30.09.2013 Author: Salman Rafi Sheikh

The United States and Neo-Imperialism: Facade and Reality


The inscription reads: “Neocolonialism is the robbery of the people”

The misery of widespread destruction and devastation brought by the US military invasions, covert interventions, and the US-sponsored UNSC / EU sanctions against a handful of countries is continuing. On their part, the US and its allies describe their actions as ‘war against terror’ or the establishment of a ‘new world order’ that should ‘promote democracy and human rights’! Any objection to such is immediately dubbed by the US, its allies and cronies as objections from ‘Islamists’, ‘Islamic radicals’, ‘Al-Quaeda’ or from rogue states. However, despite the immensity of the direct and proxy propaganda of US-NATO to that effect, realities of the US led post-colonial neo-imperialism have become well known. Its identification has directly or indirectly been facilitated by the geo-political manoeuvers of the US and its allies especially since 9/11, starting from the US invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and then containment of Iran to the current wave of disruption and chaos in the Middle East and Africa. All of these are interconnected and serve the same purpose i.e., perpetuating the US hegemony in the International System and ensuring control over the world’s natural resources primarily gas and oil. A key to understanding the American global agendas and the latent reality of its so-called slogans of ‘democracy and human rights’ can be found in the policy constructs given by the key architect of the US post World War grand strategy, George Kennan, who wrote:

We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

The US has since been deploying its military and non-military resources and those of its allies as well to achieve its critical objective. It is significant to note that the policy which the US has been following and the ‘weapons’ utilizing to achieve its grand objective are remarkably similar to those used by the British Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pre-modern imperialism of the British government and neo-imperialism of the US differ only to the extent that the later does not aim at colonizing the target country; rather controls it through other means and that too, in most of the cases, without directly invading the target. However, both imperialisms are similar in terms of the critical objective they aim at achieving i.e., establishing ‘unopposed global hegemony.’

The British Empire became a hegemonic power by playing off other powers against one another, building a global economic network which would serve the interests of the center at the expense of the others, and when ‘diplomatic’ efforts failed, the air started smelling of gunpowder.

Such external domineering also continued in the Cold War era, albeit in a rather ‘structured’ variation of geopolitics, principally between the US and the USSR. However, after the breakup of the USSR, the US assumed the role of the ‘sole super power’ and aggressively embarked upon the creation of a ‘new world order’ to establish its geopolitical strangle-hold in the regions of the politico-economic significance. This created a world characterized by instability, unpredictability and human devastation.

The renewed and energetic thrust by the US for world economic and political hegemony, from the Balkans to China’s frontiers, required the securing of oil supplies in the Middle East and the newly opened Central Asia.—hence, the “Oil Wars.” The US drive for military dominance as a measure of fortifying and expanding Washington’s political and economic power over much of the world also required the reintegration of the post-Soviet space into the US-controlled world economy. The vast oil and natural gas resources of Eurasia are the fuel that fed this powerful drive, which led to military operations by the United States and its allies against opponents such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and now covertly against Syria and Iran as well. Acquiring geo-political space and gravitating influence against its potential rivals required militarization of the entire region.

The arrival of the neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administrations, and the events of 9/11 helped in implementing this geopolitical-imperial agenda of the US. At this stage, it is very significant to recognize that the post World War 2 international (economic) system, constructed primarily by the US, brought forth a new kind of ‘weapon’ of domination and control as also of imposing the so-called hegemonic stability. It is this particular ‘weapon’ which has enabled the US to expand its power and influence without territorially conquering countries. The US’ weapons were not of a military nature alone. A key element in its arsenal was the rising power of the US dollar and its status as the world’s reserve currency. The economic power wielded by the US was institutionalized by the creation of international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, GATT and WTO. These institutions as such are more frequently ‘deployed’ than military power by the US and its allies in achieving foreign policy objectives. This is done by imposing sanctions, extending loans, grants and aid packages. We have seen during last two decades or so that the US has started increasingly utilizing its economic power very effectively against the target countries. In this behalf, Iran’s case is one of the most recent examples of the US concerted efforts to ‘financially occupy’ the target country.

However, the importance of military power cannot be gainsaid. It has played and continues to play a central role in establishing and sustaining the US hegemony. It is estimated that by 2009 the U.S. military had already acquired control over 795,000 acres, housing around 190,000 troops on more than 1,000 bases worldwide. The U.S. Defense Department during the last two decades undertook a systematic realignment of military forces and bases overseas. Michael T. Klare, a Professor of Peace and Security Studies, has identified multiple geopolitical interests of the US behind this realignment. These include “controlling other countries’ access to resources, a shift from defensive to offensive operations, and uncertainty about the future reliability of long-term allies, especially those in ‘Old Europe’. That shows the ‘vastness’ of the global strangle-hold which the US is trying to attain through its ruthless imperialist external maneuvering.

And, to further the dismay, the current form of the US imperialism, albeit still with the propagated caption of ‘war on terror’, under President Obama has become even more devastating around the world. As details of his administration’s global war against terrorists, insurgents, and ‘hostile warlords’ have become more widely known — a war that involves a mélange of drone attacks,covert operations, and presidentially selected assassinations – President Obama has been compared to President George W. Bush in his appetite for military action, and executing a policy of high scale interventions to curb those who are supposedly ‘anti-democratic forces’ in the world. “As shown through his stepped-up drone campaign”, Aaron David Miller, an advisor to six secretaries of state, wrote at Foreign Policy, “Barack Obama has become George W. Bush on steroids”.

At this juncture it would be pertinent to clarify as to why this policy of ruthless imperialism has not been changed, rather has been intensified further despite the successive changes of the US governments during the last about 20 years – tenures of President Bush (senior), of President Bush (junior), and now nearly completing tenure of President Obama.

The answer to that question has been provided by a number of publications, highlighting the fact that for many decades now the ‘real government’ of the US and certain other world powers has gone into the clutches of the ‘mutually cooperating groups of powerful corporate entities’, etc, who act as the behind the scene real ‘power managers’ at global level. Tony Cartalucci, in his publication of 21 March 2011, asserts about this ‘real government’: “This is your real government; they transcend elected administrations, they permeate every political party, and they are responsible for nearly every aspect of the average American and European’s way of life. When the “left” is carrying the torch for two “Neo-Con” wars, starting yet another based on the same lies, peddled by the same media outlets that told of Iraqi WMD’s, the world has no choice, beyond profound cognitive dissonance, but to realize something is wrong. What’s wrong is a system completely controlled by a corporate-financier oligarchy with financial, media, and industrial empires that span the globe”.

These corporate-financier ‘power managers’ dominate almost all tentacles of power, control of the state and public, including economic, political, military, social, media, research and opinion-forming / public poll institutions of the US and many other world powers. And of course, these ‘power managers’ do also have deep ingress in the ‘target countries’ to the extent of managing the placement of their chosen and promoted persons from these very countries as presidents, prime ministers, ministers, economy managers, ambassadors, ‘intellectual think-tankers’, media persons, in their own countries (examples of Pakistan and many other ‘target countries’ are already well-known). These ‘power managers’ use this strangle-hold to exploit the riches and resources of the ‘weaker’ countries of the world through their own planted and supported governments in the ‘weaker’ countries and through the domineering intervention of the US and other world powers – the resulting devastation is of course none of their concern.

Today we see what apparently seem to be the “accidental” consequences of military interventions leading to vicious, protracted fighting and in some cases civil wars such as in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Pakistan where plans exist to literally dismember and Balkanize it to cease its nuclear capability. Apparently, these are the cases of civil wars and terrorism; however, in reality, these countries are victims of modern imperialism which is creating chaos and instability. Divide and conquer is a classic military stratagem that has not escaped the interests and attention of Wall Street & London—hence, a co-ordinated application of a carefully crafted grand strategy in shape of the US led Western campaign of domination, control and manipulation of the international system in a way that aims at ensuring persistence and perpetuation of political, economic, military and resource hierarchies across the world.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs. Exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.