Academic journal article Social Justice

U.S. Militarism in the New World Order

Academic journal article Social Justice

U.S. Militarism in the New World Order

Article excerpt

Hegemony follows hegemony, but no two are alike. The one the Bush administration has chosen to assert by the Gulf War (January through February 1991) is based essentially on the deployment of military capabilities, although it is well known that, economically, the United States no longer occupies the same position regarding its chief competitors (mainly Japan and Germany) that it did in the period immediately following World War II.

In an article entitled "The Real Stakes in the Gulf War" published in The Monthly Review (1991), I attempted to show that the Gulf War is not an occurrence of secondary importance nor of merely regional impact. On the contrary, it is a major event of our time, a sign that the "postwar" period marked by East-West conflict (that is to say, military and ideological bipolarity, making the two superpowers equal on these levels, if not on the level of economic power) is indeed finished and that a new period in history is beginning.

How can one characterize this new period, which begins in 1989-1991, with the double collapse of the "socialist" systems of Eastern Europe and the end of national independence aspirations in countries of the South, closing the "era of Bandung" (1955-1975)? As far as I am concerned, it can be characterized, in a first phase at least, as an attempt to impose unification on the world through and based on "market" economy. This so-called liberal utopia is, in fact, essentially reactionary in the sense that it can only produce a worsening of global polarization; it entails necessarily the deployment of "unrestrained" capitalism in all the peripheries in the global system taken as a whole - countries of the East, semi-industrialized countries of the South, the fourth world - which, despite specific forms within the diverse components of the periphery, will always be intolerable and unacceptable to the majority of these areas' working classes. It has never been possible to really establish this reactionary utopia, except for very brief periods, because it inevitably produces an increase in revolts by its victims, most of humanity. Generally associated with the central power's aspiration to impose "global" hegemony, this utopia also involves an increase in intercenter conflicts. I disagree with the arguments put forth by defenders of hegemony, like the American liberal Robert Keohane, for whom hegemony creates stability through respect of a body of rules. It is a matter here of an ideological legitimacy that obviously pays no attention to the fact that the rules in question are acceptable only to those who benefit from them. Moreover, history proves on the contrary that hegemony is always short lived, precisely because it generates permanent instability.

Those persons responsible for political decisions in the United States have proved, by their acts, that they were perfectly aware of the nature and importance of the opposition that their plan for global unification through market economies under their leadership would encounter. Contrary to the beautiful rhetoric of defenders of the "new world order," founded on law and justice, the American Establishment decided to inaugurate this new period with war. For the United States, it was a question of showing that:

1. The new order would be imposed on the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America by violence pure and simple, with the threat of genocide for good measure;

2. The USSR had lost its military credibility, the United States having demonstrated the superiority of its weapons; and

3. Europe and Japan were, despite certain advances in economic and financial competition, in the last resort vulnerable and dependent upon American armed forces.

In this sense, the Gulf War was a world war - the North, led by the United States, with Europe and Japan consequently in subordinate roles, against the South - waged on a regional scale. The United States waged a war "for oil and Israel," to the detriment of the Third World (primarily Arab nations), the USSR, Europe, and Japan. …

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