by James Petras
February 11, 2011
(translated to english)
The U.S. imperial economic network created after the Second World War and expanded by the collapse of the Soviet Union is in the process of decay
Imperial states build networks that link the economic, military and political into a coherent system in which mutually reinforcing. The various institutions of the imperial state are largely developed in the task. Thus, imperial action is not always direct economic nature, since in a country or region may be required to open military action or protect economic zones. Nor all military actions are decided by economic interests if the sector leader is decidedly militaristic imperial state.
Moreover, the sequence of imperial action may vary depending on specific conditions needed to build the empire. Thus, state aid can be used to buy employees and military intervention can be used to obtain client regimes to which private investors are after. In other circumstances, the entry of private firms may precede the intervention.
In the military penetration and / or economic, both private and state, in support of empire building, the strategic aim is to exploit the economic and geopolitical particularities of the country in question in order to create networks that revolve around the empire. In the post-Eurocentric colonial world, the privileged position of the United States in their policies, treaties, trade agreements and military around the empire dress up and justified by ideological patina that varies with time and circumstances. In the war fought to break up Yugoslavia and establish client regimes, such as Kosovo, the imperial ideology used the humanitarian rhetoric. Genocidal wars in the Middle East occupies a central role in terrorism and anti-Islamic ideology. China dominates the rhetoric against democracy and human rights. In Latin America, the imperial power in retreat depends on the democratic and anti-authoritarian rhetoric wielded against the democratically elected government of Chavez.
The effectiveness of imperial ideology is directly proportional to the ability of the empire to promote sustainable development alternatives and dynamic country that is set as a target. Under this standard, imperial ideology has had little power of persuasion among target populations. Islam phobia and anti-terrorist rhetoric has not caused any impact on the people of the Middle East and has lost the support of the Islamic world. The lucrative trade relations between Latin America and the government of Chavez and the decline of the U.S. economy have undermined Washington’s ideological campaign to isolate Venezuela. The U.S. campaign for human rights against China has been utterly ignored in the European Union, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and the 500 largest multinational U.S. (and even by the U.S. Treasury Department, which has been dedicated to selling bonds to China to finance the growing U.S. budget deficit).
The weak influence of imperial propaganda and the declining capacity of Washington’s economic influence means that the U.S. imperial networks forged in the last half century have been eroded or at least, are subjected to centrifugal forces. Rather integrated networks in Asia are now simple military bases as economies in the region are gaining more autonomy and are oriented towards China and elsewhere. In other words: imperial networks today are becoming limited operations detachments, instead of being centers of imperial economic plunder.
Imperial Networks: The essential role of collaborators
Building an empire is essentially a process of entering a country or region to establish a privileged position and retain control in order to (1) secure lucrative resources, markets and cheap labor, (2) establish a military platform that can expand to neighboring countries and regions, (3) establish military bases to secure a dam on land or sea routes strategic to deny or limit access to competitors or adversaries and (4) develop and clandestine intelligence activities against adversaries and competitors.
History has shown that the least cost to maintain imperial domination in the long term, large scale is seeking local partners in the form of political, economic and / or military regimes acting from customers. The imperial political-military government declared results in very expensive wars and disturbances, especially for a wide range of classes negatively affected by the imperial presence.
The training of leaders and school staff resulting from the various imperial policies in the short and long term, ranging from direct military action, electoral and extra-to recruiting, training and guidance in the medium to long-term and promising young leaders through propaganda and education programs, economic and cultural incentives, promises of political and economic support when they assume political office and through substantial covert financial support.
The basic appeal of the imperial legislators for ‘new ruling class’ in client states emerging is the opportunity to participate in an economic system linked to the imperial centers, where local elites share the wealth with their imperial benefactors. To enlist the support of the masses, classes collaborating masking new forms of imperial servitude and economic exploitation with emphasis on political independence, personal freedom, economic opportunity and private consumption.
The mechanisms for the transfer of power to an emerging client state combined imperial propaganda and funding of mass organizations and political parties, as well as violent coups or “uprisings.” Authoritarian regimes with ossified bureaucracies based policing to limit or control the imperial expansion are “soft targets.” The human rights targeted campaigns have become more effective organizational weapon to recruit activists and promote new political leaders focused on the rule. Once that is accomplished the transfer of power, former members of the political elite, economic and cultural are banned, suppressed, detained and imprisoned.
Then emerges a new political culture homogeneous rival parties signed the rule-centered universe. The first order of business beyond the political purge of privatization and the transfer of the main assets of the economy in imperial enterprises. Customers spend schemes to provide soldiers to enlist as mercenaries in imperial wars and military bases to transfer the imperial troops to performing on platforms for action. All the “sham independence” is accompanied by the widespread dismantling of public social welfare programs (pensions, health care and free education), labor legislation and policies of full employment. The promotion of a highly polarized class structure is the ultimate consequence of the client government. The economies of the client regimes focusing on the rule, as a replica of any ordinary satrap state are justified (or legitimate) on behalf of a democratic electoral system dubbed, in fact, is a political system dominated by new elites capitalist media and well funded.
Schemes focused on the rule and led by elites partners ranging from the Baltic States, Central and Eastern Europe to the Balkans are the most striking example of twentieth-century imperial expansion. The disintegration and appropriation of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc and joining a US-led NATO and the European Union triggered expressions of imperial pride. Washington made premature statements that the world was unipolar while Western Europe was engaged in looting public resources ranging from factories to real estate, exploiting cheap labor, and from foreign immigration, which recruited a formidable “army reserve “to undermine the living standards of the unionized workforce in the West.
The unity of action of European and American imperial regimes facilitated the joint ownership of the wealth of new regions by private monopolies. The imperial states initially subsidized the new client regimes with transfers and loans to large scale with the condition that would allow companies seize the imperial resources, farms, land, factories, service sector, large media centers and so forth. Some heavily indebted States rose from an acute crisis in the early period of growth “spectacular” and then a deep and chronic social crisis with unemployment rates double-digits in the 20-year construction period clients. Although there were protests by workers when wages are degraded, joblessness, welfare benefits were cut out and spread the misery. However, the “new middle class” inserted in the political and media apparatus and joint economic initiatives are sufficiently well-funded financial institutions of the empire to preserve their supremacy.
However, the dynamics of imperial expansion in Eastern Europe, Central and Southern did not provide the impetus for strategic advantage due to the ascendancy of a highly volatile financial capital and a powerful military caste in the Euro-American political core. In important respects, the military and political expansion ceased to be coupled with the economic conquest. Was true: the economic plunder and political supremacy as an instrument for projecting military power.
Imperial sequences: From war to farm to farm for war
The relations between the imperial military policies and economic interests are complex and change over time and historical context. In some circumstances, an imperial regime invested heavily in military personnel and increase monetary costs to overturn a ruling against imperialism and establishing a client regime that transcends any state or private financial gain. For example, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wars by proxy in Somalia and Yemen have not produced major benefits for U.S. multinationals nor increase the private exploitation of raw materials, labor and markets. In the best case, the imperial wars have brought benefits to mercenary contractors, construction companies and “war industries” because they are attached benefited from transfers from the Treasury and the exploitation of American taxpayers, most employees .
In many cases, particularly after the Second World War, the emerging U.S. imperial state has spared no billionaires loans and aid programs in Western Europe. The Marshall Plan prevented anti-capitalist social upheavals and political supremacy restored capitalism. The move allowed it to appear in NATO (a military alliance led and dominated by the U.S.). Then, U.S. multinational corporations invested in Western Europe and traded with it getting very lucrative benefits once the imperial state had created a favorable political and economic conditions. In other words, the political-military intervention of the imperial state preceded the rise and expansion of U.S. multinational capital. A short-sighted and short-term analysis of the early postwar activity would minimize the importance of private U.S. economic interests as a driving force in American politics. If it extends the time period analyzed in the next two decades, the interaction between high military spending and economic state at the beginning with high private benefits later gives us a perfect example of how to operate the process of imperial power.
The role of the imperial state as a tool to open, protect and expand the private market exploitation, labor and resource exploitation corresponds to a time when both the state and the ruling classes were motivated mainly in the construction of an industrial empire.
Military intervention and coups led by the United States in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973) and the Dominican Republic (1965) were linked to companies and specific imperial economic interests. For example, U.S. and British oil companies sought to reverse the nationalization of oil in Iran. The American company United Fruit Company was opposed to the policies of agrarian reform in Guatemala. Major U.S. companies in the copper sector and telecommunications supported and promoted the coup backed by the U.S. in Chile.
In contrast, the current U.S. military interventions and wars in the Middle East, South Asia and the Horn of Africa are not promoted by U.S. multinationals. Imperial policies are promoted by militarists and Zionists embedded in the state, media organizations and “civil” powerful. The same methods Imperial (coups and wars) serve different rulers and imperial interests.
Clients, partners and puppet regimes
Imperial networks behave ensure multiple “resource base” economic, political and military complementary to become part of the imperial system and at the same time, retain varying degrees of political and economic autonomy.
In the early dynamics of U.S. empire building, roughly from the 1950 to 1970, the multinationals and the entire U.S. economy dominated the world economy. His allies in Europe and Asia rely heavily on markets, financing and development of the United States. U.S. military hegemony was reflected in a series of regional military agreements guaranteeing almost instant support to regional wars, military coups and the construction of military bases and naval ports in U.S. territories. The countries were divided into “sectors of expertise” that served the interests of the American Empire. Western Europe was a military detachment, an industrial partner and an ideological partner. Asia, especially Japan and South Korea, exercised by “front-line military detachments’ and trading partners. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were essentially client regimes who supplied raw materials and military bases. Singapore and Hong Kong were financial and commercial warehouses. Pakistan’s military regime was a customer who acted as leverage against China advanced.
Saudi Arabia, Iran and the smaller Gulf states, governed by authoritarian regimes customers, supplying oil and military bases. Egypt and Jordan and Israel entrenched imperial interests in the Middle East. Beirut exercised financial center for the American bankers, European and Middle East.
Africa and Latin America harbored client regimes and nationalist-populist who were a source of raw materials and markets for manufactured goods and cheap labor.
The long war between the U.S. and Vietnam and the subsequent defeat of Washington eroded the power of the empire. Industrial expansion in Western Europe, Japan and South Korea called into question American industrial supremacy. Search in Latin America and nationalist policies of import replacement forced to move U.S. investment to foreign manufactures. In the Middle East, nationalist movements overthrew U.S. customers in Iran and Iraq, and undermined the military detachments. The revolutions of Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Algeria, Nicaragua and elsewhere reduced access Euroamerican “indefinite” to raw materials, at least for now.
The decline of American empire was temporarily halted by the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and establishing client regimes throughout the region. Similarly, between mid 1970 and late 1990, the resurgence of client regimes focusing on the rule in Latin America produced the impression of some recovery of imperialism. However, the 1990 was not the beginning of a repeat of the early imperial launch in 1950, was a “Last Hurrah” before an irreversible decline in the long term. The entire imperial political apparatus, which had been so successful in their clandestine activities to subvert the Soviet regimes in Eastern Europe, played a marginal role when it came time to capitalize on economic opportunities that followed. Germany and other European Union countries led the conquest of lucrative privatized enterprises. The Russian-Israeli oligarchs (seven of eight first) conquered and sacked privatized strategic industries, banking and natural resources. The main beneficiaries were U.S. banks and Wall Street firms that washed billions of illicit profits and raised very lucrative fees from mergers, acquisitions, inventory records and other non-transparent activities.
In other words, the collapse of Soviet collectivism parasitic strengthened the financial sector of the American Empire. Worse, the presumption promoted by the ideologues Americans that the world is “unipolar” played into the military, which now assumed that had disappeared the previous restrictions against U.S. military attacks on nationalists and Soviet allies. Consequently, military intervention became the main driving force for building the U.S. empire, which led to the first Iraq war, the invasion of Yugoslavia and Somalia and the U.S. expansion of military bases throughout the former Soviet bloc Soviet and Eastern Europe.
At the height of the global political and military power of the United States in the 1990’s, with all the major Latin American regimes coated wrapper centered neoliberal empire, rooted seeds of decay and decline. The economic crisis of late 1990, triggered major and electoral surveys of virtually all U.S. customers in Latin America and prophesied the decline of U.S. imperial rule. The extremely dynamic and cumulative growth of China replaced the U.S. manufacturing capital and weakened the ability of U.S. influence over the rulers of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The massive transfer of state resources for U.S. imperial adventures abroad, military bases and support customers and partners led to the decline in the interior.
The American empire, faced with the displacement passivity imposed economic rivals in key markets and has given long and endless wars that have drained their coffers, attracted a cohort of mediocre legislators lacked a coherent strategy to rectify policies and rebuild the state at the service of a productive activity able to “win back markets.” In contrast, indefinite war policies and unsustainable has favored a special subgroup of militarists (sui generis): American Zionists. They have capitalized on their infiltration into strategic positions of the state and increased its influence in the media and a vast network of “pressure groups” organized to reinforce the subordination of the United States to urge Israel for supremacy in the Middle East.
The result has been the “imbalance” total U.S. imperial apparatus, military action was unhooked from the economic construction of empire. A very influential upper caste militarists and Zionists harnessed American military power to economically marginal state (Israel), in perpetual hostility with the 1,500 million people in the Muslim world. The American Zionist ideologues and promoted some legislators and law enforcement institutions and also Islamophobic propaganda harmful ideological, designed to terrorize the U.S. population. Also, the Islamophobic ideology has served to justify permanent war in South Asia and the Middle East and soaring military budgets in a time of deteriorating economic conditions in the interior too. They have spent hundreds of billions of dollars of unproductive form under the heading of “National Security” with which it intends to do everything possible to recruit, train, trap and arrest African-American Muslims and “terrorists.” Thousands of secret agencies with hundreds of thousands of officials in national, state or local authorities have spied on American citizens at some point may have tried to speak or act to correct or reform the economic and military policies Zionist imperialist
At the end of the first decade of XXI century, the American empire could only destroy enemies (Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan), provoke military tensions (Korean peninsula, China Sea) and undermine relations with trading partners potentially lucrative (Iran, Venezuela .) Authoritarianism rampant militarism was merged with the Zionist ideology fifth columnist to promote Islamophobic. The convergence of mediocrity authoritarian rogue tribal rampant and fifth columnists Obama regime loyalists dismiss any foreseeable change in the sign of imperial decline.
The growing global economic network in China and the dynamic advances in applied technology leader in all sectors, from alternative energy to high-speed trains, in contrast to an American empire and militarism infested Zionism.
The demands that the Americans imposed on Pakistani rulers customers to empty their coffers in support of the American Islamic wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in contrast to the 30,000 million dollars of Chinese investment in infrastructure, energy and power and increasing billionaire trade.
3,000 million dollars in U.S. military aid to Israel contrasted with China’s multibillion-dollar investments in oil and trade agreements with the Iranians. U.S. funding of wars against Muslim countries in central and southern Asia in contrast with the expansion of trade and investment agreements in Turkey in the same region. China has replaced the United States as key trading partner in leading countries in South America, while the U.S. agreed unequal “free trade” (NAFTA) impoverishes Mexico. Trade between the EU and China exceeds the European Union has with the United States.
In Africa, the U.S. funded wars in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, while China has signed trade agreements and building multimillion-dollar infrastructure investments in Africa in exchange for access to raw materials. There is no doubt that the economic future is increasingly tied to China.
In contrast, the American Empire is giving the embrace of the death of a small colonial military state (Israel), failed states of Yemen and Somalia, the stagnant and corrupt client regimes in Jordan and Egypt and the oil states decaying absolutist collectors from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. All are part of a coalition aimed atavistic and unproductive to retain power through military supremacy. But the XXI century empires are built on the foundations of productive economies with global networks linked to dynamic trading partners.
Recognizing the primacy of economic and commercial opportunities associated with participation in China’s global network, the current or former U.S. customers, and even the puppet rulers, have begun to depart from the submission to the U.S. command. Throughout Latin America there have been fundamental shifts in economic relations and political alignments. Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries support the nuclear program Iran’s military to defend against the aggression of Washington led by Zionism. Several countries have challenged the American-Israeli legislators recognizing the Palestinian state. Trade with China exceeds U.S. trade with larger countries in the region.
Puppet regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have signed important economic agreements with China, Iran and Turkey, although the United States pour billions of dollars to reinforce its military position. Turkey, former military customer US-NATO command extends its own pursuit of capitalist hegemony expanding economic ties with Iran, Central Asia and the Arab-Muslim world and challenges the U.S. military hegemony and Israel.
The American Empire still retains important customers and nearly a thousand military bases around the globe. When customers and puppet regimes in decline, Washington increased from 50 to 80 countries the role and scope of the extraterritorial activities of death squads. The growing independence regimes in the developing world is fed especially economic calculation: China offers major economic benefits and less political interference and military.
Washington’s imperial network is based increasingly on military ties with allies: Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in the Far East and Oceania, the European Union in the West, and some rudiments of Central and South American states in the South . Even here, the military allies are no longer economic domains: the main export markets of Australia and New Zealand are in Asia (China). Trade between China and the EU is growing at an exponential rate. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are increasingly linked to China through trade and investment … like Pakistan and India.
Equally important is that new regional networks that exclude the United States are growing in Latin America and Asia, forging a potential for new economic blocs.
In other words, the U.S. imperial economic network created after the Second World War and amplified by the collapse of the Soviet Union is in the process of decay, even when the bases and military treaties remain a “platform” for new interventions formidable military.
What is clear is that the benefits of military, political and ideological construction of the U.S. network around the world after the collapse of the USSR and post-Soviet wars are not sustainable. By contrast, the excessive size of the ideological apparatus, military and economic security raises expectations and reduce financial resources from the inability to exploit economic opportunities and strengthen economic networks. U.S. funded “popular uprising” in Ukraine that led to client regimes unable to promote growth. In the case of Georgia, the regime engaged in an adventurous war with Russia which has resulted in business losses and territorial. It’s about time that the current client regimes of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Mexico is facing major upheavals due to the precarious foundation of government leaders about corrupt and repressive hardliners.
The process of decline of American Empire is both a cause and consequence of the challenge posed by emerging economic powers establishing growth centers and alternative development. The changes within the countries of the periphery of empire and the mounting debt and trade deficits of the “center” of the empire are eroding. The current American ruling class, both in financial and military variants, and will show no interest in standing up to the causes of decline. Rather, they reinforce each other: the financial sector reduces taxes, increasing public debt, and plundering public coffers. The military caste depletes the treasury in search of wars and military detachments and increases the trade deficit undermining trade and investment gains.