Bush's Politics of Fear: Maintaining US Hegemony

“Knowledge is the antidote to fear.” Emerson

Hegemony may seem a literary-challenging word to many, but not its meaning. Exercising predominant influence in the world is a given, almost a birthright, for Americans… and the danger of losing such influence is unfathomed.

That assumption of “deserving influence,” which extends possibly three or four generations, may have sprouted from that immigrant primary root which generations back had nurtured in the fertile soil-mix of economic opportunity and freedom. Not to deny or minimize, however, other important reasons such as the US critical participation in two world wars, or the evangelization of America's consumer culture beyond the confines of the opulent in many parts of the world.

Americans feel quite content in this position of pride and privilege, and any aggressive currents which might diminish this influence are resented and unwelcome. It follows that any haranguing by the Extreme Right denigrating and denouncing ultra-national organizations, institutions, or treaties finds a receptive ear with many who’re afraid to lose primacy in any issues, even if their adopting stance is unreasonable or detrimental to other people in the world, or possibly even to themselves. Not surprising, then, to have Bush’s disdain for the United Nations, the World Court in The Hague, or the Kyoto Protocol find a loud litany choir in an otherwise moderate population.

Still, the United States had to endure for over four decades a cold war that had it sharing hegemony with the Soviet Union. In that confrontation not only did two superpowers clash but two economic ideologies as well; each superpower with its own entourage of “sovereign” nations; sovereignty defined in terms of adherence to the two empires as vassals, tributaries, colonies, protectorates, and in some cases as junior partners (i.e.: the UK).

The end of the bipolar world with the breakup of the Soviet Union may have benefited economically some peoples, but in a very dramatic way it created a new set of problems for the entire world. Yes, the United States as well! Up to that point, mutually assured destruction (MAD) had a sobering and reconciliatory effect on international relations, and thankfully prevented the advent of a madman dressed as God’s messenger.

This uni-polar world with the US as the sole military superpower, spending more in “defense” than the rest of the world combined, is not a pretty picture; even if the empire pretends to hold the higher moral ground and claims Solomonic dispensation of justice.

In the past, the United States had led the world in setting standards by which economic development, human rights and individual freedoms were to be judged… giving a commendable version of what a working democracy should be. Why then should anyone in the international community be afraid of US hegemony? Perhaps for good and solid reasons… for those standards are either questionable or no longer apply.

On economic development, we are no longer the nation to emulate. Americans no longer save, and are dependent on about one trillion dollars of imported foreign savings annually to fund an economic growth which bases roughly 70 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on consumer spending. We are presently consuming all the wealth generated by the appreciation in the nation’s assets… and 80 percent of the world’s surplus savings to boot. What kind of an example or standard is that setting?

As for human rights, our behavior, and what’s even more important the cover-up for such behavior, tells it all. We may wish the world to see our diplomatic and military actions as clear responses to human rights’ violations or to bring freedom to captive peoples; but that is clearly seen by the world as hypocrisy-in-bloom. Dethroning regimes such as those of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, or the Ayatollahs in Iran is nothing but a reversal from actions taken in the past by the US to help bring those tyrannical governments to power. Yes, at one time the US stood tall, if not always, for the weak and oppressed… but that standard is no more, having been surrendered to the demands of the empire.

US hegemony may not properly describe our nation’s standing vis-à-vis other countries or regions, but rather the position that the US government takes, and has been taking for some time, to ascertain a capitalist globalization; and Americans would be surprised to discover that the hegemony being defended does not fly the stars and stripes, but the flags of those multi-national corporations. Our military, and its arsenals of death and destruction, are there to defend, at our expense, the interests of capitalist globalization, and little else. And those interests include the prevention of other powers (China, India, Brazil, Greater Russia and perhaps even an Arab or Muslim Commonwealth) from emerging in the world scene, forcing multi-polarity of power.

But rest assured that those powers will emerge, and assume their rightful places on the world’s board of director-nations; that, in spite of the US military long-term doctrine (Joint Vision 2020) which establishes its “must” goal as a “joint force capable of full spectrum dominance.”

The Bush administration wants the American people to fear the possible loss of the US’ hegemony in the world. But, should we fear that? Fear we should not. A multi-polar world with other powers sitting at the table is likely to bring true peace and equanimity in a very fragile earth, and that’s good for Americans, all Americans… with the possible exception of those who wish to establish a world order with their own secretive rules and standards.