The imperium rampant or merely rampaging? By William Bowles

4 March 2003

“The bourgeois class believes it has the right to rule and its authority is based on its long history of ‘dramatic victories’ and his education of how to forbid the rise of those who would dare to question the power and glory it has brought to the world. The bourgeois is the only legitimate master and a shepherd of souls who must be guided through the evils that threaten to overwhelm them.” – Patricia Murphy Robinson

A fitting requiem to Jean Bertrand Aristide that goes to the very heart of the crisis of capital that threatens to overwhelm us all. For it is only when the power it wields can be viewed as legitimate that it can maintain its supremacy. Compounded, the events of the past year have threatened to undermine that legitimacy. If it continues along the same path, it will be revealed for what it is, powerless without its servants subservience and increasingly under threat from a domestic population that gets no benefit from being a ‘member’ of the imperium.

Already relegated to a few words on page 26 of today’s Independent (04/03/04), Haiti is perhaps more symbolic of our times than even Iraq is. So much so that the latest actions of the imperium have made sections of the US elite very jittery.

The CATO Institute, whose tagline is “Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Free Markets and Peace”, and a bastion of ‘neo-liberal’ economics, has a piece entitled “Haiti: Will We Ever Learn?” and although it trowels out the same old hoary line about how much its ‘given’ to Haiti down the years in allegedly trying to turn a “failed state” into a “free market democracy”, it now questions why the US got embroiled there in the first place!

“It would be ironic, even by State Department standards, to say that the United States wants to put Haiti “back on track” to democracy and prosperity. We failed twice before and there is no reason to believe that third time we will be luckier.”

In other words, why bother? Why bother indeed? What the CATO piece reveals is a crisis within the US establishment. Gone is the self-assuredness of a rich and powerful state. In its place we have the following:

“But free market democracies take time to evolve. Stability and prosperity cannot be imposed from above without a seismic shift in the political culture of the occupied population. But, even under the best of circumstances, that shift requires decades-long commitment of American blood and treasure. But the president cannot expect that sort of commitment from the American people, for it is they who will have to carry the burden of higher taxes and soldiers lost on foreign battlefields.”

A far cry from times past, for when has the US elite bothered about “soldiers lost on foreign battlefields”? And taxes are something that only the poor pay.

Coupled to this is the reality of an imperialism that relies increasingly on naked barbarism, hence its ‘hands-off’ approach to the death squads who have been returned triumphant to Haiti. Parallel to this naked aggression is an empire increasingly bogged down with managing armies of occupation and ruling unruly ‘natives’ and critically, not seeing any kind of ‘pay off’.

This is war without end, for the Haiti’s and the Venezuela’s of this world are without number. And given the imperium’s attitude to the world’s poor (upon which it has effectively declared war), it will be creating ‘failed states’ faster than it can subdue and occupy them.

The imperium is in a real bind, for the path it has embarked on, once taken, is difficult to retrace without revealing its cynical hypocrisy and shameless behaviour in the name of ‘democracy’ or whatever is the current buzzword.

Haiti may well prove to be a ‘bridge too far’ and could throw into disarray its plans for Venezuela and other points South. Moreover, the imperium will have to contend with a president:

“”[who] has a “lock grip” on the Venezuelan military and said an opposition expectation “that creating chaos would result in a situation in which the military steps in is deeply questioned””.
Haiti-style ouster sought in Venezuela

And in spite of funneling millions of dollars into the ‘political opposition’ in Venezuela via NED and USAID (in a mirror image of the destabilisation campaign mounted in Haiti) will it too prove to be too much of a “commitment from the American people” to use the words of the CATO Institute? For unlike Haiti, Venezuela has armed forces that are loyal to Chavez. The only hope the US has, is in bringing the country to its knees economically but do it through ‘local’ structures, as it did in Chile in 1973. (See ‘Hugo Chavez Accuses U.S. of Spending Over $1 Million To Help Oust Him‘)

Faced with armed forces loyal to the government, explains why the ‘opposition’ went the route of a ‘referendum’ when the attempted coup of 2002 failed to produce the desired result of ‘regime change’.

Ironically, in a world without the Cold War to drive it (and curb its excesses), the imperium’s eyes have proved to be bigger than its belly. When faced with little or no real opposition to its plans and beset by an economy that is increasingly directionless – unless it becomes a coherent partner in the globalised economy it has created – it has only two choices: either wage open war on the planet or attempt to reach some kind of accommodation. And having barely begun on option 1, it is obviously not one that is sustainable.

Caught in a trap of its own making, being the ‘world’s policeman’ is proving to be an all too deadly but juvenile wet dream. It’s all well and good pumping millions into psy-ops warfare but useless without a follow-up and there’s the rub. The ‘political opposition’ it creates is powerless firstly, without outside funding but more importantly, it needs to have its US master involved after the ‘regime change’ has been carried through. Without it, either the state will collapse completely or it will degenerate totally into the contemporary equivalent of a ‘banana republic’ but without any bananas. Neither is an option the US can afford to create without incurring the wrath of ever-increasing numbers of people.

For the US – and let’s not forget its junior ‘partner’, the UK – without a fundamental shift in policy, the future looks bleak for the imperium. No wonder the CATO Institute is whinging about Bush and what it calls its ‘liberal-interventionist agenda’:

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the recent war in Iraq are, the Bush administration can at least plausibly claim that “nation-building” in that country is in America’s interest. No such claim can be made regarding Haiti. Haiti has no possible strategic significance for the United States. Yet the president apparently has embraced the liberal-interventionist agenda, which claims that the only way to achieve American safety and prosperity is to remake the world’s trouble spots into America’s own image — by force if necessary.”

What an admission! Though the CATO folks know only too well that ‘nation-building’ was never on the agenda for Iraq, this is pure sophistry and self-delusion on the part of CATO, and designed no doubt, to calm the fears of the more hysterical members of the bourgeoisie who sense that all is not well with those they have entrusted to run the affairs of state for them.

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