Confronting the Impact of Neoliberal Free Trade Policies
on Labor and the Environment
By Richard D. Vogel
IV. US Global Domination and the Prospect of Endless War
The history of US military actions around the world shows that US capitalism is a staunch adherent to the principle that war is an extension of politics by other means. After 165 foreign military interventions and two world wars (www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32170.pdf), the USA emerged in the mid-20th century as the most powerful of the capitalist states and, with the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union, became the world's lone superpower. The imperative of US capitalism to dominate the globe makes the USA the greatest military danger in the modern world and the current US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to control the Middle East demonstrate that imperative in action.
US Global Domination
The US Department of Defense's (DOD) Joint Vision 2020 presents the strategy that the nation's armed forces are committed to in the immediate and foreseeable future. The key concept in DOD strategy is the doctrine of full-spectrum dominance:
"Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations." (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45289)
There are no geographic limits recognized in the doctrine of full spectrum dominance, and map 3, based on the DOD's Base Structure Report, 2008, reveals that the military threat of US capitalism is, by any definition, a global threat:
Map 3 illustrates the US military footprint on the world today. The most striking features of the map are that there is not a single continent free of US military presence except Antarctica (not shown) and that the US Navy rules the oceans of the world with 13 aircraft carrier strike groups and 77 attack submarines.
The global threat presented by the US Navy is formidable. A single aircraft carrier with its complement of 50-60 strike aircraft and numerous support ships can launch more than 150 sorties a day against coastal targets (where population tends to be concentrated). With stocks of over 4,000 bombs and 100 guided missiles, a single US aircraft carrier strike group is bigger and more lethal than the entire military force of most nations.
US Navy attack submarines are capable of surprise military assaults well beyond immediate coastal zones. Armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, US attack submarines are capable of precision long-range strikes as they demonstrated in both Gulf Wars by launching missiles from the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea at targets deep inside Iraq. The newest Cruise missiles, which can be armed with either conventional or tactical nuclear warheads, have an operational range of 1,500 miles.
The US Air Force can hit targets beyond the reach of the US Navy. The Air Force currently maintains over 170 strategic long-range bombers, 20 operational stealth bombers, and 450-500 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at various locations around the world. The ultimate US military threat is a stockpile of at least 3,500 nuclear warheads that are available to the US Air Force, Navy, and Army.
Map 3 shows that the US military footprint on the ground is ubiquitous. As of 2008, the US Army had 327 bases in foreign countries, the Air Force occupied 259, the Navy 149, and the Marine Corps 26 for a total of 761. (http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/bsr/BSR2008Baseline.pdf). The sizes of these military facilities range from vast Main Operating Bases (MOBs) like Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the largest community of US citizens outside of the country, to small unmanned Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) scattered around the world that preposition weapons and munitions and provide staging areas for small-scale interventions in foreign countries.
To expand its range of full-spectrum dominance, the USA is currently in negotiations for additional sites and bases in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa (the yellow areas on map 3).
The weaponization of space, symbolized by the typical ground tracks superimposed on Map 3, represents the latest efforts by the US military to establish global full-spectrum dominance. Spy satellite systems have been operational for almost 50 years and are constantly being upgraded, and space-based weapons are currently under development. An example of the latter is the Common Aero Vehicle (CAV), an orbiting spacecraft capable of hitting any target on the globe with a thousand pounds of conventional munitions or a tactical nuclear device within two hours of initial targeting (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A38272-2005Mar15?language=printer).
The commitment of US capitalism to the use of military force to maintain global domination is staggering by any measure. The USA now has the largest standing military in the world, employing nearly 3 million military and civilian personnel at a cost (which has doubled since the year 2000) approaching $700 billion per year. The environmental cost of the global US military commitment is totally unacceptable by any standards.
The US military is the single biggest polluter in the world and is totally reckless and irresponsible about the environmental impact of its operations. In the Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) that it signs with nations around the world, the US government generally insists on exemption from environmental regulations and categorically disclaims any and all responsibility for cleaning up the pollution that the US military produces or leaves behind when it pulls out. On the national level and in US territories and coastal waters, the US military has been exempted from almost all EPA regulations.
The modern history of overt and covert military actions committed by US forces in pursuit of global domination is as sinister as the US military footprint on the world. That history is recorded on map 4:
Map 4 shows the nations of the world that have been the target of US military or CIA intervention since World War II. This intervention map, like the US military footprint depicted in map 3, covers the world. Notice that North America which is dominated by the USA through sheer economic power and Antarctica which is protected by an international treaty that strictly prohibits military activities are the only two continents that have been spared overt US intervention since the Second World War.
US military operations during this era have included the infamous Christmas Bombing in Vietnam in December 1972 when B-52 bombers dropped nearly 20,000 tons of bombs on the city of Hanoi (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB263/index.htm) and the "shock and awe" strategy of Operation Iraqi Freedom (19 March--18 April 2003) which included the launching more than 30,000 guided and unguided munitions (including 504 cruise missiles) at targets in Iraq to destroy the infrastructure of the country prior to the US invasion. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2003/uscentaf_oif_report_30apr2003.pdf). The reports of the collateral damage of these two major operations have never been made public.
CIA interventions during the post-war period ranged from covert operations (both successful and unsuccessful) to overthrow democratically elected governments that would not subordinate their countries' interests to the demands of US capitalism to involvement in the assassinations (or plots to assassinate) no less than 37 heads of state and leaders of popular movements who opposed US foreign policy towards their nations. The Xs on map 4 indicate the geographic locations of the targets of US government assassination plots.
The economic cost of this 60 year period of US military and covert intervention is incalculable, but credible estimates of the cost in human lives have been made. In-depth studies of the casualties of these operations have put the number of deaths attributable to overt and covert US military action, US sponsored proxy wars, and US backed repression in foreign nations at between 20 and 30 million during the post-WWII period (www.countercurrents.org/lucas240407.htm).
The modern history of US military and CIA intervention and the current US military footprint on the world leave no doubt that the megatrend of increasing globalization, defended by strategies like the US DOD doctrine of full-spectrum dominance, includes the prospect of endless war.
The Prospect of Endless War
Changing the name does not change the thing. The US Department of War changed its name to the US Department of Defense at the beginning of the Cold War, and after the fall of the Soviet Union the Cold War was replaced by the Global War on Terror, but US policy has never wavered from its primary mission to promote and protect the interests of US capitalism around the world. This mission, officially articulated in the DOD's doctrine of full-spectrum dominance, reflects the prospect of endless war to support globalization.
The ongoing attempt to dominate the Middle East, the expanding US military presence in Africa and the waters of the Caribbean, Central and South America (http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=36606), and the positioning of military forces in Eastern Europe, Southern Asia, and along the western Pacific Rim in anticipation of armed conflict with Russia and China, are sure signs that US capitalism intends to continue using military force as the endgame guarantor of globalization.
In the context of the worsening global economic crisis, the prospect of endless war in pursuit of the global ambitions of US based transnational capitalism is all but certain if we do not openly confront globalization on the national and international level.