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The American War Machine

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The American War Machine


There are a ton of articles written that purport to explain why the United States and subsequently NATO got involved in specific quagmires around the world. While these articles are wonderful in explaining the United State's posture on specific countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan, they fail to weave these discrete events into the overall fabric of the United State's hegemonic role in the world. During the course of this paper I will argue that following World War II the United States' active role in the world-which manifests itself in the toppling of regimes and the support of apartheid-is not out of a love of "democracy" or "freedom", but rather is part of the ungodly melding of neo-liberalism and neo-conservationism's goal for United States hegemonic domination. Throughout this paper I will argue that the major wars of the second half of the 20th century fought by the United States, from the Cold War proxy wars to the Iraq war to the proposed war on Iran to name a few, are not discrete pieces of data. Nay, they are points on a continuous line drawn by the United States government which ends with the permanent imperialistic, hegemonic status of the American empire.

I believe - though I may be wrong, because I'm no expert - that this war is about what most wars are about: hegemony, money, power and oil.                                                                                                      -Dustin Hoffman[1]

Part 1 

The first question one would ask, (and rightfully so), would be: "What do you mean by neo-liberalism, neo-conservativism, and hegemony?" In part one I shall define them and explain how they all tie together.

Neo-liberalism is, on it's surface, is the support for free trade, massive privatization, and deregulation.[2] 

Neo-conservativism is a doctrine which endorses socially conservative living, a support for nationalism, and an appreciation for the free market.[3]

Hegemony is, in the original sense, leadership by one country over another country.[4] Hegemony encompasses many things including, but not limited to, the ability to deter aggressors, promote one's own ideals or even in the Gramscian sense, to subvert opposition.

Henceforth, the aforementioned three will be lumped together under the title of neo-colonialism which is defined as "domination of a small or weak country by a large or strong one without the assumption of direct government".[5]

However, I argue that neo-colonialism is more than just that. Neo-colonialism is one of the biggest tools the bourgeoisie uses to subjugate the rest of the world. Neo-colonialism is merely the highest stages of neo-liberalism and neo-conservativism. Allow me to explain; neo-liberalism's unquenchable thirst for new markets, what Peter Dickens calls "outsides" to capitalism, combined with neo-conservativism's appetite for destruction and militarism necessitate the direct or, in most cases today, indirect control of another nation. In order to guarantee access to raw materials, get cheap labor, and have people to sell the goods to, the United States must enforce "regime change" and install a pro-US government that grants us those things...regardless of the cost.

Part 2

Following World War II and the subsequent division of Germany's land and the destruction of Great Britain, two world powers remained. The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Not only was this unfavorable for the United States but it also did the Soviet Union a disservice because there could be no lasting peace between the two. Then, following in the footsteps of manifest destiny and the drive to maintain an American empire we began a systematic plot to demonize the Soviet Union and test the boundaries of American power. 

In 1947 the British Government under economic pressures decided to stop funding the Greek and Turkish governments in their fight against communist rebels. The American government, seeing this as a subtle attack by the reds to undermine western governments and destabilize Europe and by the urging of statesman Dean Acheson, began adopting plans that fit under a broader policy called "containment".[6] (As the name implies, containing communism)

On March 12, 1947, Harry S. Truman petitioned congress for what was later called "The Truman Doctrine". This policy was to give about $400 million to the governments of Greece and Turkey in lieu of Britain's aid to help fight the rebels.[7] This doctrine within the framework of containment was the first major attempt by the United States to demonize a critique of the American model. Truman said of the doctrine "It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."[8]

Following that, in April 1947, the so called "Marshall Plan" was implemented. The Marshall Plan was a plan to give economic aid to the war ravaged countries of Europe to "...prevent the spread of international communism".[9]

Here one might say, "the Soviet Union was a threat to United States hegemony" however, up until June of 1948 the Soviet Union had not done any, tangible attack on Western society. The Soviet Unions actions before the Berlin Blockade where merely attempts to rebuild it's own war torn nation.  The actions of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan within the framework of containment were attempts to do a few things. First, they were attempts to demonize the communist critique of Western society by making them out to be the "bad guys". This was done masterfully through the convincing of the American populace that Communists would try to take them over and that they were "evil" creatures. Second, they were attempts to discredit the Soviet model by making it seem like they weren't good enough to be taken seriously on the international stage formally and thus had to have underhanded tactics used to deal with the likes of them. Finally, they were responses to a created threat. The threat of a Communist take over, at least in the 40's, was a threat that we constructed. The United States government built a threat, the threat of a communistic take over, and reacted to that threat by asserting its dominance in the international sphere. This aggressive force posture towards the Soviet Union prior to 1948 served only to hinder the ability to rebuild as well as disgrace them in the international sphere. The Soviet Union's actions following the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were responses to the United States making them out to be an enemy, not preemptive actions like the United States was doing.

This assertion of dominance was a force posture adopted by the neo-colonialists in response to the critique of the American model. The denouncing of the Soviet Union, the funding of foreign governments and the out worldly hostile stance of the United States towards the Soviets constitutes a form of neo-colonialism. We funded foreign governments to help fight off a perceived threat and in turn controlled the governments themselves by convincing them that without our aid they would fall into the anarchy thus they came back to us and hid behind the American nuclear umbrella. 

This force posture adopted by the United States was not a happenstance, rather, the United States chose this. We decided to fund foreign governments for the sole purpose of preventing the spread of communism. We decided to militarize throughout Europe and extend our nuclear umbrella over most western nations. We decided to denounce the Soviet Union on the international scale and the threat that we made, the threat of global communist take over, was made a reality by our militaristic, anti-communist discourse and our actions in the international sphere. 

However, let's talk some more about threat construction (albeit in the context of China) and the later years of the Soviet Union. 

The way threat construction works is thusly: we see another nation as a threat to our way of life (or it's the market forces implanting a form of false consciousness into the people that leads them to fear the other*), we begin a campaign of demonization and fear that in turn leads to the militarization of allied countries and ourselves in response to this "threat". That militarization is seen as a direct (rather than constructed) threat on the "demon" nations sovereignty and they militarize making the original "threat" a reality! Dr. Chengxin Pan of the Deakin University in Australia writes about threat construction in the context of China. He says:

For instance, as the United States presses ahead with a missile-defence shield to "guarantee" its invulnerability from rather unlikely sources of missile attacks, it would be almost certain to intensify China's sense of vulnerability and compel it to expand its current small nuclear arsenal so as to maintain the efficiency of its limited deterrence. In consequence, it is not impossible that the two countries, and possibly the whole region, might be dragged into an escalating arms race that would eventually make war more likely.[10]
This mentality of militarization and demonization of the other leads to actual threats that increase the risk of a conflict. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a prime example of this fact. The United States was militarizing at a rapid pace and we had missiles stationed throughout Europe and this in turn seemed like a threat to the sovereignty of the Soviet Union. That feeling led them to attempt to place missiles in Cuba causing the event that was probably the closest we've ever come to a nuclear war - the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Part 3

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the destruction of the original Maoist party in China leading them to state capitalism the stage was set for total United States hegemony. 

At the end of the Cold War the United States had stockpiled roughly 8,000 ICBMs[12] and countless more bombs themselves. Not only that but had a financial-military-industrial complex capable of winning us any war. But we were not content with that alone. We armed Saddam Husein with the "weapons of mass destruction" that were a pretext for the United State's invasion[13] in order to gain another ally and foothold in the Middle East as well as us training Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in order to fight off the Soviets in a proxy war[14] and to maintain another foothold. 

The invasion of Grenada, the "interventions" in Iraq and Afghanistan, the toppling of a regime in Libya, the smuggling of missiles in for the Syrian "rebels" all the way up to the proposed Israeli war on Iran are not discrete events. They are not individual military actions. No no, they are points on the continuous line of American neo-colonialism where we fund oppressive regimes and are fine with it until they make the mistake of criticizing the United States or until they step out of line or we realize that we need just one more ally in the Middle East. Once that point is reached we invade or support a "multilateral" operation designed to overthrow the governments we funded under the auspices of "preserving freedom" or "bringing democracy" to the people of far away lands. The United States is an imperial power and the wars we wage are never fought for "freedom" or "democracy", they are fought to preserve US business interests and to extend American Hegemony into the future. 

The wars of the past 20 years are individual interventions, they are attempts by the United States to extend its global dominance well into the future even in the face of a "rising" China. We realize that we are losing a foothold somewhere, or that our "strategic interests" are at risk and thus, with no regard for the ramifications, we instill a regime change that only serves to destabilize the region and cause further bloodshed. 

Part 4

In September of 2000 a group called The Project for a New American Century released a report called Rebuilding America's Defenses. On page 51 of the report in a section entitled Creating Tomorrow's Dominant Force the authors write:

Further, the process of transformation,
even if it brings revolutionary change, is
likely to be a long one, absent some
catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a
new Pearl Harbor.[15]
The transformation the authors talk about is the extending and ramping up of America's foreign military power.

18 of the groups members held positions in the Bush administration.[16]


*I would argue that the market and the neo-liberal lobbies realize that communism is a threat to their agenda of exploitation and monopoly and they realize that they need a way to get rid of it thus they create a form of false consciousness** that drives the people to want to get rid of it too. An enemy to the elites and the oppressors, communism, is then espoused as an enemy to the common man which fuels the fire and causes average men and women to die for the bourgeoisie in the name of "freedom" and "democracy". 

**false consciousness, in the strict Marxist sense, is defined as "any belief or view that prevents a person from being able to understand the true nature of a situation."[11]

1: "Dustin Hoffman." Xplore Inc, 2012. 28 August. 2012.

2: Martinez, Elizabeth, and Arnoldo Garcia. "CorpWatch : What is Neoliberalism?." CorpWatch. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2012. <>.

3: "neoconservatism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2012

4: "Hegemony." N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2012. <>.

5: "neocolonialism - definition of neocolonialism by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.." Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus - The Free Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2012. <>.

6: "Our Documents - Truman Doctrine (1947)." Welcome to N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

7: "Our Documents - Truman Doctrine (1947)." Welcome to N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

8: "Our Documents - Truman Doctrine (1947)." Welcome to N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

9: "Marshall Plan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

10: Pan, Chengxin 2004, The "China Threat" in American self-imagination: the discursive construction of other as power politics, Alternatives:global, local, political, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 305-331. <>

11: "false consciousness." N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

12: "The Nuclear Arms Race." History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

13: Adams, Mike. "Don't tell anyone, but Saddam Hussein was funded, trained and put into power by the United States ." Natural health news. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>

14: "Osama Bin Laden Created by the US." MSUWeb. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

15: "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century." The Project for a New American Century. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

16: Project for the New American Century - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>

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