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WOOING THE EVIL EMPIRE

dear americans: please read this compelling essay by praful bidwai. it is an analysis of your evil empire, and is an answer to why you are so hated...
Wooing United States

Praful Bidwai

The writer is one of India's most widely published
columnists. Formerly a Senior Fellow of the Nehru
Memorial Museum and Library, he is a winner of the Sean MacBride Prize for 2000 of the International Peace Bureau

 praful@del3.vsnl.net.in


Going by the remarkably hostile popular reception to President George W Bush's visit to Europe--there were large demonstrations in every major city, and the biggest in Berlin--it should be clear that the crisis of mutual confidence and trust in relations between the two continents can no longer be swept under the carpet.

Large numbers of Europeans are deeply uncomfortable with what they regard as the conservative and retrograde positions adopted by the United States of America on a number of issues, not least the threatened extension of America's "war on terrorism" to Iraq, as well as on environmental and social questions. Adding to their discomfort is the dogged unilateralism and insensitivity of the US towards its allies across the Atlantic.

For their part, the Russians under Vladimir Putin have meekly agreed to be co-opted into a NATO-plus arrangement under US pressure, and also entered into a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Washington. But that can hardly mask the US' aggressively expansionist stance towards the former Eastern bloc.

For all the gloss that US loyalists like Tony Blair might put on it, Bush's visit has served to underline America's tensions and differences with the Europeans. There is a lesson in this for us in South Asia--not least because the governments of both India and Pakistan have been assiduously courting the US, especially since September 11. Indeed, both have seen in the US' "anti-terrorist" campaign an opportunity to further their own particular agendas and win American support for those.

The US has become the cornerstone of both India's and Pakistan's foreign and strategic policies--if not their principal adviser, ally and partner. The reverse is not true. The one-sided, triangular nature of India's and Pakistan's relations with the US should worry our policy-makers, as well as the ordinary public.

To be blunt, the US increasingly treats its allies shabbily, sometimes worse than the way it treats even more neutral powers. Never before has the US cared less for its own allies' views on a range of issues: from global warming to the "anti-terror" campaign, and from "missile defences" to Israel/Palestine. On each of these, America takes adversarial positions--ignoring its allies.

Today, the Europeans have replaced once-Non-Aligned Third World countries like India as the US' principal critics. These countries in turn are replacing once-loyal Western Europeans as America's faithful friends.

What makes the US special? America remains unmatched in history as a global power. Equally unparalleled is the disparity of power between it and the rest of the world. Says Paul Kennedy, historian and author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: "Nothing has ever existed like this disparity".

Neither the colonial British, Spanish or Portuguese empires, nor the ancient Roman, Persian or Chinese empires had a truly global reach. The British Empire's army "was much smaller than European armies, and even the Royal Navy was equal only to the next two navies."

The US empire is truly global in military reach, political clout and economic might. Take one illustration. Today, the US has 12 armadas, each based on a giant aircraft carrier, like the Enterprise, which patrol the seven seas.

The Enterprise is as high as a 20-storeyed building and 330 metres long. It houses a crew of 5,600 and 70 state-of-the-art aircraft which can operate by day or night. Accompanying it are 15 warships, and 14,300 men and women. The rest of the world's navies put together cannot remotely match America's carrier force.

The US alone has mastered four military technologies: precision-guided bombs delivered from a "safe" distance; Special Operations groups with night-vision equipment, working in any climate; secure communications that cannot be penetrated by rivals; and the logistical capability to quickly deploy lakhs of troops in far-flung battlefields.

The US military budget is a staggering $350 billion, of the same order as India's entire national income. This equals the combined defence spending of the next 15 highest countries. The current increase in US military spending alone is $48 billion, roughly four times India's defence budget.

The US is responsible for 40 percent of global military spending (India's share is one percent, China' two percent).

America's military spending is disproportionate to its own economic might, which has grown. Between the 1960s and 1980s, the US' share of total world product declined. But since then, this proportion has grown, from 22 to 30 percent.

This increase is explained by the USSR's collapse, relative decline of Western Europe and Japan, and by US superiority in information technology and biotechnology. US economic might is built on great inequalities of wealth and income. It has ecologically disastrous effects, including global warming, deforestation, and ocean pollution. But the might is unparalleled.

Even the European Union--a group of mutually competing economies--is not about to overtake the US. Only China could, in 30 years--if it sustains 8 percent growth without internal strife.

This unique might permits the US to behave imperiously, ignoring the rest of the world when it likes; using it when that is convenient. The US is a giant who has not learned to wield his power lightly, with subtlety. It is a Hyperpower reshaping the world.

No one has summed up the Hyperpower idea more accurately than former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski who sees the post-Cold War world as consisting of only two categories of states: America's "vassals" and "tributaries". In this world, the US will brook no restraint, respect no authority, follow no discipline. The US' first response to September 11 was to declare war, not on a particular state, but on "global terrorism". The operative goal here is world domination.

Buttressing the military, economic and political clout is US domination of global popular culture through Hollywood, televised serials, comic strips and music. Equally important is US leadership in science and technology. The US accounts for about one-half the global software market and 45 percent of the world's Internet traffic.

About three-quarters of the world's Nobel Prize winners in the sciences and economics work or live in the US. Says Kennedy: "A group of 12 to 15 US research universities have, through vast financing, moved into a new super-league of world universities that is leaving everyone else... in the dust..."

However, America's clout is premised upon relatively robust economic growth through the 1990s. Should growth falter, or other powers emerge, America could become a victim of "imperial overstretch".

Until this happens, the US will remain an overwhelming, imperious and unbalanced power. Even in the Cold War, it arrogantly intervened in countries as varied as Afghanistan and Brazil, Chile and Greece, and Panama and Zaire.

It is on overpowering "ally" that India's and Pakistan's leaders now court, as rivals. Tomorrow, the US could just as easily turn against either of them as it may have tilted in their favour at different times in the past. It would be unwise to put all of India's--or Pakistan's--eggs in the American basket.

Yet, so obsessed are our leaders with their parochial short-term agendas that they won't rethink. We could all end up paying the price for their follies.

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