The question that has to be on a lot of people’s minds these days is what is up with the American Empire. Are we still No. 1 after we elected what many believe is a clown to lead us.
One of the more interesting books to dig deeper into this subject is Noam Chomsky’s Who Rules the World? – which lays out a blue print of the US dominance of the world and what the future holds.
Chomsky is considered one of the world’s leading intellectuals and is a brilliant critic of the US empire. He has written over 100 books, and is ready to publish another one soon entitled Requiem for the American Dream which will be his first major book on income inequality.
But back to the burning question – is the US still No. 1 or is China ready to overtake us?
“China and India have recorded rapid (though highly inegalitarian) growth, but remain very poor countries, with enormous internal problems not faced by the West,” Chomsky writes. “China is the world’s major manufacturing center, but largely as an assembly plant for the advanced industrial powers on its periphery and for Western multinationals.”
Chomsky writes that that will change over time, but not in the foreseeable future. For now China faces serious problems with demographics. He noted that Science, the leading US science weekly, published a study showing that mortality sharply decreased in China during the Maoist years, “mainly as a result of economic development and improvements in education and health services, especially the public hygiene movement that resulted in a sharp drop in mortality from infectious diseases.” But this progress ended with the initiation of capitalist reforms thirty years ago, and the death rate has since increased.
He writes that the U.S. switched to financialization and the offshoring of production because of the decline in the rate of profit in manufacturing. The cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties ever deeper into corporate pockets. Multinational corporations are controlling more of the world’s wealth.
“While the United States remains the most powerful state in the world, nevertheless, global power is continuing to diversify, and the United States is increasingly unable to impose its will,” he writes in chapter 5: American Decline: Causes and Consequences. “The domestic society is also in decline in significant ways, and what is decline for some may be unimaginable wealth and privilege for others.”
He excoriates U.S. foreign policy. He focuses again in this book on the Vietnam War, where the U.S. bombed the remote peasant society of northern Laos and rural Cambodia at the equivalent level of all Allied air operations in the Pacific region during World War II, including two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “In this case, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger’s orders were being carried out – ‘anything that flies on anything that moves,’ an open call for genocide that is rare in the historical record. Little of this is remembered. Most was scarcely known beyond narrow circles of activists.”
“Vietnam itself was of no particular concern, but as the documentary record reveals, Washington was concerned that successful independent development there might spread contagion throughout the region. Vietnam was virtually destroyed; it would be a model for no one. And the region would be protected by installing murderous dictatorships, much as in Latin America in the same years.”
He lambasts the U.S. attempts to destroy the Cuban leadership and its Middle East policy which favors certain horrible dictators as long as they toe the American line.
His analysis of the U.S. government’s obsession with targeting Iran as Enemy No. 1 is particularly illuminating. U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon conclude that Iran is not a military threat. But it has been tormented by the West since the U.S. and Britain overthrew its elected government in 1953 after it nationalized its oil industry. The problem is Iran is a deterrent to U.S. Middle East policy to control the region. Iran overthrew the hated U.S. puppet shah who ruled the country with an iron fist in 1979.
Washington, Chomsky writes, turned to supporting Saddam Hussein’s murderous attacks on Iran. But then President Bush gave a significant gift to Iran by destroying its major enemies, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, he writes.
How reckless is the U.S. and its obsession with controlling the world? When the shah was in power in Iran, the U.S. was urging him to proceed with nuclear programs and pressuring universities to help out. Remember, it was a radical Islamic coup that replaced the U.S. puppet.
“In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States.”
That was Chomsky quoting Robert Jervis, the president of the American Political Science Association.
“The Clinton doctrine affirmed,” Chomsky writes toward the end of his book, “that the United States is entitled to resort to the ‘unilateral use of military power’ even to ensure ‘uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources,’ let alone alleged ‘security’ or ‘humanitarian’ concerns. Adherence to various versions of this doctrine has been well confirmed in practice, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history.”
One other very interesting part of American history the linguistics professor comments on is the American Revolution. Chomsky writes that the slave states encouraged the colonies to break away from the British empire which was turning away from slavery throughout its colonies. “American slave owners could see the handwriting on the wall if the colonies remained under British rule. And it should be recalled that the slave states, including Virginia, had the greatest power and influence in the colonies. One can easily appreciate Dr. Johnson’s famous quip that ‘we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes.’”
When you read Chomsky you will understand why his important ideas are toxic to those in power. It is well written, with Chomsky’s trademark ironic wit making this a fun read. I highly recommend you be subversive and check his book out – you won’t be disappointed!
By Jim Vail