsidies to agrobusinesses growing export crops such as flowers and fruits are increased. The IMF insists that the country drop all controls over the movements of capital and allow foreign investors and businesses to buy state-owned enterprises, such as electric power, telephone, transportation, natural resources, and energy companies. Perhaps most important, a country receiving a World Bank loan has to agree to maintain the convertibility of its currency-that is, it cannot prohibit the exchange of its own money for that of another country's, which would temporarily halt the outflow of capital. Instead, maintaining free convertibility regardless of the exchange rate makes speculation about a currency's future value possible. What a country gets out of such a mélange of "reforms" is not economic recovery, long-term growth, or stability but a government so weakened that it usually declines into a kieptocracy, experiences periodic economic collapses precipitated by rampant speculation (Mexico, 1994-95; Thailand, South Korea, and Indonesia, 1997; Brazil and Russia, 1998; Argentina, 2000; Venezuela, 2002), and is forced to rely on US. corporations to provide virtually all consumer products, employment, and even public services .21

The United States was the architect of and main profiteer from these efforts. From 1991 to 1993, Lawrence Summers was the chief economist at the World Bank and the man who oversaw the tailoring of "austerity measures" to each country that needed a loan. He decided exactly what a country had that Washington wanted to open up. On December 12,199 1, Summers became notorious for a leaked memo to senior officials of the bank encouraging polluting industries in the rich nations to relocate to the less developed countries. He wrote, "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage countries is impeccable and we should face up to that?'

In all, the WTO system that came into being in 1995 is a deceptive but extremely effective tool of economic imperialism wielded by rich nations against poor ones. Within a few years after it was launched, however, the system started to fall apart. Post-September 11, the overemphasis on militarism and unilateralism in the United States has radically weakened the effectiveness of international law, eroding the facade of legality that supports the WTO rules. At the same time, the interests of American militarists and economic globalists have begun to clash, particularly over the rise of an obvious future superpower-China. The economic globalists have invested more heavily in manufacturing in China than in any other place outside the Anglo-American world. The militarists, on the other hand, are already plotting to contain China, militarily if necessary, to decide future global supremacy.

One of the few East Asian countries to emerge from the crisis unscathed, indeed in better shape, was Malaysia, and its success in standing up to Washington's neoliberal "remedies" helped discredit globalization still further. Mahathir Mohamad, the Malaysian prime minister, resisted the demands of the IMF and quickly restored capital controls over his economy. The fraternity of international economists declared that he was committing commercial suicide. He, in turn, accused Western powers and speculators like George Soros of manipulating markets and currencies in order to destroy healthy East Asian economies. This charge greatly irritated Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times and author of a best-selling paean to globalization, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Friedman gibed, "Excuse me, Mahathir, but what planet are you living on? You talk about participating in globalization as if it were a choice you had. Globalization isn't a choice. It's a reality... And the most basic truth about globalization is this: No one is in charge .... We all want to believe that someone is in charge and responsible. But the global marketplace today is an Electronic Herd of often anonymous stock, bond, and currency traders and multinational investors, connected by screens and networks .

Two years later in Seattle, to the apoplectic fury of Friedman and other neoliberal apologists, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations began to put names and faces on this electronic herd of politicians and IMF and World Bank officials who were responsible for globalization and who, they argued, ought to be held accountable for its consequences.

Even more disconcerting to Anglo-American globalists, Third World poverty grew faster after the creation of the WTO. Corruption was certainly one factor. For example, Raul Salinas, the brother of the former president of Mexico, siphoned $87 million out of his country through Citibank accounts in New York, Switzerland, and London. Sani Abacha, Nigeria's former dictator, looted his nation of $110 million, also laundered for him by Citibank. One authority estimates that Carlos Menem, president of Argentina from 1989 to 1999, collected close to $1 billion in bribes during his two terms in office." The poor countries' domestic and administrative structures were another factor; these nations lacked, according to Peru's de Rivero, "both the middle class and the national market they needed in order to be governable and viable.

In 1999, at the WTO's third ministerial conference in Seattle, a coalition of people with experience in Third World development programs - environmentalists, trade unionists, anarchists, and some Americans concerned about the role of the "sole remaining superpower"-advanced an alternative explanation for Third World poverty, finally unmasking the imperial, expansionist motives behind neoliberal theory. They emphasized the absence of democracy within the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO: IMF voting rules, they pointed out, are rigged so that only the richest countries have any influence; the United States reserves the right to name the president of the World Bank; and the WTO takes decisions based on "consensus" whereby any rich nation that does not join the consensus has a de facto veto.

As the United States devotes ever more of its manufacturing assets to the arms trade, it becomes ever more dependent on imports for the nonmilitary products that its citizens no longer manufacture but need in order to maintain their customary lifestyles. With a record trade deficit for 2002 of $435.2 billion and a close-to-negligible savings rate, Americans may end up owing foreigners as much as $3.5 trillion in the next few years alone. As the economic analyst William Greider concludes, "Instead of facing this darkening prospect, [President George WI Bush and team regularly dismiss the worldviews of these creditor nations and lecture them condescendingly on our superior qualities. Any profligate debtor who insults his banker is unwise, to put it mildly . .. . American leadership has... become increasingly delusional-I mean that literally-and blind to the adverse balance of power accumulating against it."

Sorrows of Empire

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