America’s drive for world domination (1)

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America’s drive for world domination (1)

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles. He has published over 2000 articles. Excerpts of his article titled: "Fifty years of Imperial Wars, Global Neoliberalism and America's Drive for World Domination" have been chosen here. Following is the 1st part of his article which was taken from Global Research website:
 

Over the past 50 years the US and European powers have engaged in countless imperial wars throughout the world. The drive for world supremacy has been clothed in the rhetoric of “world leadership”; the consequences have been devastating for the peoples targeted. The biggest, longest and most numerous wars have been carried out by the United States. Presidents from both parties direct and preside over this quest for world power. The ideology which informs imperialism varies from “anti-communism” in the past to “anti-terrorism” today.

Washington’s drive for world domination has used and combined many forms of warfare, including military invasions and occupations; proxy mercenary armies and military coups; financing political parties, NGO’s and street mobs to overthrow duly constituted governments. The driving forces in the imperial state, behind the quest for world power, vary with the geographic location and social economic composition of the targeted countries. What is clear from an analysis of US empire building over the last half century is the relative decline of economic interests, and the rise of politico-military considerations. In part this is because of the demise of the collectivist regimes (the USSR and Eastern Europe) and the conversion of China and the leftist Asian, African and Latin American regimes to capitalism. The decline of economic forces as the driving force of imperialism is a result of the advent of global neoliberalism. Most US and EU multi-nationals are not threatened by nationalizations or expropriations, which might trigger imperial state political intervention. In fact, MNC are invited to invest, trade and exploit natural resources even by post-neoliberal regimes. Economic interests come into play in formulating imperial state policies, if and when nationalist regimes emerge and challenge US MNC as is the case in Venezuela under President Chavez.

The key to US empire-building over the past half-century is found in the political, military and ideological power configurations which have come to control the levers of the imperial state. The recent history of US imperial wars has demonstrated that strategic military priorities – military bases, budgets and bureaucracy – have expanded far beyond any localized economic interests of MNC. Moreover, the vast expenditures and long term and expensive military interventions of the US imperial state in the Middle East have been at the behest of Israel. The take-over of strategic political positions in the Executive branch and Congress by the powerful Zionist power configuration within the US has reinforced the centrality of military over economic interests. The ‘privatization’ of imperial wars – the vast growth and use of mercenaries contracted by the Pentagon- has led to the vast pillage of tens of billions of dollars from the US Treasury. Large scale corporations which supply mercenary military combatants have become a very ‘influential’ force shaping the nature and consequences of US empire building. Military strategists, defenders of Israeli colonial interests in the Middle East, mercenary military and intelligence corporations are central actors in the imperial state and it is their decision-making influence which explains why US imperial wars do not result in a politically stable, economic prosperous empire. Instead their policies have resulted in unstable, ravaged economies, in perpetual rebellion.

We will proceed by identifying the changing areas and regions of US empire building from the mid 1970’s to the present. We then examine the methods, driving forces and outcomes of imperial expansion. We will then turn to describe the current ‘geo-political map of empire building and the varied nature of the anti-imperialist resistance. We will conclude by examining the why and how of empire building and more particularly, the consequences, and results of a half century of US imperial expansion.

The US imperialist defeat in Indo-China marks the end of one phase of empire building and the beginning of another: a shift from territorial invasions to proxy wars. Hostile domestic opinion precluded large scale ground wars. Beginning during the presidencies of Gerald Ford and James Carter, the US imperialist state increasingly relied on proxy clients. It recruited, financed and armed proxy military forces to destroy a variety of nationalist and social revolutionary regimes and movements in three continents. Washington financed and armed extremist Islamic forces world-wide to invade and destroy the secular, modernizing, Soviet backed regime in Afghanistan, with logistical support from the Pakistan military and intelligence agencies, and financial backing from Saudi regime.

The second proxy intervention was in Southern Africa, where the US imperial state financed and armed proxy forces against anti-imperialist regimes in Angola and Mozambique, in alliance with South Africa.

The third proxy intervention took place in Central America, where the US financed, armed and trained murderous death squad regimes in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to decimate popular movements and armed insurgencies resulting in over 300,000 civilian deaths.

The US imperial state’s ‘proxy strategy’ extended to South America: CIA and Pentagon backed military coups took place in Uruguay (General Alvarez), Chile (General Pinochet) Argentina (General Videla), Bolivia (General Banzer) and Peru (General Morales). Empire building by proxy was largely at the behest of US MNC which was the principal actors in setting priorities in the imperial state throughout this period.

Accompanying proxy wars were direct military invasions: the tiny island of Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989) under Presidents’ Reagan and Bush, Sr. Easy targets, with few casualties and low cost military expenditures: dress rehearsals for re-launching major military operations in the near future. What is striking about the ‘proxy wars’ are the mixed results. The outcomes in Central America, Afghanistan and Africa did not lead to prosperous neo-colonies or prove lucrative to US multi-national corporations. In contrast the proxy coups in South America led to large scale privatization and profits for US MNC.

The Afghan proxy war led to the rise and consolidation of the Taliban “Islamic regime” which opposed both Soviet influence and US imperial expansion. The rise and consolidation of Islamic nationalism in turn challenged US allies in South Asia and the Gulf region and subsequently led to a US military invasion in 2001 and a prolonged (15 year) war (which has yet to conclude), and most probably to a military retreat and defeat. The main economic beneficiaries were Afghan political clients, US mercenary military “contractors”, military procurement officers and civilian colonial administrators who pillaged hundreds of billions from the US Treasury in illegal and fraudulent transactions. Pillage of the US Treasury in no way benefited the non-military MNC’s. In fact the war and resistance movement undermined any large scale, long-term entry of US private capital in Afghanistan and adjoining border regions of Pakistan.

The proxy war in Southern Africa devastated the local economies, especially the domestic agricultural economy, uprooted millions of laborers and farmers and curtailed US corporate oil penetration for over two decades. The ‘positive’ outcome was the de-radicalization of the former revolutionary nationalist elite. However, the political conversion of the Southern African “revolutionaries” to neo-liberalism did not benefit the US MNC as much as the rulers turned kleptocratic oligarchs who organized patrimonial regimes in association with a diversified collection of MNC, especially from Asia and Europe.

The proxy wars in Central America had mixed results. In Nicaragua the Sandinista revolution defeated the US-Israeli backed Somoza regime but immediately confronted a US financed, armed and trained counter-revolutionary mercenary army (the “Contras”) based in Honduras. The US war destroyed, many of the progressive economic projects, undermined the economy and eventually led to an electoral victory by the US backed political client Violeta Chamorro. Two decades later the US proxies were defeated by a de-radicalized Sandinista led political coalition.

In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the US proxy wars led to the consolidation of client regimes presiding over the destruction of the productive economy, and the flight of millions of war refugees to the United States. US imperial dominance eroded the bases for a productive labor market which spawned the growth of murderous drug gangs. In summary, the US proxy wars succeeded, in most, cases in preventing the rise of nationalist-leftist regimes, but also led to the destructive of the economic and political bases of a stable and prosperous empire of neo-colonies.

To understand the operations, structure and performance of US imperialism in Latin America, it is necessary to recognize the specific constellation of competing forces which shaped imperial state policies. Unlike the Middle East where the militarist-Zionist faction has established hegemony, in Latin America the MNC have played a leading role in directing imperial state policy. In Latin America, the militarists played a lesser role, constrained by (1) the power of the MNC, (2) the shifts in political power in Latin America from right to center-left (3) the impact of economic crises and the commodity boom. In contrast to the Middle East, the Zionist power configuration has little influence over imperial state policy, as Israel’s interests are focused on the Middle East and, with the possible exception of Argentina, Latin America is not a priority. For over a century and a half, the US MNC and banks dominated and dictated US imperial policy toward Latin America. The US armed forces and CIA were instruments of economic imperialism via direct intervention (invasions), proxy ‘military coups’, or a combination of both.

US imperial economic power in Latin America ‘peaked’ from1975-1999. Vassal states and client rulers were imposed via proxy military coups, direct military invasions (Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada) and military-civilian controlled elections. The results were the dismantling of the welfare state and the imposition of neo-liberal policies. The MNC led imperial state and its international financial appendages (IMF, WB, IDB) privatized lucrative strategic economic sectors, dominated trade and projected a regional integration scheme which would codify US imperial dominance. Imperial economic expansion in Latin America was not simply a result of the internal dynamics and structures of the MNC but depended on (1) the receptivity of the ‘host’ country or more precisely the internal correlation of class forces in Latin America which in turn revolved around (2) the performance of the economy – its growth or susceptibility to crises.

Latin America demonstrates that contingencies such as the demise of client regimes and collaborator classes can have a profound negative impact on the dynamics of imperialism, undermining the power of the imperial state and reversing the economic advance of the MNC.

The advance of US economic imperialism during the 1975-2000 period was manifest in the adoption of neo-liberal policies, the pillage of national resources, the increase of illicit debts and the overseas transfer of billions of dollars However, the concentration of wealth and property, precipitated a deep socio-economic crises throughout the region which eventually led to the overthrow or ouster of the imperial collaborators in Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Nicaragua. Powerful anti-imperialist social movements especially in the countryside emerged in Brazil and the Andean countries. Urban unemployed workers movements and public employees' unions in Argentina and Uruguay spearheaded electoral changes, bringing to power center-left regimes which ‘re-negotiated’ relations with the US imperial state. US MNC influence in Latin America waned. They could not count on the full battery of military resources of the imperial state to intervene and re-impose neo-liberal clients because of its military priorities elsewhere: the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Unlike the past, the US MNC in Latin America lacked two essential props of power: the full backing of the US armed forces and powerful civilian-military clients in Latin America.

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