The U.S. – from Empire to Global Fascism?

By Johan Galtung

In The Fall of the US Empire-And Then What?[i] a subtitle is US Fascism or US Blossoming? Of blossoming there seems to be none, with the Dow Jones crossing the 13,000 border, the real economy still mostly in bad shape, the Republican candidates embracing the economic system that produced the crisis, and Obama running the progressive rhetoric trick that brought him into power in 2008. By midterm 2010 the bluff was called, with a landslide. The OWS, Occupy Wall Street, is in the first three stages, consciousness-formation, mobilization and some confrontation; but not yet in the real struggle with massive nonviolent practice of alternatives.

Fascism? There is a domestic and a global variety and the latter is Obama’s foreign policy, with domestic elements. One thing is the massive spying on the US people; another is the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Last New Year’s Eve, “snugly ensconced in the NDAA came ratification by legal statute of the exposure of US citizens to arbitrary arrest without subsequent benefit of counsel, and to possible torture and imprisonment… Goodbye, habeas corpus”, writes Alexander Cockburn, “The Man Who Shot Habeas Corpus”, The Nation 23 Jan 2012. A Rule of Law pillar.

A disconnect between speech and action is Obama’s trade mark. A key to his global fascism: instead of acknowledging wrongs of US foreign policy, he hides his extra-judicial killings with drones and JSOC’s (Joint Special Operations Command) in, maybe, 120 countries. Covert, CIA, less overt, Pentagon; with little Congress control.

What happened to the fall of the US Empire?

It is falling. An empire uses local elites to transport value from the periphery to the center. Those elites are now shaky in many places, like in Latin America, frightened in Africa, doubting in Europe-Asia, counteracting the US in China-Russia. Global fascism bypasses them.

The USA is more educated than ever according to the Census Bureau; above 30 percent having a bachelor’s degree and women passing men. And yet, as a metaphor for US foreign policy, a father in Albemarle, North Carolina, unloaded nine rounds of a .45 caliber gun into his daughter’s laptop, upset with her complaining online about him , instead of solving the conflict–not on the education curricula– (The Japan Times, 19 Feb 2012).

Nick Turse, in the excellent International Movement for a Just World (JUST), edited by Chandra Muzaffar, writes: “Last year the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command/SOCOM, established in 1987, spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, the number will likely reach 120. ‘We do a lot of traveling-a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq,’ he said recently.”

And Turse continues: “Joint SOCOM is a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists.–JSOCOM maintains a global hit list that includes American citizens. It has been operating an extra-legal “kill-capture” campaign that a former counterinsurgency adviser calls “an almost industrial scale counterterrorism killing machine”.

The outgoing SOCOM chief, Navy Admiral Eric Olson, launched “Project Lawrence” named after “Lawrence of Arabia,” who teamed up with Arab fighters for a guerrilla war in the Middle East during World War I. Mentioning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Indonesia, Olson added that SOCOM needs “Lawrences of Wherever”.

Yes, he fought the Turks for an Arab federation, only to see his work betrayed by the Sykes-Picot agreement and colonization of the Middle East. Deeply disappointed, he changed his name and died in an accident. The Wherever Lawrences will suffer the same fate.

Understandably, the classical invasion-occupation-dictation war is in trouble after Vietnam-Afghanistan-Iraq. Covert targeted killing is in. Drones combine observation and arms platforms, and have become very popular with US and its allies’ military. But, not as precise as SOCOM killing: “A Brookings institution analysis suggests that the ratio of civilian versus “militants” killed by drone missiles is 10 to 1. By that estimate anywhere from 2,170 to 2,750 civilians have already been killed. Will President Obama decide the number is “huge” when it reaches 3,000 – the number of people killed in the September 11 attacks–?” (Takamitsu Sawa in The Japan Times, 27 Feb 2012.)

No, he will probably not. A crucial aspect of US moral supremacy and exceptionalism is that the lives of foreigners count only a fraction of US lives, being by definition exceptional and morally superior. So drones are ideal: no US losses, no post-trauma-stress-disorder–as there is no contact with the victims, only with the computer–,politically and financially inexpensive.

As long as it works. Sooner or later regimes still loyal to the US Empire will wake up, like Norway–but not France-Spain-Denmark-Netherlands–helping financing a US drone project, Global Hawks.

And yet, “After two wars, U.S. drums beat again over Iran” (headline, International Herald Tribune, 27 Feb 2012). Sooner or later the US people will wake up to other concerns than their own serious economic fate. They may even ask, why “U.S. stays firm on renminbi (yuan), despite its gains” (headline, International Herald Tribune, 17 Feb 2012; in fact the yuan is up 40 percent since 2005). Answer: US leaders worry less about rising prices to US consumers shopping Chinese goods at WalMart than US profit. And Mitt Romney talks war (The Wall Street Journal, 17-19 Feb 2012).

The US Navy in the Pacific to counter China will offset military savings elsewhere. An empire in decline. And a killer nation.

[1] Johan Galtung, TRANSCEND University Press, 2010;

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Subscribe to
TFF PressInfo
and Newsletter