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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)

The arrogant “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 Pentagon.


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 alliance

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.

Despite $3 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 influence.

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
weakening globally

But aside from revolutionary challenges, Washington’s overall economic and geo poli tical position in the world is weakening.

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 dominate.

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.

The 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 24.

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.

Instead, 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.

Dr. 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 revolution.”

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 ‘no’
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 program.

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.

The 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 diplomacy.

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 ago.

India-China rapprochement

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 terms.

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 corporations.

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 grip.

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 Klare, http://www.tomdispatch.com)

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. adventurism

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 Georgia.

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.

Bush’s 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 struggle.

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.