Friday, February 5, 2010

U.S. Defense Spending and the Battle of Ideas

"History has shown that where the Great Powers cannot colonize, they balkanize. This is what they did to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and this is what they have done and are doing in Africa. If we allow ourselves to be balkanized, we shall be re-colonized and be picked off one after the other...."-Kwame Nkrumah

My mother says in a verbal debate the one who throws the first punch has conceded the argument to the other side. At the bequest of the "invisible government", the Obama administration wants to increase war spending to record highs and has made clear that America has given up trying to persuade the world to accept its role as the supreme hegemon and instead has chosen to impose its self.

The overwhelming reliance on violence by the American government is obviously a response to declining ideological legitimacy around the world. The recession has eroded the mythology of neo-liberal economics. The attempts by the U.S. to impose its version of liberal democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan are extremely unpopular and along with the Israeli occupation of Palestine are radicalizing millions of young muslims in opposition. In Latin America a legion of left-wing political and social movements are directly challenging the historical dominance of the U.S. The American government finds its self increasingly marginalized, supporting a right-wing coup regime in Honduras and ignoring human rights violations against the poor in Colombia. Accordingly, the U.S.-lead "War on Drugs" in Latin America has been almost as tragic a failure there as in the ghettos of the U.S.

The waning influence of American ideological hegemony is being overcome by an anti-democratic attempt to force our "national interests" on the third world. This is the reason why in the first month of 2010, the U.S. has sold millions of dollars in weapons to Taiwan to threaten China, to authoritarian proxies in the middle-east and why the latest budget request from the Obama administration asked Congress to approve a record $708bn in defense spending for fiscal year 2011. The budget calls for a 3.4 per cent increase in the Pentagon's base budget to $549bn not including the occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The "national interests" the U.S. is seeking to achieve around the world clearly do not include the interests of poor and working-class families in America. At the same time the Obama administration spends a greater amount of money on so called defense than ever before, it has announced a spending freeze on all Federal social programs. The recession has hit many American states hard and massive budget cuts have eroded the minimal safety-nets which existed before the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the American people who need help the most are being forced to pay for endless war and occupation in foreign lands.

The U.S. is clearly loosing the battle of ideas on environmental protection, socio-economic justice, and committment to a multi-polar world. The only way to stop their irrational rampage for market access and influence is for a united global justice movement to challenge the militarization of social problems and propose real solutions to the crises which affect us all.

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