Erik Paul: Neoliberal Australia and US Imperialism in Asia

By Stilwell, Frank | Journal of Australian Political Economy, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Erik Paul: Neoliberal Australia and US Imperialism in Asia


Stilwell, Frank, Journal of Australian Political Economy


Erik Paul Neoliberal Australia and US Imperialism in Asia Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2012, pp. 230, $57.50

Erik Paul writes about the structural violence engendered by modern states in a somewhat similar manner to Noam Chomsky excoriating the US Administration for its concentration and abuse of political economic and military power. The approach is detailed, wide-ranging and relentless in its sustained critique. In Paul's case, the focus is particularly on Australia--the 'deputy sheriff' for the US in the Pacific region--but it broadens out into a more general analysis of 'the American Imperial Project', the 'construction of east Asia' and the awesome prospects for superpower rivalry and war in the region.

An earlier version of one of the chapters--on the violence that is embedded in many aspects of Australian society, including victimisation, poor mental and physical health, crime and incarceration, racism and the politics of fear, appeared as an article in this journal (JAPE, No. 63, 2009). This is the most 'micro' level of analysis. The more 'macro' level in the book looks at relationships between states and at how capitalist interests shape state activities and international relations. The author seeks to demonstrate the diverse ways in which 'violence is built into the structure of the world system' (p. 77).

A system of 'unequal economic and political power relations dominated by powerful and rich countries' breeds recurrent tensions. While there is some dispersion of power between major blocs--the US, Europe and East Asia--few would question the overriding significance of US military power. This power underpins the interventionist role of the US as self-appointed global policeman, providing the muscle that is necessary to back US claims to be the enforcer of the 'free world. The 'freedom', however, is that of corporate capitalist interests, including the direct interests in the military-industrial complex itself. Many previous writings about the political economy of the global order and US imperialism have emphasised these features, of course, but the strengths of this new book are in drawing material together from such diverse sources, including newspapers, reports and websites as well as academic works, and in bringing the story right up to date (although the omission of reference to the Gillard government's agreement to have US troops in the Northern territory is somewhat surprising in this context). …

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