Globalization and American Foreign Policy Rhetoric vs by variablepitch338


									Globalization and American Foreign Policy: Rhetoric vs. Reality.

Peter Schrank

By: Munch

The term globalization has become omnipresent in modern day discourse. What exactly is meant by such a term is quite often ambiguous, as it is contingent on the source or vested actor. It is often used to describe a perceived epochal shift, where communication and transportation technology has facilitated a new global

interconnectedness and interdependency, superseding the local reality. While such a reality is often accepted as an inevitable historical process, the “naturalness” of its current composition should not be taken for granted. In examining the very terms used in global discourse, one can more easily differentiate between the myth and realty that it encompasses. Here one finds the process of globalization marginally adds up to the language of globalism. Globalization is more appropriately defined as an American state run political project with the objective to insure American supremacy within a global capitalist world order. Using a combination of ideological imposition and militaristic force, the American state ensures that no state can easily dissent from the process of economic globalization. While global discourse has been silenced of late, given the current climate, it is very apparent that globalization will not easily be swayed. In examining what globalization has entailed, it is obvious that while the term may be in the process of being phased out, its practice is still quite pervasive around the globe. Through the process of globalization, different societies, and their nation states are able to interact like never before. Globalisation generally entails “the formation of a multiplicity of linkages and interconnections between the states and societies which make up the modern world system (McGrew, 1994, pg262).” Globalization alters the way in which one perceives their political and economic reality in that the historical nation state boundaries are skewed. Political and capital ventures are no longer limited by spatial


constraints, but now become transnational. Globalization thus proposes a “general shrinkage of time and distance and a widening of opportunities for all (Wade, 2003).” With respect to relations of power among nation states, globalization is said to encompass the diffusion of unipolar axis of power in favour of a more balanced multipolar climate (Wade, 2003). In this global climate, everyone is able to contribute and benefit. Globalization, complete with its doctrine of free trade on the basis of comparative advantage, claims equality and justice for all where it is asserted that the “power of flows takes precedence over the flows of power (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg155).” A closer examination of the effects of this new global order, however, serves to debunk the myth that globalization, in its dominant form, has focused on the greater global good, let alone benefited the average global citizen. Such claims leave much to be desired, as one has trouble matching the rhetoric with substance. In examining the very terms used in global discourse, one can more easily differentiate between myth and realty. Globalism and globalization sound similar, but upon a more thorough analysis, they turn out to be two very different entities (Ritchie). Relying on Ankie Hoogvelt‟s literature, one can deconstruct global discourse into two distinct, but interconnected categories. Globalization is distinguished as a separate unit from globalism, where one is a verifiable reality, and the other its ideological counterpart. Hoogvelt depicts globalization as the “real historical process” marked by “the ascendancy of real-time, trans-border economic activity over clock-time economic activity (Hoogvelt, 1997, pg155).” This entails the tangible trends one can point to such as increased trans-border trade, production, and consumption. The result is a new global order where production and consumption of goods and services is ideally unhampered by national borders. This


concept is reiterated by Mark Ritchie who defines globalization as the “process of corporations moving their money, factories and products around the planet at ever more rapid rates of speed in search of [more conducive conditions] (Ritchie). There is, however, a discrepancy between this process of global economic integration, and the concept of globalism, which is often inaccurately put forward to represent it. Globalism is an ideology that is often packaged with the process of globalization, as if the two concepts were one and the same. It often paints an ideal of what globalization would need to be in order to gain true wide spread civil support. Within the framework of globalism, one is asked to constitute themself as a citizen of the world, and to act accordingly. The effects of one‟s actions are increasingly implicated not just at their local, but also around the globe. Despite our apparent differences and inherent conflicts, it is argued that we have a wealth of knowledge and resources to share. Given that we rely on the same earth for our subsistence, cooperation and mutual respect is crucial to our survival (Ritchie). This union between globalization and globalism is problematic where the two propose two very different scenarios. Where globalism implicates diversity and cooperation through open dialogue, globalization demands the dictation of

“standardization or homogenization of almost everything and everybody” in an effort to induce widespread conformity to the global economic model (Ritchie). The communion of human beings, working together under globalism to achieve a common goal, while ideal sounding, does not hold through to the actual process of globalization. Rather, globalism serves to distort our perception of globalization where it is attached to a reality it is not equipped to explain within the framework of its ideology. What it has done is


make globalization seem natural, or at least inevitable. Hoogvelt states that globalism is the “reification of…globalization as some meta-historical force that develops outside the human agency (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg155).” The individual is made to feel powerless in light of this innate global imperative. It is the rubric of globalism which distracts from the true nature of the globalization project and ideologically imposes a belief in such an unavoidable outcome. The great gift that globalization has given itself has been its ideological placement as a haphazard fact and a historical accident. The global market is too great a force to be controlled, having too many economic, political, and social roots in centuries of development. Globalization is said to be the consequence of a cumulative process of “several centuries of concentration of capital and trading power in the hands of a few of the richest [states] (Mosler, 2000, pg183).” To attempt to intervene would be futile in light of the awesome work of the invisible hand. While it is true that globalization is nothing new, and has arguably been developing for centuries, this cannot deflect from the need to examine the way in which this process has been aided and abetted. In courting the idea of globalism, with respect to our current reality, what is often lost is the fact that behind this process is a national steering committee, which is perpetually active in promoting and maintaining its agenda. Globalization has largely been steered through a set of rules, for the most part formulated by the clout of the American state (Wade, 2003). More specifically, globalism shields the fact that the current global reality is largely an “American political project [primarily] serving the interest…of US capital and US domestics (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg155).” Because it purportedly constitutes a natural


historical progression of human nature, independent of human intervention, it is argued that globalization cannot be reneged. One is simply told that there is no alternative. According to Hoogvelt, “globalist discourse is designed to make people believe in fair play, and what could be fairer than the neutral forces of the market (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg157)?” Globalism ideologically peddles membership to the global economy as the only viable option. Neoliberal policy, applied on a global scale, involves three general and interrelated components. The first is the liberalization of trade and finances (Robinson, 1996). This ensures an environment, which is conducive to foreign capital and a nation that is prepared to participate economically in the global sphere. The second is the process of deregulation where the state is restricted from the economic decision-making process ensuring that an optimum amount of power is afforded to the corporate body (Robinson, 1996). The last component is privatization, where public goods and services are dispensed to private corporations who propose a more efficient process of dispersion (Robinson, 1996). Under this model, it is argued that the needs of society will be served more effectively. Proponents claim that in the long run, the free market economy will best provide for the greater masses (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg155). Often most important is the fact that under the rubric of this global architecture, the Neoliberal model of development is the only option that will not serve to endanger foreign relations (and potentially spark military force) with the American government. Markets are said to be the best determinants of efficient distribution given that they are impartial by nature. As the “expression of the deepest truths about human nature” it is claimed that they will always be correct (Wade, 2003). Supporters of the global economic order argue that [economic] globalization will attain peace and


economic development for all countries alike (Staples, 2000). Some of the biggest proponents of this model are found in International Financial Institutions, such as the World Bank, who claims that “their deepest purpose in pushing economic globalization is to help the world's poor (Mander, 2001).” More specifically, they contend that removing barriers to corporate trade and financial investments is the best path in which to grow, offering an opportunity for the marginalized populations of the world to escape abject poverty and suffering (Mander, 2001). Development under this Neoliberal model is obstinately sought, despite lack of widespread success. In the past three decades, within the presence of expanding Neoliberal agendas, the outcome has been just the opposite of what its proponents have claimed (Mander, 2001). Yet, no matter how often it serves to destabilize secure orders and engender crisis and disorder, “it is still made to seem inevitable, like an act of God, the only possible economic and social order available to us (George, 1999).” Within this context, we are asked to see the development of the US‟s economy as the largest in the world as a stroke of American luck [and asked not to question how they‟ve achieved and maintained this position] (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg155). Where it is argued that adherence to the Neoliberal model serves to increase global wealth and prosperity for humanity, humanity, defined here, seems to describe a very select few. Given this reality, it is very difficult to maintain faith in the goods of globalism. A great problem faced by the American polity, within globalization, is the method by which they should “interface with the world…when [their] relative position on the globe is so asymmetrical (Mosler, 2000, pg188).” Given the prevalence of poverty in the world, the fact that a small percentage of the population, mostly within the US and other


Western states, are able to disproportionately reap the benefits of the global economic system, can be quite innerving to many. Despite only constituting 5% of the world‟s population, the United States‟ still manages to produce 20% of the world‟s economic activity through its nation economy, while conspicuously consuming proportionately more than the great majority (Mosler, 2000, pg188). Since its inception, as a dominant global imperative supported by US foreign policy, the contribution of economic globalization to the greater good has yet to be realized by the majority of people. Since the 1980s, economic decline or stagnation has affected over 100 countries reducing the incomes of some 1.6 billion people worldwide (IFG Bulletin, 2001). Average living standards around the world have risen marginally, if at all; the wedge between rich and poor has grown; and increased employment has often been met with a fall in the real wage and a deterioration of working conditions (Wade, 2003). These are just a few of the reported negative effects of globalization from what seems to be a never-ending list. One is left questioning the validity of this model, and whose interest it actually serves. The international economic architecture of modern day society is disproportionately dedicated to the American state. The operation of world market forces, commonly referred to as globalization, tends to accrue greater benefits to America, conferring more autonomy to US economic policy makers while curbing the sovereignty of other states (Wade, 2003). Here one finds the contradiction between globalization and its “alter-ego” globalism, where in place of a benign natural process of international economic integration, one finds structures which enhance the US‟s ability to “harness the rest of the world to its own economic rhythms and structure (Wade, 2003).” Within this framework, Susan George critically states that


“Neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest the revealed truth (George, 1999).” While consent is sought when attempting to incorporate a foreign country into the global market, given the track record of consequences resulting from such membership, it is often very difficult to get regimes to passively accept the economic globalization that the US is handing out. Where dissent replaces consent, the American polity relies heavily on a dialectic combination of ideological and militaristic attacks. For over 70 years, the United States sought to convince the American citizens, along with the international community, that the Russian Federation posed an imminent threat to their national security. During this time, public discourse was replete with literature depicting a communist conspiracy with aspirations to take over the globe (Blum, 2001, pg1). Throughout this ideological war, between the capitalist and communist factions, American global intervention was easily justified as an altruistic effort to protect human civilization against the iniquitous Russian state. In the post-cold war era, many have conceded to the fact that the perceived Russian threat was largely the result of an exaggerated account of the power of the Russian military and economy (Blum, 2001, pg19). For convenience‟s sake, heavy propaganda was utilized in order to shape the nature of the debate. Material given to support the US‟ stand in the conflict was largely overstated and stretched. The “worst case scenario” became the only scenario, making inaction seem counterintuitive (Blum, 2001, pg19). A decade after the Berlin Wall crumbled, the US is found to still be fighting against that which threatens to displace their peace and freedom (Blum, 2001, pg1). With the fall of Soviet communism, and the diffusion of any direct threat against the American


nation, a crisis occurred, where intervention, in order to bolster capitalist economic development was no longer easily justifiable. One could no longer cry “the Russians are coming and they‟re ten feet tall” and expect to generate support for international campaigns in the name of American democracy and economic liberalism. Without an enemy, US policy makers find themselves “hard pressed to persuade Western public opinion that expensive and often unpopular military programs are justified (Blum, 2001, pg15).” Despite this, the US has continued to make it a personal project to intervene, where it perceives a decisive threat against the democratic ideals at the heart of its nation. Post-cold war the American polity have simply reiterated past threats within a new context. The axis of evil simply had to be affixed to a new movement of dissent. Arguable the American nation could not subsist in its current state without an adversary where “without enemies [America] is a nation without purpose and direction (Blum, 2001, pg15).” One of the US‟s great successes, has been to convince the world that imperialism is dead through Neoliberal brainwashing which has seen the ever-increasing domination of the US in the world economy (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg160). Imperialism is said to exist “whenever there is deliberate transnational political interference, including military intervention for the purposes of the mobilization, extraction, and external transfer of economic surplus from one political territory to another (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg160).” A major implication of this, in Hoogvelt‟s mind, is the increasing need for “state-sponsored and militarily-backed strategic control over vital resources in foreign lands (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg160).” According to Hoogvelt, the global system demands “active regulation and social manipulation by governments so as to adjust their economies and societies to the


forces of globalization (Hoogevelt, 1997, pg154).” When governments can‟t get it right, the generous US state offers to step in to set their system straight. The American nation is well equipped to do so, dedicating more funds to military operations than all other major powers combined, and 7 times the amount of their highest competitor (Parenti, 2002, pg19). Included in the US military complex are 500,000 troops stationed at some 395 major bases and hundreds of smaller installations in 35 foreign countries (Parenti, 2002, pg19).Given their wide dispersion, the American military power is ready to attack upon command, having the power to simultaneously act in more than one area at the same time. The US government has repeatedly intervened in foreign political and economic affairs claiming that its sole objective is humanitarian concerns. These include, but are not limited to, the causes of: “democracy; peace and stability; national security; and genocide (Parenti, 2002, pg73). One of its main tools, democracy promotion, in theory, is a hard policy to negate. Who would argue against such things as the right to vote, free speech, and human rights. Generally democracy is associated with the idea that each individual citizen is given equal and autonomous opportunity to hold an opinion and express it is such a way that they may influence their environment in which they live. In practice, however, democracy has not lived up to its ideal. The democracy advocated by the American state appears to be “a democracy devoid of democratic debate that might challenge the ideology and practices of its leadership (Parenti, 2002, pg20). A more accurate description of the democratic practice and promotion in the new global world order is referred to as polyarchic democracy. This is where “participation in decision making by the majority is confined to choosing among competing elite in a


tightly controlled electoral process (Robinson, 1996).” This does not represent the original connotation of democracy demonstrated by the term‟s origin of “power (cratos) of the people (demos) (Robinson, 1998).” It entails the perception of a democratic environment, when in reality the individual lacks any substantial power. It assures an environment which is “for the profitable renewal of capital accumulation through new globalized circuits (Robinson, 1996).” Within this context actions have easily contradicted spoken words, where the American state has in the past “supported some of the most notorious rightwing autocracies in history (Parenti, 2002, pg77).” Thus actions taken in the name of democracy, justified by the welfare of all, must be re-examined in the context of the vested interest they accompany, where the American state has little regard for the effects of the political leaders they require. Democracy, in this light becomes a guise, for US hegemony and Neoliberal global permeation. While overtly, American foreign policy may claim to be acting with the benign intention of articulating liberty and freedom in those nations that are lacking it, covertly the US has four basic imperatives to fulfill, as per Blum‟s postulation. The first is to create a world which is friendly to the imperatives of globalization, namely the American-based TNCs which propose to accompany the global rhetoric (Blum, 2001, pg14). Thus countries must be open to the free flow of goods and services, unhampered by “superficial” borders. The second mandate is to enhance the financial flows of American defense contractors, namely those who have been generous to their friends in the Whitehouse (Blum, 2001, pg14). In the process of ensuring the inter-border flow of goods and services, an “added” benefit is accrued to those companies who, with the tools to facilitate this process, have also provided the polity with ample financial support in the


past. The third covert goal is to curb the empowerment of any society which would propose to offer a feasible alternative to the capitalist model (Blum, 2001, pg14). Any dissent from the capitalist global economy is quickly, and often too easily, curtailed by the use of force and coercion. The last goal of the US is to direct their foreign policy towards the maintenance of American supremacy by extending their political, economic and military hegemony throughout the globe (Blum, 2001, pg14). In 1907, Woodrow Wilson, speaking on the direction that American foreign policy should take, stated that “Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down (Parenti, 1995).” Such statements have been the rule and not the exception with respect to American foreign policy. Given the poor record of Neoliberal development and the ability of ideology to only take support so far military intervention among dissenting nations is crucial to the global economic order. In order to ensure unhampered expansion into foreign markets, the American state must make certain that it can match its economic force with physical force (Staples, 2003). Accordingly, the US is recognized as the “foremost interventionist power” most often seen bolster American friendly conservative regimes around the globe (Parenti, 1995). The US relies on their heavily armed military complex to ensure that the international capitalist system prevails, and to ensure their dominion within this system (Parenti, 1995). The American polity makes it their business to ensure that any efforts of economic redistributive, which attempt to displace portions of the economic surplus accrued by the American state, is quickly silenced (Parenti, 1995). American foreign policy will thus not hesitate to intervene and distil any national


movement which does not propose to look upon “the free market or privatization of the world, known as globalization, as the summum bonum (Blum, 2001, pg23)” Since the early 20th century the main objective of American Foreign Policy has been to coerce the world into realizing the virtues of American capitalism through trade (Mosler, 2000, pg182). While the political, social, and economic climate is transient, the objective has remained markedly firm. The roots of this global plan have stemmed from the historical ideological framework of the American nation. Since the end of the Civil War, the American state has centered itself on liberal, democratic, and corporate capitalist values (Mosler, 2000, pg182). Incorporating itself into global discourse, American foreign policy works through globalization, in conjunction with the ideology of globalism, to bolster their political and economic objectives. The attacks of September 11th, however, are threatening this comfortable system from the inside out. It has left people questioning the future of globalization, or the lack thereof. Many predict that the bombing of the twin towers has signified the end of globalization, where in a “frightening and dramatic fashion, the period of the pan Americana is coming to an end (Duran, 2001).” By hitting the economic core of the global structure, the future spread of economic globalization has been placed in limbo. Globalization has proven to be a sturdy project however, where far from halting the process the terrorist attacks appear to have expedited it, giving the US ample ammunition for justifying further hegemonic imposition of their political economic doctrine on foreign soil. The attacks of September 11th have been repeatedly called upon as justification for further global expansionary campaigns (Marquardt, 2002). Prior to September 11th, President Bush reaffirmed the need to continue to guide world order through the use of


military forces, in order to maintain stability and order. In his first interview upon become president “elect”, Bush states: “The presence in the world by the United States is not an arrogant presence, but a humble presence, yet a consistent presence-of consistent message that wewhen we say something, we mean it, and we're going to back up our word. (Pelley, 2000)” He proposes to do this through the support of a “military that‟s responsive, military of high morale, and alliances that are strong and steady (Pelley, 2000)” For all intended purposes this plan has not been discarded, but rather is more pertinent than ever. With the threat of terrorism in hand, Washington has expanded their imperialist operations. The US has been able to increase their military presence around the globe as shown by their newly built military bases in both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (Marquardt, 2002). Iran, given its strategic location, sandwiched in between two of the US‟s biggest foes, has been honored with the presence of American military. Although one cannot imagined that they‟d be comfortable with this position, they have remained “cautiously silent over the encroaching [US]” with the threat of regime change looming over their heads” should they be recognized as part of the “axis of evil” (Marquardt, 2002). When asked to comment on why the world seems to be out to get the US, one writer answered quite simply: “Arrogance, dominance, exploitation, oppression, racism, militarism, imperialism… (Parenti, 2002, pg42) Given the degree of American past and present global intervention, one could very easily concede that the American state is the leading global terrorist. While the perpetrators of September 11th do hold their own unique identity and strategy, one does find within their regime the common current of global bitterness and anger over U.S. policies around the globe (Chomsky, 2002, pg13). This bitterness stems from decades of American imperialism, and the abject conditions


which have been a direct result. In an attempt to create a global environment which is conducive to their economic growth, the US has “[propped] up oppressive regimes in order to create barriers to independent development (Chomsky, 2002, pg13).” As a result of their disregard for the structure of the regimes they have supported, past their initial willingness to concede to liberal economics, the US is now feeling the repercussions. The terrorist attacks on the US can be perceived as a blowback from the radical Islamic forces which were in fact aided and abetted by the American state in the past (Chomsky, 2002, pg61). While such insight is crucial to any analysis of the current global conflict, the American state has refused to take responsibility for its actions, holding strong in their doctrine of economic imperialism. Where September 11th, and the events that followed, are said to have drastically altered the current global political and economic climate, it has certainly not been at the sake of globalization. The crucial difference is that for once the aggressor has become the victim. Thus September 11th was not unique in the nature of the attack, that the values of freedom and justice were pitted against, but rather for once the terrorist attack was turned towards the terrorist itself, the American state (Chomsky, 2002, pg12). Instead of reforming international practices in an effort to avoid further aggravation, the American state has used this climate to their advantage, jumping into to a full out war, which arguably has nothing to do with freedom and democracy and everything to do with perceived economic imperatives. The American state has exploited this occasion to further their own schedule, namely “undermining social democratic programs [as well as] concerns over the harsh effects of corporate globalization (Chomscky, 2002, pg34).” As at the end of the cold war, the US has adapted their objectives to suit the current climate,


but for the most part has kept its main principles constant. In looking at the institutional structures, one perceives that they have remained largely unaltered, supporting the fixation of current long-term policy goals (Chomsky, 2001, pg69). In the end, there has been no substantial change to the globalization project, as the American state is as adamant as ever about what it values. As Chomsky states, “one exalted task of intellectuals is to proclaim every few years that we have “changed course” (Chomsky, 2002, pg69).” With this change, it is often argued that the old verbiage no longer applies and that new terms are needed to reflect the nature of the latest order. Should the terms globalization and globalism, get lost in the shuffle however, the real projects they have concealed will not cease to exist. Language will not contain the process whereby the American state has privileged its economic growth over the greater good. Globalism, defined through its appropriation by the American state, simply serves to deflect from the real actors of global economic imperialism. While the American state may readily redefine its policies and international objectives under the trajectory of a new rhetorical framework, the substance of the new order will always reflect the underlying structure of American foreign policy which desires global hegemony and economic dominion.


Works cited: Blum, William. Rogue State: A Guide to the World‟s only Superpower. United Kingdom: Cox and Wyman, 2001. George, Susan. “A Short History of Neoliberal” March 24-26,1999. <> IFG Bulletin “The Facts and Figures of Poverty and Inequality Globalization: The Facts and Figures of Poverty and Inequality” International Forum on Globalization, Volume 1, Issue 3 2001 Johnson, Chalmers. Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. New York: Henry Holt and Co, 2001. Hoogvelt, Ankie Globalization and the Postcolonial World: The new Political Economy of Development. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997. Mander, Jerry, Debi Baker and David Korten. Does Globalization Help the Poor? International Forum on Globalization Volume 1, Issue 3, 2001 Marquardt, Erich and Matthew Riemer “Terrorism‟s Threats to Globlaization” Yellow Times November 12, 2002 Mosler, David and Bob Catley Global America: Imposing Liberalism on a Recalcitrant World. Westport: Praeger Publishers,2000. Parenti, Michael. Against Empire The Brutal Realities of U.S. Global Domination. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1995 <> Pelley, Scott. “One-On-One With Bush” 60 Minutes, CBC News Online. Dec. 5, 2000 Parenti, Michael. The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and beyond. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2002. Ritchie, Mark “Globalization vs. Globalism” International Forum on Globalization Robinson, William I. “Neo-Liberalism, The Global Elite, and the Guatemalan Transition: A Critical Macrostructural Analsysis. Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, March 26-28, 1998


<> Robinson, William I. „Globalisation, the World System, and “Democracy Promotion” in US Foreign Policy.‟ Theory and Society, Vol. 25, 1996. Staples, Steven. “The Relationship Between Globalization and Militarism” Social Justice magazine, Vol. 27, No. 4 (2000) <> Wade, Robert Hunter. “The Invisible Hand of the American Empire” Open Democracy. March 13, 2003. <>


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