HomeArticleUS Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience

US Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience

In an excellent new essay titled “We’re Not the Good Guys — Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action?“, Tom Engelhardt criticizes the way western media outlets consistently describe the behavior of disobedient nations like Iran as “aggressions”, but never use that label for the (generally antecedent and far more egregious) aggressions of the United States.

“When it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror, I think I can say with reasonable confidence that, in the past, the present, and the future, the one phrase you’re not likely to find in such media coverage will be ‘American aggression,'” Engelhardt writes. He then asks a very fair question:

“So here’s the strange thing, on a planet on which, in 2017, U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to 149 countries, or approximately 75% of all nations; on which the U.S. has perhaps 800 military garrisons outside its own territory; on which the U.S. Navy patrols most of its oceans and seas; on which U.S. unmanned aerial drones conduct assassination strikes across a surprising range of countries; and on which the U.S. has been fighting wars, as well as more minor conflicts, for years on end from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Niger in a century in which it chose to launch full-scale invasions of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), is it truly reasonable never to identify the U.S. as an ‘aggressor’ anywhere?”

In other words, does it really make sense for any nation to be able to take over the world and then look up with Bambi-eyed innocence saying “I was attacked! Completely out of the blue!” whenever any government pushes back on this? If you ask the empire’s narrative makers, the answer is a resounding yes.

This important discrepancy is as close as we’ll ever get to an honest admission from the political/media class that they consider empire-building and endless war to be normal, and any opposition to it freakish. All nations are meant to submit to America’s use of military and economic force upon them, and if they don’t, that’s “aggression”. The official position of the political/media class is that the US is a normal nation with the same rights and status as any other, but the unofficial position is that this is an empire, and nations will either obey or be destroyed.

It’s a machine with the same values as Napoleon or Hitler or Genghis Khan or any other imperialist conqueror from ages past; the only difference is that it pretends not to be the thing that it is. The US markets itself as an upholder of rules-based liberal democratic values, even though it consistently flouts international law, wages imperialist wars of aggression, imprisons journalists, crushes dissent and uses propaganda just as much as any totalitarian regime. The only difference is that it does so in a way that enables its supporters to pretend that that’s not what’s actually happening.

Forget the “war on terror”. If US foreign policy were honest it would unite all its war propaganda sloganeering under a single banner: the War on Disobedience.

After the end of the first cold war there was much celebration. At long last! The USSR was no longer a threat, so America could finally stop pouring its resources into the nuclear arms race and finally just relax and start acting like a normal country in the world. But it didn’t take long after the Berlin Wall fell for the neoconservatives to find their way into key points of influence and steer US foreign policy into the agenda of ensuring that America never again risks losing its status as the world’s only superpower. Which necessarily meant expanding the use of military and economic force to a level never previously seen.

So now you’ve got this weird dynamic where the US is constantly working to make sure that no other countries surpass it and gain the ability to treat America the way America treats other countries. That’s all US military and economic agendas in a nutshell right now.

The nation that poses the greatest threat to US hegemony is of course China. Most of the US war machine’s aggressions right now are ultimately built around securing resource control and geostrategic dominance to prevent China from surpassing it without attacking China itself. Any time you see the US ramping up hostilities toward a given nation, just do a search for that nation’s name plus China (or plus “Belt and Road Initiative“), and you’ll usually find a strong connection.

So the USSR was simply replaced with China, and the nuclear arms race was simply replaced with greatly increased global military expansionism. The plutocrat-owned media and the plutocrat-owned political class have fallen right in line with this and normalized the idea of US imperialism around the world. The cold war never ended, it just shifted its narrative and focus. Neoconservatism never went away, it just went mainstream.

 

But the thing about neocons and the rest of the increasingly indistinguishable proponents of American imperialism is that their underlying thesis is actually fundamentally correct: the US empire does depend on endless war in order to maintain its dominance over other nations. America doesn’t have the leverage to stay on top using economic prowess alone; it requires both the carrot of US military backing and the stick of US military aggressions. War is the only adhesive holding the US-centralized empire together, and the more its economic dominance slips away in the face of China’s economic rise, the more ham-fisted and desperate its warmongering is necessarily going to get.

This is completely unsustainable, especially in a world where the other major nuclear weapons force, Russia, is on China’s side of the new cold war dynamic. We’ve all now found ourselves trapped on a planet made of limited resources with two major alliances trying to out-consume and out-resource control each other, while hurtling toward a major military confrontation between nuclear superpowers. This puts us on a direct trajectory toward either nuclear annihilation or ecosystemic collapse in the near term. This means the argument that America needs to maintain its dominance at all cost is no longer a viable one, since that cost will almost certainly be everything in the world.

So we’ve all got some important questions to ask ourselves, haven’t we? Do we desire to stay in the familiar US-controlled world order at the price of omnicide and ecocide, or do we wish to roll the dice and bet on humanity instead? Do we wish to stay the course because it preserves a status quo that is all we’ve ever known, or do we take a leap of faith on the possibility that we can de-escalate all geopolitical enmity and move into collaboration with each other and with our ecosystem?

This choice right here is why I write so much about mankind’s need to transcend its old conditioning patterns and move into something wildly unprecedented. Our current fear-based mentality makes a populism-driven leap of faith into transcendence impossible and ensures that we remain on an oligarch-driven trajectory toward extinction. I firmly believe that we have the freedom to either pass or fail this test, but we don’t have the freedom not to take it. We’ll transcend our old conditioning patterns which we inherited from our evolutionary ancestors who lived in a wildly different world from the one we’ve created, or we will perish. It’s an A or B choice, but the choice is ours.

___________________

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Latest comments

  • It’s worth noting that Genghis Khan had in at least one respect a more solid grasp of foreign policy than recent US rulers: he avoided treachery to foes. The US has wrongly classified that as a quaint deontological ethic, and as a consequence now faces a remarkably unified set of opponents.

  • “In other words, does it really make sense for any nation to be able to take over the world and then look up with Bambi-eyed innocence saying ‘I was attacked! Completely out of the blue!’ whenever any government pushes back on this?”

    This is the tell-tale hypocrisy of groups led by sociopaths. Israel does this. The United States does this. Britain does this. All of these nations behave like sociopaths, because their leaders are sociopaths, even though the vast majority of their citizens are not. Until psychological screening of all leaders is mandatory, we will continue to live in an insane world.

  • “The primary impetus for invading Iraq, according to those attending NSC briefings on the Gulf in this period, was to make an example of Hussein, to create a demonstration model to guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States.”
    — Ron Suskind: The One Percent Doctrine

  • You nailed it again Caitlin ,The plutocrats are more wedded to their wealth than to the Earth upon which they live, more concerned with the fate of their fortunes than with the fate of the planet. The only countervailing force is an informed and mobilized citizenry, people are our best hope the struggle was yesterdays and continues ,today ,tomorrow, and through all history. Keep it up bravo to you

  • “The agenda of ensuring that America never again risks losing its status as the world’s only superpower. Which necessarily meant expanding the use of military and economic force to a level never previously seen.

    But the thing about neocons and the rest of the increasingly indistinguishable proponents of American imperialism is that their underlying thesis is actually fundamentally correct. “

    Umm. no, it isn’t Caitlin is just plain wrong. Lefties often enough say such things, but it has nothing to do with the real world. The USA as well as the rest of the world would be a whole lot better off if it just got rid of the Pentagon. The rest of the world would be more happy to go along with a sane and more economically dominant USA than today’s insane one. Why not?

  • The Juggernaut of our nation will plow ahead no matter what is said.Cindy Sheehan isnt even remembered.
    Only a self-immolating sacrifice by a member of congress, with a note nearby the ashes proclaiming their protest against our empire would get a week’s worth of headlines, and that too wont stop it.

    Our Imperical nation must destroy itself, like germany and all other empires did.
    It wont even take notice of the earth it is destroying.

    Sorry, Caitlin.I am just showing you what HISTORY does.

    If you can outwit the lesson that the HISTORY of all empires teach us, and if you cna redeem the soul of America and make us change course, you would have a power as yet unseen by any past empire’s contemporary historians and advisors during theiur reigns. None have survived their own evil thus far..

  • The Juggernaut of our nation will plow ahead no matter what is said.Cindy Sheehan isnt even remembered.
    Only a self-immolating sacrifice by a member of congress, with a note nearby the ashes proclaiming their ortest against our empire would get a week’s worth of headlines, and that too wont stop it.

    Our Imperical nation must destroy itself, like germany and all other empires did.
    It wont even take notice of the earth it is destroying.

    Sorry, Caitlin.I am just showing you what HISTORY does.

  • Pharmaceuticals are a BIG part of the global takeover plan. I urge you to watch this Caitlin. Australia figures heavily in the mix:
    Del Bigtree and the adult vaccination schedule: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6JSUfdfWmc

  • What a great essay. You have summed up our situation really well. Thank you, Caitlin.

  • While our fellow American working class have been for decades declining in wealth, our representatives have mostly become millionaires and billionaires. They indeed have been served well for their systematic placement of that false reality we live in. And even today those on your TV screens who conduct their perception management are being paid well above that in which a real investigative journalist could never have imagined at one time. And today those that attempt to get the real truth out to us struggle for donations to their cause for them to do so.

    As a citizenry we have been conditioned to acceptance in ignorance of the realities of what is actually being done in our name. While many around the globe are benefiting from our actions manage to avoid the wagging of fingers from their participation of collaboration in the long term agenda. My fellow American’s, we are being lead down a rabbit hole to hell. Both parties are constituents to the global elite as we are theirs. Only we are blissfully ignorant to the fact that we are not being served at all within the delusional reality they and their MSM has engulfed us in.

    While our fellow American working class have been for decades declining in wealth, our representatives have mostly become millionaires and billionaires. They indeed have been served well for their systematic placement of that false reality we live in. And even today those on your TV screens who conduct their perception management are being paid well above that in which a real investigative journalist could never have imagined at one time. And today those that attempt to get the real truth out to us struggle for donations to their cause for them to do so.

    (So we’ve all got some important questions to ask ourselves, haven’t we? Do we desire to stay in the familiar US-controlled world order at the price of omnicide and ecocide, or do we wish to roll the dice and bet on humanity instead?)

    I rest my case! While she wags her finger at us in the US only, she leaves out the participation that other countries play a part in the Middle East! Germany, France, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Irsael, etc. Her own country with a mirrored history of horrific measures on it’s native peoples. It’s own turn towards a fascist nature recently. Almost always siding with the global agenda also. The news coming out of Australia is a mirror image of our own when it comes to journalist rights, sex scams, political corruption, dissenting speakers at collages, often followed by legal threats and firings, etc. I could spend half an hour going into India, South and Central America, parts of Asia on countries all playing a part in this global dominance who benefit from the agenda of the global elite. But she and many others would like the world to turn their eyes only on us!?! As though this world dominance was born here in our most earliest born country. Fucking Please!

    • This article is divide and conger by nation. This doesn’t help the world working class!

    • the division and struggle is not between nations, or religions, or civilizations, or continents, or sexes.

      it’s between the global elites (the parasitic 1%) and the people (the so-called 99%).

      both you and Caitlin better not forget that.

  • 9-11 seems to be a forever pretext for intervention abroad.

    We have to say that for those who want to see, this sad event revealed us many things; that the mainstream medias are propaganda networks, that airline companies which will say that they have lost planes which planes wreckages are nowhere to be seen (like in the pentagone or supposedly in a field in Pennsylvania) are liars and probably criminal organizations, that western governments hide the truth all the time etc…

    It is my opinion that the days of Noah returned with 9-11. And I would add that it was announced a couple of years before by the passing of Hale-Bopp, a very spectacular comet of 1997 for those who remember.

    And Saint Paul, when speaking about the end times, said this: “to them that perish . . . God shall send the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.” (II Thess.II, 10–11)

    Aren’t we there? So, the Second Coming of Jesus is very very close. We have to pray the Holy Rosary to hasten His glorious Return. I really have seen enough!

  • Thank You AGAIN Caitlin:
    The Points You Make & SHARE Should Definitely CATCH “ON.”
    Immediately World-Wide WOULD BE GOOD.
    “ON” Going COOPERATION IS Central to Human Existence.
    Robert J. Burrowes /The Strategy of Non Violent Defense TO “Challenge” EXPLOITATION ON EARTH! ~
    with a Smile ~ Greg

  • Yes the United States government expects obedience from all nations except one. The one exception expects total obedience from the United States government, all of the time!
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/05/the-anti-semitic-con/

  • Many years ago a psychiatrist named Smiley Blanton wrote a book with the title Love or Perish. This situation has only become more clear and obvious with the years since he wrote it. I agree with Caitlin that this is The Problem we must solve, or else…..

  • Its just words, or perhaps its an attempt to steer the narrative a bit, or maybe I just cringe at using Dubya’s words, but instead of referring to the “war on terror” , I prefer to give this era the title of “The Terror Wars”

  • A couple of points. First, the original Cold War involved not only the nuclear arms race, but also meddling and interventions to either change or prop up a regime, just like today (Vietnam, Chile). Second, the US engaged in imperialism even before the Cold War, albeit on a lesser scale (the Philippines, the Banana Wars). Third, US domination is not exactly ‘the familiar order that is all we’ve ever known’, since the balance of powers during Cold War was accompanied by the formation of a rule-based international order that, while never entirely upheld, was also usually not broken as blatantly and frequently as the US has increasingly been doing. In other words, ‘safely staying in the same place’ is not an option that anybody is truly offering. Four, the current actions of the US are not aimed at defending the US itself from being invaded and subjugated by a future powerful China, as some of its apologists claim (that possibility is exceedingly remote), but at maintaining and increasing its own control over other countries in order to further the economic interests of the plutocracy that shapes its policies. The fact that many of the countries it targets are potential or real allies of China is no less likely to be a consequence of their conflict with the US than to be its cause.
    .
    There is a narrative according to which, until 1991, the US was a paradise of peace and freedom that was just forced to do some questionable stuff by the supposedly undeniable need to defend itself against the Soviet/Communist threat (just like it’s supposedly being forced to do it by China now). Other narratives put the cut-off point where the free and naturally peaceful society created by the American Revolution was corrupted, at WW2 or even the Civil War. Such stories, which some ‘anti-war’ American right-wingers, libertarians and even centrist liberals like to indulge in, are myths.

    • There is nothing naturally peaceful about capitalism. It is like a black hole which is constantly eating in order to not collapse.

  • ‘All nations are meant to submit to America’s use of military and economic force upon them, and if they don’t, that’s “aggression”’.

    When you think about it, exactly the same attitude that the American police have twords their own citizens. Hardly a day passes without US cops shooting, or otherwise harming, harmless citizens because the cops “felt threatened”.

    This brilliant Andy Singer cartoon catches the essence of both US government and US police aggression.

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rtqrht8WPuA/VjvLK-yAHHI/AAAAAAAACYA/h0Gzh-zYWNA/s1600/21319_600.jpg

    • Good point Tom.

  • Your concluding sentence is an astute summary of our situation: ‘We’ll transcend our old conditioning patterns which we inherited from our evolutionary ancestors who lived in a wildly different world from the one we’ve created, or we will perish. It’s an A or B choice, but the choice is ours.’

    There are out-of-the-box evidence-based solutions that transcend the empire-based forever wars paradigm. Here is this from the Global Union of Scientists for Peace.. GUSP.org

    For the open minded, or those who aren’t, this is worth a look.

    • alternative ideas and systems have always been with humanity. only, the ghouls (1%) always win the battle of ideas and successfully impose their exploitative system on the people (99%). nothing new.

    • alternative ideas and systems have always been with humanity. only, the ghouls (1%) often win the battle of ideas and impose their exploitative system on the people (99%). nothing new. we have our own battle in our hand at the moment.

  • There would be no foreign policy in the West if people decided (at last) to do not vote or, if they absolutely want to vote because they won’t digest well if they realize they are not in a real democracy, vote for independent candidates with no affiliation at all with maintream political parties.

    The goal of the ruling elites has always been to perpetuate the statu quo. To that goal, they will do anything; they will organize false flags (9-11 and others), they will tell you that we are threatened by hostile nations etc… Remember what the ruling elites of 2000 years ago did to Jesus to perpetuate the statu quo of that time.

    But there is a difference now. We are very close to the Second Coming. As it was written, there are more and more earthquakes (California recently), volcanoes etc… These are clear signs of the end.

    And I pray the Rosary for the quick Return of Jesus because I have really seen enough.

  • USA owned by The Khazarian mafia, aka, Fed, world bank and the debt of 350 billion in interest a year… Slaves are us and we need a military to keep us under control. Policed state 101, 102, 103… or Marshall law, if the passive citizen decide they are going to rebel again the fascist tyranny of bankster oppression and usury by the Religious order of Mammon fiat currency, money for nothing and chicks for free crowd. The 21st century religion of the Rothschildren and their sycophant electorate under the umbrella of capitalism Inc. US senate and house bought and paid for AIPAC drones chanting… more stimulus, more stimulus… The golden road to hell on earth has been in the making since before they were all born… Conditioned children of the state thinking they are free… LOL

  • What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security.
    Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’… must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing…. Each act… is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. — “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45” – Milton Mayer

    A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from those who believe it’s just a joke. – Søren Kierkegaard

    It is just simply a question of who has the power to legalize violence. — Stokely Carmichael

    • boiling the frog?

    • Nice.

  • As soon as ” the police ” roll up upon you they holler ” Stop Resisting ” as the beat you to a pulp or they kill you! Like a drug addict the United States owns everyone and everything it sees. They own you and they own your country; resistance is futile! This is how my government operates. Many of us wish otherwise but there is really not much that we can do to stop it.

  • On the plus side, it is commonly believed that the ever-growing world-wide oligarchy is also increasingly naturally disinclined to conduct wars against each other but are instead inclined to seek mutual advantage. Let’s face it, billionaires have much more to lose than the rest of us whether or not they treat it like some kind of game, or in President Trump’s case, an “Art”. Have you counted the number of billionaires lately, particularly in countries which were not so long ago regarded as “Communist” or “Socialist”? Utopia indeed!

    Tax the rich? Who in the US at least do you suppose actually pays in most of the taxes, it certainly isn’t the poor, while the truly poor actually receive tax dollars instead of paying same. The zero-sum gain crowd doesn’t like it that the rich continue to get richer much faster than the average Joe or Jane, but that is dictated by degree of exposure to rising (or falling) market forces, not to any inherent “unfairness” in the system. Do you, your 401K or retirement system own oil stocks? How about any other stocks? Welcome to capitalism, comrade! The world economy has grown exactly how much in your own lifetime? (Hint, the answer is not zero.)

    Is it that the poor are actually getting poorer and suffering as a result of the the rich (and possibly yourself) getting richer, or is it that the poor and not so poor are in fact also improving with regards to their own quality of life? Does a rising tide economy somehow not manage to lift both Yachts and dinghies? Are we in a rising economy, or a falling economy? But then again, there goes the ecology to hell… is that why the rich are buying up all the wilderness, so they can somehow make even more money by destroying “their own” planet? Yeah, that makes sense.

    Yep, numbers wise it is the uber-rich who actually own this planet. They have title to it, parcel by parcel with laws and lawyers to make it so and armies to keep it so. They might effectively rent a piece of it to you but only for so long as you pay their taxes. Got to pay the taxes. Perhaps we should start a church? Shades of L. Ron Hubbard, that man’s a genius!

    • “The Rich” have gotten blamed for “The Poor” feeling the way they do.
      There certainly are shysters in both camps. Ironically “poor” people spend much more time complaining about the rich than they spend articulating wealth.
      Robert Kiyosaki author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad” puts the rich into proper perspective, which the poor could certainly benefit from, if only they’d stop blaming everyone and everything else for their plight in life.
      Personal responsibility is very sobering but also very liberating.

      • LOL. Self delusional for sure.

  • “9/11 Conspiracy Solved, Names, Connections, Details” > documentaries on treasonous cornerstone for all 21st century imperialism….find and share Truth….it is your duty as an Earthling

  • Ms Johnstone, once again truth spoken with enviable clarity. I’m broke; if not, I would gladly support you. As it is, “we have the freedom to either pass or fail this test, but we don’t have the freedom not to take it” (the test being to transcend old patterns, or not)… you capture truly unprecedented global existential crisis.

    I’m an optimist; I think it more likely than not, ‘though far from certain, that we will all survive this. I mean that nuclear arsenals will not be used, that our young shun old ways. Older, militarized generations will die, many unaware of their own evil & irrelevance. New generations will stabilize population & heal the Earth.

    For now, it looks as though the fascist impulse is triumphant, in China, US & India (all nuclear) & their client states (some nuclear). Xi, Trump & Modi will grow old & die, as will their acolytes. True, they will be replaced, but their systems die too. US is mired in decay; China’s surveillance state will consume itself; India’s has always done so.
    Have faith in the young. Dare to believe that the future will not be ruled by old men.

  • Two observations, relevant I think, on U.S. history.

    As the cavalry policed the steadily advancing U.S. frontier during the theft of indigenous land and genocide of its occupants, from the forts it established, the same rationale of defense against the attack of savages was used, encouraged by the founding fathers.

    After what was arguably the largest perversion in the 20th century of what little was left of U.S. democracy -the Reagan presidency – anyone, and this included most liberal Democrats, who celebrated its culmination, the fall of the Berlin wall and the USSR, as a victory for “freedom” had their heads so far up their asses they would never come out.

  • Excellently articulated summary of the chess game being played on the world stage.
    The “One World Government” ideology is fixated on the path to own the world, and the U.S. is essential in that plan’s fruition.
    The military industrial complex via the “Shadow Government” has installed these military bases worldwide under the U.S. flag of illusionary liberty. To collapse the U.S. into complete and utter servitude would be to literally own all those bases worldwide, which that military might being strategically positioned, would readily facilitate official world dominance for it’s Bankster owners.
    The U.S. is the TOP prize to which they aspire to control openly and completely, coming out of the shadows and in your face.
    All wars are simply extermination exercises from now on as “Checkmate” is inevitable thanks to public apathy, indoctrination and fear. The numbing up, dumbing down, debt slave strategy has worked effectively on the masses it would seem.
    Great article, Thank-you.

  • Neoliberals are as much a part of US empire of aggression as neoconservatives. Who bombed Yugoslavia? Clinton. Let’s just call them the neos.

  • You continue to preach truth to the choir. America’s populace is generally unable to understand you, sad to say. I enjoy your essays.

    • Who destroyed Iraq and tried to destroy Afghanistan ? Neoconservatives. “Neos” my ass. NEOCONS. If you are so embarrassed by your political views and the actions of Conservatives , maybe you should rethink your positions.

      • it’s you that are exposing your partisan political agenda.

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