The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Is US foreign policy imperial?

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Is US foreign policy imperial? In order to address this question, one must attempt to understand what imperialism itself is. As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, ‘Imperialism’ means the “rule of an emperor”. But the dictionary further explains it as the “belief in value of colonies and dependencies”.

If one was to generalise a few aspects of this definition, then the modern significance of the phenomenon becomes evident. The emperor is a ruler, and a ruler is the political head of a nation and therefore a country. Thus the expansion of one country to occupy the lands of a pre-existing nation is an imperialistic act. This, however, begs the question: are all annexations of land by a country an act of imperialism?

Not necessarily.

A nation or a country’s move to annex territory may be of many types, the simplest example of which would be extending its borders in the event of finding unclaimed land. This neutral tendency changes however with the introduction of the phenomenon of colonisation. It is precisely this phenomenon and its associated consequences that make neutral annexation different from imperialism.

Imperialism requires the political and economic subjugation of the people on a previously inhabited land. Therefore, it would not be erroneous to say that the people are forced to serve and feed the interests of the ‘homeland’. This results in a position where the homeland becomes a parasitic entity, feeding off the labour and toil of the colonised.

As outlined by Lenin in his book Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Imperialism is born from the need to expand with the precise motive of expanding markets and increasing the inflow of raw material. Lenin describes the character of imperialism in his book by saying:

“Monopolies, oligarchy, the striving for domination and not for freedom, the exploitation of an increasing number of small or weak nations by a handful of the richest or most powerful nations – all these have given birth to those distinctive characteristics of imperialism, which compel us to define it as parasitic or decaying capitalism. More and more prominently there emerges, as one of the tendencies of imperialism, the creation of the ‘rentier state’, the usurer state, in which the bourgeoisie to an ever-increasing degree lives on the proceeds of capital exports and by ‘clipping coupons’. It would be a mistake to believe that this tendency to decay precludes the rapid growth of capitalism. It does not. In the epoch of imperialism, certain branches of industry, certain strata of the bourgeoisie and certain countries betray, to a greater or lesser degree, now one and now another of these tendencies. On the whole, capitalism is growing far more rapidly than before; but this growth is not only becoming more and more uneven in general, its unevenness also manifests itself, in particular, in the decay of the countries which are richest in capital (Britain)” — (Lenin, V. I., Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, International Publishing Company, 1969).

This also implies two things. First, the raw material existing within the confines of the imperial country must become insufficient and second, that the process of refining and treating those raw materials must become efficient.

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If the British colonial experience is studied in detail, this is precisely what we find. The British Empire underwent a huge revolution in its production process, that is the Industrial Revolution, and this revolution made it possible for commodities to be produced at a much faster rate than ever before. At the time, this was a totally new development with the sheer amount of commodities produced flooding the market, until supply far outstripped demand. In addition to this, the more efficient process of commodity production dictated the current process of coal mining and raw material extraction obsolete. Therefore, to sustain the industrial revolution itself, the country had to take over control of more sources of raw material and a new labour force to drive this mighty industrial engine. Furthermore, when demand at home was exhausted, new markets had to be found overseas for the British to sell off their excess produce. Colonisation solved both of these problems. In light of this it is totally understandable that the British came to United India in the guise of benign traders.

The question now becomes: how is this relevant to the US?

According to some political commentators and analysts, we are living today in what is referred to as the Pax-Americana. This refers to the post-Soviet Cold War, unipolar global hegemony of the US. What is interesting to note is that after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and the fall of soviet communism (in no small measure contributed to by the actions of Mikhail Gorbachev), the former allies of the US have assumed the role of near protectees. This has given rise to the phenomenon of neo-colonialism, which is defined as the domination of one country or nation by the other without the actual use of coercive force. This is achieved through economic or political sanctions.

Since the US assumed its role of the sole super-power, it has gone out of its way to protect those nations that it considers its allies. Examples of this are the Gulf War of the early 1990s and again in the early 2000s. Its actions in aiding Israel amass wealth, military power and technology to the extent that it has become incomparably powerful in the Middle East also attest to US intervention in its extreme. But perhaps the most important example of this is the manner in which the US interference in, what are decidedly internal matters of various countries. This is clearly seen, especially now when the US is pressuring Iran into surrendering its nuclear arsenal. This in light of the fact that the US had also insisted that Iraq surrender its phantom arsenal only a few years ago, makes this whole process dubious at best.

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If the above mentioned cases are studied, there is no doubt that the US is following the same, albeit a more sophisticated form of colonisation to suit its own needs. It must be realised that the US as a country and its government in particular are highly influenced by special interests, primarily those of its multinational corporations. It is these interests that are being protected by the US’s foreign policy.

The actions of the US are no great mystery to unravel. The truth is staring everyone in the face and it is that the US is indeed an imperial power, following an imperial foreign policy, bent on global domination for its own interests – interests that are not congruent with the betterment of the world at large.

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