The Opinion
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The Opinion

Louis Dalrymple

The Rise and Fall of American Imperialism

By Yash Dahiya

History shows instances of various empires falling eventually over time. Rome, Britain, Japan etc. all fell.So it shouldn’t be surprising when I say that US will also eventually fall one day. This article will analyse the rise of America and its fall which we can see today. It will also briefly talk about the rise of China and how it is proving to be the next super power.

American imperialism has always been in existence since its inception. Noam Chomsky, at his speech at Boston University, titled “Modern Day American Imperialism- Middle East and Beyond”, said that “according to the founding fathers; when the country was founded it was an infant empire. Modern-day American imperialism is just at a latter phase of a process which has started from its very first moment without a break.”

Twenty-five years before the Revolution, Benjamin Franklin argued that the British were imposing restrictions on colonial expansion. He admonished the British and said, “[a] prince would be remembered as the nation’s lord, who acquires new territory and eliminates the natives to give his people space.”

Thomas Jefferson, the most forthcoming of the founding fathers, said, “[w]e will drive them [the savages] — We will drive them into the stony mountains with the beasts of the trees,” and eventually the nation will be “clean of blot or mixture” — that is, red or black. It wasn’t achieved entirely, but that was the goal. Jefferson added,

“[o]ur new country will be the nest from which America, both north and south, will be settled, displacing not just the red men here, but the Latin-speaking people to the south and everyone else who happened to be there.”

The popularisation of the Manifest destiny, which was a cultural belief in the 19th century, was a result of these statements. The view was that its settlers were destined to expand across North America which ultimately led to the genocide of the Native Americans and the Mexican American War of 1846, which resulted in the cession of 525,000 square miles of Mexican territory to the United States, stretching up to the Pacific coast.

The British being a military might and a superpower at that time tried to stop America’s expansionism mainly by blocking the invasion of Canada which the Americans did not consider as a nation until after World War 1. The Spanish American War, 1898 was a major victory for the Americans against Spain. Following the Treaty of Paris, America obtained temporary ownership of Cuba and ceded ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines Islands from Spain. The invasion marked the end of the Spanish Empire.

Victor Gillam

America subsequently annexed Hawaii in the same year by overthrowing the Hawaiian kingdom. It was believed that the control of Hawaii was essential for the control of the Pacific and during that time there was a legitimate fear that the Japanese might take control over it. The Japanese did try to oppose the annexation but it was of no avail. The Americans further also purchased Alaska from the Russians and the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

American expansionism was a combination of military conflicts, purchases, and political conquests. This period of rapid acquisition of far-flung territories made the United States of America a global power. In the modern era, it has established its global dominance.

America proved to be the sole superpower in the world, ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. They embarked on a new trust for world dominance and hegemony for the imperialist bloc under its leadership. It aimed to use its military and economic might by bending the world order in its favour.

The Americans created a network of 800 military bases in over 70 countries around the world. These bases were created during the Cold war period to counter the Soviets. It has also created an array of trade deals and alliances thereby establishing a strong influence in Europe and Asia. They enforced rules which ensured free trade and tried to establish democratic governments through military power and political manipulation. These methods were used in the proxy wars in Vietnam, Korea, etc. and the war in Iraq where President Bush strongly proclaimed the start of the “new world order” under American leadership.

The “non-colonial imperial expansion” as said by William Appleman Williams in his book ‘The Tragedy of American Diplomacy’ has been the basis of American foreign policy over the last century. This policy has reaped benefits for America. Due to its existence as the sole superpower, it has for long enjoyed the exorbitant privilege of having its dollar serve as the world’s reserve currency credit to the Bretton Woods Conference during the end of World-War-II which brought an end to the gold standard. Today, according to the International Monetary Fund, more than 61 percent of all foreign bank reserves are dominated in US dollars. And nearly 40 percent of the world’s debt is in the dollar.

Ehrhart

After World War 2, the United States America was the only major power that was able to avoid economic ruin and possessed nuclear weapons at the time. Owing to its unique position, the United States of America was triumphant in setting the terms of peace. This led to the formation of the United Nations which laid down international norms and instruments prohibiting wars of conquest.

The United States intervened in several countries in the post world-war phase to curb soviet aggravation. This included establishing coups like that of Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh who nationalized the British owned oil industry and was later deposed by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was backed by the US and the UK. Other instances also include its regime changes in Latin American nations. It has backed rebels like that in Afghanistan to counter the Soviets. There have also been interventions in the national elections of countries, including in Japan in the 1950s and 1960s, the Philippines in 1953, and Lebanon in the 1957 elections using secret cash infusions.

According to a study, during the period 1946–2000, the U.S. performed at least 81 known overt and covert interventions at foreign elections. Another study found that, during the Cold War, the U.S. engaged in 64 covert and six overt attempts at regime change. The United States has waged or sponsored wars since the fall of the Soviet Union to establish the government of a variety of countries. In these conflicts, stated U.S. objectives included combating the War on Terror, as in the on-going Afghan War, or removing dictatorial and hostile regimes, as in the Iraq War.

BrokenSphere

Fall of American Imperialism and China’s Rise

Just like Rome and the British Empire, the USA is also bound to fall one day and its process has started. The United States of America has been in a state of severe, systemic recession for over two decades now and its problems are mounting: plant closures, industrial stagnation, unsustainable deficits, rising wages, declining infrastructure, deteriorating towns, moribund banking, disintegrated education, health care, and social security threaten to reduce the economy. There has also been a rise in violence, narcotics usage, economic inequality and prejudice that destroys the social fabric and therefore allows the ruling class greater incentives to expand the policing operations of the colonial state to the domestic sphere as well as to increase the size of the police force and create more prisons are the only remedies which can be prescribed by the capitalist class.

The amount of national debt is also a total staggering $21 trillion as of July 2018. which has a negative impact on the country’s economy. An increasing share of savings would go to government debt purchases, rather than investments in productive capital goods such as factories and computers, resulting in lower productivity and wages than would otherwise occur. Rising interest costs would also reduce investment in government programs. The Congressional Budget Office said that the interest costs will outpace military spending by 2023.

China, on the other hand, is proving to be the next superpower. Ever since Deng Xiaoping introduced reforms, China’s economic growth and development have skyrocketed. It has significantly reduced poverty and surpassed the USA’s economy in terms of GDP power. It is also on the verge of overcoming USA in GDP terms.

While the Chinese were at work, the United States of America went to an international offensive, destroying ties with nations and imposing neoliberalism. China in 2013 introduced a trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. It has been called “the largest single infrastructure program in human history” and involves over 70 countries and 1,700 development projects connecting Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. It has been criticized to be a debt trap tactic where China provides investment at high-interest rates to less developed countries to increase debts and in turn occupy territories.

Meanwhile, mired in economic stagnation and decline, the United States is losing international authority. The country’s reputation has further plummeted as Trump has been withdrawing from major international treaties such as the Iran nuclear deal, Climate Change treaty, and the Russia-US Treaty on Open Skies. Besides this, China has also significantly improved its military and has the 2nd largest military budget. The country today has become a world power in terms of science, technology, and innovation.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Conclusion

Today, with the world facing enormous social, economic and environmental challenges, Chinese socialism is demonstrating a clear alternative to the prevailing capitalist system: promising to eliminate poverty by 2020; with lower wage growth and real income increasing by 401 percent since 1978 (compared to a one percent decrease in the United States over that period); declaring healthcare a basic human right; praised the ‘best response to the global environmental crisis’ and reducing urban emissions by an average of 32% in just four years after the declaration of the ‘war on pollution;’ being ‘the world leader in wind, solar, nuclear and electric vehicles’; Creating the world’s longest bullet-train network, and declaring that injustice, not economic underdevelopment, is now the principal paradox that the Chinese society must tackle.

The United States of America, today has been taking steps to curb China by going on a trade war, sending their military to Asia and the South China sea but the questions remain,

Is it too late?

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