Global Independent Analytics
Andres Barrera Gonzales
Andres Barrera Gonzales

Location: Spain

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

The Rise and Transformations of American Militarism and Imperialism After World War Two

Part I: Europe After World War Two

All along the 19th century world affairs were dominated by Europe’s great colonial and imperial powers: Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, the Ottomans on the south-eastern fringes of the continent. Rivalry and competition for the world’s resources between the European ‘great powers’ and colonial metropolises reached a peak at the end of the century. And this was the background setting that brought Europe to war and catastrophe during 1914-18. It was the first act in the dramatic demise of Europe’s world hegemony. The second and final act of the fall of Europe as the axis of global power took place during the 1939-45 war, which again had the continent as its main theatre of operations. World War Two caused unprecedented material destruction, and it took an appalling toll in human life. It also led to the first nuclear holocaust, triggered by the arbitrary decision of the government of the United States to test-drop recently built atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945i.

As a consequence of the war, most of Europe (including the Soviet Union) was left thoroughly devastated and worn out; which set the ground for the uncontested hegemony of the United States, given that its territory and economy remained untouched by the disasters of the war. Thus Western Europe became fully dependent, and increasingly subordinated to the United States in all fundamental dimensions: economic, political, and military. A turn of events that was reinforced with the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949; namely to counter the perceived-stated threat coming from a former war ally, the Soviet Union, unwilling to yield to the emerging world power configuration headed by the United States. The USA, its Western European ‘allies’ stalking along, thus raised the stakes in its confrontation with the Soviet Union, declaring the inauguration of the Cold War.

However, it is interesting to note that NATO’s article 5, which requires member states to come to the aid of any one member subject to an armed aggression, has been called upon only once. It was invoked by the USA after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks. This calling to solidarity from the allies gave way to a new phase in the role of NATO at the beginning of the third millennium, by effectively getting the Alliance directly involved in the elusive and iniquitous “global war on terror” (terrorism becoming a phantom enemy and convenient surrogate of the“Soviet-Communist threat”, so that the strategy of endless war may move on). As an outcome of the boundless “war on terror”, we will soon see the USA exploit NATO as a convenient tool and cover to intervene well beyond the scope of the Alliance’s constituency and foundational mission: in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, anti- piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean, in Syria and Libya more recently.

Returning to the European arena, one should not overlook two important developments in what regards the transformations of NATO’s ‘mission’, in practice if not statuary. Two occurrences which are the upshot of the pursuit of the Alliance’s hidden agenda. Firstly, a dark chapter in the annals of subversive, truly terrorist activities promoted and executed by NATO’s ‘secret armies’, against leftist and communist parties in the territories of its own member states in Western Europe. Italy’s Operation Gladio in particular was conceived and executed, from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, to prevent the accession to power and government institutions of the Italian Communist Party. A dirty war by proxy, aimed to discredit communist and other left wing movements in Europe, made up by countless undercover violent operations (Ganser, 2005).

Secondly, it should not be overlooked the continued expansion of NATO to the east, in a relentless drive to incorporate former communist bloc countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including the peripheries of the Soviet Union itself. A reckless policy conceived and carried out by the USA from the 1990’s to this day, drawing on its NATO toy; which blatantly violates the solemn assurances made to Russia and the Soviet Union, as part of the implicit if not explicit agreements that paved the way for the pulling down of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pactii.

In sum, a precious opportunity was spoiled and lost to set up true global and mutual security arrangements at the end of the Cold War, after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself (the archenemy of the USA-West that justified the very existence of NATO). A global security post Cold War architecture that would prevent major conflicts and wars happening in the European scene and elsewhere. Instead, the United States of America, the exceptional and indispensable chosen nation, the only feasible planetary leader, decided to take the straight road to world hegemony and full spectrum domination, aiming to establish a Pax Americana of sorts (Chomsky, 2003; Engdahl, 2009).

One key moment in the transformation of NATO into a tool of empire and global domination --and an instrument of military aggression against anyone who dared challenge the self avowed righteousness and political-moral superiority of theUSA-West, mostly utilized against small defenceless countries, rather than being a defensive bastion against a menacing mighty enemy--, was the vile and criminal bombardment of Serbia’s civil infrastructures in 1999, carried out with total impunity by the USA, under the cloak of NATO. A vicious punishment against what remained of former Yugoslavia, for its resistance to yield to the plans and purposes of the Empire in the region. The end result (or main purpose to start with) of such a cowardly and despicable act of aggression, against a defenceless country and people, was the setting up of a satellite statelet in the Balkans to accommodate the largest USA military base outside of its own territory, Camp Bondsteel (Johnstone, 2002).

The demise of Western Europe as a global power and key actor on its own terms, and their subordination to the strategic interests of the USA, was accentuated by the dissolution of most of what remained of the European colonial empires in the aftermath of World War Two. Huge territories subject to colonial-imperial control in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, gradually became independent nations-states;while the United States of America volunteered to take up ‘the burden of empire’ from former colonial masters: Britain, France, the Netherlands, or Japan. However, there were some peoples who resisted the self-appointed new master of the world engaging in such a neo-colonial and neo-imperial crusade, which led to very ugly and genocidal wars all along the second half of the 20th century (Turse, 2013): in the Korean peninsula, south-east Asia, northern and sub Saharan Africa, the Middle East. As regards Central and South America, well that remained the unchallenged USA’s back yard, where they would intervene with complete impunity, staging all sort of coups d’état against established and democratically elected governments, whenever they thought their interests, or those of American multinationals, were in jeopardy.

In many of these neo-colonial neo-imperial wars (wars of resistance, independence and liberation as seen from the other side) the United States, with the compliance of its circumstantial ‘allies’, ended up directly or indirectly confronting the Soviet Union, and later on Communist China as well (in Korea right in 1950, and elsewhere in south-east Asia along the 1960’s and 1970’s); or the small but brave new Cuba (in Angola’s war of independence, in some revolutionary risings across Latin America). Curiously enough, the mighty USA with its huge war machine ended up losing most of these wars; unfortunately not before inflicting appalling devastation and misery upon the territories and peoples against whom the wars were unleashed, thousands of kilometres away from North America’s shores.

 

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