U.S. losing grip on world events
Published May 19, 2005 9:07 PM
The New York Times Magazine section carried an
interview with a “senior adviser to Bush” last October conducted by
journalist Ron Suskind. The unnamed aide said to Suskind, “You’re
part of the reality-based community, one who believes that solutions emerge from
your judicious study of discernible reality.” But, the top White House
official continued, “That’s not the way the world works anymore.
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.
“And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously as
you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you
can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re
history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study
what we do.” (New York Times, Oct. 17, 2004)
“senior adviser” to Bush—a term usually reserved for someone
with cabinet or National Security Council status—was clearly stating his
conviction that Washington could dictate the way the world works because it was
an “empire now.” Of course, U.S. imperialism has been an empire at
least since it took over Hawaii and Samoa at the end of the 19th
century—even before the war of 1898 when it conquered Cuba, Puerto Rico
and the Philippines.
But this aide was saying that the U.S. was now the
all-dominant empire whose will could not be resisted and whose power can shape
events in accordance with the demands of the White House, big business and the
In fact, a “judicious study of
reality” reveals that U.S. imperialism is gradually losing control of
events and developments around the globe. And this trend has significantly
accelerated since the limitations and vulnerabilities of the
“empire” have been starkly revealed in Iraq and Afghan istan and in
the decline of the dollar.
Venezuela and Cuba: revolutionary
A case in point: With all their superpower might, Washington
and the Pentagon have not succeeded in stopping the people of Venezuela, led by
President Hugo Chávez, from trying to revolutionize their conditions by
challenging the pro-U.S. oligarchy and the U.S. oil companies. After the failure
of both a U.S.-backed coup in April 2002 and a counterrevolutionary lock-out of
the oil industry in December of that year, the Bolivarian Revolution has become
stronger and is moving sharply to the left.
Despite threats from
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
the Chávez government has established close ties with revolutionary Cuba.
Cuba and Venezuela have given each other mutual aid. Not only have both
revolutions been strengthened, but the defiant rise of this revolutionary
alliance has encouraged progressive and revolutionary forces throughout Latin
America, to the exasperation and chagrin of U.S. imperialism.
billion in aid, largely military, to a succession of reactionary regimes in
Colombia, Washington has also been unable to defeat the guerrilla forces in that
country who have been fighting militarily and politically to oust imperialism
and set up a revolutionary government. In fact, when Venezuela broke relations
with Colombia and suspended oil and trade relations with the pro-U.S. government
of Álvaro Uribe, he had to appeal to Fidel Castro to mediate the dispute.
This was an enormous humiliation for Washington and a measure of its decline in
Despite the assertion by the anonymous Bush official, the
masses of Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela are making their own history, in direct
conflict with the “empire.”
U.S. geopolitical position
But aside from revolutionary challenges,
Washington’s overall economic and geo poli tical position in the world is
Globalization—the spread of imperialist investment
throughout the globe—has built up the working class world-wide,
revolutionized communications, promo ted organization of the rural masses
who flood into urban sweatshops, and brought about the numerical and
technological advancement of workers, students and the middle classes across the
globe. It has even strengthened propertied classes with inte rests that are
antagonistic to imperialism.
The capitalist development of the forces of
production is rapidly making the world a place that is more and more difficult
for any imperialist power, even a so-called superpower such as the U.S., to
The world can see how U.S. military forces are overstretched.
It also saw the huge U.S. anti-war movement, which flared up during the
preparations for and the early stages of the Iraq War— a movement which
could easily rise again and on an even stronger, working-class basis.
world watches as an article in Newsweek magazine about outrages against Muslim
prisoners in Guantanamo flies around the globe on the Internet at the speed of
light and becomes fuel for a virtual uprising among the oppressed people of
Afghanistan suffering under U.S.- NATO occupation.
All these developments
undermine the chill of intimidation associated with threats from Washington and
change the psychology of leaders and governments—encouraging them in the
direction of independence and even defiance.
Latin America is a prime
example. “Jan. 1, 2005, was a significant date,” wrote the Green
Left Weekly of Australia on April 28, “not for what happened, but for what
didn’t. On that day the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas was supposed
to be signed. The FTAA was one of Washington’s pet projects—it was a
major step in removing barriers against U.S. corporate plunder in Latin America.
But by late 2004, the FTAA negotiation had been suspended, with governments in
Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay refusing to negotiate their
people’s future away.”
Counterpoised is the Bolivarian Alter
native for the Americas (ALBA), proposed by Hugo Chávez, to develop
regional economic integration in order to lessen Wall Street’s dominance.
Two strategic proposals by Venezuela—Petrosur, a Latin America-wide oil
company, and Telesur, a continental television channel—are designed to
break the stranglehold of CNN and the U.S. oil companies on the continent.
Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have recently announced the launching of
Petrosur. And Telesur is scheduled to begin broadcasting on May
Washington was looking forward to the UN sessions on the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty (NPT) to bulldoze Iran and North Korea into
capitulating to U.S. government threats and intimidation, to force them to
abandon the development of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
both governments have rebuf fed Washington’s threats. Furthermore, the
United Nations session was dominated by demands that the great powers reduce
their nuclear weapons.
Iran demands its rights
At the UN
sessions Iran asserted its legal right under the NPT to develop nuclear
technology for peaceful purposes, including uranium enrichment. All the threats
against Iran by Washington have united the country. The Iranian Parli ament
voted May 14 for a non-binding resolution insisting that the government resume
developing nuclear fuel, defying demands by the U.S. and European governments
that they halt all nuclear activity. The debate, in which 188 out of 205 members
voted for the resolution, was broadcast live over national radio.
Mostafa Moin, a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami and considered by the
U.S. to be a more conciliatory figure, was quoted as saying: “There is no
reason not to create nuclear energy and to use it in a peaceful way.”
According to the New York Times of May 16, “he noted that Iran’s
population has doubled, to more than 70 million, since the nation started
talking about developing nuclear energy with American support before the 1979
Others in the parliament denounced having “to
beg for the world to provide us with nuclear fuel.” This is in spite of
threats by Washington, and now Europe, to take the issue to the UN Security
Council for sanctions.
Washington has been even more strenuously stymied
in its attempt to isolate and disarm the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea (DPRK)—North Korea. Trying to use the UN NPT session as background
to scare tactics, Washington announced that it had “detected” plans
by the DPRK to test a nuclear weapon. The North Koreans ridiculed these charges
as “U.S. strategic opinions.”
Korea, China say
to U.S. bullying
The Bush administration,
which walked away from bilateral talks with the DPRK begun during the Clinton
administration, has sought to use the six-party talks with China, Russia, Japan,
South Korea and the U.S. to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear
North Korea has asserted that it won’t talk until
Washington changes its hostile attitude. It has also asserted its sovereign
right to self-defense and demanded that Washington talk with it directly, since
the U.S. is the power stoking the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
Bush administration’s big hope was that it could get China to pressure the
DPRK. Washington has urged China to use trade as a weapon against the DPRK to
force it to the six-party talks. China’s answer, according to the New York
Times of May 11, was: “We oppose trying to address the problem through
strong-arm tactics.” It was a blunt rebuff to U.S. imperialist aggressive
In fact, according to a World Food Program report citing
Chinese government statistics, China’s food aid has “soared in the
beginning of this year. By the organization’s estimate, China has sent
146,000 tons of food to North Korea in the first three months of this year,
compared to 165,000 tons for all of 2004.”
In addition, while the
imperialists have stopped oil shipments to the DPRK, China’s oil shipments
have continued and overall trade between China and North Korea increased 20
percent in the first quarter of 2005, compared with the same period a year
In the general area of trade
and influence, the People’s Republic of China has used its great advances
in manufacturing and technology to give Third World countries a trade and
development alternative to the extortionate and onerous terms of the giant
imperialist monopolies, the IMF and the World Bank.
The ALBA in Latin
America and the abil ity of Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and other countries to
buck Washington on eco nomic issues is greatly assisted by trade pacts and
development projects provided by China on equitable and favorable
China has opened up trade with 49 African countries and has
provided development projects including power stations, railways, highways,
telephone networks, bridges, cheap loans, and the reduction and even removal of
trade tariffs on Afri can products. Its investment in mining and oil gives these
countries alternatives to the super-exploiting control of the imperialist
Washington’s long-term strategy of using India against
China suffered a severe setback when, during a four-day state visit to India,
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an
11-point road map to settle their 40-year border dispute. According to The
Australian of April 13, the two governments spoke of “the Asian
century” in their agreement. While the border settlement is in its early
stages, the mere fact that two Asian countries, representing a third of the
world’s population, have moved closer together—i.e., in the opposite
geostrategic direction from that promoted by Washington for over four
decades—is a sign that the U.S. ruling class is losing its
Another potential setback for Wash ington in southwest Asia is the
prospect, being discussed by Iran, Pakistan and India, of running an oil
pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India. The negotiations follow the
signing of a 30-year, $60-billion oil pact between India and Iran. (Michael
Such an agreement also would militate against
U.S. government strategy in the region on several levels. It breaks up
Washington’s attempts to isolate Iran and defies the sanctions on oil
trade with Iran called for by Washington. Furthermore, it eases the tensions
between India and Pakistan, which has been part of Anglo-imperialist strategy
since Indian independence in 1948.
Condoleezza Rice, after meeting with
Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on March 16, said, “We have
communicated to the Indian government our concerns about the gas pipeline
cooperation between Iran and India.”
Beware of U.S.
The Bush administration has called Kim Il Sung of North
Korea a “tyrant.” Bush has denounced Iran and North Korea as part of
an “axis of evil.” Two weeks ago, on his trip to Moscow to
commemorate the 60th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in Europe, a feat
accomplished largely by the Soviet Red Army, he took the occasion to align
himself with Nazi sympathizers in the Latvian government and to antagonize the
Russian government by visiting the anti-Russian U.S.-puppet government in
After Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration thought it had a
mandate to take an historic counter-revolutionary initiative and seize control
of the world. Bush threatened “endless war,” talked about “you
are either with them or us,” and adopted a “my way or the
highway” attitude to the governments and the masses of the world. At the
time, some bourgeois critics quietly mentioned that this is what in warfare is
called a “self-isolating” strategy.
The entire posture was
predicated on the omnipotence of U.S. imperialism. But the ruling class should
soon start coming awake to the fact that four years after Sept. 11, the
reactionary program of world domination is in a complete stall—in Iraq, in
Afghanistan, in Latin America and all over the world.
reactionary rhetoric and diplomacy are a futile attempt to give the appearance
of forward momentum to a policy that has run up against the world’s
population and cannot go on in the present way.
Such moments are fraught
with danger for the peoples of the world because of the adventurist tendencies
of U.S. imperialism. But they are also pregnant with possibilities for
Washington has a historic tendency to deepen its militarism
during such crises. And doing so inevitably brings more suffering and more
resistance, both at home and abroad.
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