Declining Empire?

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Foreign Policy, Noam Chomsky Views: 3227

The miscalculated policies of the US administration in the Middle East are quickly depleting the country's ability to sustain its once unchallenged global position. Winds of change are blowing everywhere, and there is little that Washington's ideologues can do to stop it.

The above claim is increasingly finding its way into the realm of mainstream thinking, despite all attempts to mute or relegate its import. A recent speech by US Republican congressman and chairman of the House of international relations committee, Henry Hyde was the focal point of analysis by Martin Jacques in The Guardian. "Our power has the grave liability of rendering our theories about the world immune from failure. But by becoming deaf to easily discerned warning signs, we may ignore long-term costs that result from our actions and dismiss reverses that should lead to a re-examination of our goals and means," Hyde said.

In his poignant analysis - decoding Hyde's deliberately implicit thoughts - Jacques argued, "The Bush administration stands guilty of an extraordinary act of imperial overreach which has left the US more internationally isolated than ever before, seriously stretched financially, and guilty of neglect in east Asia and elsewhere."

Ironically, the invasion of Iraq with its "thousands of tactical" mistakes - as recently admitted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - was meant to solidify and ensure the US' post Cold-War global dominance. According to Jacques, as inferred from Hyde's notable speech, "It may well prove to be a harbinger of its decline." It can also be argued that the US adventurism in Iraq has provided the coveted opportunity to other countries to further their national and regional interests without the constant fear of US reprisals. 

In a recent interview, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, known for his sharp criticism of US foreign policy particularity in Indochina, Central and Latin America, delineated a new global political reality that is being forged as the US stubbornly insists on fighting a lost battle in Iraq. "What's happening is something completely new in the history of the hemisphere. Since the Spanish conquest, the countries of Latin America have been pretty much separated from one another and oriented towards the imperial power. For the first time, they are beginning to integrate and in quite a few different ways."

That integration is evident, according to Chomsky, not only by examining the rise of the Left in these countries and the almost immediate alliances - economic cooperation, for example - that these popular governments have achieved. There is a simultaneous rise of the political relevance of the indigenous Indian population in Bolivia, and the opportunities it represents to the Indian population of Ecuador and Peru. Moreover, there is a noteworthy South-South integration that is already breaking regional boundaries and significantly undermining the overpowering grip of the IMF, which has played the infamous role of the unfair middleman between the rich and hapless poor. 

China and India, on the other hand, continue to achieve astounding economic growth with China's economic might and relevance to soon surpass that of the US. In fact, there is an intense diplomatic clash underway between the US and China, since the latter has dared to violate the understanding of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which gave the US alone the right to manage its Latin American domains. For the first time, says a BBC analysis, a foreign country has challenged American influence in the region, and successfully so. Indeed, China is upgrading its economic relations with Brazil - both increasingly formidable economic powers - in ways that will eventually help Brazil break away from a domineering US hold.

These are all part of the "warning signs" to which Hyde was refereeing in his speech. While there are indications that Washington is finally waking up to this grim reality, which it has helped create, there are no signs whatsoever that a fundamental change of course in US foreign policy in the Middle East is taking place: the destructive war in Iraq rages on; the self-inflicting damage of unconditionally backing Israel in its endless colonial ambitions perpetuates; and the same detrimental policy line used with Iraq is employed, almost identically with Iran. US policy planners are as ever insistent on following the same destructive course that has compromised their nation's global standing.

Instead of paying attention to these woes, the Bush administration is trying to recover some of its Southeast Asia losses by signing a nuclear treaty with India, an action that reeks of double standards and miscalculations. The administration has also lifted the ban on sales of lethal arms to Indonesia in recognition of its "unique strategic role in Southeast Asia," despite protests from human rights groups.

Despite Bush's recent 'historic' trip to India and other top officials' hasty attempts to reassert America's global dominance, there should be no illusions that the US' chief foreign policy debacle starts and ends with the Middle East - especially its 'special' relationship with Israel. While the latter has served the role of the client state since its establishment on ethnically cleansed Palestinian territories, this relationship was significantly altered in recent years, with the pro-Israeli lobby taking centre stage, not simply by influencing US foreign policy toward Israel, but eventually by directing it altogether in the region.

The rise of the neoconservatives helped create the false impression that the US and Israeli policies are one and the same, including their mutual interests in maintaining Israel's military "edge" over its neighbors, which eventually led to the invasion of Iraq. While the neocons are washing their hands of any responsibility in the Middle East impasse, the Bush administration's arrogance is stopping it from immediately withdrawing its troops from Iraq and reassessing its relationship with Israel.

The world is changing, yet the US government refuses to abandon its old ways: militaristic, self-defeating and overbearing. Indeed, the US must remold, not only its policies in the Middle East, but also its hegemonic policies throughout the world. For once, the US administration needs to tap into its sense of reason, and discern the "warning signs", that should lead to "the re-examination of [its] goals and means." A first step is to bring the troops home, and with them the entire doctrine that unrestrained violence and perpetual wars can further the cause of an already distrusted superpower.

Veteran Arab American journalist Ramzy Baroud teaches mass communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. His most recent book is entitled, Writings on the Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London.) He is also the editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle online newspaper.

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Foreign Policy, Noam Chomsky
Views: 3227

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Older Comments:
AHMED said:
Its called free speech, Kumar. If you have a problem speaking truth to power then you dont have a clue what you're talking about. Go back to India.

Inevitably everything dies, including the marvellous USA. Everything died in the past. Babylon, the Assyrian empire, the Persian Empire, The Greek empire, the Roman Empire, the Golden Horde, the Islamic Caliphate, the Holy Roman Empire, the British Empire, and last but not least the Bolshevik Empire. USA was a country and God blessed her as a country. But now USA has ambitions of an Empire, and thus the lot of an Empire will inevitably befall her soon, God willing, to the relief of many!
Peace out!

I find this article predictable as day- down with USA mentality.
Just as Indian Muslims often denigrate India, USA Muslims agree
with this thesis that USA is going down fast in morals and
wealth. Nothing can be farther from the truth. While leadership
may be at fault, USA has the best minds, the best educational
and research institutes in the world. The country is big and
beautiful, and the natural resources are vast, and the agricultural
wealth can feed the entire planet. The US constitution, the best
document that any country can boast of, provides full freedom
to all citizens. How many Islamic republics can boast that? If this
country were so bad and gloomy, why would millions of people
from all over the planet try to come here, many trying to sneak
in, including Middle-Eastern men? Do you anyone trying to
sneak into Saudi Arabia to taste the great freedoms of that
country? Who are we kidding here? If the Middle-Eastern oil runs
out, the Middle Eastern countries will be the first ones to go
back to the stone age. America will find alternatives. After all,
who gave the world everything from oil refining techniques,
automobiles, planes, computers, software, cell telephone
technology, space exploration, deep sea exploration, high-
yielding crops, genetic engineering, biotechnology, medical
marvels, CT and MRI technology, imaging technology, digital
technology, to mention a few. If you people living in USA and
bad-mouthing this great Nation, you can go back to your
oppressive regimes you come from (i.e., Islamic Republics).

TOMMY said:
In the article it is written; "A first step is to bring the troops home, and with them the entire doctrine that unrestrained violence and perpetual wars can further the cause of an already distrusted superpower."

This statement is totally wrong, it is a fabrication, and honestly could not be further from the truth. Of course the actions of the Americans can be twisted and spinned to be called that, but it is dishonest and wrong.

Besides, the US is stronger then some in the Middle east, and Muslims may think, it is entity that they don't understand. That is the basis of the mistrust and hate. Its people and economy are much stronger then you may be lead to believe by reading such articles. If Muslims understood the United States they would know not to fear it, and they would understand how to deal with it. The actions of terrorists, insurgents, and other Muslim groups show their totally and complete ignorance and fear of the United States. To be quite honest, Americans could care less, what relgion people are in the Middle east. However Americans will protect their friends and Israel is one. Live and let live would go along way in the Middle East, as a philosphy of life. Look at the long history of violence between Arabs in the Middle East, there is a long history before and post Islam.

The Middle East and Islam has to change its doctrince of "us" and "them'. Us being Muslims and them being everybody else. Islam should teach we are all equal. Islam doesnt teach that, and until it does, conflict will be the result. The "Land of Islam" will be in war with the "Land of Warfare" as long as Muslims call non-muslim lands "DARU 'L-HARB". I wish understanding, peace, health and prosperity to all of mankind.

US thinks that it will build a case,propagandas, invade a country,control it's resources, the people and their minds, destroy and rebuild that country with US manpower, companies and contracts draining that country so that US economy stays good in shape.

and also it will destroy and oppress other faiths(islam in particlar)so that the plans and conspiracy of certain groups in US and other countries prevail.

This is all politics looking for an excuse everytime to do whatever it wants.Cold war in the past at present Muslims and Islam, in future who knows?

US must start focussing on it's interior problems (economy, jobs, crimes, homicides, rapes, big companies/CEOs scandals,high taxes, transportation-trains, buses, alternative fuel options, health, politics, senators' tenure homeless people, neglected neigborhood cities and areas, sex scandals and abuse in churches, media standards and so on... )and be role model in the world. It should be fair and treat other countries with respect.Mind our own business and see other people and countries with the same eye and vision.

Iraq wealth has help to prolong the empire for few more years.
As unknown volume of oil been taken out with anybody know how many barrel a day. Iraq gold sold to help US dollars can not whole any longer after the gold run out. We need more wealth from Iran now to support the empire.

Our empire will collapse now without help from OPEC, China, Japan and Asian country to buy our dollars. If every Arab and Muslim buys a dollar worth of gold a day "1.1 billion " within 9 months we as the world only super power will be on our knee and have to change our foreign policy to ward the Muslim and Arab.

Iraq war or no Iraq war, US empire was going to vanish anyhow; Iraq war is going to make it much faster. Iraq war shows that US cannot win a land war / guerilla war anywhere, and these are the only kind of wars other countries will fight.

US empire was going to vanish anyhow because the world is running out of oil, and you cannot run US military with over 700 foreign bases without the availability of oil everywhere; moreover, you need oil to mine metals, process them, convert them to armaments, transport to war theater; moreover, you need to feed workers to produce armaments which also require oil to bring food to the grocery.

No oil, no empire. So, all current power relationships (whether US/Europe, China, India, South America, etc) will be changing in the near future, say 20 years or so. Most the powers will be on regional basis, and those regions will be ever shrinking as the world keeps running out of oil. Arabs will have very little advantage -- they merely sell the oil, rather than make a good use of it themselves; they don't make any planes, tanks and other armaments; they merely exchange them for oil.