2017, a year of overt imperialism. And 2018? (I)

This struggle between “imperialist chaos and revisionist stability”, following the reasoning of the NSS, constitutes the most relevant aspect of present international politics.

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Part I


The agitated year 2017 left us with decadent imperialism making a pathetic strip-tease – the National Security Strategy [1] – in order to reveal itself without embellishment and to generate fear.  This augurs for 2018 being increasingly chaotic and dangerous, though full of possibilities for societies and countries that are defending themselves, or should do so, from the destructive policies of neoliberal totalitarianism.


President Donald Trump, shortly before Christmas and evoking a “political realism” worthy of the Cold War, revealed his National Security Strategy (NSS) designed to retrieve the supremacy of the “unipolar world order” and to continue to subjugate the greater part of the world. And (half-jokingly) he made it clear that from now on the traditional imperialist stick is fully real and could even become nuclear, while the carrot will continue to be completely virtual.


Dimitri Peskov, spokesman of the Kremlin, declared that: “Looking through [the strategy], particularly those parts concerning our country, one can see the imperial nature of the document, as well as persistent unwillingness to abandon the idea of a unipolar world and accept a multipolar world”; while the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, noted that behind the images of “aggressive States”, as Washington describes them, are the real economic interests and the same expansionist positions that were present during the Cold War and that have not changed for decades (Tass, 26-12-2017).


For their part, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, pointed out that to speak of the “Chinese threat” has for a long time now been a strategy which confused ideologists have resorted to so as to attract attention; but that these affirmations are clearly out of date and reflect a zero sum game outlook and a Cold War mentality (Xinhua, 28-12-2017).


One positive outcome is that no one can now be – or claim to be – incredulous, since the NSS definitively throws the pretenses of the “birthplace of democracy” into the garbage-bin of history. This is the country that sowed military dictatorships with the goal of “defending democracy and the State of liberal law” from the “communist threat” represented by the Soviet Union.  That created the “Alliance for Progress” to prevent the example of the Cuban Revolution from demonstrating the way to reclaim national and popular sovereignty to the peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America.  And of course, it invented the perverse disguise of “humanitarian intervention” in order to dismember and destroy nations, following the breakup of the Soviet Union: a historic event to which Washington actively contributed, and which enabled them to establish a unipolar international order, in an attempt to make Russia become just one more vassal; moreover an almost totally disarmed one, as evidenced by recently revealed official documents [2].


The grand imperialist project was (I put this in the past tense because it is no longer advancing and even many who support it recognize it is dying): to create an “international order” dominated by Washington to subject the whole world to their utopian “neoliberal globalization.” Basically this was nothing more than demanding the application and respect of US laws – to consecrate them definitively to the extraterritorial reach that Washington always claimed –, in order for the signatory countries of free trade agreements to surrender their national and popular sovereignty.  They were also required to disarm their societies in the face of the increased power of “self-regulating markets”: that brutal force of globalized capital, concentrated in the hands of transnational companies and Wall Street, with the Pentagon playing the role of gendarme.


A recent book by Fritz R. Glunk [3] outlines the “socially destructive course” of a system dominated by transnational interests at the service of capital, in which the state “no longer makes the decisions, it just mediates” and the resulting legal realm is "independent of democratic rights as we know them and without state participation (or even its legitimacy)."


Academic analyst Carlos Fazio [4] cites US professor Robert Bunker, of the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, according to whom the “winners of globalization” – represented by multinational corporations and the transnational capitalist class – are seeking to withdraw from the regulatory, taxation and even the political authority of states. (Meanwhile, they use their coercive instruments: the armed, police and espionage forces, as well as the Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers, to transform and instrumentalize them in their favour.)


Now that it is decadent and with ever fewer allies (and some of them, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, so uncontrollable and thuggish that it would be better not to have them as such), imperialism speaks in its own name to regroup and unite the internal forces (because their society is frankly fractured) and the external forces (which are not abundant, as the voting in the General Assembly of the UN indicates).  To this end, the NSS states that this offensive will reestablish “Strategy that sets a positive strategic direction for the United States that will restore America’s advantages in the world and build upon our country’s great strengths. (…) We will rebuild America’s military strength to ensure it remains second to none. (…) We will ensure the balance of power remains in America’s favor in key regions of the world: the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.”


And if the Latin American hemisphere does not appear among the “key regions of the world”, maybe this is because Washington thinks that it is able to maintain the rightward push and the subjugation that it has achieved through “soft Coups d’État”, such as the juridical-media conspiracy in Brazil, electoral fraud, as in Honduras, or – as has already occurred in some countries and clearly in Mexico – putting an end to the liberal State of law that sustained the “bourgeois democracy”, and establishing the State of permanent exception alongside the totalitarianism of neoliberal globalization, an issue that we will deal with in the second part.


What is the reason for the blunt speaking by the NSS?


The NSS explains it thus: the objective is to restore “America’s advantages in the world and build upon our country’s great strengths”, or in clear terms, put an end to the threat to this unipolar and neoliberal “order”, represented by the defined enemy: “Revisionist powers, such as China and Russia, that use technology, propaganda, and coercion to shape a world antithetical to our interests and values”.


After these “revisionist powers” that clearly constitute the much-needed principal enemy, the NSS identifies as threats “regional dictators that spread terror, threaten their neighbors, and pursue weapons of mass destruction.”


In order to clear up any doubts and to put the hypocrisy of Washington in its place, it is worth recalling that the “regional dictators” (Iran and North Korea) are forged by the US with its escalade of sanctions, attempts at regime change and disregard of laws and international treaties (as in Iran) and threats of mass destruction, even with nuclear power, as in North Korea. In the case of Iran, a country that respects international laws – which is not the case of Israel, for example – it would be sufficient to recognize, instead of repudiating, the international treaty that put an end to the Iranian nuclear program with potential to develop an atomic weapon, which the other signatories – Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China, for example –, and the agency that controls its application – the UN International Atomic Energy Agency –, all consider that Teheran is respecting.


In the tragic and dangerous case of North Korea, it would be enough for Washington to put an end to its policy in the Korean peninsula, unchanged since 1950 when it divided the peninsula and launched a war against the communists, destroying the infrastructure and the economy of that country, and causing millions of deaths. That would mean withdrawing its forces and military bases from South Korea – that also serve to control the seas and skies of the Far East –, ceasing threats and application of sanctions, and accepting a fair process of negotiation that would allow the denuclearizing of Pyongyang and leaving the Koreans of North and South to decide the future of the peninsula.


Next, the NSS names as a threat the “Jihadist terrorists that foment hatred to incite violence against innocents in the name of a wicked ideology, and transnational criminal organizations that spill drugs and violence into our communities”.


Here the hypocrisy reaches its pinnacle. The intellectual author of the creation of these jihadists, Zbig. Brzezinski himself (National Security Counsellor from 1977 to 1981 and known ideologue of the strategies of subversion) recognized that the jihadists and other terrorists were created by Washington and its allies, as from the 1970s, in order to bog down and destroy the USSR in Afghanistan. Since then they have served and continue to serve – as in Syria – to destabilize and thus control or destroy countries of the Middle East and Central Asia. These jihadists of the Islamic State, that the US is now removing from Syria to prevent them from destroying the Syrian army, will in the future be utilized by Washington in other countries, perhaps against Iran.


On the drug traffickers, official documents, already made public, confirm that the CIA created drug trafficking to finance counterrevolutionary operations in Indochina and later in Central America. At the internal level, drugs – and in particular the “crack” of the 1980s –, enabled the US government to profoundly damage the social structure of Afro-American communities [5], and to fill the prisons with young Afro-Americans and Latinos. For decades, the violence and corruption associated with drug trafficking has served the Pentagon to destabilize many Latin American societies and thus introduce a policy of militarization of the struggle against violence, as a step towards the installation of US military bases or posts, so as to reinforce the military-political control of the region, and that serves to justify, as recently in Mexico, the adoption of a permanent State of exception [6].


Both the jihadists and the drug traffickers are a potential threat to societies throughout the world. In the former case, there is already a successful experience of how to fight against them and defeat them through military assistance agreements, political and diplomatic collaboration, respecting national sovereignty of the country under attack by terrorists, as is the case of Syria, where the success was not due to the US and their “international coalition”, but to the collaboration of Russia, Iran and Turkey with the Syrian government and army, and to the solid process of negotiations among the parties in conflict so as to create the bases of a social pacification, and of a political exit created by the Syrians themselves.


On the other hand, it is known that the struggle against violence and corruption that comes with drug trafficking should not be considered exclusively as a matter for the police – and even less the military –but as a complex social, political and economic problem. The struggle against drug addiction and to reduce illegal drug trafficking can take on different forms, but the worst of these has been that of the United States, where it caused severe damage in Afro-American communities and has only served to fill (privatized) prisons with millions of youths [7] who are utilized practically as slave labour by private enterprises. They are thus doubly alienated and it will be difficult for them someday to become responsible citizens.


The struggle of chaos against stability, or of Big Capital against society


Yet the most significant and important part of the NSS strategy is when it describes Russia and China as “revisionists”: What is it that Russia and China are “revising”? What they are “revising” – or rather “refusing” – is the unipolar order and neoliberal globalization that has enabled the US to dominate the world, launch wars, encircle Russia militarily, apply commercial, financial and economic sanctions in order to deindustrialize and undermine the societies of many countries, and disregard with complete impunity international laws and agreements, thus weakening international institutions, the UN in particular, in order to continue to sow chaos throughout the world.


The “mortal” sin of Russia has been that President Vladimir Putin began more or less a decade ago to challenge the neoliberal order so as to defend society from the destructive effects of policies implanted by the globalization of the Yeltsin era. In other words, Putin began the task – as he himself pointed out – of reconstructing and consolidating society and the economy that had suffered an unprecedented destruction in times of peace after the Coup d’État of Boris Yeltsin which dismantled the Soviet Union and ransacked state enterprises and the wealth of the country, condemning millions of Russians to unemployment and destitution. In concrete terms, because he recalls the history of Russia, Putin has returned to the policy of defending national sovereignty and of “state intervention” in economic and social affairs, not excluding sectorial or branch planning.


In the case of the People’s Republic of China, the “mortal” sin is promoting the policy of maintaining a Socialist State directed by the Communist Party that preserves national sovereignty and conserves the power of final decision-making with the objective of ensuring social stability – a fundamental pillar, since the revolution, to confront the enormous challenge of raising the living standards of the most numerous national population on the planet – and framing in these terms the economic opening where state enterprises, along with private and mixed national and foreign companies participate. It goes without saying that these policies reflect cultures, political experience and ways of being and organizing that are very ancient, because fortunately the Chinese do not forget their history.


“Really existing” imperialism and capitalism cannot ignore the challenge implied by the fact that Russia and China have united forces to create development policies and economic growth at a regional level – within “the silk road” and bilaterally –, and that a growing number of countries have joined or are in the process of joining this important regional dynamic. In any case, and to confirm this reality (and perhaps give a response to the NSS), 2017 ended with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, stating that he is willing to join with his homologue of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to consolidate mutual political and strategic confidence and to expand the integral pragmatic cooperation between the two countries (Xinhua 31-12-2017).


This not only further weakens neoliberal globalization, but strengthens the national economies involved, as well as the multilateral and regional process, which explains why both nations have created, through this cooperation, a “zone of stability” and of predictability regarding international relations and trade, economic and monetary relations. This in turn strengthens the struggle for a multipolar system based on mutual respect among nations, in contrast to the unpredictable policy of chaos and destabilization of the US and some of its allies, and that in practice will contribute to preventing the US from recreating a unipolar world.


Since few new things occur in history, it is worth recalling a premonitory text of Karl Polanyi, that dates from 1945 [8], entitled “Universal capitalism or Regional Planning?”, in which he warned that the US would by definition continue being the “home” of a liberal capitalism sufficiently powerful to promote for itself the utopia of restoring a liberalism such as that of the 19th century, “a universality that engages those who believe in it to reconquer the globe”. In contrast to this utopian project, Polanyi pointed out, was the promising regional planning of a regional dimension of the USSR.


The “regional planning” of the “zone of stability” will be constructed through the logic of “pragmatic cooperation” in the project shared by Russia and China. This already includes several countries and is sufficiently attractive to have led to the establishment – at the end of last December and at the level of Ministers of Foreign Relations – of the “Pakistan, Afghanistan and China dialogue” [9], which, in addition to seeking peace for Afghanistan under the motto “peace process directed by Afghanistan and property of Afghanistan” opens the way to incorporate Afghanistan and Pakistan into the “silk road” project. It goes beyond saying that if this Russian-Chinese initiative develops as foreseen, incorporating Iran, Syria and other countries of the Middle East and Central Asia, it will be, as Brzezinski would have said, the final defeat of the ambition of global supremacy of Washington.


Meanwhile, any neutral observer can see that the role of Russia in Syria to combat the jihadists – thanks to the persistent and efficient diplomacy of Moscow, with respect to Syrian sovereignty and regional multilateralism, and also to its effective military assistance –, attracted the interest of countries where there are conflicts with terrorism (Libya, Yemen or Sudan), or those affected in the vicinity (Egypt and Lebanon). Moreover, the harmful influence of the powers of the empire – the USA, England and France – is vanishing in thin air in the face of the “security and respect for commitments” that Russia irradiates, an additional aspect of great political importance of the “zone of stability”.


This is why the policies of Russia and of China do not go unnoticed in countries that, being part of the Middle Eastern conflict – and feeling they are in the losing camp –, have strengthened relationships with Moscow and Peking (Turkey) or are seeking to strengthen them (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and some countries of the Persian Gulf, and also of Africa).


This struggle between “imperialist chaos and revisionist stability”, following the reasoning of the NSS, constitutes the most relevant aspect of present international politics and will have a direct influence on national social struggles insofar as chaos represents the destructive force of globalized capitalism, and stability an opportunity to organize the social forces to reconstruct societies on the basis of respect for national and popular sovereignty, in which society controls the economy, and not the contrary as with neoliberalism.


On the international plane, this “zone of stability” and of predictability could be the beginning of the construction of a multilateral order that respects the legitimate interests of countries, be they small, medium or large. Its influence in the Eurasian continent is unquestionable, and is now taking its first steps in Latin America – as we see in the support that Russia and China are providing for a besieged Venezuela, for Cuba under sanctions and for other countries –, and in Africa.


(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)




1. The NSS text:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-20 17-0905.pdf


2.- https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/12/19/how-us-swindled-russia-early-1990s.html;

Debt against nuclear disarmament:



3.- F. Glunk. “Shadow Powers: How transnational networks determine the rules of our world”:




4.- Carlos Fazio. La insurgencia plutocrática y la LSI


See also, Robert Bunker, Op-Ed: Not Your Grandfather’s Insurgency–Criminal, Spiritual, and Plutocratic, Strategic Studies Institute, February 20, 2014.





6.-Carlos Fazio, La Insurgencia Plutocrática y la LSI.


7..- Of the 6.8 million people in the prisons of the US in 2014, 34% (2.3 million) were Afro-Americans, and 20% Latinos, in both cases mainly youths and people imprisoned for drug consumption. http://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/


(8) Karl Polanyi, Universal Capitalism or Regional Planning? Published in January 1945 in The London Quarterly of World Affairs. In French it is included in the book Essais de Karl Polanyi, Editions du Seuil, pages 485 to 493.


9.- About this meeting and its scope: http://spanish.xinhuanet.com/2017-12/27/c_136854838.htm; http://www.atimes.com/article/beijing-complicates-washingtons-afghan-strategy/; https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201712261060326683-afghanistan-taliban-peace-talks/; https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201712271060356882-china-afghanistan-terror-fight/




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