US Provocation and North Korea: Pretext for War with China - I
by James Petras on 08 May 2017 2 Comments

US Empire building on a world-scale began during and shortly after WWII. Washington intervened directly in the Chinese civil war (providing arms to Chiang Kai Shek’s army while the Red Army battled the Japanese), backed France’s re-colonization war against the Viet Minh in Indo-China and installed Japanese imperial collaborator-puppet regimes in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.


While empire building took place with starts and stops, advances and defeats, the strategic goal remained the same: to prevent the establishment of independent communist or secular-nationalist governments and to impose vassal regimes compliant to US interests. Bloody wars and coups (‘regime changes’) were the weapons of choice. Defeated European colonial regimes were replaced and incorporated as subordinate US allies.


Where possible, Washington relied on armies of mercenaries trained, equipped and directed by US ‘advisors’ to advance imperial conquests. Where necessary, usually if the client regime and vassal troops were unable to defeat an armed people’s army, the US armed forces intervened directly.


Imperial strategists sought to intervene and brutally conquer the target nation. When they failed to achieve their ‘maximum’ goal, they dug in with a policy of encirclement to cut the links between revolutionary centers with adjoining movements. Where countries successfully resisted armed conquests, empire builders imposed economic sanctions and blockades to erode the economic basis of popular governments.


Empires, as the Roman sages long recognized, are not built in a day, or weeks and months.  Temporary agreements and accords are signed and conveniently broken because imperial designs remain paramount. Empires would foment internal cleavages among adversaries and coups in neighboring countries. Above all, they construct a worldwide network of military outposts, clandestine operatives and regional alliances on the borders of independent governments to curtail emerging military powers.


Following successful wars, imperial centers dominate production and markets, resources and labor. However, over time challenges would inevitably emerge from dependent and independent regimes. Rivals and competitors gained markets and increased military competence. While some vassal states sacrificed political-military sovereignty for independent economic development, others moved toward political independence.


Early and Late Contradictions of Expanding Imperialism


The dynamics of imperial states and systems contain contradictions that constantly challenge and change the contours of empire. The US devoted immense resources to retain its military supremacy among vassals, but experienced a sharp decline in its share of world markets, especially with the rapid rise of new economic producers.


Economic competition forced the imperial centers to realign the focus of their economies – ‘rent’ (finance and speculation) displaced profits from trade and production. Imperial industries relocated abroad in search of cheap labor. Finance, insurance, real estate, communications, military and security industries came to dominate the domestic economy. A vicious cycle was created: with the erosion of its productive base, the Empire further increased its reliance on the military, finance capital and the import of cheap consumer goods.


Just after World War II, Washington tested its military prowess through intervention. Because of the immense popular resistance and the proximity of the USSR, and later PRC, empire building in post-colonial Asia was contained or militarily defeated. US forces temporarily recognized a stalemate in Korea after killing millions. Its defeat in China led to the flight of the ‘Nationalists’ to the provincial island of Taiwan. The sustained popular resistance and material support from socialist superpowers led to its retreat from Indo-China. In response, it resorted to economic sanctions to strangle the revolutionary governments.


The Growth of the Unipolar Ideology


With the growing power of overseas economic competitors and its increasing reliance on direct military intervention, the US Empire took advantage of the internal disintegration of the USSR and China’s embrace of ‘state capitalism’ in the early 1990’s and 1980s. The US expanded throughout the Baltic region, Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans – with the forced breakup of Yugoslavia. Imperial strategists envisioned ‘a unipolar empire’ – an imperial state without rivals. The Empire builders were free to invade, occupy and pillage independent states on any continent – even bombing a European capital, Belgrade, with total impunity. Multiple wars were launched against designated ‘adversaries’, who lacked strong global allies.


Countries in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were targeted for destruction. South America was under the control of neo-liberal regimes. The former USSR was pillaged and disarmed by imperial vassals. Russia was ruled by gangster-kleptocrats allied to US stooges. China was envisioned as nothing more than a slave workshop producing cheap mass consumer goods for Americans and generating high profits for US multinational corporations and retailers like Walmart.


Unlike the Roman Empire, the 1990’s were not to be the prelude to an unchallenged US empire of long duration. Since the ‘unipolarists’ were pursuing multiple costly and destructive wars of conquest and they were unable to rely on the growth of satellites with emerging industrial economies for its profits, US global power eroded.


The Demise of Unipolarity: The 21st Century


Ten years into the 21st century, the imperial vision of an unchallenged unipolar empire was crumbling. China’s ‘primitive’ accumulation led to advanced domestic accumulation for the Chinese people and state. China’s power expanded overseas through investments, trade and acquisitions. China displaced the US as the leading trading partner in Asia and the largest importer of primary commodities from Latin America and Africa. China became the world’s leading manufacturer and exporter of consumer goods to North America and the EU.


The first decade of the 21st century witnessed the overthrow or defeat of US vassal states throughout Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil) and the emergence of independent agro-mineral regimes poised to form regional trade pacts. This was a period of growing global demand for their natural resources and commodities - precisely when the US was de-industrializing and in the throes of costly disastrous wars in the Middle East.


In contrast to the growing independence of Latin America, the EU deepened its military participation in the brutal US-led overseas wars by expanding the ‘mandate’ of NATO. Brussels followed the unipolarist policy of systematically encircling Russia and weakening its independence via harsh sanctions. The EU’s outward expansion (financed with increasing domestic austerity) heightened internal cleavages, leading to popular discontent. The UK voted in favor of a referendum to secede from the EU. 


The domestic disasters of the US vassal regime in Russia, under Boris Yeltsin during the 1990”s, pushed the voters to elect a nationalist, Vladimir Putin. President Vladimir Putin’s government embarked on a program to regain Russian sovereignty and its position as a global power, countering US internal intervention and pushing back against external encirclement by NATO.


Unipolarists continued to launch multiple wars of conquest in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, costing trillions of dollars and leading to the loss of global markets and competitiveness. As the armies of the Empire expanded globally, the domestic economy (the ‘Republic’) contracted. The US became mired in recession and growing poverty. Unipolar politics created a growing multi-polar global economy, while rigidly imposing military priorities.


The Empire Strikes Back: The Nuclear Option


The second decade of the 21st century ushered in the demise of unipolarity to the dismay of many ‘experts’ and the blind denial by its political architects. The rise of a multi-polar world economy intensified the desperate imperial drive to restore unipolarity by military means, led by militarists incapable of adjusting or assessing their own policies.


Under the regime of the ‘first black’ US President Obama, elected on promises to ‘rein in’ the military, imperial policymakers intensified their pursuit of seven, new and continuing wars. To the policymakers and the propagandists in the US-EU corporate media, these were successful imperial wars, accompanied by premature declarations of victories in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. This triumphal delusion of success led the new Administration to launch new wars in Ukraine, Libya, Syria and Yemen.


As the new wave of wars and coups (‘regime change’) to re-impose unipolarity failed, even greater militarist policies displaced economic strategies for global dominance. The unipolarist-militarists, who direct the permanent state apparatus, continued to sacrifice markets and investments with total immunity from the disastrous consequences of their failures on the domestic economy.


A Brief Revival of Unipolarity in Latin America


Coups and power grabs have overturned independent governments in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras and threatened progressive governments in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.  However, the pro-imperial ‘roll-back’ in Latin America was neither politically nor economically sustainable and threatens to undermine any restoration of US unipolar dominance of the region.


The US has provided no economic aid or expanded access to markets to reward and support their newly acquired client regimes. Argentina’s new vassal, Mauricio Macri, transferred billions of dollars to predatory Wall Street bankers and handed over access to military bases and lucrative resources without receiving any reciprocal inflows of investment capital. Indeed the servile policies of President Macri created greater unemployment and depressed living standards, leading to mass popular discontent. The unipolar empire’s ‘new boy’ in its Buenos Aires fiefdom faces an early demise.   


Likewise, widespread corruption, a deep economic depression and unprecedented double digit levels of unemployment in Brazil threaten the illicit vassal regime of Michel Temer with permanent crisis and rising class conflict.


Short-Lived Success in the Middle East


The revanchist unipolarist launch of a new wave of wars in the Middle East and North Africa seemed to succeed briefly with the devastating power of US-NATO aerial and naval bombardment; then collapsed amidst grotesque destruction and chaos, flooding Europe with millions of refugees. 


Powerful surges of resistance to the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan hastened the retreat toward a multi-polar world. Islamist insurgents drove the US into fortress garrisons and took control of the countryside and encircled cities in Afghanistan; Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya drove US backed regimes and mercenaries into flight.


(To be concluded…)

Courtesy shamireaders

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