What's Left

June 13, 2003

US imperialism and its feckless opposition

By Stephen Gowans

The aims of the Bush administration's foreign policy are clear enough: to use force, or the threat of force, to manoeuvre other countries into positions of subordination. The official justifications are flattering, as justifications are. The United States will use force to rid the world of the scourge of extremism; to topple regimes that support terrorism; to make the world more stable and less dangerous; to deliver oppressed people from tyrants; to spread democracy and respect for human rights. If force is used to place other countries under the thumb of the US, it's only to secure these desired ends. The means -- bombing campaigns, invasions, occupation -- with their grim and bloody consequences, are to be justified by the ends, which along with the ostensible goals of liberation from tyranny and humanitarian intervention, include the removal of threats to the personal safety of Americans, these days presented as "making sure another 9/11 never happens again."

9/11, an unprecedented event for Americans (though on the scale of atrocities, a minor one, compared to what has gone on elsewhere in the world) has invested the idea that Americans are in peril with a substance that otherwise was lacking in the laughable and hardly pressing horror stories Washington previously invented to justify the use of force. The Sandinistas are only two days drive from the Texas border hasn't quite the galvanizing effect of terrorists are plotting another 9/11.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfwowitz recalled:

I know my thinking [after 9/11] was that the old approach to terrorism was not acceptable any longer. The old approach being you treat it as a law enforcement problem rather than a national security problem. You pursue terrorists after they've done things and bring them to justice, and to the extent states are perhaps involved, you retaliate against them but you don't really expect to get them out of the business of supporting terrorism completely. To me what September 11th meant was that we just couldn't live with terrorism any longer. {1}

Wolfowitz wasn't expressing the view of a minority. For ordinary Americans, terrorism on the scale of 9/11, that is, large scale terrorism directed at Americans, is intolerable, and eclipsing the problem is understood to warrant harsh measures. Central to Wolfowitz's view is that regime change (replacing governments that may support or sponsor anti-US terrorists, according to the official view) is more effective a means of dealing with terrorism than law enforcement alone or addressing whatever it was that drove terrorists to attack the US in the first place.

"I think," recalled Wolfowitz, "what September 11th to me said was this is just the beginning of what these bastards can do if they start getting access to so-called modern weapons, and that it's not something you can live with any longer. So there needs to be a campaign, a strategy, a long-term effort, to root out these networks and to get governments out of the business of supporting them. " {2}

Wolfowitz claimed that Iraq was attacked "because of its history and the weapons of mass terror." {3} In other words, as a country under the control of a regime that wasn't under Washington's thumb, Iraq had the potential to furnish weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to those who held a grievance against the US. The regime, then, had to be eliminated. But above this, Wolfowitz's analysis reduces to: any regime that does not willingly subordinate itself to Washington is a potential threat, and will be replaced. Or, in George W. Bush's words, you're either with us or against us. You can think of this as sincere, though misguided, or simply as a clever way of justifying a course of action that a country with a history of expansion, an economic system that drives it to conquer other peoples' markets and resources, and a bloated military, would do anyway.

It might be wondered why, of the trio of axis of evil countries, Iraq was attacked first, and why, from the earliest moments of 9/11's aftermath, the Bush administration sought to construct a casus belli against the Ba'athist regime. {4} The answer is that of other countries that fit the bill of being largely independent of Washington, and therefore able in principle to furnish terrorists with WMD's, or, from another perspective,  to pursue an economic course at odds with Washington's preferred regime of markets open to US investment and control, Iraq had four attractive qualities:

(a) it had been weakened by two wars, by a low intensity conflict involving Anglo-American warplanes enforcing the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, and by over a decade of sanctions. It could, therefore, be expected to put up little resistance to a US-led assault;

(b) the question of whether it was hiding banned weapons could be turned into a pretext for war;

(c) it offered the alluring treasure of vast reserves of oil;

(d) it is situated in the heart of a geostrategically significant region.

But these qualities only made Iraq an easier, and more tempting, first target than the others. Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria and Libya are no less within Washington's sights.

To Wolfowitz, "diplomacy...is rarely going to get you much unless you're dealing with people who basically share your values and your interests," {5} a curious view since diplomacy is a way of resolving differences that often originate in the absence of shared values and interests among conflicting parties. If every country shared Washington's values and interests there would be no conflict and, therefore, no need for diplomacy.  Other countries would simply do what Washington wanted because shared values and interests would push them in that direction anyway. Indeed, Washington's program of regime change can be seen as a way of using force or the threat of force to replace governments that don't share Washington's values and interests with those that do -- a kind of "no need for diplomacy" scheme "because we've arranged to replace independent foreign governments with those that are agreeable to our demands."

Where values conflict--and diplomacy is ruled out as an alternative because, in Wolfowitz's words, "it's rarely going to get you much"--the use of force becomes the preferred course. Since no other country can match the US's military weight, flexing the Pentagon's considerable muscle is an attractive option. It is also attractive from the perspective of the legion of defense contractors who carry enormous weight in Washington. For Pentagon-suppliers Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, General Electric, TRW and Boeing, a foreign policy based on military supremacy is congenial to their bottom lines. Why, then, negotiate, or respect the sovereignty of weaker countries, when you don't have to, when it is so much more profitable not to, and no one and nothing -- not international law, not another country, not even widespread public opposition to war -- can stop you?

"[I]f you're talking about trying to move people to something that they're not inclined to do," says Wolfowitz, "then you've got to have leverage and one piece of leverage is the ultimate threat of force." {6} It all sounds reasonable and dispassionate, and it is dispassionate, so much so that it shows Wolfowitz to have missed a promising career in organized crime, where he would have been placed in good stead by his grasp of the idea that the threat of hurting others, if you're strong and ruthless enough, will get you a whole lot farther than diplomatic words. For shorn of its euphemistic language of "leverage" and "the ultimate threat of force" (that is, threatening to kill a whole lot of people and being ruthless enough to carry through on the threat if you have to) Wolfowitz's view amounts to the Mafioso principle of breaking legs and putting bullets through heads to get what you want, outside the law.

For many Americans the object of this criminal reign is understood to be their personal safety. The means are harsh and outlawed, but at least the terrorists, it is believed, are kept at bay. For others, the objectives of Washington's bullying are less the security of Americans, and more the enlargement of American economic interests. Indeed, while 9/11 seems to offer a unique justification for US intervention abroad, the practice of the US military and intelligence agencies being pressed into service to topple unwanted regimes--typically those that stand in the way of the US aggrandizing the interests of its most influential firms--is hardly unique. It has been a constant feature of US foreign policy stretching back more than a century. And in instance after instance, there has been a justification that has later been shown to be false, a pretext to smooth the way. The now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction waiting on the shelf to be deployed within 45 minutes is only more of the same. The practice of regime change, therefore, has remained a constant throughout the history of US foreign policy. Only the excuses have varied. Preventing another  9/11, as all the other excuses, is nothing more than a convenient cover for doing what Washington would have done anyway.


George W. Bush's September 20, 2002 National Security Strategy begins with a bold declaration: There is, it says, "a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy and free enterprise." Declaring free enterprise to be a summum bonum is a rather odd way to set out on the task of putting forward a plan to safeguard the security of a nation, if "nation" is taken to comprise the 300 million or so people who claim US citizenship. For whatever has free enterprise -- or Bush's commitment, set out in the same document, to "actively work to bring...free markets and free trade to every corner of the world" -- to do with securing the personal safety of ordinary Americans? Doesn't this have more to do with securing attractive overseas investment opportunities for American banks and corporations?

According to Bush, poor countries are hospitable hosts for terrorist networks. "Poverty does not make people into terrorists," he says, but "poverty...can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks." And since "[f]ree trade and free markets have proven their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty," solving the problem of terrorism means imposing the single sustainable model of free trade and free markets on countries whose poverty is the fertile soil in which terrorist networks are able to put down roots, or so the argument goes.

To say there are a few problems with Bush's formulation is to understate the obvious. For one, it's not clear how much more free trade and free enterprise a desperately poor country like Haiti can withstand, before the word "desperation" becomes too mild a description of the straitened circumstances under which the island's residents subsist. And Central America has a long history of free trade and free markets (imposed by US gunboat diplomacy), and nothing to show for it, but misery, poverty and unrelenting strife. But American corporations, among them United Fruit, have profited handsomely from a model of free trade and free markets that--while not lifting Central Americans out of poverty--has certainly kept the profit margins of US firms with stakes in the region agreeably large.

As for there being a single, sustainable model based on free markets, Cuban-style socialism, a counter-model, has enjoyed sustained success in delivering startling social gains to Cubans, achievements that not only put pre-Castro, US-dominated Cuba to shame, but raise troubling questions about the US. How is it, for example, that a Third World country, whose per capita GDP is a fraction of that of the United States, can offer universal healthcare for free, while 40 million Americans have no health insurance and another 40 million are inadequately insured? How is it that a poor Caribbean country can lead the world in the number of doctors and teachers per capita, have the world's lowest teacher to pupil ratio, offer education through university for free, and top the hemisphere with the lowest child mortality rate, while access to education in the US is grossly unequal and in some parts of the country child mortality reaches Third World levels? Even more troubling for defenders of the "there's nothing better than the American system" school of thought, is how Cuba has, under the most inauspicious of circumstances, managed to deliver benefits that, were they proposed for Americans, would be immediately dismissed as too expensive. The tiny country has been blockaded, menaced by economic warfare, and subject for more than 40 years to Washington's unrelenting efforts to smash a society that stands as a challenge to the claim that there's one sustainable model, and yet, in matters of social well-being, economic security and equality, it outperforms its vastly richer northern neighbor.

The Bush document is chock-a-block of references to visiting the virtues of this single model of free trade and free markets on other countries. "We will promote...economic freedom beyond America's shores," it promises, presumably, whether the intended recipients approve or not. But however much the Bush administration is smitten by free trade and free markets (code for markets open to US firms on terms agreeable to US investors), it might be asked why it is necessary to impose this model on others? Markets open to US firms have proved infinitely more beneficial to US firms than to the majority of the domestic populations involved, which is not to say there aren't comprador sections of foreign populations that have also profited, but on the whole, the pursuit of free markets and free trade has had nothing to do with lifting others out of poverty, and has had everything to do with expanding markets and preventing the US economy from slipping into permanent recession. There is little to recommend this model to foreign populations, or the majority of Americans, for that matter, whose interests, if they are served by the model at all, are served only incidentally.

In this, Bush's emphasis on opening markets abroad and imposing free trade (a moral principle, Bush calls it, though not one to be observed when it comes "at the expense of American workers," which is kind of like saying marital fidelity is a moral principle, though not one to be observed at the expense of giving up an opportunity to bang the office flirt in a night of gloriously unbridled sex), is simply a continuation of a long-standing US foreign policy reaching back over a century, if not longer. It is a foreign policy that puts US corporate control over foreign markets, labor and resources at its center, supported by robust military intervention as a major means of achieving the central goal.

"I firmly believe," remarked Connecticut's Senator Orville Platt in 1894, "that when any territory outside the present territorial limits of the United States becomes necessary for our defense or essential for our commercial development, we ought to lose no time in acquiring it." {7} Platt's importunities were largely superfluous. The United States would have lost no time anyway in acquiring what has come to be known as "America's vital interests," be it tin and tungsten in Indochina or oil in the Middle East. Capitalism, like a shark, must keep moving, and American capitalism has been very successful in moving across the face of the globe.

Thirteen years later, Woodrow Wilson, soon to become president, would utter the shark-keeper's credo. "Since trade ignores national boundaries," he said, "and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused." {8}

Wilson, like most presidents, was a Marxist of sorts. Compare his remarks to this, from the Communist Manifesto: "The need of a constantly expanding market for [their] products chases the [manufacturer] over the whole surface of the globe. [They] must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere." {9} The difference, of course, was that Wilson was a willing servant, and beneficiary of, the capitalist exploitation Marx and Engels deplored. But they were all pretty well agreed on the imperative that drove capitalists to batter down the doors of nations closed against them. And much of the battering, in the American case, was being done by the United States military.

Major General Smedley Butler, a 33-year veteran of the US Marine Corps., would have perceived nothing unusual in George Bush's seeking to protect the security of a nation by committing to "bring...free markets and free trade to every corner of the world." That's because Butler came to perceive his role in the country' military establishment, which nominally exists to protect the security of Americans from attack, as one of securing access to foreign markets and resources on behalf of US firms, a necessary part of the imperative that drove capitalists to "nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere," even if it meant outraging the sovereignty of unwilling nations. It was perfectly true that the US military protected Americans, if by Americans you meant "some Americans" and you were speaking of their business opportunities and investments overseas.

"I spent most of my time [in the Marines] as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers," {10} Butler recalled. "In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism." {11}

"I helped make Mexico...safe for American oil interests," he explained. "I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank." And he added that he "helped in the raping of half a dozen central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street." {12}

Call it rape, or call it enforcing stability and security. It's all the same. Clinton's Defense Secretary William Cohen preferred the higher-sounding "stability." "Business follows the flag," he explained, when asked why 100,000 US troops were stationed in Europe, 40,000 were in South Korea, and tens of thousands were in the Persian Gulf region. "Where there is stability and security, there is likely to be investment." {13}

But then Cohen was simply echoing Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, and former Supreme Commander of NATO's forces in Europe, Alexander Haig. "A lot of people forget [the presence of US troops in Europe] is also the bona fide of our economic success," Haig explained. "[I]t keeps European markets open to us. If those troops weren't there, those markets would probably be more difficult to access." {14}

And Haig was simply echoing another former General, Dwight Eisenhower. "A serious and explicit purpose of our foreign policy [is] the encouragement of a hospitable climate for [private] investment in foreign nations." {15}

But encouraging hospitable climates for US investment in foreign nations, often using the kind of Mafia-style arm-twisting techniques of the high-class muscle men of the US military, lacks the moral allure that brings people to their feet in wild frenzies of patriotic fervor, of the kind that might lead the Jay Garners of a nation to ejaculate, "We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans!'"

And so it is that the process of US firms nestling everywhere, settling everywhere, and establishing connections everywhere, even where it has meant outraging the sovereignty of unwilling nations, has been cloaked in do-gooder morality. This has been true of all conquests. We didn't come for the gold, or the riches, or the oil, we came to spread Christianity, to bestow civilization on savages, to bring democracy and human rights to those who have suffered under tyranny, to root out terrorism, to bring relief from poverty, and to stop ethnic cleansing. We didn't station 100,000 troops in Europe to protect the access of US firms to European markets. We did it to protect western Europeans from Soviet aggression. And when the Warsaw Pact disbanded, 100,000 US troops remained, and a new cloak, just as high-faulting as the last, was donned.


How to stop the American juggernaut? The answer may, contrary to appearances, lie with the American public. It seems otherwise, with mass demonstrations against the latest eruption of US imperialism run amok proving ineffective in deflecting Washington from its bloody minded path; the assault on Iraq went ahead away. But while it seems otherwise, the US public is able to act as a brake on Washington's imperial designs, where the cost to the public of untrammelled interventionism is personal and direct and readily perceived. The problem is, the costs, inasmuch as they can be apprehended, aren't that high, and are unlikely to become so. It's doubtful that Washington could sustain support for its foreign adventures too long were Americans forced to endure dear personal sacrifices: massive loss of life, severe retrenchment, economic penalties, troubling disruptions and shortages, paralysing uncertainty. Anything that could shake the public from its normal quiescence, one whose disruptions are usually limited to marching in the streets in an orderly fashion on a sunny Sunday afternoon (if that), is anathema to the foreign policy establishment, and so, is studiously avoided. This Washington learned from the backlash that attended its campaign of murder and rapine in Vietnam, one that grew stronger as the personal penalties paid by ordinary Americans, in the psychological trauma that attended the actual or feared loss of life, of oneself or sons or fathers, grew larger. The political establishment has since taken pains to ensure that Americans are sheltered from penalties as severe and disquieting. The military is professional, not conscripted. High-altitude bombing, use of proxy armies, covert, and nowadays quite open, campaigns of subversion and destabilization are preferred to risky confrontations to keep loss of American life to a bare minimum. Bulk up and pick on weaklings, while coopting  anyone who could put up a decent fight, is the preferred approach, with the latest addition being the pre-emption of anyone who might, some day, get strong enough to be able to stand up to all the bullying. But above all, the approach stipulates, don't do anything to push Americans from the sidelines into the middle of the action where a few body blows will leave them asking, "Is this really worth it? How much more of this do I have to take?"

That this is understood is evident in the infamous glimpse into the strategy behind NATO's bombing camping over Yugoslavia, revealed in the words of US Air Force General Michael Short.

"If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next 20 years, I think you begin to ask, 'Hey, Slobo, what's this all about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?'" {16}

US foreign policy is built on the same principle, in reverse. You want citizens of whatever target country you're trying to bring into your orbit to say, "Hey, how much more of this do we have to withstand?" The desired response is the pressing of the offending government by its citizens to capitulate to US pressure, or to back, in the case of multiparty democracies, (the almost invariably US-funded and controlled) opposition, in general elections. At the same time, you want to avoid provoking any kind of backlash that will prompt your own people to ask, "Hey George, how much more of this do we have to take?" A premium is placed on quiescence at home, as much as one is placed on unrest in offending countries abroad.

It is, however, quite possible that blowback -- retaliatory strikes by whoever has been aggrieved by US foreign policy -- could disturb the complacency of Americans, and spark demands that Washington stop provoking other countries and groups. But given the deplorably shallow presentation of foreign affairs in the largely docile and hyper-patriotic US media (controlled by the same corporate interests that profit from US meddling abroad), the chances of Americans in large numbers perceiving any connection between retaliatory strikes and US provocations, are slim. This is no better illustrated than in the attempts to explain 9/11. While an event of this magnitude should have prompted Americans to wonder why anyone would commit an act so vile, discussion of the precipitating events was largely limited to:

(a) the comically absurd notion that the hijackers were motivated by hatred of American freedoms and democracy; and

(b) hysterical denunciations of anyone who suggested that preventing another 9/11 meant first understanding the motivations of those who orchestrated it.

Evil was also trotted out in the aftermath as an explanation for troubling events, thereby preventing anyone from delving too deeply into why others could be so infuriated at the United States that they could go to such extraordinary lengths. But evil is no explanation at all.

"Why did the hijackers do what they did?"

"Because they're evil."

"How do you know they're evil?"

"Because they did what they did."

Doing 150 laps on a circular treadmill will work up a lot of sweat, but it won't get you anywhere, which is just as well, if that's the aim.

Accordingly, the chances of Americans ever becoming frustrated at having to endure blowback are slim. What blowback does occur is simply chalked up to evil, not to the overseas provocations of one's own government. Besides, other than 9/11, how much blowback has there been that wasn't directed at US targets abroad -- embassies, warships, barracks -- and not at civilian targets at home, the kind of blowback that would disturb the desired domestic quietude?

Therein lies a troubling dilemma. The imperatives that compel the people who run the United States are the most retrograde and violent on earth, yet the greatest possibility for change lies within the hands of the American people themselves, who seem unlikely to exercise their latent power to overturn a destructive and regressive regime. That Americans have at least the potential to overturn the retrograde path on which their government travels is not lost on the political establishment, which takes pains to ensure ordinary Americans remain sheltered, for the most part, from the repercussions of their country's foreign policy, such as they are. The most severe reaction at home to Washington's muscular imperialism has been pangs of conscience, expressed in "not in our name" campaigns, but, while admirable and necessary, the campaigns are small, and more importantly, too pacific, too non-disruptive, too ad hoc, to deflect Washington from its accustomed course of jackbooting around the globe in search of advantage for US firms. Moreover, the reactions are, for the most part, unconnected with a larger agenda of radical transformation, and any kind of mass adherence to such an agenda lacks the impetus that a directly perceived personal cost arising from the status quo would provide.

The opposition that does exist is inspired largely by moral and liberal democratic concerns. It is, for these reasons, that the opposition can often be channelled in the direction of joining in the demonization campaigns authored by the US foreign policy establishment to prepare public opinion for war or destabilization abroad. These campaigns often appeal to these central concerns. A target country is ruled by a dictator. Human rights are not respected. But ritualistic denunciations of US foreign policy betes noires have the unfortunate outcome of diverting attention from Washington's own violent and retrograde actions, and how to remediate them. Given the high dudgeon Americans can work themselves into over the measures some foreign governments have taken to resist the depredations of the US empire, you'd think the toppling of Castro, Mugabe and Kim Jong Il, ought to be job #1 in any program of making the world a better place, as opposed to, say, dismantling the concentration camp at Gautananmo Bay, or retooling the US economy so that Washington isn't continually driven to intervene, often in violent ways, in the affairs of other nations.

The toppling of the Eastern Bloc Communist regimes was also promised, by the same opposition, to be an event that would make the world a better place, but growing misery, disease, ethnic strife and economic demise in the newly "liberated" regions scream otherwise. Whatever stains maculated the records of the Communist regimes (and there were many), the promise of a post-Communist world being an improvement on the old is entirely hollow. Indeed, one of the chief outcomes of the overthrow of Communism, apart from the Second World having been rapidly returned to the Third World, is that Washington now enjoys an unmatched freedom to intervene at will just about anywhere it wants to exercise its self-declared right of global leadership -- that is, expanding its empire, with agreeable consequences for the US corporate class, in whose interests it acts.

The opposition, apart from being utopian at worst, and at best, naive about the courses of action available to target countries to defend themselves against Washington's imperial designs, has not only been wrong about what would attend the collapse of Communism, but spectacularly unsuccessful in improving the lot of ordinary Americans. Its greatest triumph (a self-declared one) is the US withdrawal from Indochina, a decision that had far less to do with the antiwar movement, and far more to do with the Vietnamese doggedly defending themselves. In the end, Washington's isolation of Vietnam, which, once US forces quit the country, received little support from the US opposition, largely brought the battered country to heel. To this day, the opposition refuses to speak kindly of any foreign regime that does not adopt multiparty democratic structures, and which does not put civic and political rights above economic rights, whether history, local traditions, or political exigencies conduce to such arrangements or not.

Meanwhile, the outcome of this feckless opposition has been for the political and economic position of ordinary Americans to deteriorate, while corporations grow stronger, and Washington's assertiveness in pressing US corporate interests, either through trade arrangements, tax cuts, regressive labor legislation, the shredding of social programs, defense spending, and conquest, grows bolder. The opposition's response has been to lament the media's collusion with US corporate interests in manufacturing consent for regressive policies, while working diligently to establish its anti-totalitarian credentials, and little else. That this has accomplished nothing of substance is evidenced by the fact that those of us who are subjects, as writer Arundhati Roy puts it, of the US empire, find ourselves living under the rule of a bold section of the US corporate class that's pushing the envelope to see how far it can go. The answer: Farther than anyone imagined, undeterred by an opposition that's more comfortable attacking the victims of US foreign policy for not being liberal democratic, than pursuing any kind of realistic and concrete program of radical transformation at home.

Washington, which has always been ruthlessly assertive in pressing US corporate interests, even if it has meant outraging the sovereignty of unwilling nations and intensifying exploitation of its own population, has, for the collapse of an effective opposition abroad, and not much of an opposition at home, become far bolder. It aspires to primacy and acts as global hegemon, because it can, and because the imperatives of economic expansion and the profit-making demands of its firms push it in that direction. By sheltering its own population from the storms that attend its crimes abroad, it's free to carry on more or less as it pleases. What's more, there's no hyper-power to enforce its compliance with international law and no competing superpower to check its campaigns of conquest. The claim that public opinion has become a second superpower, able to restrain the United States, is as much at odds with reality as the claim that the world is better off for the overthrow of communism. World public opinion, massively opposed to a war on Iraq, didn't stop Washington from ordering British and American troops to march on Baghdad. Revealingly, the nonsense about communism's demise being good for humanity and public opinion being a second superpower has been touted by the same people, who, it would seem, live in a la la land, where you can complain about drought while standing up to your knees in water, and be applauded for your principled adherence to the truth. As to those inclined to question their government, the standard practice is to impugn everything that comes from Washington, except the most damning and negative accusations about foreign policy targets. The assumption, part of the orthodoxy of the opposition, is that these claims alone must be true because anyone in a position of power must surely be an unrelieved reprobate, thug and strongman, one of Bakunin's vampires of history, who feed on the blood of the people, and therefore must be swept away for the good of humanity. Even wondering whether the accusations are dubious, or even relevant, is frowned upon. Which is just as well for people like Wolfowitz, who, one imagines, couldn't wish for a better opposition.

1. "Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with Sam Tannenhaus, Vanity Fair," May 9, 2003, http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030509-depsecdef0223.html

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. "A major focus for Wolfowitz and others in the Pentagon was finding intelligence to prove a connection between Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network," revealed The Washington Post on June 5, 2003. "Some Iraq Analysts Felt Pressure From Cheney Visits."

5. "Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with Sam Tannenhaus, Vanity Fair," May 9, 2003, http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030509-depsecdef0223.html


7. David Healy, U.S. Expansionism: The Imperialist Urge in the 1890's, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 1970, p. 173, cited in Joel Andreas, Addicted to War, AK Press, 2002.

8. Micheal Parenti, Against Empire, City Light Books, San Francisco, 1995, p.40.

9. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, "The Communist Manifesto," in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, Eds., "The Socialist Register, 1998," Monthly Review Press, 1998, p. 243.

10. Major General Smedley Butler, "War is a Racket," http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html#c1

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. "Cohen: No 'Superpower Fatigue' Secretary Says U.S. Military Presence Promotes Stability," Military.com, May 24, 2000, cited in Joel Andreas, Addicted to War, AK Press, 2002.

14. UPI, January 7, 2002.

15. New York Times, February 3, 1953, cited in Michael Parenti, The Terrorism Trap, City Light Books, San Francisco 2002, p.88.

16. "What this war is really about," The Globe and Mail, May 26, 1999.


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