Global Policy Forum

General Analysis of "Empire"

The Problem with Removing Dictators (August 7, 2012)

The Problem with Removing Dictators (August 7, 2012)

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The US has sought to expand its influence militarily through setting up military bases all over the world, waging preventive wars, and overthrowing leaders who oppose US policies. It justifies its actions by claiming to spread democracy and freedom. Further, the US seeks to maintain its top economic position by guaranteeing its oil and energy security. So is the US an empire? And is this good or bad? This section discusses the empire concept and whether the US should continue its current course of foreign policy.


 Articles | Archived



The Problem with Removing Dictators (August 7, 2012)

The United States and other Western powers often advocate for humanitarian intervention under the guise of being “protectors of universal human rights”. However, Pack and Hodson, the authors of this article, rightly propose that military intervention in Syria would only add to the instability and chaos.“Before embarking on a new course that might culminate in military intervention, Western leaders should review their "success rate" at militarily removing dictators.”Annan’s resignation should not be taken as failure of diplomacy. Instead, it highlights the deep internal fragmentation within Syrian society. What Syria needs is change from within: a sense of national unity and a rise of home-grown leadership.( Al Jazeera)

Humanitarian Intervention in Syria: A Classic Just War?(July 26,2012)

Supporters of military intervention in Syria have made their case along Just War theory lines, arguing that intervention was the ‘last resort’. The author of this article, Gerard Powers, (from the Kroc Institute) argues that Just War theory does not justify humanitarian intervention, especially in the case of Syria, which is at the center of multiple Middle East conflicts. According to Powers, while military intervention in Syria would be “relatively easy; building a more stable, just and peaceful Syria would not.” (Guardian)

A Vicious Cycle of Intervention in Somalia (July 30, 2012)

The United States’ presence in Somalia is a prime example of the “resiliency of unintended consequences.”  In the 1990’s the US attempted to ‘recreate’ Somalia, an intervention that lead to a military debacle. Today the US is back in Somalia, fighting Al-Shabab by proxy, under the justification of a global war against Al Qaeda. Washington continues to fund equipment for and train AU soldiers and is relying increasingly on private contractors within Somalia. Given the dismal record in Somalia, is the United States’ “humanitarian mission” likely to fail once again, paving the way for further interventions? (The National Interest)

Who Decided? How Did the U.S. Military Get Into Africa

Less than a decade ago, the United States had almost no military presence in Africa. Be it military intervention in Mali, or the rapidly growing US bases via AFRICOM, the US continues to expand its hold on Africa through the ‘Pentagon’s New Spice Route.” The US justifies drone campaigns in Yemen and Somalia, the deployment of private contractors and the use of African ports for the transport of US military equipment in the interests of US security. Is this a return to the age of imperialism?(Common Dreams)

To Aid Afghans, Not Just Afghanistan (July 7, 2012)

The author of this article, Giuliano Battiston, highlights the drawbacks in the allocation of humanitarian aid provided to Afghanistan. 84.6 % of this aid is spent on military operations in the country, 9.4 % on developmental aid and just 0.3% on UN Peacekeeping missions. The militarization of aid reflects the political and military interests of the West. Unilateral control of this “humanitarian” aid is an extension of Western intervention in Afghanistan. (IPS)

The Evil of Our Interventionist Wars (June 26,2012)

The author of this article, Jonathan Cook, compares Washington’s interventionist policies in the Middle East to the protagonist-antagonist dichotomy of a Hollywood movie. The United States and its allies continue to defend their presence in Iraq, Libya and now Syria, on humanitarian grounds. But that plot is getting old. The West’s geo-strategic interests are not lost on Cook, who believes that the United States has no right to play God. (Common Dreams)

Is A Military Intervention in Mali A Realistic Option? (June 25, 2012)

ECOWAS disguises its desire for a military intervention in Mali in humanitarian terms. The United Nations Security Council, however, is reluctant to authorize military intervention in Mali.  Previous UNSC resolutions on intervention in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire have been highly controversial. Intervening in Mali would complicate things further, as West African soldiers are unfamiliar with Mali’s desert terrain. The UNSC proposes diplomatic and political mediation, as opposed to military intervention, in an already unstable society.(ISS)

 The Intervention Dilemma(June13, 2012)

 The author of this article, Joseph Nye, states that, "Until last year, many observers regarded R2P as at best a pious hope or a noble failure." "Pious" and "noble" are hardly words that a political scientist should use for great power doctrines of military intervention.  Professor Nye, best known for his advocacy of "soft power," appears here to be a convert to hard power.  Nye is promoting R2P for Syria, albeit with some caveats. The dilemmas of intervention as outlined by Nye, bring to mind pertinent questions such as: "Why should Just War Theory, invented by theologians in the Middle Ages, be so trendy today?"(Al Jazeera)

If Europe is 'A Culture of Peace', Why NATO?

Europe seems to have developed a “culture of peace” within its own borders after the Second World War. The European Union deserves much credit for this, following centuries of warfare in the region. Despite the absence of “war talk” internally; Europe continues to wield its power through NATO, under the guise of collective security. Author, Richard Falk, describes Europe as a “willing and complicit junior partner” in the US- led military endeavors to exert control over the resources of the Global South. With Europe as the point of focus, Falk critically comments on the responsibility to protect (R2P), the role of the veto and the re-invented NATO as tools of the Western hegemony.(Al Jazeera)

The Golden Age of Special Operations (June 5, 2012)

President Obama relies on his success as a “war-ender” in Iraq. He  is quick to promise the same for Afghanistan. A far cry from a war-ender, however, Obama’s enthusiasm for instigating or expanding secret wars is disconcerting. Obama has endowed the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) with a privileged status, which guarantees autonomy without accountability. Letting the special ops ‘off their leash’ has allowed for the widening of the civilian-military gap. The Obama administration deems the special ops necessary, but this new system of shadow wars and drones gives Obama an almost imperial presidency.(Al Jazeera)

Afghanistan: Our Modern Opium War (April 1, 2012)

This Guardian article attempts to frame the occupation of Afghanistan not as part of the United States’ "War on Terror", but rather as part of its "War on Drugs". In doing so, it highlights some of the conceptual failures of mainstream analysis of the war. While "fighting for freedom" and "neutralizing the threat of Islamic terrorism" in Afghanistan, Western forces are also occupying a nation whose economic cornerstone, opium, is forbidden by the legal and political norms of the occupying nations. However, this economic dynamic is rarely if ever considered, as government and media discourse places the ongoing war within the tradition of wars fought for profoundly different reasons - for example the Vietnam war. This unimaginative approach shields the true power dynamics of the occupation, and confuses attempts to disengage or formulate a peaceful future for Afghanistan. (Guardian)

When Engagement Becomes Complicity: Honduras and the Obama Administration (March 16, 2012)

Since the 2009 “constitutional crisis” in Honduras – widely regarded as the 21st Century’s first coup d’état – violence has characterized the everyday life of the country.  Brutal and increasingly dominant transnational crime, pervasive political violence (120 assassinations in 2010-2011), state oppression of journalists and rival political parties, widespread land grabbing, and sexual violence, has seen Honduras labeled with the “failed state” epithet.  But despite the innumerable human rights violations perpetrated by the Honduran state, the US government continues to back it with aid for its military and police. (Americas Program)

America's Subversion of Haiti's Democracy Continues (March 13, 2012)

In the US, the political discourse surrounding Haiti’s continuing instability is rooted in terms which implicitly (or explicitly) blame Haitians and Haitians alone (as if Haiti had thus far existed in a political and economic vacuum). “Armed gangs”, “political violence”, “crime” and “squalor” are the standard phrases for political and media commentators. This language forms the justification for constant intervention, which boils down to “we must save Haitians from themselves.” This Guardian article offers a brief review of the ongoing anti-democratic measures – legal, military, and economic – deployed by the US since Aristide and the Famni Lavalas party was first elected in 1990. (Guardian)

The 0% Doctrine: Obama Breaks New Ground When it Comes to War With Iran (March 12, 2012)

Twin dynamics in US politics have, since the 1990s, significantly changed the superpower’s approach to war-making. The personalization of power around the executive has distanced the decision-making process from the citizenry, including Congress, and has confined it to the Oval Office. Equally, the barriers to conflict entry have diminished to such a degree that even Cheney’s 1% doctrine seems restrictive in comparison to today’s rhetoric. When the rhetoric of casus belli insists on “red-lines” being crossed, where are these lines, and who sets them? Tom Engelhardt explains. (TomDispatch)

Reflections from the Far Reaches of American Empire (February 28, 2012)

Kai Eide, the former UN envoy to Afghanistan, has authored a book on his time there. In this article, Colum Lynch highlights the battle between Eide and US envoy Richard Holbrooke, and how US power was brought to bear over the UN’s conduct there. The book also illustrates the day-to-day machinations of empire, and how news of civilian deaths getting out was seen as far, far worse than the actual killing of civilians.  (Foreign Policy)

Offshore Everywhere: How Drones, Special Operations Forces, and the U.S. Navy Plan to End National Sovereignty As We Know It (February 5, 2012)

The US military has positioned many drone bases “offshore,” making it easier for drones to cross nation-state boundaries. It has also increased its CIA backed special operations force, which often uses drones. The merge of special operations forces with drone technology has hidden US military operations from public scrutiny. Allowing US drones to cross boundaries is a step towards establishing a free reigning and literally dehumanized US military empire.(TomDispatch)


Bin Laden Made News, Not History (September 7, 2011)

In the last decade Bin Laden has seemingly been a major influence on US policy making. However, former UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, points out other radical changes during the last 10 years which have more significantly altered the political landscape. The rise of new powers such as Brazil, India and China, the upsurge of protests in the Middle East, and the “militarization of diplomacy” have had a significant impact on policy. In response to these changes, Miliband advocates a return to diplomacy and multilateralism in international relations. (Project Syndicate)

Double Standards, Military Addictions and Syria (August 19, 2011)

The United States has issued a statement calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. While affirming the need for an international response to the crisis in Syria, Richard Falk highlights the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s comments. He argues that it is another attempt to intervene in Middle Eastern affairs and is evidence of the Washington’s addiction to military force and double standards.(Citizen Pilgrimage)

Genocidal Politics and the Somalia Famine (July 30, 2011)

This Al Jazeera article argues that the famine in Somalia is a result of local, national and international politics. The Somali people have been made vulnerable to exhausted food resources due to continuous military and political interventions in the region – particularly by Ethiopia, the AU and the US. The US and its allies have sought to defeat the “Islamic terrorist” group al-Shabaab, putting millions of people at risk. Somalia’s famine is due not only to al-Shabaab’s presence in the country and ecological disturbances but also to geopolitics. (Al Jazeera)

Bahrain: The Crises of Monarchy (July 25, 2011)

The ruling family in Bahrain (the Al-Khalifa family) has responded to protestors in a brutal and misjudged fashion.  Bahraini forces have attacked symbols of national unity, enticed further sectarian divisions and permitted Saudi and Emirati troops to enter Bahrain in order to quash protesters. The Bahraini Shi’a community and sections of the Sunni community have expressed concern about Saudi interference in Bahrain. The Al-Khalifa family's government has attempted to persuade the west that the opposition they face is being instigated by Shi’a Iran. This is a convenient explanation for the west to accept; it allows policy-makers to avoid the truth that Bahrain's unrest is part of the Arab spring and - as with Egypt and Syria - is primarily a contest between those who seek reform and democracy, and those who seek to maintain autocratic control over power and resources. (OpenDemocracy)

Obama's Expanded Militarism (July 21, 2011)

US President Barack Obama speaks of law and allies instead of war and an “axis of evil” giving the impression that there has been a shift in US security strategy. Rather than diminishing its military engagement, however, the US continues to expand the use of force through drones. The author contends that drones are potentially worse than previous counter-terrorism efforts. The ease of using drones and the lack of US casualties may shield the attacks from adverse public opinion. Further, they militarize global social spaces in a new manner. The decision to move away from ground troops and land invasions is not part of a “progressive” move away from aggressive foreign policy but a logical accommodation to a globalized world of disorder, says Srinivasan. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

US Claims of ‘No Civilian Deaths’ in Pakistan Drone Strikes are Untrue (July 18, 2011)

The London based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (the BIJ) has found claims by the US government that “there hasn’t been a single collateral [civilian] death” in Pakistan since August 2010 to be untrue. Following a detailed examination by the BIJ of 116 CIA “secret” drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2010 it found that 10 of the drones constituted attacks and killed at least 740 people, among them known fighters and those assumed to be of lower rank. But civilian deaths have also been credibly reported. To date, the BIJ has identified 45-56 civilian victims, including six children. There is also evidence to warrant investigation into at least 15 further strikes, in which 66 or more additional civilians may have died. (Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

American Militarism Is Not A Fairy Tale (June 14, 2011)

Civilian control and oversight of the military is diminishing in the US. Military leaders now regularly head US civilian intelligence agencies, as in the case of General David Petraeus (who is presently US Afghan War Commander and former Iraq War Commander and who will run the CIA). Civilian agencies, such as the CIA, are increasingly involved in militarized actions, such as the “covert” air wars in Yemen. At the same time, civilians are encouraged to “worship” the military and acts of violence romanticized. The US President and elected representatives must effectively oversee the military to ensure that the military is not jeopardizing the national security interests they assert they are protecting. (Tom Dispatch)

100% Scared: How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears (June 9, 2011)

The author argues that the US’ focus on counter-terrorism has resulted in a “National Security Complex”. This has enabled the yearly US national security budget to grow to more than $1.2 trillion in spite of the fact that the largest security threats to citizens are not rooted in terrorism. Any potential act of terrorism, no matter how small, is a further excuse for funding an already bloated industry. At the same time, the US military engages in newer more violent actions, such as droning areas from Pakistan to Yemen which has the effect of creating terrorists rather than destroying them. Thus, rather than protecting national security, the “National Security Complex” supports the economic interests of those within the industry.  (Tom Dispatch)

Occupying Iraq, State Department-Style (June 7, 2011)

In October 2011, full responsibility for the US’ presence in Iraq will be transferred from the US military to the Department of State. The US embassy in Iraq is the largest embassy in the world but the Department of State has requested that its budget for 2012 almost triple in size (to $6.3billion) and expects to double its presence to 17,000 personnel. This number includes mercenaries and support roles, with only a few hundred traditional diplomats. Thus, Iraq will continue to be run by a heavily militarized US State Department -- unless Congress refuses to pay for it. This is unlikely to be received well in a changing and increasingly politicized Middle East. (Tom Dispatch)

Welcome to Post-Legal America - Dumb Question of the Twenty-first Century: Is It Legal?  (May 30, 2011)

Tom Engelhardt, author of “The American Way of War”, suggests that the rule of law no longer applies when the US acts in protection of its interests internationally. The discussion concerning the legality of the intervention in Libya, the extra-judicial execution of Bin Laden, the targeting by the Obama administration of a US citizen for assassination, and the use of torture as a legitimate interrogation technique are examples that highlight the lack of consideration given by US officials for international legal norms and the application of the rule of law -both domestically and abroad. At the same time, small acts of dissent attract disproportionate responses. (Tom Dispatch)

Article: Obama’s Reset: Arab Spring or Same Old Thing? (May 17, 2011)

On Thursday May 19, according to administration officials, the US president will “reset” American policy in the Middle East with a major address offering a comprehensive look at the Arab Spring, “a unified theory about the popular uprisings from Tunisia to Bahrain,” and possibly a new approach to the region. Regardless of the rhetoric, however, the administration’s record shows the US has sought to arm some of the most anti-democratic regimes in the Middle East, while repeatedly highlighting the need for democratic reform.  From 2006 to 2009, the US accounted for 52.4% of all arms agreements with Middle Eastern nations. The Pentagon facilitates arms deals, ever more heavily, with oil-rich rulers in the Arab world, a number of who have orchestrated violent responses to pro-democracy protests. (Tom Dispatch)

Responsibility to Protect – The Cases of Libya and the Ivory Coast (May 15, 2011)

Marjorie Cohn, professor of International Human Rights Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, critically questions the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. In Libya the US, UK and France quickly resorted to military action - rejecting Libya’s offer to accept international monitors and Qadaffi’s offer to step down and leave Libya. Double standards in the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine are also apparent.  The US have not attacked Bahrain, where lethal force is being used to quell anti-government protests, nor have they responded to the Arab League’s request for the Security Council to consider imposing a no-fly-zone over the Gaza Strip in order to protect civilians from Israeli air strikes. Such double standards suggest that the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine will be used only against countries with leaders who do not favor US or European Union interests. (

The Targeted Assassination of Osama Bin Laden (May 10, 2011)

The targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden violated well-established principles of international law, constituting an extrajudicial execution. In spite of its illegality, the Obama administration frequently uses targeted assassinations to accomplish its goals, for example, in Yemen the US targeted Anwar al-Awlaki, who has not been charged with any crime in the US. The unmanned drone attack in Yemen missed al-Awlaki and killed two people.  Recent US drones in Pakistan have killed more than 59 people.  Osama bin Laden and the “suspected militants” targeted in drone attacks should have been arrested and tried in US courts or an international tribunal. After the Holocaust, the US government opposed the extrajudicial executions of Nazi officials, favoring independent trials. The US president cannot act as judge, jury and executioner. These assassinations are not only illegal; they create a dangerous precedent, which could be used to justify the targeted killings of US leaders. (Common Dreams)

Ugandan Spring?: “Instability” Spreads to East Africa (May 9, 2011)

Anti-government protests erupted in Uganda's capital, Kampala, on Friday April 29. Long-time Ugandan president and loyal US ally, Yoweri Museveni, has vowed that he will defeat any opposition to his rule, which is now in its 26th year. Hundreds participated in a demonstration on April 14 where security forces reportedly showed an “overpowering display of force” by beating protesters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds, and arresting over 130 people. National demonstrations, thought to be driven primarily by the rise in fuel and food prices, culminated in the riots on April 29 when citizens burned tires and set up blockades throughout Kampala. The Museveni government dispatched security forces. Security forces violently suppressed the uprising leaving five people dead, 150 injured, and 350 arrested. (ZNet)

R2P is Misused (May 5, 2011)

This article considers the legal parameters of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” (R2P) in light of UN resolutions on international interventions in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire.  UN resolutions relating to Libya and Cote d’Ivoire were issued under Chapter 7 and the guise of customary international laws relating to humanitarian intervention and the international community’s responsibility to protect vulnerable civilians.  In reality, however, the focus in both Libya and Cote d’Ivoire is on strategic warfare rather than on protecting the basic needs of people living in insecure areas.  The author of the article suggests that ensuring people have access to shelter or bringing civilians to safe security zones, which may be cities or temporary refugee camps, should be the priorities of any force acting under the precept of humanitarian intervention or R2P. (Open Democracy)

Osama Dead and Alive: Osama bin Laden’s American Legacy (May 5, 2011)

Tom Engelhardt, author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s, suggests US actions following 9/11 did not reflect those of a nation seeking to bring bin Laden to justice but were instead driven by imperialistic aims (including protecting US oil interests).  Following bin Laden’s death, the US will continue to portray al-Qaeda members as global orchestrators of mass terror and violence in order to conceal otherwise imperialistic intents.  This is in spite of the fact that al-Qaeda now hardly impacts Middle Eastern and North African policy.  The memory of Osama bin Laden will continue to justify a global ‘war on terror’ that has more to do with serving US economic and military interests’ than pursuing international justice. (Tom Dispatch)

US Envoy's Business Link to Egypt? (February 7, 2011)

It is not surprising that the US response to the Egypt protests has been dictated by vested interests.  It is surprising, however, just how blatant these interests are.  It has been revealed that the US envoy to Cairo, Frank Wisner, is employed by Washington law firm Patton Boggs, which advises the Mubarak government.  The link between the firm and Mubarak sheds light on Wisner's comment that "President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical: it's his opportunity to write his own legacy."  While this has not been the official rhetoric of the US government, one must ask whether the underlying motivation in sending Wisner was to convince Mubarak to maintain the status quo. (The Independent)

Does it Matter if the Torturer is Right-Handed or Left-Handed? (February 1, 2011)

US President Barack Obama has been slow to express support for Egypt's democratic protestors, and what little support has been restrained. This restraint is explained by Egypt's strategic importance for the US. The US has directly supported the repressive Mubarak in the past, including providing military aid, totaling about of 35 billion dollars. The US is too invested in the regime to push for Mubarak's immediate removal, and has instead called for a "peaceful transition" to democracy. This article considers the vested interests which underlie US support for autocratic governments such as Egypt. (IPS)


After False Promises, the Heat Is On (September 21, 2010)

US occupation in 2003 exacerbated Iraq's development problems, destroying national institutions and local infrastructure. The problems have become worsened in the present with the collapse of the power supply and the water infrastructure that has devastated both farmers and city dwellers. Two Iraqis have been killed by the police in Basra while protesting against the power shortages, and the ongoing protests over the summer led to a resignation by the electricity minister. Iraqs's socio-economic development continues to suffer because of increasing security problems posed by consistent bombings, road closures and corrupt politicians.

Rights Groups Leery of Surge in Wartime Contractors (September 16, 2010)

The US withdrawal of troops from Iraq has been followed by a doubling of the number of private security contractors from 2,700 to 7,000. Private contractors greatly outnumber U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with an additional 50,000 contractors being called to support the Afghan war, with a budget of approximately 14 billion dollars a year. Attorney Melina Milazzo's report on the issue demonstrates that the U.S. government is unable to protect civilians from armed contractors and that urgent action is required before the planned increase in the number of private security contractors in the two countries.

Video: The US Between Two Wars (August 30, 2010)

As Washington withdraws its troops from Iraq, its military operations in Afghanistan intensify with an increasing death toll and political carnage. This video features a panel discussion on the US strategy in the Middle East and South Asia investigating whether its superpower status has finally been eroded. The Afghanistan and Iraq occupation has unleashed unprecedented havoc in the world in an effort to secure global leadership. This debate investigates the ramifications of the war in the two countries, the moral justifications for it, and analyses the withdrawal of troops from Iraq as a 'rebranding' of the occupation (Youtube).

Video: Noam Chomsky's Recorded Address to the United National Peace Conference Media Sanctuary (August 17, 2010)

Noam Chomsky's recent lecture draws attention to the US government's interest in the Middle East and the increased military spending that continues to swell the government's deficit. Chomsky argues that Washington has a continued interest in Iraq and plans to stay there. Meanwhile Iran's nuclear program interferes with US's global designs, specifically its efforts to control Middle Eastern energy resources. Chomsky sees Iran's nuclear program is part of its "deterrence" strategy, while he says that Washington's threats of military action are in violation of the UN charter (Youtube)

Political Theatre Masks US-Israel Tensions (July 7, 2010)

Will talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama lead to significant policy changes?  Many suspect that the meetings in D.C. will be more "window dressing" for an enduring and unshakable alliance between the two countries.  For decades, the US has given Israel preferential treatment in the Middle East-providing unparalleled military and economic assistance and supporting its policies, often at the expense of human rights.  Some argue that this "special relationship" shields Israel's actions from the stringent application of international legal standards.  But is the Obama Administration's support of Israel waning?  And if so, what does this show about the role of the US as the global hegemon? (BBC)

The Global War on Tribes (April 13, 2010)

The "War of Terror" has expanded from Afghanistan and Iraq to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and beyond. The main targets in this war against "Islamist Terrorism" are tribal regions. Indeed little seems to have changed since 19th Century western imperialism. Western society continues to portray tribes as primitive or backward, and - not understanding them - dismisses them as "lawless" and as "terrorist havens," thereby justifying the pillaging of their natural resources or other geo-strategic goals. (Counter Punch)


Martinique's Tough Choice (October 16, 2009)

In January 2009, rioting in Guadeloupe, Martinique and la Reunion reopened the debate about the future of France's neo-empire. A referendum in  Martinique and Guyana has been scheduled for January 2010 concerning the future of their relationship with France. Garcin Malsa, mayor of St Anne, insists that Martinique can only escape its colonized past by gaining full independence. Yet the referendum does not offer the option of independence, proposing instead the status of "autonomy." (Prospect)

The Old, Grey Commonwealth Ain't What It Used To Be (October 16, 2009)

The Commonwealth has become largely irrelevant, eclipsed by regional integration organizations such as the EU. While any European can live and work in Britain, Canadians need to go through a tight visa process to do so, while Sri Lankans may find it hard simply to visit. But the Commonwealth is unable to push for a stronger role, as doing so would challenge other relations countries find important, and may raise cries of neo-imperialism .  Stuck in this conundrum, Doug Sanders suggests it may be time for the Commonwealth to lay down the flag and end the post-colonial era. (Globe and Mail)

Money and Mandarin Fuel China's African Invasion (October 15, 2009)

China's engagement in Africa has been rapidly growing since the turn of the century, although the US and EU involvement is still higher.  China's influence has various facets: while it provides free teaching  of Mandarin in Liberia -  in order to "promote understanding"  -  it is also preparing to offer the Guinea £4.3bn in mineral deals. The military junta in power in Guinea would be likely to remain in power thanks to such a deal.  (The Independent)

NATO Chief Urges Bigger European Role in Afghan War (August 3, 2009)

On the very first day of his job, NATO's new secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has asked Europe to play a bigger role in the Afghan war. With the new increase of American troops in the country, there will be two US soldiers for every non-American one. Rasmussen argued that "it is essential to keep this as a multilateral project, not least for political reasons." He urged Europe to ensure that the USA does not feel alone in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. (New York Times)

Empire's Paranoia About the Pashtuns (July 28, 2009)

Pashtun territory in Pakistani has posed a challenge to many empires. The Pashtuns defeated the British several times, attracting the fury and scorn of Winston Churchill. Russia and Iran also looked at this region with great alarm. Today U.S. and NATO are spending blood and treasure in another vain effort to forcibly shape the politics of the 38 million Pashtuns. (TomDispatch)

West's Afghan War and Drive into Caspian Sea Basin (July 10, 2009)

Continued violence in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan is the most visible reminder of geostrategic competition for oil resources in Asia. The strategic axis of Russia-Armenia-Iran has a powerful influence in the Caucasus. It is challenged by the US and NATO with a counter axis of Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan. Recently, the US and NATO have launched their largest combat offensive to date. The US troop contingent has nearly doubled since last year and will be in the neighborhood of 70,000 soldiers by year's end. (Yahoo)

Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away (June 22, 2009)

The US looks at Iran as a country of religious radicalism and terrorist activities in the Middle East. This article points out how the US was responsible for putting an end to democratic government in Iran and how even today principles of democracy are deeply rooted in the country. Thousands of Iranians, with courage and tenacity, have denounced the recent dubious elections.(CommonDreams)

The World Must Forge a New Order or Retreat to Chaos (January 20, 2009)

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger calls for the establishment of a new international order in which global institutions control and regulate the financial system. Kissinger supports the creation of an international political regulatory system that would set up general rules. If implemented, such global institutions would reduce the financial sovereignty of nations, hinder the influence of regions – in which the US wields limited authority, and extend US involvement in world affairs. The new international order, according to Kissinger, would revolve around the US with China as its main partner. (Independent)

There is No Peace Dividend: Reflections on Empire, Inequality, and "Brand Obama" (January 2009)

A call for change and peace lay at the heart of President-elect Obama's campaign promises. But his foreign policy could turn out to be far more "hawkish" than his electorate expects. The defense budget has hit record highs and is larger than social expenditures. But Obama is not planning to reduce it. This stance pushes author Paul Street to question the legitimacy of President-elect Obama as the "anti-establishment" candidate. Instead he sees the next president as a "symbol of imperial ‘re-branding'." (Zmag)


Visionaries of the American Empire: Alexander Hamilton and Alfred Thayer Mahan (December 9, 2008)

Francis P. Sempa analyses the influence of two prominent US figures that advocated for expansion and believed in the "destiny" of the United States to play a leading role in world affairs. Former Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton shaped US economic institutions on the British Empire model. At the end of the 19th century US Navy admiral Alfred Mahan believed a strong navy was key to national prosperity and expansion. Both figures envisioned the US as "the geopolitical successor to the British Empire," and their ideas contributed to the rise of the US as a global superpower in the 20th century. (American Diplomacy)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: A League of Autocracies? (September 16, 2008)

When the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was chartered in 2002, its main rationale was to combat "terrorism, separatism and extremism." However, David Schneider reveals that the SCO aims to develop Chinese statecraft in Central Asia and replace Russia as the regional hegemon. Through a historical review of China's involvement in this region, Schneider points out that China's control of the western frontiers is primordial for its survival as "no Chinese regime has survived the loss of control over the empire's western frontiers." The SCO is not an alliance between countries that share common autocratic ideologies, but a device to secure China's own domestic political stability. (American Diplomacy)

Rethinking the National Interest (July/August 2008)

In this Foreign Affairs article, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explains how the US has shaped the world in its national interest through a "uniquely American realism." Rice favors the use of force by the United States to democratize countries so that they will share "common values" with the US. She also insists that "there are few problems in the world that can be solved without us." She does not comment on whether US values are in the interest of other countries, but she states that "We Americans engage in foreign policy because we have to, not because we want to, and this is a healthy disposition—it is that of a republic, not an empire."

How the US Can Learn to Survive and Thrive (November 2008)

In his book "The Post-American World" Fareed Zakaria analyses the rise of emerging countries and how the West should react to a "post-US era." Zakaria believes that unlike Great Britain in the 20th century, the US has economic creativity and a strong demographic growth due to immigration. He recommends the US keep its global position of superiority like Germany's Bismarck did in Europe, by maintaining good relations with other countries and becoming a global consultative "broker." That way the US can strengthen cooperation and thereby exercise "smart power." (Le Monde diplomatique)

US-India Nuclear Deal Passes Congress (October 2, 2008)

After several failed attempts to get India to sign the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, the US plans to supply India with nuclear technology. The US- India nuclear deal does not only appeal to the economic interests of France and Russia, but also permits the US to employ India as a counterweight in the region against China. (Mother Jones)

The New Geopolitics of Energy (May 1, 2008)

The US and China have configured their military networks for global resource competition, argues Michael Klare. Both powers respond to intense bidding wars for oil on international markets, by increasing military buildup and projecting power in regions like the Middle East. The US and China face a stark policy choice, Klare claims: either they fight to the last drop of oil, or they scale down military operations and cooperate in funding development of renewable energy sources. (The Nation)

The Future of American Power (May 2008)

The US will remain a dominant power if only Washington would "accept some pain now for great gain later," argues wishfully the editor of Foreign Affairs, Fareed Zakaria. In contrast to the British Empire, the US is not suffering from irreversible economic deterioration, asserts Zakaria. Rather, it faces a political challenge. The rise of China, Europe and India undermines the US role as the global source of innovation. Zakaria argues that the US can avoid this challenge through policy adjustments, like greater funding for scientific training.

Myth of the New Cold War (April 2008)

This Prospect essay argues that for two centuries, Anglo-US policymakers cultivated a caricature of Russia as "America's dark double" so they could mobilize popular ideological support for US foreign projects. Political thinkers, from nineteenth-century slave abolitionists to modern presidents, have argued that Russia requires a Western model of social "freedoms." Some politicians still stoke this myth with tales of the undemocratic and militaristic practices of Russia's ruling elite. The author points out that, whilst President Vladimir Putin's government has a record of human rights abuse and a penchant for military adventure, it has not precipitated a "new Cold War."

Empire or Humanity? (April 1, 2008)

Two centuries of US politicians have described their foreign military operations as "benign" projects to spread "civilization" abroad. Howard Zinn argues that US leaders cannot feign benevolence when a long history suggests otherwise. This essay sheds light on US expansion as a "succession of violent interventions" from the wars with Mexico, to the removal of the democratic Iranian Mossadeq government by the CIA, and recently the occupation of Iraq. (TomDispatch)


The Theology of American Empire (November 7, 2007)

This article claims that US foreign policy builds on a Christian foundation. The first one to introduce the notion of Original Sin into foreign policy was Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian known for relating the Christian faith to modern politics. The ideology of "Realism" argues that individuals are evil and selfish and that governments will pursue their self-interest by any means. The author claims that this world view still prevails in the US and it explains the aggressive actions of the government. (AlterNet)

Why Did We Invade Iraq Anyway? (October 30, 2007)

The Bush administration and some Democratic presidential candidates justify continued US presence in Iraq as necessary to secure vital national security interests and to fight terrorism. According to Michael Schwartz this vague reasoning cannot hide the reality that since the Second World War the US has viewed oil in the Middle East as "one of the greatest material prizes in world history." He argues that the rise of OPEC, the US alliance with Saudi Arabia, the formation of foreign policy by neoconservatives including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney provide the historical background for the invasion of Iraq. (Tomdispatch)

The American Conundrum (September 17, 2007)

This essay poses some essential questions about the US "empire" and its self-image as the protector of the world with a right and a duty to impose democracy in the world. Arguing that this self-image is dangerous, the author presents a contrasting view, in which US leaders and powerful business constantly seek to expand markets for US products and increase control over natural resources. The author calls on US civil society needs to step forward to be the "impetus for positive change." (Share the Worlds Resources)

Seven Years in Hell (September 4, 2007)

Seven Years in Hell (September 4, 2007) This essay investigates the "imperial nature" of US foreign policy since the Second World War and shows how the US since then has undergone a transformation from a republic to an empire. The author draws comparisons to the Roman Empire and argues that the US today, just like the Roman Empire then, has an "over-confident military" and acts "fiscally irresponsibly." Will this lead the US to the same fate as its predecessor? (TomDispatch)

Clinton, Kissinger and the Corruptions of Empire (July 26, 2007)

This Nation article argues that the secrecy and corruption surrounding Washington's diplomacy eliminate leaders' accountability and therefore help maintain the US Empire. The White House can choose its international allies and enemies and conduct trade and war "based on unspoken whims and self-serving schemes." The author criticizes the undemocratic nature of these and other practices, such as refusing to hold talks with parties that Washington considers controversial, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the Sweep of History (July, 2007)

US policy-makers justify "American imperialism" in the name of freedom as a "cloak" for aggressive national interest, Anatol Lieven argues. Yet, great powers can dispose of this "liberal imperialist" ideology and spread genuine and equitable democracy by embracing two traditionally opposed, but compatible, values: unflinching respect for state sovereignty on the one hand; and an appreciation of states' internal social conditions on the other. For the US, Lieven urges, this requires a foreign policy that opens US markets to poor countries and offers them generous aid for domestic reform. (Boston Review)

Permanent Bases the World Over: Behold the American Empire (June 14, 2007)

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, mainstream media outlets reported very little on the multi-billion dollar construction of US military bases and the massive embassy in Baghdad, essentially ignoring evidence of a permanent US presence in the country. But recently, the media have begun to portray this long-term plan – the "Korea model" – as "breaking news." Describing US military interventions in other countries as "the American way of Empire," this TomDispatch article, however, argues that the Bush administration has long held such imperial ambitions.



Imperialism 101 (September 17, 2006)

This ZNet article chronicles US imperial intervention in the affairs of other countries. The Bush administration has taken these tendencies to great lengths, engaging in preventative wars when it claims a "perceived threat" to US national security exists. The article concludes that throughout a great portion of history, US governments have implemented regime changes abroad under the guise of spreading democracy. They have done so through diplomacy, bribing and giving money to the opposition, covertly assassinating leaders or engaging in war.

The Project for a New American Empire (August 9, 2006)

This Sojourners article discusses the "Project for the New American Century" under US President George W. Bush. The conservative think-tank, which aims to promote American global leadership, called for "an aggressive foreign policy with a then-unprecedented military buildup" to retain US hegemony. Before 2000, Democratic politicians largely rejected the project "as the work of hardliners." However, the author argues that its steadfast implementation since President Bush's election, most notably the implementation of a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, begs the question of whether US citizens were manipulated into following a foreign policy they did not vote for.

An Imperial Defeatist -- And Proud of It (July 20, 2006)

This TomDispatch article argues that a decline in US preeminence would benefit the country and the international community. The US cannot prosper as long as it continues to pursue energy resources under the guise of spreading democracy. US international intervention weakens the economy, bankrupts the government, endangers US citizens and decimates the country's international standing.

The Force Is Not with Them (July 17, 2006)

This TomDispatch article discusses the expansion of "Pax Americana," or "The American Empire," as a fundamental tenet of the Bush administration. Adherents of "Pax Americana" believe that force solves global issues, placing emphasis on a technologically advanced military. The unconditional reliance on military coercion has led to an interminable war involving multiple governments and proxy wars. The author warns that diplomatic options may quickly slip away.

American World Order (March 5, 2006)

The latest book by Michael Mandelbaum, called "The Case for Goliath," deals with "America's role as the world's government in the twenty-first century," this New York Times book review reports. Mandelbaum is generally positive about the US role as global hegemon, but argues that the US increasingly antagonizes other countries by disobeying the general rules – such as its rejection of the International Criminal Court.

Chalmers Johnson on Our Military Empire (March 2006)

In this TomDispatch interview, author Chalmers Johnson exposes the imperial nature of US foreign policy. The US operates what he calls "an empire of bases," which are spread all around the globe. According to Johnson, past empires tried to disguise their military, but in the US, militarism has become a way of life. The Military-Industrial Complex exerts pervasive influence in the US and fosters this militaristic attitude.


The Empire: What It Is and What It Means for All of Us (December 30, 2005)

This Centre for Research on Globalization article criticizes how Washington uses its overwhelming military power and economic dominance to disregard international law. The "total spectrum dominance" leads the Bush administration to prefer unilateralism to multilateralism and coercion to negotiation. However, the article speculates that the declining credibility of the US at home and abroad will eventually lead to the fall of this "first global empire."

Empire Made Easy (November 4, 2005)

According to former US Defense Department strategist Thomas P.M. Barnett the US can alleviate the world's problems through "conquest, occupation and occasional diplomacy." In the process, Barnett adds, Washington will use the power of globalization to bring democracy, which will eventually eradicate terrorism. This article asks if Barnett's "war-to-end-all-wars" strategy reflects the "intrinsically beneficent" power of the US empire. (In These Times)

The White House Cabal (October 2005)

Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, comments on the decision making processes at the White House during his tenure. The country's most vital foreign policy and national security decisions, including the war in Iraq, are the result of Washington's "insular and secretive" decision-making processes, Wilkerson argues. Wilkerson warns that similar processes have brought "national embarrassment" to the US in the past, like in the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. (Los Angeles Times)

The Americanization of Globalization: Reflections of a Third World Intellectual (September/October 2005)

Abid Hassan Minto, a professor of constitutional law in Pakistan, criticizes Washington's worldwide pursuit of corporate interests to the detriment of rights and sovereignty of nations. Minto warns that the Bush administration's war in Iraq, the USA Patriot Act, and the ill-treatment of prisoners at detention centers only creates more resentment and anger towards the US. Emphasizing the growing demand for "universal jurisdiction," Minto urges the world community to respect international law and "promote regional cooperation." (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs)

The Neoconservative Convergence (July 21, 2005)

Well-known conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer discusses the evolution of US foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. Claiming that each of the major schools of US political ideology has taken a turn at running things, he praises the "maturing" policies of today's neoconservative Bush administration, contrasting them favorably with "realism" under President George H. Bush, and "liberal internationalism" under President Bill Clinton. He presents the neoconservative philosophy as one who's "time has come," and worryingly suggests that after Afghanistan and Iraq, the US must target Lebanon and Syria. (Opinion Journal)

Celebrating Independence in the Era of Empire (July 3, 2005)

Common Dreams urges US citizens to use Independence Day to reflect on how "empire-building is destroying the soul of our nation," and what "independence" really means today. The author contrasts Thomas Jefferson's 1791 warning that "we should have nothing to do with conquest" with increases in US military spending levels, base building and "usurpations" on foreign soil. He urges the US to reclaim its founding spirit, and do away with imperialist ambitions.

How To Change Ugly Regimes (June 27, 2005)

Fareed Zakaria argues that active US attempts to induce regime change in countries like Iran and Cuba through sanctions "has become a substitute for actual policy," with "the opposite effect than is intended." Suggesting that the alternative strategy of "conditional engagement" with US-despised governments in Libya and Vietnam has empowered civil society and helped encourage reform, this Newsweek article makes a case for normalization rather than isolation

Fear as Foreign Policy (June 16, 2005)

According to TomPaine, the Bush administration's foreign policy follows Machiavelli's dictum that it is "far safer to be feared than loved." The White House finds no embarrassment in evidence of abuse in US custody, nor violent engagements in Iraq. Washington wants foreigners to be aware of what happens if you're "against us." "Gruesome disclosures serve a purpose: to create the kind of visceral fear abroad about the United States that the administration can exploit in its global "war on terror."

"Evolution" Preferred Over "Revolution" in Arab Lands (June 9, 2005)

A Council on Foreign Relations report urges the US to rethink its approach to democracy promotion. Instead of current US rhetoric, which espouses democratic ideals yet is followed with support for non-democratic policies in the Middle East, Washington should encourage genuine pathways to reform. Above all, the US must be "mindful that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside and that sudden, traumatic change is neither necessary nor desirable." (Inter Press Service)

The Right's Hostility to NGOs Glimpsed in Amnesty Flap (June 6, 2005)

As this Inter Press Service article makes clear, the recent Bush administration attack on Amnesty International is but a small facet of the neo-conservative campaign to de-legitimize NGOs. By branding influential organizations as part of a "veritable conspiracy of leftists and ‘globalists'" who wish to "subvert […] democratic governance," Washington attempts to damage civil society and so strengthen its authority.

Democracy Starts at Home (April 6, 2005)

Economist Joseph Stiglitz points out the "hypocricy" of the Bush administration's democracy expansion theory, given the selective critiques it has chosen to pronounce on the world. Questioning Bush's true motives, Stiglitz argues that the administration must first take a closer look at the election process, civil liberties, media coverage and standards of living within the US for the world to take the democracy campaign seriously. (TomPaine)

Three Strikes for Empire (March 28, 2005)

Three telltale examples of US "imperial hubris" include a new State Department office that plans military interventions, the indefinite imprisonment of a Guantanamo detainee whose status even US intelligence agencies question, and the sale of F-16 jets to Pakistan despite the country's nuclear volatility and regression from democracy. This Independent Institute article warns that US President George Bush's "grandiose campaign" of spreading democracy will instead erode freedom and cause "retaliatory terrorism" at home. This is the price the US empire will pay, says the author, because "republic and empire don't mix."

Globalising Freedom (March 15, 2005)

Using the "democracy deficit" at international financial institutions as an example, this OpenDemocracy author explains that the US as the superpower in a globalized world will only achieve its "admirable goals" if it pays attention the effects of US policy on global citizens. The US must emphasize multilateralism and work with international institutions and laws, or the world will continue to think of the US as "illegitimate and arrogant, even imperial."

The Third Stage of American Empire (March 1, 2005)

The US has thrived upon the notion of empire, from westward expansion and involvement in the "troubles of the "Old World'" to the present day "perpetual state of war," says truthout author William Rivers Pitt. This third stage of empire, spurred by the "first taste of global dominance," manifests itself in the war on terrorism. But empires inevitably fall, and "this third American empire is threatening to collapse under its own ponderous weight."

Japan to Become "Britain of the Far East" (February 24, 2005)

In search of a strong ally in East Asia, the US wants to elevate its relationship with Japan to the level of its relationship with Britain, says the Asia Times. The US and Japan have agreed on joint use of US military bases and joint strategic goals for dealing with issues such as North Korean proliferation and Taiwanese secession. However, one major obstacle lies in the path to a strong bond between Tokyo and Washington: Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, ironically drafted by the US after World War II, bars use of force in international disputes and therefore prohibits Japanese support of US unilateral military tactics.

Marine General Counseled Over Comments (February 4, 2005)

A decorated US Marine Corps general was warned but not punished for saying, "it's fun to shoot some people." The general's commanders apologized but claimed the statements were honest and reflective of wartime realities. Such remarks reflect the military's belief in US moral superiority and its "apparent indifference to the value of human life." (Associated Press)

Savagery in Democracy's Empire (February 2005)

Professor Robert Ivie analyses the rhetoric developed to justify wars and world hegemony in US history from the 18th century and on. He highlights the way US officials have depicted their enemies to justify military intervention by using values of "civilization" as the rationale. Professor Ivie examines political discourses and underlines the duality in the language – such as "liberty" versus "tyranny" – that US Presidents used to demonize their adversaries and obtain public consent. (Third World Quarterly)

Lessons for the American Empire (January 30, 2005)

While the US is the "unrivaled world leader" in terms of economic and military power, "nothing lasts forever," says the New York Times. This article fails to question an empire's adverse impacts, but demonstrates that the US government, given rising debts, increased military spending, and the expanding terror war, has too much confidence in its strength. The author uses the work of empire historian Niall Ferguson to conclude that the US empire will suffer an abrupt decline unless the government cuts military spending.

An Imperial Denial (January 6, 2005)

This YaleGlobal article claims US imperialism through military and economic strength, which the author equates with "US-led globalization," is necessary for "world stability, order and economic growth." The author contends that the US should accept its imperial role by enforcing "complementary administrative structure[s]" in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of thrusting "its moral beliefs down others throats;" otherwise, countries like India and China may take its place. While the author considers historical context, he discredits any merits of multilateral institutions such as the UN and fails to recognize how empires seriously threaten civil liberties and human rights.

US Turns Away from Arab Reforms (January 3, 2005)

The Bush administration has shifted Middle East policies towards economic reform rather than political change and the spread of democracy, says this Inter Press Service article. But the Arab public and other critics remain skeptical of the administration's "hidden agenda" of "messianic empire building," and argue that the US is looking past regime change as long as countries cooperate with the "war on terrorism" and try to improve relations with Israel.


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