By James Petras, 99GetSmart
The Obama regime, in coordination with its allies and proxies, has re-launched a virulent world-wide campaign to destroy independent governments, encircle and ultimately, undermine global competitors, and establish a new US – EU centered world order.
We will proceed by identifying the recent ‘cycles’ of US empire-building; the advances and retreats; the methods and strategies; the results and perspectives. Our main focus is on the imperial dynamics driving the US toward greater military confrontations, up to and including conditions which can lead to a world war.
Recent Imperial Cycles
US empire-building has not been a linear process. The recent decades provide ample evidence of contradictory experiences. Summarily we can identify several phases in which empire-building has experienced broad advances and sharp setbacks – with certain caveats. We are looking at global processes, in which there are also limited counter-tendencies: In the midst oflarge-scale imperial advances, particular regions, countries or movements successfully resisted or even reversed the imperial thrust. Secondly, the cyclical nature of empire-building in no way puts in doubt the imperial character of the state and economy and its relentless drive to dominate, exploit and accumulate. Thirdly, the methods and strategy directing each imperial advance differ according to changes among targeted countries.
Over the past thirty years we can identify three phases in empire-building.
Imperial Advance 1980’s to 2000
In the period roughly from the mid-1980’s to the year 2000, empire-building expanded on a global scale.
(A). Imperial Expansion in the former Communist regions
The US and EU penetrated and hegemonized Eastern Europe; disintegrated and pillaged Russia and the USSR; privatized and denationalized hundreds of billions of dollars worth of public enterprises, mass media outlets and banks; incorporated military bases throughout Eastern Europe into NATO and established satellite regimes as willing accomplices in imperial conquests in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
(B). Imperial Expansion in Latin America
Beginning from the early 1980’s to the end of the century, empire-building advanced throughout Latin America under the formula of “free markets and free elections”.
From Mexico to Argentina, empire-centered, neo-liberal regimes privatized and denationalized over 5,000 public enterprises and banks, benefiting US and European multi-nationals. Political leaders lined up with the US in international forums. Latin American generals responded favorably to US-centered military operations. Bankers extracted billions in debt payments and laundered many billions more in illicit money. The US-centered, continent-wide “North American Free Trade Agreement” appeared to advance according to schedule.
(C).Imperial Advances in Asia and Africa
Communist and nationalist regimes shed their leftist and anti-imperialist policies and opened their societies and economies to capitalist penetration. In Africa, two key “leftist” countries, Angola and post-apartheid South Africa adopted “free market policies”.
In Asia, China and Indo-China moved decisively toward capitalist development strategies; foreign investment, privatizations and intense exploitation of labor replaced collectivist egalitarianism and anti-imperialism. India, and other state-directed capitalist countries, like South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, liberalized their economies. Imperial advances were accompanied by greater economic volatility, a sharpening of the class struggle and an opening of the electoral process to accommodate competing capitalist factions.
Empire-building expanded under the slogan of “free markets and fair elections” – markets dominated by giant multi-nationals and elections, which assured elite successes.
Imperial Retreat and Reverses: 2000-2008