August 23, 2004
New Statesman

The Warlords of America

Most of the US's recent wars were launched by Democratic presidents. Why expect better of Kerry? The debate between US liberals and conservatives is a fake; Bush may be the lesser evil.

by John Pilger

On 6 May last, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution which, in effect, authorised a "pre-emptive" attack on Iran. The vote was 376-3. Undeterred by the accelerating disaster in Iraq, Republicans and Democrats, wrote one commentator, "once again joined hands to assert the responsibilities of American power".

The joining of hands across America's illusory political divide has a long history. The native Americans were slaughtered, the Philippines laid to waste and Cuba and much of Latin America brought to heel with "bipartisan" backing. Wading through the blood, a new breed of popular historian, the journalist in the pay of rich newspaper owners, spun the heroic myths of a supersect called Americanism, which advertising and public relations in the 20th century formalised as an ideology, embracing both conservatism and liberalism.

In the modern era, most of America's wars have been launched by liberal Democratic presidents . . .

It is the continuation of a project that began more than 500 years ago. The privileges of "discovery and conquest" granted to Christopher Columbus in 1492, in a world the pope considered "his property to be disposed according to his will", have been replaced by another piracy transformed into the divine will of Americanism and sustained by technological progress, notably that of the media. . . .

Supremacy is the essence of Americanism; only the veil changes or slips. In 1976, the Democrat Jimmy Carter announced "a foreign policy that respects human rights". In secret, he backed Indonesia's genocide in East Timor and established the mujahedin in Afghanistan as a terrorist organisation designed to overthrow the Soviet Union, and from which came the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It was the liberal Carter, not Reagan, who laid the ground for George W Bush. In the past year, I have interviewed Carter's principal foreign policy overlords - Zbigniew Brzezinski, his national security adviser, and James Schlesinger, his defence secretary. No blueprint for the new imperialism is more respected than Brzezinski's. Invested with biblical authority by the Bush gang, his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives describes American priorities as the economic subjugation of the Soviet Union and the control of central Asia and the Middle East. . . .

The real debate is neither Bush nor Kerry, but the system they exemplify; it is the decline of true democracy and the rise of the American "national security state" in Britain and other countries claiming to be democracies, in which people are sent to prison and the key thrown away and whose leaders commit capital crimes in faraway places, unhindered, and then, like the ruthless Blair, invite the thug they install to address the Labour Party conference. The real debate is the subjugation of national economies to a system which divides humanity as never before and sustains the deaths, every day, of 24,000 hungry people. The real debate is the subversion of political language and of debate itself and perhaps, in the end, our self-respect.


Eric Margolis, "Not So Fast, Sen. Lott," Toronto Sun, February 16, 1998

Enver Masud, "Deadly Deception, Pretexts for War," The Wisdom Fund, July 30, 2001

Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

M. Shahid Alam, "Pauperizing the Periphery: Two Decades of Neoliberal Policies," The Wisdom Fund, June 10, 2003

Lutz Kleveman, "The New Great Game," The Guardian, October 20, 2003

Chalmers Johnson, "America's Empire of Bases," Nation Institute, January 15, 2004

Robert C. Byrd, "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency," W. W. Norton & Company (July 2004)

Niranjan Ramakrishnan, "Byrd's Eye View: When the Extraordinary Becomes the Norm," Nation Institute, September 8, 2004

Francisc Catalin, "Wars Against 74 Nations...and Counting: An ABC of American Interventions," CounterPunch, September 11, 2004

John Brown, "The Return Of The World Warriors,", October 7, 2004

Zbigniew Brzezinski, "How to Make New Enemies," New York Times, October 25, 2004

Mark Curtis, "The growing brutality and deception of the Iraq war mirrors Britain's recent imperial history," Independent, October 26, 2004

Kevin Rafferty, "Last gasp of U.S. hegemony," The Japan Times, November 15, 2004

James Petras, "Latin America: The Empire Changes Gears," CounterPunch, December 7, 2004

Fred Anderson, Andrew Cayton, "The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000," Viking Adult (December 29, 2004)

William A. Cook, "Bush, Osama and Israel: Concealing Causes and Consequences," CounterPunch, January 10, 2005

[In "Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World," Arkin discloses and briefly defines 3,000 military code names. . . . Each one represents a discrete dot in the ever-growing clandestine world of Delta Force and SEAL commandos, of spy satellites and electronic worldwide eavesdropping.--Dana Priest, "Book of U.S. Code Names Challenges Secrecy," Washington Post, January 23, 2005]

VIDEO: "Gore Vidal on Bush's Inaugural Address: 'The Most Un-American Speech I've Ever Heard',", January 25, 2005

[Andrew Bacevich warns of a dangerous dual obsession that has taken hold of Americans, conservatives and liberals alike. It is a marriage of militarism and utopian ideology--of unprecedented military might wed to a blind faith in the universality of American values. This perilous union, Bacevich argues, commits Americans to a futile enterprise, turning the US into a crusader state with a self-proclaimed mission of driving history to its final destination: the world-wide embrace of the American way of life. This mindset invites endless war and the ever-deepening militarization of US policy.--Andrew Bacevich, "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War," Oxford University Press (February 28, 2005)]

[The inner circles of the U.S. national security community - members of the National Security Council (NSC), a select number of their deputies, and a few close advisors to the president - represent what is probably the most powerful committee in the history of the world, one with more resources, more power, more license to act, and more ability to project force further and swifter than any other convened by king, emperor, or president.--David J. Rothkopf, "Inside the Committee that Runs the World," Foreign Policy, March/April 2005]

Paul Craig Roberts, "The Last Throes of US Dominance,", June 28, 2005

[Meeting in the Kazakh capital of Astana, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia - issued a joint statement saying the active military phase of the Afghan operation was coming to an end and calling on the US-led coalition to agree to a deadline for ending the temporary use of bases and air space in member countries.--Matthew Clark, "Will US be asked to leave key military bases?," Christian Science Monitor, July 5, 2005]

Simon Tisdall, "US forces should take a lesson from the Persian kings," Guardian, September 7, 2005

Hywel Williams, "The US could learn from the Achaemenid dynasty's policy of tolerance," Guardian, September 10, 2005

Rupert Cornwell, "This Won't Be the American Century," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 3, 2006

[The plug line for the "War on Terror" is that America wants to finish the fight it didn't start and get on with the peaceable pursuit of happiness. The reality is that 9/11 and ensuing so-called WOT actually provides the U.S. with many different short-cuts towards hanging on to and expanding whatever control it has over the world. The Gwubya administration isn't going to easily let go of these levers and neither is any succeeding U.S. President.--Ruchir Joshi, "When Bush comes to shove," The Hindu, March 12, 2006]

[. . . the invasion of Iraq "was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons.--Stephen Kinzer, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq," Times Books, April 4, 2006]

["The reason that many of us suspect the U.S. is opposed to this is more fundamental," the independent Arms Control Association's Daryl G. Kimball told OneWorld. "This is a very strategic region. The U.S. is reticent to give up the option of deploying nuclear weapons in this region in the future."--Aaron Glantz, "Five Former Soviet Republics Give Up Nukes,", September 14, 2006]

["During an assault the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female or even discriminate as to age." They did not, and through the decades the Indian dead included uncounted thousands of mothers, children, and elderly, some killed merely for sport, their private parts sliced off and used to make prized wallets or to decorate hats, their scalps and their genitals displayed as trophies.

Theodore Roosevelt, then a U.S. civil service commissioner, visited South Dakota three years after the Wounded Knee Massacre. He wrote that the U.S. government had treated the Indians "with great justice and fairness."--James Bradley, "The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War," Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (November 8, 2010)]

[After soldiers captured over 300 Indians, President Abraham Lincoln approved the largest mass execution in U.S. history on 38 Dakota men. . . .

There are many accounts of the Nazis and Hitler studying Indian reservations for guidance in planning encampments for Jewish people.--Vincent Schilling, "8 Things The History Books Don't Tell Us About Native People,", November 8, 2014]

Mike Whitney, "The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire,", August 25, 2016

back button