During this disturbing period in world history the end of the Trump Administration and its replacement by the new President Biden with foreign policy influentials long associated with prior Democratic and Republican administrations, it is useful to step back and analyze “the time of day” on a worldwide basis: as to global class forces and their ideologies; contemporary techniques of empire and their consequences for the lives of billions; individual global crises; and where President Biden stands on issues of war and peace and foreign policy in general. Much of the material below was assembled in the summer, 2016 in anticipation of an electoral victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton. While that prediction was incorrect, the issues involving the United States in the world remain remarkably (and sadly) the same today, 2021, as 2016.
HARDLY A day goes by without evidence that the liberal international order of the past seven decades is being eroded. China and Russia are attempting to fashion a world in their own illiberal image…This poses an enormous trial for the next U.S. president. We say trial because no matter who takes the Oval Office, it will demand courage and difficult decisions to save the liberal international order. As a new report from the Center for a New American Security points out, this order is worth saving, and it is worth reminding ourselves why: It generated unprecedented global prosperity, lifting billions of people out of poverty; democratic government, once rare, spread to more than 100 nations; and for seven decades there has been no cataclysmic war among the great powers. No wonder U.S. engagement with the world enjoyed a bipartisan consensus.
-The global presence of some form of the United States military is ubiquitous-between 700-and 1,000 military bases, in anywhere from 40 to 120 countries
- US military operations have been privatized. A 2010 Washington Post report found 1,911 intelligence contracting firms doing top secret work for 1,271 government organizations at over 10,000 sites. Ninety percent of such work is being done by 110 contractors.
-More “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” have been used to kill alleged enemies over the last eight years as the entire prior period of US military operations. Drones have come home as their use by the Dallas police recently showed.
-US agencies, such as the CIA, have been engaged in the increased use of assassinations and efforts to undermine governments. One report indicated that there are 13,000 assassination commandoes operating around the world.
-So-called “humanitarian assistance” is used to support United States policies in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. For example, a New York Times story reported that at least 40 American groups received $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade.
-The United States increasingly has used economic tools—economic blockades, trade sanctions, covert financing of pro-US politicians in other countries, and condemnations by some international organizations to undermine, starve, and ultimately, it is hoped, to entice people to overthrow their governments. These techniques, often labeled “hybrid war,” are being used against Venezuela, Cuba, and some thirty other countries.
-Imperial rule has become global.
-The Military/industrial complex has expanded beyond President Eisenhower’s wildest nightmares. Large sectors of military operations—from cooking and cleaning to killing—have been privatized.
-Military operations continue and expand without “boots on the ground.” Empires can kill with impunity.
Their report is worth further quoting:
Next to the historic US ties to Israel, most analysts see the deconstruction of the Middle East that Cockburn wrote about as a direct result of the Iraq war initiated in 2003. Over the next decade, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries have been torn apart by civil war fueled by western, primarily US, intervention, continuing US support of Saudi Arabian militarism, and the fractionalization of states in the region. The Trump administration increased the threat of war with Iran. President Biden might be open to returning to the Nuclear Treaty with Iran from which Trump withdrew.
The answer can be found in a variety of explanations of United States imperialism including what Mike Lofgren has called the “deep state.” Lofgren defined the “deep state” as “… a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.” (Mike Lofgren, “Anatomy of the ‘Deep State’: Hiding in Plain Sight,” Online University of the Left, February 23, 2014). Others have examined invisible power structures, including class, that rule America (from C. W. Mills’ classic The Power Elite, Oxford University Press, 2000 to Robert Perrucci, Earl Wysong, and David Wright, The New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream? Rowman and Littlefield, 2013).
Phyllis Bennis wrote in 2016 that: “An anti-war position, in the broadest sense of reducing military budgets, calling for diplomacy over war, condemning the ‘inevitable’ civilian casualties, calling out how military assaults create rather than destroy terrorism…these are enormously unifying principles among progressives….movements matter.” (Phyllis Bennis, “What the Democratic Party Platform Tells Us About Where We Are on War,” Portside, July 8, 2016).