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Analysis of Empire

[Col. recorded 1/1/03]

"To sit in darkness here Hatching vain empires."
— John Milton (1608-1674) "Paradise Lost"

There is something quite quaint, and faintly disturbing to hear Americans speak of their nation as a 'democracy'. America, given its richness, its diversity, and its complexity, is many things, but a democracy it ain't. This is especially so, if one considers the true imperial nature of the modern American nation-state. This is not a rabid call of the wild radical, baying at the pitted moon. For perhaps the first time in almost a century,
leading voices of the elite, and the corporate press admit as much. In the pages of the business journal, The Wall Street Journal
one finds scattered references to the imperial nature of the U.S. Empire, even if there is no overt recognition of it in the platforms of the political parties, or the alleged history taught in grade schools these days. But if history teaches us anything, it is that nations may describe themselves one way, and be another. When I hear nativist propagandists speak of the U.S. as the 'Birthplace of Freedom,' or some such, I feel compelled to ask, how can the 'birthplace of freedom' be built on slavery — the very antithesis of freedom — the heart of unfreedom? (Why not call it 'the birthplace of White freedom' — or is that too revealing of those who weren't free?)

Of such fictions histories are born.

It is in this light that we must view the newly-announced 'Bush Doctrine', as recorded in the recently published "National Security Strategy of the United States of America" document. It calls for and justifies (or tries to) preemptive strikes all around the globe, against anybody, anywhere, who even thinks about posing either a threat or parity with the Empire. To make a long story short, the document calls for the canning of the cold war strategies of 'containment' and 'deterrence'. Using its supremacy of the technology of death, the U.S. reserves to its self the right to pre-emptively attack and even overthrow any nation-state in the world it deems threatening, attempting to acquire WMDs (you know, weapons like the U.S. already has), harbors terrorists, or doesn't sufficiently suck-up to the Big Dog on the street (U.S.A.).

The UN is but a minor annoyance (as has been shown in the Iraqi war example).

Neither is the European Union much of a deterrent to U.S. hubris, for while they may possess an inordinate amount of wealth and economic strength, they are, at present, no match for the martial power of the American Empire — and they know it.

As long ago as 1991, when the late French President Francois Mitterand and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, announced their plans for a joint Franco-German "Euro-corps" — an official military arm of the EU — Bush, the Elder, issued a thinly-veiled message to his European 'allies': "Our premise is that the American role in the defense and the affairs of Europe will not be made superfluous by European union. If our premise is wrong, if my friends, your ultimate aim is to provide individually for your own defense, the time to tell us is today." The "Euro-corps" idea was quietly shelved, and the Cold War relic of NATO has been edged into its place — under continued U.S. strategic and command dominance, of course. Indeed, even NATO has its limits, as scholar Michael Ignatieff noted in a recent "New York Review of Books" article:


Britain's prime minister can shuttle usefully between Islamabad and New
Delhi, but the influence that determines outcomes in the regime comes from
Washington. This is a painful reality for Europeans, who like the Japanese
believed the myth that economic power could be the equivalent of military
might. Events since September 11 have rubbed in the lesson that global power is still measured by military capacity. Having rallied to the American Cause after September 11, the NATO liaison officers who arrived at CENTcom in Florida had to endure the humiliation of being denied all access to the Command Center where the war against Osama bin Laden was actually being run. The American's trust their allies so little — the same was true during the Kosovo operation — that they exclude everyone but the British from all but the most menial police work. ["Barbarians at the Gate?", NYROB (2/28/02), pp.4-6]


An Empire has, nor needs, allies. It is sufficient to Itself. It has subject powers. It has vassals. It does not have, nor tolerates equals. The Bush Doctrine is replete with threats for the rest of the world, to keep it that way.

Forever.


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.