[Translated from GegenStandpunkt: Politische Vierteljahreszeitschrift 4-07, Gegenstandpunkt Verlag, Munich]
Anyone who expects a well-ordered world under the heading of world order is way off. Today’s order is an accumulation of “hot spots.” The biggest and most crucial, the “Middle East arc of crisis,” stretches from East Africa to Pakistan.
The easternmost country of this arc is sinking into civil war–like chaos because the United States has extortionately enlisted the Western-orientated military dictator there as an ally in its anti-terror war. He was allowed to choose whether to make the American war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban his own cause or to be regarded as a supporter of terror and suffer the same fate as they did. Now the state that split off from India in the name of Islam reluctantly wages a war against its faithful in the hitherto autonomous northern and western border areas. The tribes there grant their relatives from over the border shelter and retreat. The war prescribed by America is not only splitting the Pakistani people, it is turning the institutions of state against each other and subverting the machinery of force: intelligence service and military.
Over the border in Afghanistan a real war is being waged under the leadership of the United States to keep a government in power that does not enjoy any backing by the tribes and clans there. After having conquered the country and driven the pious Taliban out of Kabul, the occupying powers placed Karzai and his team in the ruins of the ministries and ordered them to govern their country henceforth in the service of American security; in other words, to make sure, with all the means of an admittedly completely inadequate state power, that anti-American terrorists are never again able to use the country as a base of operations. Members of NATO and other states have put themselves at the disposal of the United States for this mission. With soldiers and volunteer development workers, they fight for their worth to the alliance and the worth of the entire alliance to the United States; for this they insist on exclusive responsibility in their operational areas, even going so far in proving the formal autonomy of their deployment as to deny the leading power and each other military aid in emergency situations. The leading power on its part not only fights the Taliban but at the same time fights to subordinate and instrumentalize its allies for its cause. So there is a struggle on the ground in the Hindu Kush, already into its seventh year, for a pro-American monopoly on force and for the significance of NATO, even for its very future. A victory of the occupying powers, which would reconcile them for the time being, is more distant than ever, as is of course the sought-for stability.
By contrast, Afghanistan’s neighbor to the west is much too stable for the United States. An Islamic republic, which arose through a revolution against an American friend on the Peacock Throne, is holding on to power there. To this day, Iran accepts neither American hegemony over the Islamic world in general nor Israel’s sweeping display of power as America’s outpost, and works against it with its comparatively limited means. In the process, it has managed considerable development at home — not least in the field of nuclear and missile technology, which makes its existence even more unbearable for the Americans. Iran is not entitled to a technology that could only perhaps enable an armament possessed by the United States and the likes of it as a matter of course. Guaranteeing Iran’s lasting nuclear defenselessness is avowedly worth a third world war to President Bush. And that is anything but pie in the sky: from what one hears, detailed plans for preventively disarming Iran, i.e., for bombing its nuclear facilities and arms factories, have been lying in reserve at the Pentagon’s for quite some time ready to go with the necessary firepower in the Persian Gulf. Reconnaissance, sabotage, and fire direction units are said to be already operating on Iran’s territory.
In the South, beyond the Persian Gulf, there is another strictly Islamic country that has also attracted the attention of the United States as a cradle of terror, namely, as the country of origin of most of Al Qaeda’s fighters, and has also gotten a democratic revolution of its political culture prescribed for it. In the meantime, Washington makes demands on the questionable Saudi kingdom rather more as an unwilling ally. Unlike Iran, it is due to be armed, not disarmed — with equipment that the Saudis have not ordered but that they will certainly need in view of the American escalation against Iran and the imminent war, equipment they cannot turn down at any rate.
Directly to the north of the Saudis and west of Persia, the world power wages the biggest war of the decade. The fight for Iraq has meanwhile abandoned the prospect of a democratic regime change and turned more into a “Balkanization” of the local balance of power. The invaders have given up the aim of giving the country, in place of the Arab nationalism of the Baath Party, a stable, democratic, and pro-American regime that is at least able to cover the costs of war and repair war damages by exporting oil. After the modest success of the troop reinforcement and extensive mopping-up campaign of last spring, the U.S. army has altered its tactics and is now fighting international Islamic insurgents by providing weapons and logistic support even to Sunni tribes that it had counted among the insurgents until recently. This isolates Al Qaeda, but at the same time disintegrates the central government in Baghdad, which the Americans continue to arm. George Bush is not giving up his war aim; the failure of regime change merely reduces it to its core: he intends to implant American military might into the center of the Islamic world — but now in the form of large military bases capable of action in the midst of scorched earth. Without the prospect of pacifying Iraq and installing a functioning monopoly on force in Baghdad, without a viable state and without a livelihood for the population, it is all the more about the purely negative self-assertion of American hegemony over the Gulf. If no pro-American power is to be created by war, then at least the holding out and consolidation of anti-American bulwarks can be prevented in the wider region.
The reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East already sees to that in its own way. Israel, the regional superpower, is not out for a balance with its Arab neighbors but demands that they recognize the existence of the Jewish state, its territorial claims, and its hegemonic role in the region without anything in return. Israel suppresses the enemies it thereby makes for itself by attacking them from time to time, weakening them, and reducing them in size, at any rate by keeping them at bay militarily. Hardly a year since its campaign in southern Lebanon aimed at destroying Hezbollah and terminating Syrian influence, and here comes another air raid on alleged Syrian attempts at armament in order to keep the balance that America’s protégé insists on. The same balance requires that a nuclear-armed Israel will in no event be faced by a nuclear-armed Iran. Israel threatens the Persians with a preventive war in complete autonomy and demonstrates, with Syria, that it not only threatens. Its consistent war policy has brought the Israeli immigration state to the point that no Arab or Islamic country will any longer openly be prepared to do battle with it and that it can wage its permanent war undisturbed against the largely defenseless populations of the West Bank and Gaza, territories it occupied in 1967. The war has arrived at an interim milestone, namely, turned into a war between the Palestinians, who fight each other over alternative foundations of a state Israel won’t allow either way. As ever, the American world power sees to progress in the difficult “peace process”: it arms Israel in a big way — not simply against the Palestinians — and, on a smaller scale, Fatah against Hamas.
A few thousand kilometers to the south, beyond the Red Sea, another flash point is troubling the United Sates: Somalia, relegated to being a failed state after the American intervention more than a decade ago, and where order was halfway restored by Sharia courts after an era of turmoil and warlords, needed to be freed from Islamists and secured from terrorists. The Ethiopian army handled this for the Americans; their new African friend has placed its old expansionist desires for Ogaden at the service of world order and occupied its neighbor completely. But the government, re-imported by the Ethiopian occupiers, has no base of power in its own country, so that the Ethiopian military in Mogadishu has its hands full. To support them, the U.S. air force at the Horn of Africa drops by with airplanes and bombs, and hits hard at suspected concentrations of Sharia militias with everything it has. The world power will not be denied such “sporadic deployments,” by which it makes clear that nothing on the globe is beyond its control and the range of its weapons, and that no result can endure without its approval. Apart from that, Somalia is only a problematic case in securing Africa’s east coast and the entire Indian Ocean. Movement of anti-Western armed groups is prevented there, also with the help of the German navy; the superpower needs the naval area for itself: as supply route and stage for its wars in the Persian Gulf.
The other problematic case in East Africa is Sudan, though of a different caliber. Being under an Islamic government as well, it has been worn down by the United States for decades: initially, America supported the separatism of Christian and animistic tribes in the south, and then compelled Khartoum to a peace agreement that weakens the national cohesion. Since the country all the same still finds foreign buyers and promoters for its oil and other resources, and can therefore gain access to national means of survival, the United States is now supporting a violent separatism in the western provinces of Africa’s largest country. From the resulting daily violation of human rights, it derives the right and duty of the world community to intervene militarily in Darfur, demanding and supporting intervention on the part of all possible actors, from the United Nations to the African Union to the European Union or its individual members, as long as this contests the sovereignty and control of the Sudanese state over its territory. In Sudan, which has sought and found in China a global political backer, what’s at stake is not just America securing a piece of the dark continent, but at the same time China’s African and global policy. What its diplomatic support of African regimes and its economic offers are worth, and thus what the Middle Kingdom is worth as a global political godfather altogether, will be proven in the state’s struggle for survival in Khartoum, or fail with it. The Americans know very well why they don’t let up, and hurry along the alternatives of national collapse or regime change in ever new ways.
A bit further to the north, America has brought Libya’s Qaddafi under control after decades of sporadic bombardments, economic damage, and political isolation, so much so that he has given up his unwelcome attempts at military assertion, brought his will to interfere with his African neighbors in line with the aims of the superpower, and offers himself as mediator in the war over Darfur.
Further to the north, beyond the Mediterranean Sea and in the midst of that oasis of stability, Europe, a war has been left half-finished, straining America’s patience but once again dividing the European Union. Together in 1999, they had brought the era of dismantling Yugoslavia to an end by bombing the autonomous center of state power in the Balkans, based in Belgrade, into capitulation and breaking it apart. The ceasefire conditions of that time — no shifting of internationally recognized borders but a full withdrawal of the Serbian military from the province that legally still belonged to Serbia, as well as autonomy for the Albanian nationalists freed from Belgrade’s yoke — have never been enough for the Albanians; and that suits the Americans fine. They are threatening the Europeans, Russians, and the UN Security Council with unilateral recognition of a sovereign state of Kosovo, knowing full well that they are thus abrogating the founding agreement of the United Nations, i.e., respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign nation-states. The gratitude of a separatist state, unviable on its own and in standing confrontation with its former fatherland, is worth this much amendment of international custom to them, a state that will impose itself on them as a lasting military base in the midst of Europe just in the interest of its survival. The warning of some that this might end up as a signal to destroy unpopular states and create acceptable ones is understood more as a task than a concern by the Americans: they just have to successfully deter others from doing what they themselves have the nerve to do: above all the Russians, who regard the Georgian province of Abkhazia and Moldavian Transnistria as cases identical to that of Kosovo.
Yes, Russia. This state simply does not keep to the disintegration and deprivation of power that had been worked out with Yeltsin. Putin gathers the remaining instruments of power, puts the economic basis of power in order, and looks to secure some allied states in the ex-Soviet region. He thus raises nothing but questions of power for America. After all, it demands the right of access and lays claim to the states from the Caucasus to Central Asia with their oil and interesting semicircle around Russia. The Americans impose themselves on Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and so on as military suppliers and protectors of their freedom against Moscow, incite anti-Russian nationalism wherever possible, and stage-manage colorful revolutions. When Putin then does not take the interceptor missiles they are deploying on his frontier as a contribution to Russia’s security but as an attack on his capability for nuclear threats, and announces both resistance and counter-armament, then all is clear: after a decade of decline, Russia is once again too big and too powerful — perhaps the most difficult problematic case for the American world order.
A look at his own hemisphere shows the U.S. president how endangered this order is: in the south of his twin continent and under the leadership of the Venezuelan, leftwing nationalists have come to power who openly challenge the bases of their countries’ livelihood — the taking of land and people into service for American capital and political dependence on Washington. To that end, Chavez and his crowd even find the economic means in the superpower’s insatiable need for oil, of all things. They can rely on the broad support of the masses in their countries; coups attempted by Yankee-friendly oppositional groups have already been tried and failed. And now they are even gathering sympathizers and partners in other South-American states. A question of power is ripening there to which the White House is going to devote a lot of attention.
Nothing is in order; not even much further west, in the Far East. It is true that in the case of North Korea the all-clear can be sounded — but on what basis? The war with the country, which is thought capable of possessing at least eight plutonium bombs, is indeed not taking place for the moment. Its nuclear disarmament, however, agreed upon through the intercession of China, has by no means been carried out yet — and the Yanks know that lot inside out: those crazy stone-age communists will not so easily do without nuclear weapons, which provide them a certain guarantee of survival against its superior might. And the fact that China was even needed in addition to Russia to influence the North Koreans is more of an annoyance than a reason for the Americans to be satisfied. Hardly does this China become so really useful for — above all — American capital does it also become too powerful. The United States has its hands full confining it and restricting the scope of its power. Taiwan is helpful for this. The United States provides the island with a defense guarantee against the People’s Republic’s demands for reunification, and for that arms it with the most modern equipment. The great People’s Republic has to respect the superpower's containing it in this way as America's concern for the balance of power, which China obviously jeopardizes as a rapidly growing power. Even Buddhist monks acquire importance in American efforts to check and isolate the gigantic empire: they take to the street in neighboring Burma and put pressure on the military regime, which is politically and economically linked to China. The opportunity to further destabilize this country is taken. A UN resolution against the unelected military regime and a worldwide rabble-rousing media campaign against the human rights–violating officers are gotten under way, and the demonstrators receive warm encouragement to dangerously escalate the situation. Now one only has to see that things do not calm down again.
India, bordering on the west, is of course much more important. The United States no longer accuses it of an unauthorized bid for the atom bomb, but single-handedly elevates the country to the rank of an acknowledged, legitimate nuclear power. America creates and foils nuclear powers; in this case overtly calculating that an India capable of waging a world war will grow to be a solid enemy of China and form a “counterbalance” against the yellow nuclear power. The new friend, however, is making difficulties: having picked up the recognition, many a politician in Delhi no longer understands the price for it — America’s conditions for developing a civil nuclear program and its restrictions on a military one. Hardly recognized as a power capable of a nuclear strike, the Indians are working on a secure second strike capacity, which would halfway immunize them against nuclear extortion on the part of even much more powerful nuclear powers. This is not what their friend Bush intended. Here again, there are dangers looming for the world order; especially since the never-ending conflict with the other South-Asian nuclear power over Kashmir smolders on: Pakistan. We have gone once around the world order and have arrived again at this indispensable and untenable pillar in the war against terror.
It sees the “new world order,” placed on the agenda by Bush Sr. with the self-destruction of the USSR and his first war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (1991), in danger. The “only remaining superpower” takes it for granted that there actually exists a clear hierarchy of states, and that though respectful of its might and the ensuing right, numerous states nonetheless make an exhibition of themselves. Challengers big and small disregard America’s supremacy, thus violating the existing order. World peace can be saved, cooperation between states can be secured and restored, but only by a renewed clarification of the ranking of nations, or as the case may be by a far-reaching plowing-up of the balance of power in the world of states, which will drag on for decades.
The present Bush embodies this standpoint. He seeks to bestow the blessings of democracy on all peoples who still lack it, and promises to free them from the wrong rulers they are obeying. He is completely occupied with “making the world a better place.” His missionary appearance pointedly breaks with what even English newspapers call “Realpolitik,” an earlier allegedly conventional foreign policy that is, however, impossible for the superpower. This policy is based on taking note and account of the interests and means of other states and attempting to adjust and subordinate the foreign policy and economic behavior of one’s “partners” to one’s own national interests by offers, and by threats of damage. The fact that one sovereign has to come to terms with another sovereign it can’t get around, and for that reason wants to do it, is defined by Bush’s secretary of state Rice to be an unacceptable opportunism, which does not maintain the peace and order she has in mind, but rather disrupts it. The superpower cannot be expected to take up foreign interests in a calculating way and make arrangements with other powers. It is superior to them, permits or prohibits other nations’ interests, engages foreign powers in the service of its order, and punishes infringement. It establishes international law, passes judgment on the actions of other states, and directly executes its verdicts itself. In accordance with this program, its representatives sacrifice a sacred cow with which the West in particular had embellished its world order: as long as the Soviet Union existed with its “Brezhnev Doctrine of the limited sovereignty of socialist states,” any “intervention in the internal affairs” of other states was a sin, and the freedom of nations a great good. The American foreign policy of today surpasses Brezhnev by far: it regards the once noble formulas of “respect for foreign sovereignty” and “non-intervention in internal affairs” as nothing but a license for dictators and violators of human rights.
In granting rights and imposing duties, the United States acts as a global political usher vis-à-vis other sovereigns, designating a role and a rank in the hierarchy of states for each of them. One of them is to open up as a source for oil for American companies; another is to function as a transit country with well-protected pipelines and exclude other neighbors from this role. Still others are to secure the waters around Southeast Asia for maritime trade or form a counterweight to China. Some are allowed to have a say in controlling states of lesser rank, others not; some are allowed to be nuclear powers — the level is also determined in Washington — others not; some are to ascend to the UN Security Council, others not. And of course, it is the first but hardly sufficient condition for the United States to accept a country as a member of the community of states that it organize its internal economic life in a capitalistic way, offer international capital the utilization of its sources of wealth, and expose these to the judgment of the world market. Those few that are making new anticapitalist attempts or stick to old ones are at the top of the list of unbearable foes.
The United States checks whether countries adhere to, or stray from assigned roles, constantly assessing the behavior of sovereigns big and small. The decisive criterion for their readiness to subordinate themselves as demanded is the use they make of their military power. If the State Department and Pentagon value the deployment of foreign weapons as serving U.S. dominance over the world of states, then it is legitimate and a contribution to peace. Before any armed encounter, such a state has at least to get in touch with Washington and obtain authorization. Otherwise, its use of force, anywhere at all on the globe, is a direct attack on the United States, a breach of international law if not terrorism, because it challenges the exclusive American right to order the world. Of course, control over the power of other sovereigns does not wait until means of force are used. Excepting its immediate allies — and in certain matters even with them — the superpower assesses mere efforts toward effective weapons as an attack on its special position. Not just what other states do but also what they might possibly be able to do endangers its order. America’s order is only secure if it alone possesses weapons of every kind and can deploy them according to its free calculation.
America’s supervision is furthermore not confined to the foreign policy of the objects of its control but concerns their entire internal life. They are not only to make themselves compatible with American demands by restricting themselves in acquiring weapons and in forgoing their sovereign use, but also to guarantee by their entire existence that they are a contribution to the security and functioning of the world order. And for that — this is what the Americans claim to have learned from their bad experience with Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda — neither a country’s constructive role in the world economy nor a government’s pro-American foreign policy is sufficient. Hence, even a wrong place of religion in public life, a nationalism discontented with the country’s rank, an anti-American politicization of the people, a weak and unstable state that allows things like this, these are now seen and incriminated as a security risk and a breach of duty of the state in question towards the world order.
In light of established misbehavior, unauthorized display of power, open or concealed resistance, the safeguarding of the American world order consists in a permanent program of violence, a chain of corrections of nation-states that simply cannot be dissuaded from following their own interests, however cautiously and calculatingly, and not America’s. The unabashed interference in the internal affairs of countries that appear to be problematic to the U.S. government is just the beginning. It fills regions in which people don’t think as told with the sound of freedom-radio stations; it fosters “civil society” in countries whose governments it does not like, even if a society in a modern sense does not exist at all; it sets up opposition parties wherever they do not arise by themselves, supports dissidents with money and sabotage, and instigates revolution wherever it sees fit. If, however, a desire from below for freedom turns against allied thugs, the administration defends democracy by training and equipping the secret police. Naturally, it doesn’t rely on its indulging in government- bypassing remote access to peoples, on propaganda for the American way of life via Radio Liberty, CNN, and the Internet, and on the correct outcome of its stirring up of unrest. On the contrary, all this is only the run-up and accompaniment to more rigorous forms of correcting foreign sovereigns.
States or armed organizations identified as enemies by the American government are terrorists. Their sheer existence is an affront and raises doubts as to the validity of the world order. They are declared outlaws in the community of states — in the name of which the United States always acts — and eliminated.
But this does not exhaust the achievements of an American war for world order. Just as important is the effect of such a clarification on the states surrounding the outlaws: everywhere the world power smokes out the seat of anti-Americanism, it implants itself in the midst of the region where resistance was able to rise up. The neighboring states are not only confronted with the fact that the world power also is the greatest regional power in every region of the world, a power that does not tolerate any rival; through its presence and capabilities, they are unequivocally compelled to recognize it as the decisive basic condition of their existence and to take the superpower in their neighborhood as their first consideration in all their calculations.
Thirdly, the lesson of such a war is aimed at the wider world of states, especially its minority of powerful states, which, thanks to their own worldwide interests, see themselves affected by all affairs, show an interest in them, and claim rights of control and responsibility for more or less large parts of the world. They have to learn that ordering the world without or even against the United States is out of the question. The permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as the so-called Central European powers and others are allowed to exercise control and imperialistic dominion over their backyards; but only under the condition that the superpower appreciates this as contribution to its order, never without this license. They have to understand that they can only be great powers as followers and auxiliary troops of the United States, or they will be ignored and pushed away into global political insignificance. “Becoming irrelevant” — this is what Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense at that time, threatened the German chancellor and the French president with, who had both refused to bless and assist in the invasion of Iraq. The proven readiness of the United States to wage any war against any enemy it determines and the capability to clearly decide such wars in its favor should make it clear to potential rivals that there is no alternative to joining in or being irrelevant, and that any opposition to the world ordering power, any competition over the control of the world of states, is futile.
In this sense, the Third World War, a new power struggle over the monopoly on force between states, has long since been taking place. What matters to the United States is deciding the imperialistic competition among the states over dominating and dictating, and thereby ending it once and for all. It then intends to base its peace on its prevailing as the irrefutable power, in other words, on its guaranteed guiding of the world of states by diplomacy alone.
The same nation that prescribes to the world free trade, open borders, and non-discrimination as the conditions for trade, and that celebrates its successful liberalization of international commerce as “globalization” with undreamt-of possibilities for growth, does not hesitate to subordinate this commerce to its strategic needs, i.e., in part judging it to be a danger from the standpoint of national security and halting it, in part taking advantage of the dependence that results from international exchange as an instrument to control other nations politically. Being taken into service in this way may well accord with the national purpose of the American economic order and bring to light how it was meant from the beginning, but at the same time it contradicts the regulations and practices of the established world market. Of course, the victor of the Second World War imposed open markets and free movement of capital on the part of the world it dominated, to the greater benefit of its own nation. This country, toweringly superior in terms of amount of capital and productivity, could rely on free competition for the wealth of the capitalistic world being a means for its superiority and a guarantee for its lasting success. From the very first, the establishing of an open world market that no longer knows exclusive zones of influence nor the formation of economic blocs means that the victorious power is no longer excluded from any zone and no longer tolerates any formation of blocs against itself, instead thereby breaks up the remaining colonial empires and turns the whole world into a zone for its own capitalistic utilization.
For the other nation-states, this is a strategic imposition. But apart from one big exception, which is therefore immediately defined as enemy and fought by all means to the point of “Cold” World War, all losers and degraded co-victors, as the case may be, put up with this imposition, which, however, also offers them liberties, and does not flatly prohibit their national egoism but binds it in one way: they have to forgo power-policy-like means of securing their foreign economic success but are permitted to compete for the wealth of the capitalist world by economic means — even against the originator of this order, which on its part refrains from forcibly correcting the results of this competition because it does not need to. For the most part, at any rate; because the ambiguity of a competition of nations that is permitted by the supreme power but confined to the economic arena, a competition that is meant to be an open race but at the same time a guarantee of American success, leads time and again to a need for correction on the part of U.S. governments. Their corrections always reinforce both sides of this ambivalence: they accuse other nations’ competitive successes that go too far for them of being the result of unfair competitive practices, and invariably not free trade. If America doesn’t bring in enough success, there’s something wrong with the rules! On the other hand, this sort of critique transforms any dissatisfaction with the results of competition into demands for an even further dismantling of national reservations against free exchange; totally genuine competition, whose verdicts even the United States would bow to, has yet to be established. This forward driving criticism has led to ever lower tariffs and to ever more open fields of business for international investors. Today, the world market, regulated by international institutions, with nothing but internationalized actors, is no longer a program nor an American concession, but an accomplished fact. Every firm is a multinational company that buys, sells, and produces worldwide and for the most part has international ownership. Now, this global economic reality is being subordinated to the political military need of the United States to assert itself.
The ideology of peace policy with which the world power once launched its economic order is informative in another respect. Not because it would have been the practical reason but because it betrays a theoretical imperialist wisdom that the current politicization of foreign trade blatantly slaps in the face. In the phase of the emergence of the open world economy, the United States passed off its preventing the formation of blocs, privileging of certain states, and exclusion of others from national markets as an instrument for securing peace; after all, the exclusion from raw materials and markets would immediately transform the economic competition of states into a political competition of state powers that would have to force concessions or else would be forcibly prevented from joining in competition from the first. This, it was supposed, had made the egoism of nations downright venomous and led to the world wars of the twentieth century. In the era of its antiterrorist world war, the United States itself politicizes economic relations however it needs to.
To defend against hostile attacks on its territory, the United States takes the liberty to control the entire movement of persons, commodities, and money in the global economy, and reminds all nations it trades with of their duties in that regard. It restricts the freedom of movement of persons when it demands a detailed set of passenger data from airlines and airports from which planes take off to the United States, data that has to be at the disposal of U.S. security agencies long before landing, in order to check passengers against their wanted list and catch and detain potentially suspicious persons, or send them back via return mail. The same goes for commodity trade. In order that nothing assassins could use enters the country unrecognized, the security agencies inspect every docking ship and every container. They make their practice of sweeping investigation the duty of shipping companies and port authorities in the countries of origin so that nothing dangerous even arrives at U.S. ports. In the same way, they take the monetary side of world trade under control and halt transactions in which enemies, be they private persons, organizations, or states, carry out their activities with money. Whenever subjects accused of hostile intent receive or spend money, the states of the world have to treat it and pursue it as a criminal act, money laundering or the like; they find themselves enlisted as an extended arm of U.S. Customs and Homeland Security.
The United States does not leave it at the obstruction of business transactions out of defensive reasons for averting terror; it uses trade bans as an active offensive measure to damage its enemies. The U.S. president imposes sanctions against Iran, Syria, North Korea, Belarus, Cuba, Sudan, Burma, Gaza, and so on, and with each mandated exclusion from international exchange, it revokes a bit of “globalization.” The exclusion from world trade is not only meant to damage the targeted state but to strangle it and break its will, or to starve it out and weaken it in preparation for an attack. Hence it goes without saying that the leading power is not content with halting trade with its enemies on its own, while others blithely continue. It does not wait until partners share its view and join its economic war, but leads the way; but only to demonstrate leadership and put pressure on others. In international organizations that otherwise drive globalization forward, it pushes for all states to subordinate themselves to its hostilities and do without the profits from business with states the United States is bothered about. In the UN, NATO, the G8, the WTO, and the IMF, with a changing cast of characters but essentially always among the same bigger powers, a struggle takes place over generalizing the American economic war, i.e., over its efficiency.
At the same time, the administration does not rely on the powers of persuasion of its diplomats but takes unilateral measures to increase the degree of effectiveness of its sanction regime and make hidden resistance on the part of the others impossible. For that, the Secretary of the Treasury has discovered an entirely new field of security policy: he has the global payment transactions investigated and keeps a record of which national or private institution anywhere on the globe does business with whom. For that, he uses the exceptional position enjoyed by the homeland of world capitalism: New York is the most important financial center; transactions on a massive scale are carried out there, even if neither American buyers nor sellers are involved. What is more, U.S. banks are the biggest institutions of finance capital, are active in all countries and continents, and at the same time remain patriotically obligated to their homeland’s need for information. And where the U.S. Treasury is not directly allowed to take a look, it arranges for listening in and recording in secret, such as leaked out with that European clearinghouse in Belgium, SWIFT. With the information it gathers, it can first of all directly contribute to waging the economic war. All business transacted by incriminated states or organizations via American financial centers or institutions is stopped and their assets confiscated. The sweeping overview secondly helps control other states participating in the world economy and remind them of their duties toward the American sanction regime. The partners are no longer allowed to avoid open rebellion against the United States on the one hand, but on the other hand to secure their foreign business activities from U.S. hostility toward a trading partner with whom they get on well by simply overlooking private activities. No more excuses: the U.S. Treasury Secretary confronts the partners with dates and amounts of transactions that their country’s institutions have concluded with “the enemy.”
If, however, some partners dig in their heels and refuse to go along with the sanction regime, there are other levers for obtaining compliance for, and adding weight to, the nation’s boycott measures: circumventing the national governments, U.S. authorities approach globally active firms from France, Germany, Austria, etc., and urgently advise them to discontinue business activities with, say, Iran that American spying has brought to notice. Firms are susceptible to blackmail to the extent that they maintain subsidiaries in the United States or do business with U.S. firms. The broad jurisdiction of American courts thereby gets a direct hold on them, or is able to blackmail them by threats of punishment against their American partners. As a result, the firms of all countries are treated like U.S. companies, whose warring home country demands patriotism in making profits, and this means “disinvestment,” withdrawal of invested capital and an end to all commercial relations with actual or potential enemy states. In case of defiance, there is the threat of penalties up to a revocation of the license to do business in the United States. Neutrality — even if a state insists on it for political reasons — is thus made impossible in practice. Globally engaged banks, even without any mandate from their capital city, “voluntarily” refrain from financing and conducting business with foes of the United States. The Secretary of the Treasury, at any rate, is enthusiastic about the effects of his new instrument on the financial political war front.
The U.S. government, which brings the entire world economy into position as means of coercion against insubordinate sovereigns, sees to it that other states cannot turn the same means against it. It searches its domestic economic base for security gaps and prepares itself for exactly the same influence from abroad that it exercises itself: questionable foreigners are never allowed to gain control over parts of the economy by means of internationalized firms.
It was the United States that pressed the free flow of commodities and capital on other states, made their proving their worth as a national center of investment for international capital their crucial task, and thus created transnational capital. It has always understood the internationalization of capital as progress and its export of capital to the whole world as a benefit it withdraws when faced with insubordination. At the same time, it has never concealed the fact that business done by U.S. firms in foreign locations simultaneously promotes national accumulation in the country of origin, nor that in addition it creates dependencies in the target country, thus opening up ways to interfere in it. The United States is entitled to that; and besides, the Yanks have always intervened in friendly nations for their own good. But if it is not American capital purchasing the world’s sources of wealth but foreign capital buying its way into the United States, then the benefit for the target country is rather doubtful. The protector of global capitalism comes back straight away to the point that as soon as issues of power arise in the dealings between states, the curse or blessing of capital for the nation is decided by its patriotic affiliation. It suspects foreign investors from unreliable states, especially large firms and sovereign wealth funds, of not operating in a profit-orientated way on U.S. territory but in the strategic interest of their country of origin and of endangering American security — just what it expects from its corporate groups in foreign countries. As soon as the economy is looked at from this perspective, nearly everything seems to be relevant to security. Couldn’t foreign investors sell militarily useful products or technologies to a foreign country that has fallen out of favor, or acquire technological secrets, thus jeopardizing the lead of U.S. weapons? And which technology really has no military significance given today’s high-tech weapons? Not only military or “dual-use” technology is then relevant for national security, but everything of importance in economic life: foreign investors are considered capable of buying into the oil, energy, or transport sectors (ports, airlines, railway lines) in order to bring them to a standstill if need be and blackmail the country via its economic lifelines. But the superpower cannot afford vulnerability at any point whatsoever; after all, it wants to be able to harm and punish other nations economically. It guards its freedom to act with impunity not only as regards “rogue states” — they are already excluded from all commerce — but also as regards capable and ambitious partners, above all China, Russia, and its Arab allies.
The concern for national security takes on a different character once again when the following viewpoints are brought into the examination of foreign investments: “Does there exist the danger that through the sale [of a firm] the United States incurs competitive disadvantages that jeopardize national security? … In addition, attention is paid to as to whether the country in question is cooperating with the United States in the fight against terrorism.” (Financial Times Deutschland, see footnote 3). With this, permission to invest capital in the American part of the world economy is made dependent on whether the country of origin proves itself as a loyal vassal of the United States in the matter of world order. Cross-border business deals are by no means taken for granted but a privilege that other nations have to earn by allegiance and services that strengthen the United States. Only imperialistically cooperative nations should be allowed to use the American economic area and pursue their success in international economic competition. But even that not all-too much. For even the fact that the U.S. economy could — in whatever way — incur competitive disadvantages through foreign ownership of one of its companies is now seen as a peril for national security. The United States no longer relates the global economic success of others to its own capabilities and protests loudly of unfair competition when a foreign success turns out too big and its own too small. It relates foreign competitive success directly to the nation’s might that arises from it and that limits its own might. Its concern that its economy might no longer succeed as it has until now in utilizing the world market comes up as a question of security, which therefore cannot be reconciled at all with, for instance, China’s economic success at the same time creating opportunities for investment and sales for U.S. capital so that both could profit — if it were only about growth and money. When foreign competitive success is taken as a security problem, it is treated as a source of power, and as such, growth on one side comes necessarily at one’s own expense. In other words: the United States makes a secure, competitive economic lead over other states a condition of its national security. It no longer relies on the fact that it has this lead and renews it time and again through all the ups and downs of the world economy, but insists on its special position whatever the results of competition of capital and capital locations. It still knows well enough from its historical ascent that private capitalistic economic success translates into the wealth of a nation and this in turn into means of national might. States that adapt themselves all-too well to the global economic conditions of existence that America has arranged for the world, that compete all-too successfully and whose economic power grows quickly, become a target of the superpower as rivals for power. They are informed that their economic success needs to have limits to avoid being taken as an attack on the United States.
The missionary program to subordinate the world of states to the order of the superpower is stirring up this world. A useful order, in which rebuked and integrated states could then also pursue their ambitions and find their national means of existence, is not, however, coming about.
The employment of military force easily sufficed to annihilate the states attacked in the Middle East, their means of power, and the social life as it existed. There was no lack in destructive force. All the same, it was not useful for the creation of stable and pro-American states. In Iraq and Afghanistan, religious and ethnic groups fight for power against each other and the occupier. The establishment of a new state is after all something other than the annihilation of the existing one along with the execution of its leading figures. “Nation building” by a rough occupying power leads into shifting situations of civil war and open conflict but does not create stable relations on the ground that the remaining states would have to adapt to as a fait accompli but which they could also make economic use of.
Because of that, the wars are not achieving their global political mission. The superpower has sought to engage the world’s states, above all the important ones, for its hostilities. The partners were expected to form coalitions of the willing, provide auxiliary troops for U.S. wars, or become “irrelevant.” This has failed. In the invasion of Iraq, the relief services, unpopular at home, have yielded nothing other than sacrifices in men and material for the willing coalition partners, and often they have cost the incumbent friend of Bush his re-election. After changes of government (Spain, Italy) or without them (Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland), one coalition partner after the other is withdrawing from Iraq, leaving its chaos to the Americans alone. On the other hand, though the disapproval of the Iraq war demonstrated by France and Germany has not led to the foreign political catastrophe threatened by Bush and Rumsfeld, neither has it exactly turned out convincingly as a new way to global political greatness. The new heads of state of the refusenik countries are attempting a rapprochement with the Bush administration, of course from the position of a henceforth proven autonomy.
The clear self-assertion in the first big wars of the 21st century, which was supposed to prove to the states of the world that there is no alternative to submitting to the world order competence of the United States, is a long time coming; and the entire yield of the period of war consists up to now in an ongoing struggle of the superpower for the loyalty of the great powers that are capable of rivalry. This struggle finds itself once more at its point of departure; only American discontent has made progress — after all, there are two wars lying between the initial desire to clarify the hierarchy and state of command between the nations, and today’s non-result. American strategists understand this as damaging to their deterrence capability, even though they have proven their ability to obliterate recalcitrant states really impressively. The way they see it, they have not yet exercised enough force on the ground if they are still encountering insurgents and foes of their occupation. The more doubtful the victory in Iraq and Afghanistan gets, the more important it becomes. What is more, the entanglement in unfavorable theatres of war cannot be allowed to raise doubts as to the capability of the United States to wage a third or fourth war at any time. The poor prospects of success of the old wars make the next one only more urgent. The fact that this holds still more destruction in prospect is clear to those responsible in Washington; they just do not care. They know of no alternative to staying their course except for: more of the same! They postpone the creation of a useful world order to the distant future; now the self-assertion of the superpower against doubts that have arisen and against the high-handedness of their objects of control and rivals is on the agenda.
Opposition politicians in the Capitol now and then warn of an “imperial overstretch” and fear the endless battles might not only destroy the countries in the Middle East but also the capability of the world power; high-ranking officers accuse Bush of engaging more ground troops in the Middle East than he can deploy on a sustained basis; overburdening them would weaken the army for years. Such accusations are understood as they are meant; namely, not as the demand that the nation should back down but as an exceedingly constructive self-criticism of the superpower: the President chose the wrong enemy for America’s self-assertion, waged the wrong war, invaded Iraq anyway with too few troops and didn’t reinforce the troops until it was too late. The alternative strategists ask whether America’s aims could not be achieved with fewer resources, whether it would not be better if the commander-in-chief kept troops out of the battle for Baghdad and conserved forces to be able to really slog away where it matters.
All that alarms the other states: in its furious ordering of the world, the greatest power on earth turns unpredictable, leaving behind more and more chaos unusable for any use.
The U.S. government even disregards ruinous effects on national and international capitalism. It cannot show any consideration in the face of what is at stake.
First of all, direct effects of the war harm the global economic situation. Iraq, the country with the second largest oil reserves on earth, has been a theatre of war for years and is lost to a great extent as supplier of that raw material. At the border of the half-way pacified Kurdish North, virtually cut off from the rest of the country, and out of which oil still flows, Turkey takes up position with 100,000 men and threatens with invasion. The third biggest oil state, Iran, gets declarations of war conveyed from Washington and threatens on its part to block the route of oil supply through the Persian Gulf in the event of attack. Speculators cannot be in for any surprises there if they bet on increasing oil prices, thereby pushing them up. The record price for oil increases costs for manufacturers and on the other hand absorbs the purchasing power of their customers. Now the Chinese are said to be to blame for worldwide shrinking profits and sales because they, too, are able to buy themselves oil.
Secondly, the superpower impedes the course of the world economy when it treats the free flow of commodities and capital as a security risk. Trade between American firms and foreigners, between third countries, investment from capitalist states into U.S. enemies, and foreign investment in the United States: all this will no longer be allowed by the nation at war unless it has full control over it all and can stop anything that might even possibly be useful to the enemy or weaken its own fighting strength. The Americans order the exclusion of entire countries from an established world market with a fully developed internationalization of capital, and demand that international actors heed a belligerent U.S. patriotism in export, import, and investments. To the extent that their regime of sanctions is followed, it obstructs profitable business and reduces the opportunities for growth on the world market. Investment bans and enforced disinvestment restrict the free utilization of optimal opportunities in the field of globally mobile finance capital and obstruct the flow of money from creditor to debtor and back. None of this fits with an international financial system that is precisely based on the free flow of capital.
The demand that everything economic has to go through the United States and under its control, or not at all, does not, however, lead only to the demanded compliance. Banks in many countries find ways to circumvent the prescribed damage to business by concluding transactions through Russia, India, or the Arab Emirates. Under these auspices, some companies reduce the degree of their foothold in the United States in order to be less exposed to blackmail. Daimler, as a symbol for the national return of global companies, no longer intends to append "World Inc" to its name after the termination of its association with Chrysler. Other big companies listed on the DAX do without having their shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange and pull back from the globally most important center for capital turnover, where they absolutely had to be present only a few years ago. So patriotism in the location decision is growing, also reactively, as they flee from being taken into business-damaging service by the American host country.
This flight is one, but only one, reason for several big trading nations in the meantime to start detaching their commerce from the money of the world-controlling power: Iran, Russia, partially even Saudi Arabia would like to invoice their oil in euros in the future, and many countries are in the process of shifting their currency reserves out of the American currency and into, above all, the European one. Moreover, the superpower forbids China to use the world money it has earned in exporting to America to its own avail. America thus restricts the global usability of its own global means of business, as it is dollars that China has earned, and dollars in which it holds its investment funds and currency reserves. The American creator of the dollar, which profits so much from the dollar’s international use and establishment, prohibits the free use of its currency by one that acquired it, and by restricting the usefulness of its money restricts its character as world money: its quality of granting access to everything for sale. It becomes a risk for states to be paid in dollars or to possess dollars if perchance they are not allowed to use them in the country of issue. Both reservations join the more fundamental one that it is no longer at all clear what a holder of dollars can do with them quite apart from what it is permitted to do with them. It becomes doubtful how much the money of the superpower it holds in its hands still constitutes worldwide power of access to all goods and services, or whether it does at all. The reckless proliferation of the dollar for financing the costs of war slowly seems to be having an impact. The U.S. government takes on several hundred billions in new war debt each year, at the same time being just as long indifferent to the fact that a balance of payments constantly in deficit makes the country’s foreign indebtedness grow. It treats it as a self-evident privilege of the United States to disregard all the principles that in bourgeois states are otherwise regarded as guaranteeing a sound management of the national budget and debt, and even more or less heeded. The dollar hadn’t required such a self-restriction on the part of its guardians; they were able to bring it into service for financing their wars without further calculation, and base the confidence it needed and enjoyed on the sheer power over the world of states secured by their wars. The U.S. currency had no need to fear comparison with other national monies, playing in a different league as long as firstly the United States was the center of world capitalism towering over all others by far, thus more or less the only alternative for investors, and secondly as long as its capability to assert itself militarily was beyond any doubt. Both conditions appear no longer to hold so clearly. Now, in these times of war and imminent crisis, the wealthy of all countries no longer seek the dollar as ultimate guarantor of value and safe harbor; instead, the global finance mafia is speculating with and on the weakness of the dollar. And renowned pundits see more in the present fall in value of the dollar than the usual cyclical ups and downs of exchange rates, fearing they are witnessing a sudden change from quantity to quality: the depreciation, if it takes place rapidly enough and extends far enough, threatens to lead to the loss of the dollar’s quality as leading currency of the world economy. In fact, observers from competing nations hope neither for the fall of the leading currency to a qualitatively equal status with their currencies, nor for the accompanying end of the unlimited capacity to incur debt and create money, by which generations of U.S. governments have financed all the instruments of force and wars required for their supremacy. Competitors fear the end of this special position, since in view of the sums of dollars they hold as currency reserves, a fall in the dollar would amount to a rapid devaluation of their reserves. Besides, this would be the end of the global economic boom, in which many, if not all, big capitalist states are achieving growth by exporting to the United States, for which they accept dollars in payment. If they no longer trust this money or accept it only in a sharply devalued form as payment for their exports, then America will no longer be able to purchase anything, and they will no longer be able to earn anything.
The investment bans of the United States and their obstruction of the global course of business ultimately undermine the political basis of doing business in world capitalism. When American authorities directly approach German companies and “persuade” them to give up their business with Iran, this is an attack on German sovereignty, and not just in the opinion of outraged nationalists. After all, not only do they harm German business by this and eliminate sources of German growth, they additionally contest the German government’s political power, which develops from economic relations. The government in Berlin after all wants to make use of its access to the nation’s capital itself, to exert pressure on other states and reward good conduct by permitting or prohibiting export and investment. When Washington reserves this privilege for itself, it is raising an objection to the transformation of established economic dependence into political influence. The world power informs its partners and rivals that they may do business and enrich themselves as nations — to the extent authorized — but by so doing they may not gain power over other members of the world of states if this is not acceptable to the U.S. government. When this government then prohibits the Chinese and Russians from investing in important branches of its economy because this could harm America’s competitive lead and thereby national security, it is informing these economic partners that their economic success goes too far for it.
In both cases, the United States is canceling one of the basic principles of the global economic competition of nations that it once established. The ban on trade discrimination and exclusive zones as well as the imperative to face up to the economic competition of other states was consistent with the permission to increase one’s own weight and rank within the concert of nations in this “nonpolitical” way. Now the United States applies limits to competition between states because it converts the success of certain players into an increase in might and takes this as an assault on its position.
Because America embarks on exclusion and bans from competition — and wherever it does so — it provokes new economic alliances against it, exclusive national access, and the disintegration of the world economy into zones of influence. Ever since it started fighting in the Middle East and Central Asia for exclusive control over the world’s energy reserves, no major state intends to rely any longer on oil being purchased on the world market. Each of them seeks special relations with oil states, insisting on long-term bilateral delivery contracts and guarantees that they will be adhered to. And a superior power ultimately trusts such guarantees only if it is able to directly incorporate the supplier into its own sphere of influence and take it under control. In reaction, other states able to afford it now also subsume their economic relations under the standpoint of national security. Particularly important business connections are examined with a view to which partner state thereby strengthens itself as a power at the expense of others and which one falls into dependence. All big states demand influence on their partners to the degree the power of their capital allows, and refuse to tolerate exactly the same on their part. Meanwhile Russia no longer permits foreign takeovers in the development of new oil and gas fields, allowing only minority participation; Gazprom is not allowed to buy its way into German or European natural gas networks and other energy infrastructure. Germany and the European Union are working on general laws by which, notwithstanding the freedom of capital flows, investments of all-too powerful foreigners — sovereign wealth funds from Russia and China are the target — can be brought to a halt or be secured against any sort of influence linked to the money.
The Americans are not having simple success with any of their military, political alliance-based, and economic acts of war. They arouse resistance, a militant one in the Islamic world, whose entire reason of state and way of life they contest; a calculating reluctance in old allies, in the former evil enemy, as well as in the global political upward climbers from Asia. The powers capable of rivaling the U.S. have understood the challenge: the United States is attempting to decide the balance of power between the states once and for all, to secure for itself the monopoly on the use of military force and the prerogative in conquering capitalistic sources of wealth. The so-called partners know that with the success of this program, their successes up to now will be built on sand and can be undone at any time; not to speak of their further reaching ambitions. A nation that seeks its competitive success in the global economy — and this is certain for them now — has to attend to the security of its conditions for using foreign countries with its own instruments of power; and for this even has to take on the United States.
Partners and rivals of the superpower have long since been copying its practices: they, too, do not shy away from widespread intervention, wherever their interests are at stake — and this is everywhere. And everywhere they go they come across soldiers and diplomats from the United States, who have been intervening there for a long time and exerting influence. The active nations test to what extent they are able to achieve effects in other countries with their economic and political levers, thereby getting something for their efforts; and often enough they notice that their means of influence are simply meager in competition with those of the United States. The “Central” European powers, along with Russia, China, and others are searching for ways to restrict the power of the United States by cooperating with each other, in order to extend their own might. For this, they hope to use the superpower’s embarrassments on its battlefields and the vulnerability of its economic base as opportunities. At the same time, there is no common cause uniting the anti-American resisters other than their common suffering under American supremacy. Each of them is therefore at the same time worried it might leave a partner too great a part in dividing up the world; and calculates with partners against U.S. supremacy as well as the other way round against the partners in cooperation with the United States.
They themselves express that nothing less than a division of the world between the imperialist powers is at stake when they identify their foreign, alliance-based, and military political activities as efforts to order the world. The United States does this when presenting itself as the “indispensable nation” for giving order to the world, as do its rivals that unanimously reject the model of a “unipolar world order” and politely argue for a “multipolar” one, as if it were about a competition of models. It is clear to all of them that, under this rubric, no one is competing over this or that interest of one or another state, but over the acquisition or obstruction of world power status, which also decides which state has a say about which other state, or has to let others have a say about it. There is a fight going on for domination and submission in the world of states.
In this respect, the proponents of a multipolar world order are serious about it: they consider it indispensable to prevent a U.S. monopoly on force over the globe and to preserve their freedom to use force. But since — in view of the distribution of the means of force — it is inconceivable for them to set themselves up right away as a monopolist on global force in place of the United States, and since they need their peers to slow down the superpower, they innocently declare their support for the contradiction of a multipolar control over the world of states, as if this would be a form of transnational democracy.
Hardly in action, the same friends of multipolarity show no fondness at all for power and gain in power that another pole of cooperation might extract. Great Britain, France, and Germany designate Russia and China as strategic partners; i.e., as interesting partners in matters of power and force, calling on them to reliably commit themselves to the strategic partnership. At the same time, they themselves attach great importance to not binding and obligating themselves in any way. Mrs. Merkel, the German chancellor, demonstrates this when she travels to Beijing, swears to partnership and extends the fields of cooperation in a good climate, and then, hardly back in Berlin, welcomes the Dalai Lama; or when, shortly after a visit to Moscow, she pillories what’s going on inside Russia as sham democracy. Diplomacy towards the strategic partner becomes a test of what the other gives in the way of backing against America’s unreasonable demands, and to what extent it can be assigned and subordinated to one’s own global political calculus; hence also a test of how urgently it sees itself dependent on the demanding partner. For this, snubbing its legal viewpoint is just perfect: Merkel and Sarkozy, the French president, play watchdog for good governance vis-à-vis powers of equal rank, placing their esteemed partners close to the ranks of illegitimate despots. The Russians and Chinese demonstrate on their part that they have alternatives to backing the Europeans, and don’t accept being reprimanded. Putin copies the dialectics of this diplomacy, one day in Brussels assuring support for new sanctions against Iran, the next day in Teheran affirming that nobody may deny Iran the inalienable right to peacefully develop nuclear technology. The Chinese leadership lets scheduled appointments fall through and abandons forms of diplomatic preferential treatment vis-à-vis Germany. The partners, who demand absolute reliability from each other, thereby become very unreliable for each other. Each demands predictability from the other; none of them offers it, and none of them gets it. No party is prepared for an actual alliance and a corresponding strictly negative, hostile attitude and resolute enmity — be it against the United States or together with it against another excluded party.
Along with the search for the correct strategic alignment, there is the internal self-critique of the great powers, which see themselves challenged by America’s world ordering. After all, the United States sets the standard for imperialist competitiveness, a standard any state aiming to disobey or resist it has to measure up to. And in this regard, the challenged competitors can only notice the crucial things they lack: the type and quantity of weapons, the size and global presence of weapon carriers, and money. This does not necessarily spur them to caution, but rather to vigorous efforts to clear up their imperialistic deficiencies. These differ for each power. The Europeans are plagued by the fact that they have yet to pool their national means of power, have no common European foreign and defense policy, because they haven’t managed to establish power relations with clear command among themselves. Each of the big member states demands a European foreign policy, a European defense, a European weapons development — namely, their own — and presses ahead with uniting the continent against the others with the means that the Union has to offer, hence not exactly with sweeping success. The Russian leadership still sees itself compelled to secure its internal national cohesion, that is, the Kremlin’s control over the country, as well as to keep an eye on its neighboring post-soviet precincts. In addition, it has jettisoned its promised self-restriction in conventional armament, a self-restriction not acknowledged by NATO states, and is developing techniques to neutralize the American missile defense. China is learning that it urgently has to modernize the People’s Liberation Army and enlist partners in the world for its raw material supply; that this enterprise can, however, only succeed if it is able to also guarantee their existence.
Otherwise, all of them need their own satellite navigation system and urgently have to get to the moon. On the occasion of America’s dawning, Hitler’s motto is celebrating a huge comeback: to be a world power — or none at all.
“Today, I want to talk about something a little different — the financial system’s importance to our national security. … Global financial flows are growing rapidly and greatly exceed the trade in goods and services. This is a positive trend, open finances and free trade enhance the economic security and prosperity of people in this country and around the world. But bad actors seek to abuse this global financial system to support their illicit purposes. The world of finance and the world of terror and weapons proliferation intersect through the same system that spreads prosperity at home and abroad. …
“Treasury is now a key pillar of the president’s national security and foreign policy strategy.… Our financial system also presents us with enormous opportunities because technology and integration have made it more difficult for anyone using the financial system to hide. This makes financial intelligence a particularly valuable tool to detect and disrupt bad actors.…our financial actions have produced demonstrable impacts on threats ranging from terrorist groups to narcotics cartels, and on dangerous regimes in North Korea and Iran. This new strategy uses conduct-based, intelligence-grounded, targeted financial measures to harness the power of the private sector and form the basis of multilateral coalitions, adding an innovative financial dimension to our national security effort. Treasury can effectively use these tools largely because the U.S. is the key hub of the global financial system …
“The consequences of these targeted measures can be seen on a number of levels, some obvious and some less so. Most directly, when the U.S. designates a terrorist supporter or a weapons proliferator, U.S. entities and persons, wherever located, must freeze the target’s assets and stop doing business with them. Given the U.S. financial system’s prominence, this can have a severe impact.” (Remarks by Treasury Secretary Paulson on Targeted Financial Measures to Protect Our National Security, June 14, 2007).
2 In the course of his speech, Mr. Paulson really falls into raptures over how successfully he is able to blackmail private banks, with reference to the dangers threatening their business, into “prudence and integrity,” into “voluntarily” complying with his conditions, and how when they buckle under he in turn brings insubordinate states on course:
“The private sector, when presented with our solid evidence, is able to act much more quickly than governments who often lack the necessary authority or the political will to take actions on their own… Most of the world’s top financial institutions have now dramatically reduced their Iranian business or stopped it altogether. For the most part, they are not legally required to take these steps but have decided, as a matter or prudence and integrity that they do not want to be the bankers for such a regime. To those banks that have decided to stop dollar-based business, but continue to transact Iran’s business in other currencies, I would say that the risk of transacting Iran’s business is present in every currency …
“Once some in the private sector decide to cut off those we have targeted, it becomes an even greater reputational risk for others not to follow, and so they often do. Such voluntary implementation by the private sector in turn makes it even more palatable for governments to impose similar measures, thus creating a mutually-reinforcing cycle of public and private action …” (ibid.)
3 Here is a list of old and new investigation criteria that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) applies, as reported in the Financial Times Deutschland: “Are the products of a company required for fulfilling national security provisions? Does a possible sale to foreigners restrict the capacity for defense? Are national security interests harmed through the control of the company by foreign investors? Is there a danger of military goods and technologies being transferred into states that support terrorism or produce chemical or biological weapons? Is there a danger through a sale of the United States sustaining competitive disadvantages that jeopardize national security? … In the future, CFIUS has to take six further criteria into account. It has, for instance, to examine whether there are security-relevant impacts on U.S. infrastructure, inclusive of important energy resources. Moreover, they have to find out whether access to important raw materials and other materials is impaired. In addition, they must pay attention to whether the country in question cooperates with the United States in the fight against terrorism.” (“How the United States takes action against foreign investors,” translated from FTD.de, October 23, 2007)
© GegenStandpunkt 2008