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Commentary: The American Empire
Published on April 12, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Jean H Charles

Vladimir Putin might be profiting from the crisis in Ukraine to ascertain the strength of the lost Russian Empire. And China, with more than $700 billion in its sovereign reserve fund could flex its muscle to attempt to implant the Chinese empire into the world but the American Empire is today definitely well entrenched in all corners of the planet. The West owns the world and the American government is managing the West. The United States might owe some $17 trillion, especially to Japan and to China, but it has financial assets amounting to $16 trillion from its private corporations.

The Glory

Did it start with Harry Truman, on April 3 1948, sending $5 billion to help reconstruct Europe under the Marshall Plan after the destruction wrought about by the Second World War? Or did it start earlier, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt engaged the people and the resources of the United States in combating on European soil the specter of the German Reich that was bent on imposing the Nazi regime and ideology upon the then known world?

charles.jpg
Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.com and followed for past essays at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti
Anyway, American ideology, cultural trends, economic and political power, for the better or for the worse, is now the gold standard in the world. President Vladimir Putin of Russia, in a seminal speech recently, might be reaffirming a doctrine of higher values for the world to emulate; he does not have much ground to stand on. If Russia could produce better citizens, I should have seen them in Coney Island, New York. Instead, the horde of refugees from the Perestroika brought successive waves of welfare queens in mink coats and former beatniks who become pimps of insurance fraud and a whole string of federal crimes often associated with criminal enterprise.

The American influence, after its apogee in Europe in rebuilding some 17 countries that today form the European Union, has rebounded in Japan where it helped the Japanese government and its people to chart a course of action that helped the Land of the Rising Sun to become a world power in business, the arts and the industry.

After the myth of the Kennedy era of ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country and its downfall with the assassination of John F Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, Dr Martin Luther King brought to the United States the hope of a better world with his speech of I have a dream! That speech was supported and endorsed by President Lyndon B Johnson in several laws that engaged the United States to become a nation-state where the color of the skin would make no difference.

The following presidents have failed to follow the ardor of Lyndon Johnson in helping the black population to catch up with the rest of the population. As such, it is a work in progress to bring the 40 million minority Americans into the bliss of middle class status.

The assassination of Dr King dashed the hope of a better world led by the United States. Richard Nixon, well seconded by Henry Kissinger, his Richelieu-like éminence grise, made a happy foray into China, defusing the spark of the cold war in Asia, opening up the sleeping giant to all types of possibilities with the rest of the world.

There was another downfall with the resignation of Nixon following the fateful Watergate saga. There were more downfalls, with the dubious international politics of defending human rights without political acumen in the days after, practiced by Jimmy Carter and maintained later by subsequent American presidents.

The demise of the Shah of Iran produced only radicals that were as repulsive as the dictatorial regime. The dash of hope ignited by Ronald Reagan survived for a while; it destroyed the Soviet Empire by just calling its bluff by the Gipper: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” It expanded itself into all the corners of the world, even in the tiny Caribbean, with the sense of a manifest destiny which is proper to Americans.

The Downfall

The American sense of empire knew its peak but also its downfall with the rise of the doctrine of globalization implemented by Bill Clinton. If the breaking of the political barriers were conceived by the Republican presidents, Nixon and Reagan, the breaking of the commercial barriers were a panacea of the Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama.

In the American continent, it helped Canada to rebound but it has a negative impact on Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Paper goods and agriculture products from Canada found a ready and willing market in the United States. The rest of Latin America and the Caribbean were not ready for the full range of gadgets and products that would flood their market, destroying their fledging industries.

In a perverse mode, the American industrial complex submarkets its software industry to China, making the Chinese the preferred factory workers of the world, producing for Americans and indeed for the rest of the world the gadgets and the consumer goods needed in each household.

We are living in a world where the tailors, the shoemakers of any given country are obsolete enterprises because these shoes and these suits can be made cheaper and better in China. They are designed in the United States, produced in China and sent back to the United States to be sold to the rest of the world. In a nutshell, this is globalization a la American.

Only the countries that know about value added products can and will survive in this structure, where everything has been thought about, pre-planned and fabricated for the specific consumer. I have in mind this solar lamp called ti-soley made in China, designed in the United States but called Ti-solei and sold in Haiti because it is targeted to the Haitian population that speaks the Creole language!

Still on the worse side of the pendulum, the American influence in politics in the Middle East, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran or Lebanon, has been inconsequential in spite of immense resources in personnel and armaments engaged on that soil. The situation there has been as explosive as before.

George W Bush and Bill Clinton might have been defined as black presidents because of their recurrent initiatives in Africa. Yet, the outcome some years later is as clouded as before. Very few African countries, with the exception of Rwanda that pulled itself up by its own bootstraps after the genocide planned with the complicity of France, according to President Paul Kagame, and completed under the watch of the United Nations, can claim a positive growth due to the foreign intervention.

That part of the world that knows true nation building can be found only in South East Asia apart from the triad, Europe/USA, Canada/Japan, Australia. It has done so while it has been the laughing stock of American influence and the world financial institutions. Some 25 years ago, Singapore was seen as a clown nation for whipping an American citizen for throwing chewing gum on the street after use. It is now one of the most prosperous, and corruption free countries in the world.

The Cultural Empire

The cultural influence of the United States in the rest of the world is so pervasive that the American government needs not spent one cent on cultural propaganda. I asked one American diplomat why her government does not follow the French model of a policy of cultural diplomacy. The answer was definite and filled with arrogance. We need not, because the American media is taking care of that. It was a statement filled with self-truths yet far away from the best cultural products that you will find in the United States.

NPR, National Public Radio/USA that is as superior in programming as BBC or French International is not broadcast to the rest of the world. Vladimir Putin is on the safe side and finding a safe world companion in accusing the United States of propagating a culture of deviance, a culture of Westoxification or Occidentoses that promotes greed and corrupt materialism as expressed by Jalal Al-e Ahmad the Iranian essayist.

The Rise and Fall of Former Empires

Before the American Empire, there was the Roman, the Ottoman, the Prussian and the British empires. They experienced their declines for the same reasons. According to a recent book by Christian Reus-Smit: “Individual rights and the making of the international system”, the struggle for human rights by the people of each one of the conquered nations has triggered the disintegration of the empire.

The United States, in its pragmatic way of defusing problems, has found a way to live with sovereign states as well as the state capitalism as practiced in China. It has been able also to cloak the concept of human rights with the veil of election, even when those elections are orchestrated by leaders that have no human rights in mind.

With its failure to care effectively, internally for those within (its minority black and Latino) who are marginalized and the failure externally to engage in nation building in the nations in conflict, the United States is producing the seedlings that could metastasize to trigger the decline of the American Empire.

The downfall of Saigon in the 70s has all the ingredients of the downfall of Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia in the era of 2014. No funding for nation building in those countries, where brothers of the same nation are killing each other because they pray to different Gods or speak different languages.

China, caveat emptor! If you aspire to become the next world empire, do care about the minorities in your midst and do nation building in your foreign intervention so the brothers and the sisters of the same country can hold hands together to build their own nation in peace!
 
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