Is the US still practicing neo-imperialism?

Empire or (neo-) imperialism

Norman Paech

Preliminary note from the author

The following article was already written in autumn 2006 for an anthology by Gerd Hankel on the subject of “Law and Power” in the Hamburg edition of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research maintained by J. Ph. Reemtsma. Gerd Hankel had accepted the contribution until a publication council that had not appeared before rejected it in July 2007. He did not like some things about the article, but especially not my criticism of Hardt / Negri, the recourse to Lenin's theory of imperialism, the approach to understanding the wars in the USA for economic reasons, “the already under-complex theorem of balancing out the internal contradictions 'through the passage into the colonies' of the German Empire, my remarks on the Hague War Tribunal, my positive reference to Amitav Gosh and much more. Overall, however, Reemtsma and his publications advisory board criticized the lack of concentration on the arguments under international law - this was, however, explicitly discussed with the editor at the time.

I was given the alternative between an “extensive revision of the text” and a cancellation fee. But even my new version, which argues more strongly under international law, was rejected by the Publication Council, although it was again accepted by the publisher Hankel. From a legal point of view, I could have sued for the publication of my article, since in the author's contract only the author and the editor had to decide on the publication. In this case, however, the publisher threatened to terminate all other author contracts and completely abandon the project. That was not my intention, which is why I decided not to file a lawsuit.

The co-author and colleague Gerhard Stuby accused Mr. Reemtsma in his protest against the actions of the Publication Council, that this could only be explained from my activities for the Left Party, since all other reasons were obviously put forward. This accusation was not contradicted. I transferred the cancellation fee of 520 euros to your account as a contribution from the institute for the Hamburg election campaign of the Left Party. I would like to thank the editorial staff of Z for the opportunity to publish this article anyway.


In the course of 2005, the number of voices from the USA increased, indicating that the US administration had already completed all strategic and logistical preparations for a military intervention in Iran. [1] Similar to the preparation for the Iraq war, unmanned drones and other technologically highly specialized instruments would already fly over and spy on Iran. Subversive activities up to terrorist attacks by opposition groups, which are on the index in the USA as terrorist organizations, would be financed by the CIA. In the northern neighboring country of Azerbaijan - closely linked to Iran by common ethnic groups of the Azeri - the US Army is preparing a massive base of military operations for later intervention. Only the decision about the "if" and the time of the action has not yet been made. There is also agreement about the goal and motives of this muscle game, in which the danger of Iran's nuclear weapons capacity definitely plays a role: the battle for the world's energy reserves. Even under the Clinton administration, the US Central Command had described its “in war theater plans” for the invasion of Iraq and Iran as “interest-based and threat-focused”: “The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the National Security Strategy, is to protect the United States' vital interest in the region - uninterrupted, secure US / Allied access to Gulf oil. ”[2] Since Clinton's tenure, the global battle for energy sources has grown considerably aggravated and thus increased the danger of war, which Michel T. Klare in particular points out in his essay "Energizing new wars" [3].

A few months earlier, at the end of November 2004, we were welcomed by Jim Lobe in the Asia Times Attention was drawn to two articles dealing with the future of North Korea. [4] Authors are William Kristol dated Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the influential neo-conservative organization around Vice President Dick Cheney, ex-Pentagon boss Donald Rumsfeld, his former deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Cheney's powerful chief of staff Lewis Libby, as well as Nicholas Eberstadt, Korea specialist of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is the neo-conservative The Weekly Standard publishes - Editor-in-Chief William Kristol. Her papers have programmatic titles: "Toward Regime Change in North Korea" and "Tear down this Tyranny" and spread the thesis that the US secret services have evidence that North Korea already has eight nuclear weapons. Your request is therefore inevitable to take advantage of the possibility of a regime change with embargo and, if necessary, with military means and to actively prepare for a “post-communist Korean peninsula”. We know this, too, from the preparations for the Iraq war, which had been massively ideologically pursued by Kristol and the American Enterprise Institute with the same arguments of the threat. Even if the threats temporarily seem to take a back seat, as is the case with the planned resumption of the so-called six-party talks, they never completely disappear. They reappear elsewhere, such as in relation to Sudan, which in the US plans is now to be forced by military means to consent to the deployment of a larger UN contingent in Darfur. [5]

Imperialism: Colonial Beginnings

What is it, we have to ask ourselves what is threatening again and what is spreading further? Is there a term for this policy of “brinkmanship”, playing with fire? Is it that of empire or that of imperialism - and what use is such a term anyway? We have to get an idea of ​​the ambitions and movements of the great powers in order to influence their influence on international politics, the international legal order, on the future of international relations and our own states, which, in Brzezinski's words, are only "tributary vassals", [6] to be able to assess. In concrete terms, it is important to ask what role the war will play in the struggle for the new world order in the next few years.

Imperialism generally refers to the expansion of the claim to power beyond national borders into the dimensions of a principally limitless metropolitan area. It encompasses many states and regions and is at the same time ruled, controlled and organized by a center as we know it from the Roman Empire and the British Commonwealth. Imperialist politics describes the methods of conquering and managing the greater area in order to exploit its resources for one's own development and prosperity: by means of robbery, looting, colonial societies, tributary states and protectorates. In other words, it is about direct political, economic and military control of strategically important areas and communication channels (e.g. canals, waterways). A general characteristic of imperialist rule is internal and external violence - it is omnipresent.

So much for the general definition. Modern imperialism at the end of the 19th century had many facets: expansion and the urge to expand are always inherent in capital. Compulsory exploitation and competition force not only concentration and monopoly formation, but also expansion beyond the borders of the nation-state. On the basis of this dynamic, the state becomes active using its legal (laws, ordinances), diplomatic and military means to repressively control internal contradictions (workers' parties, trade unions) and external contradictions (intra-imperialist competition, resistance of the colonies). to solve militarily. Bismarck's bundling of social, socialist and colonial policy is a classic example of this.

But not only armaments and the military, but also the imperialist ideology of the political power elites and intellectuals from Treitschke to Jünger is one of the necessary foundations of imperialist politics, that reactionary mixture of nationalism, chauvinism and racism, which the precarious willingness of the population to violence internally and externally stirs up and abuses again and again. "Social imperialists" (Max Weber) pleaded for the integration of non-revolutionary social democracy into a "social liberal" bloc. The more aggressive variant relied on war, as Kaiser Wilhelm II did in 1905: “That we cannot take a man out of the country because of our Social Democrats without extreme danger to the lives and property of the citizens. First shoot down the socialists, behead them and render them harmless, if possible with a bloodbath and then outside war; but not beforehand and not à tempo. "[7]

This martial attitude was widespread in the Prussian political class, as the Russian ambassador in Berlin, Nikolai Graf von der Osten-Sacken, reported to Moscow: "The war party, tempted by the undeniable military readiness of the army and the other layers of society, offended by the feelings of their traditional devotion to the Supreme Leader, considers war the only possible means of restoring the shaken prestige of monarchical power in the eyes of the masses.

The mood of the military is fueled by the conviction that the current temporal superiority of the army promises Germany the greatest chance of success. Such conviction can tempt this emperor and give his foreign policy a militant character.

On the other hand, a victorious war could at least initially repel the pressure of radical efforts among the people to change both the Prussian and the imperial constitution in a more liberal sense. "[8]

For all theories of imperialism, the critical dynamics of capital accumulation and the tendency towards internal and external violence to overcome it are the central characteristics, whereby the pressure of social problems in one's own state acted from the beginning as an additional driving force of expansion. In his imperialism pamphlet Lenin explicitly referred to the “crude and cynical” defense of imperialism by the “millionaire, financial king and main culprit in the Boer War” Cecil Rhodes: “I was in the east end of London (workers' district) yesterday and attended an unemployment gathering. And when I went home after hearing the wild speeches that were just a cry for bread, I was more convinced than ever of the importance of imperialism ... My big idea is to solve the social problem, that is, to solve it To protect forty million people in the United Kingdom from a murderous civil war, we colonial politicians must develop new land to absorb the surplus population and create new outlets for the goods they produce in their factories and mines. The empire, as I have always said, is a question of the stomach. If you don't want civil war, you have to become imperialists. ”[9]

Theories of imperialism: Hobson, Lenin, Kautsky

John Atkinson Hobson, the first to scientifically examine imperialism at the turn of the century, was also the first to address its predatory, parasitic and at the same time violent demeanor: “You don't say too much when you realize that British foreign policy is essentially British has been a struggle for profitable investment markets. Great Britain has developed more and more into a nation that lives off the tax revenue generated elsewhere; and those classes that are the beneficiaries of these taxes are increasingly making use of the politics of the state, its means of power and public finances in order to open up ever new opportunities for their private investments. ”[10]

Hobson took the Boer War as an opportunity to grapple with the "true relationship between business and politics". It was the time of the final division of the colonies, especially in Africa, among the European states. The transition from the export of trade to the export of capital was in fact the decisive step in the development of capitalism and forced the complete conquest and subjugation of the areas not yet ruled by the capitalist great powers - a dynamic that can only be achieved by warlike means against the resistance of the peoples concerned and against the Competition between the rival powers could be enforced. Lenin extensively excerpted from Hobson's work and, on the basis of his analysis of the relations of production, also emphasized the export of capital, the territorial division of the earth and the rivalry of the great capitalist powers as central forces of imperialism. [11]

For Hobson, imperialism was the perversion of true nationalism as embodied in the European nation-state. Because economic internationalism and colonialism, which he welcomes by all means, is not only a threat to peace through its military aggressiveness and expansive violence, but also leads to a moral deformation of its own society through its parasitic profiteers in industry, the military and bureaucracy. In the chapter on “The Political Significance of Imperialism” he remarks slightly resigned: “So how do we view the new imperialism in the light of this investigation, which is directed at the empire as a whole? Almost the entire world empire, as we have seen, consists of tropical or subtropical areas populated by savages or 'lower races'. Little of this has any prospect of expanding the terrain for healthy colonial life, even in the distant future. In the few places where English colonists can settle, as in parts of the new South African states, the dark-skinned population is so outnumbered that the introduction of a free representative government is impractical.

In a word, the new imperialism has increased the realm of British despotism. This increase far outweighs the population growth and the progress in de facto freedom that our few democratic colonies have achieved. Imperialism has not promoted the spread of British freedom and our governance. We govern the countries and peoples that we have annexed - insofar as we govern them at all - with extremely autocratic methods. They are mainly administered from Downing Street, and partly from centers of colonial government, namely in cases where self-ruling colonies have been allowed to annex. ”[12]

In contrast to Lenin and the Marxist theory of imperialism, however, he believed that the pressure to expand could be counteracted by changing the income situation, increasing the purchasing power of the working class, through social justice and the expansion of the internal market, and thus curbing the violence of the internationalization of capital. Lenin commented on this with the marginal note: “haha !! The core of petty-bourgeois criticism of imperialism ”[13], because he was of the opinion that the competition between the individual monopoly capitals in the nation states necessarily had to degenerate into war. While Kautsky admitted that this did indeed lead to World War I, he claimed that it was not inevitable. He predicted an inner-imperialist alliance in which the ruling classes and monopoly capital would ally. That was his idea of ​​"ultra-imperialism".

This did not happen because after the World War there was no overall capitalist institution, i.e. a state that was able to dominate and organize the other states in order to guarantee a relatively stable and functional global capitalism. Even in the period after the Second World War, the socialist camp still limited the global expansionist urge of capital and welded the capitalist states together in their common defensive struggle against the socialist camp rather than in an ultra-imperialist alliance.

Imperialism or Empire?

This only changed with the collapse of Soviet and Chinese communism, with the end of the antagonistic bipolarity that coincided with the second imperial wave of the US, and probably even triggered it. What kind of new structure or world order is it and in which direction is it driving us?

It is questions like these that Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri recently addressed in their book “Empire”. [14] Although it originated in the period between the Gulf and Yugoslavian wars, its starting point is not the return of the war to the arsenal of the world powers, nor - in the classical materialistic tradition - the analysis of the relations of production and the unbroken development dynamics of capital; the latter is simply assumed. Their considerations are based on the world market, which they only see as a political category as a given with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The thesis, which is not new, but radicalized by them, is: The globalized market, the legal system that holds it together and the power that guarantees it, are expressions of a new "imperial" form of government; Although this has all the attributes of sovereign power such as military, police, economic, monetary or communicative types, it lacks any national identity or fixation. This new “power dispositive” is supranational, global and total and is called “Empire” by the authors. It has stolen the three essential fields of sovereignty from the nation-states - military, politics, culture - which, although not formally, have ceased to exist as sovereign actors. The old imperialism with its expansion across national borders, the enforcement of colonial conditions and the state aggression of strong against poor and weak states has had its day: “The subordination of the old colonial countries to the imperialist nation-states has disappeared or is disappearing and with it the imperialist hierarchization of the continents and nations. Everything is reorganized and is directed towards the new and unified horizon of the Empire (...) No, the Empire is simply capitalist. "[15]

It seems that the real subsumption of even the most distant and insignificant economy under globalized capital and the dissolution of alternative production relationships of the former socialist states in the acid bath of the capitalist world market have seduced the authors into the vision that they can only be found on the atlas and in the UN identifiable states to de-sovereign and subjectless territorial structures have evaporated under the supranational umbrella of a universal capitalist rule structure called "Empire". The authors should not be reproached for wanting to deny the aggressive, warlike, destructive, oppressive, colonizing and corrupting practices of “empire capitalism” with this change from imperialism to empire. They only claim that these machinations can no longer be assigned to the old type of nation-states, such as the USA or the NATO states. Although they cannot ignore the fact of American interventions, they see in them only the expression and the instrument of the much more effective rule of the Empire. This is not only concentrated in the large multinational financial, service and industrial companies, but must also take into account the pressure from poor countries and from trade union organizations and is thus even awarded the title of “democratic power”: “In an ongoing process penetrating all regions of the world, the Empire uses the global economic and financial conditions to enforce imperial law. "[16]

This is probably the charm of this draft, which gives it such broad approval in the bourgeois public: the shifting of the clear and attributable responsibility for war and aggression away from the intervening state to the imperial rule of the Empire. Yes, it is accorded a much more intensive and penetrating control over the disciplinary power of the old nation states, "which amounts to a totalitarian manipulation of all activities, the environment, social and cultural conditions, etc."

Not enough with the fact that this subjectless monster is difficult to identify for all forms of classical resistance, despite or precisely because of its ubiquity. "Determining the opponent is no small task when you consider that exploitation no longer has a specific place" - according to Hardt and Negri, it was brought about by the struggles of the working class, the proletariat and the liberation movements of the second and third world . "The globalization of the markets, far from being the bitter fruit of capitalist entrepreneurship, was actually the result of the desire and demands of Taylorized, Fordist and disciplined labor." [17] In good Marxist fashion, the struggles are declared to be the engine of development. Once it was the proletariat, now it is the “multitude” expanded to a crowd that makes history as an “absolutely positive force” and drives the system beyond itself to apoplexy.

To the central question of how the civil war of the masses within the Empire against global capital can break out, Negri answers: through popular movements that are led by individuals and groups and that leave the nation-state framework behind, and through universal civil rights and abolition aim at the limits. It is a not unknown idea that everything that the system produces in terms of contradictions, crises, catastrophes but also new subjects - from the migration flows, hunger riots and uprisings to global corporations, human rights activists and NGOs - leads to the empire's self-destruction, that has a vague perspective on communism. Not surprising, because a general feature of the postmodern discourse is that the authors no longer give a penny to the old strategies of socialism and the national trade union movements, as well as social reformism.

Empire and the "new wars"

Let us leave aside all the anarchist liberation tinsel and the theoretical building blocks collected from all epochs, which not only adorn the work, and let us put the analytical core to the test. According to this, the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 would have to be that stateless attack on the empire from the multitude, this “crowd” of resistance oscillating between “biopower” and “love”. This resistance is just as global and total as the ruling structure of the empire itself. It is the prelude to civil war from the heart and with the means of the empire and thus the adequate form for destabilizing and destroying the complex order of the empire. It's unclear whether Hardt and Negri would go that far. However, in the US administration they would find a prominent representative of the opinion that it was not so much an attack against the US and the institutions of its inevitable sovereignty, but rather the undeclared war against the Western value system of freedom and democracy, against the Civilization - the "Empire" - par excellence. This interpretation has gradually been adopted by all European governments to legitimize their anti-terror legislation. [18] The type and modalities of the “defense war” that the USA declared on October 7, 2001 against international terrorism and which they initially called “infinite justice” but then “enduring freedom”, and which is still going on, also fit in with this .

Both euphemisms designate, like all propaganda terms, pretty much the opposite of what they use in the name. However, they point to essential characteristics of this and future wars, which initially look like a confirmation of the global concept of empire, but still predominantly bear the features of old imperialism in the struggle for the repeatedly necessary redistribution of the world. This war is not only infinite and ongoing, but also limitless. It is unlimited in time as well as territorially, it is no longer limited by victory and defeat, since the enemy can no longer be clearly fixed in terms of location and time, a hydra that is constantly growing new heads everywhere. This ongoing threat is no longer tied to the borders of the classic nation state, which is why its sovereignty as a classic protection against intervention no longer plays a role in the new type of defensive war. The permanent war changes the states of its attack and intervenes wherever it asserts structures of terror, verifiable or not. He thus places entire regions - the "axis of evil", the former "rogue states" - under the permanent threat and the permanent state of emergency of an attack that can be carried out at any time in order to obtain the desired economic and political concessions. This is nothing more than a new form of recolonization, which is particularly evident in the protectorates that are established after "successful" wars such as in Kosovo, Macedonia or Afghanistan and now in Iraq.

With the war against Yugoslavia, another characteristic of the new war began to establish itself, which ties in with the old forms of legitimation of the just war and deliberately erodes the modern international legal system. Whatever the name of a military intervention, none of the keynote speeches on foreign policy lacks an appeal to the “rule of law”, international rule of law or international law. It can also be found in the New NATO Strategy, which definitely gave the North Atlantic Pact a new offensive intervention mandate in April 1999, as in the US National Security Strategy of September 2002. The invocation of international law, however, increasingly resembles a ritual that attempts to do so military interventionism by conjuring up the missing legal basis. Ultima ratio of legitimation is ultimately the effectiveness of the use of force. Whoever wins is right.

That, in turn, is entirely in the spirit of Hardt and Negri. According to them, the "deployments of the imperial machine [...] do not intervene in independently constituted territories, but are measures of a ruling order of production and communication within a unified world." [19] "The 'just war', according to Hardt and Negri continues, is actually accompanied by 'police morale'; the validity of imperial law and the legitimacy of its use depend on the necessary and steadfast application of police power. [...] Army and police anticipate court decisions; they constitute principles of justice in advance, which are then to be applied by the courts. [...] If necessary, a new jurisdiction will have to be formed which corresponds to the constitution of the Empire. Courts are gradually being changed: from organs that only pronounce judgments against delinquents to bodies of jurisdiction that dictate the relationship between moral order, the exercise of police measures and the legitimation of imperial sovereignty. "[20]

Which sentences could better paraphrase the path taken by NATO from the first bombing of Yugoslavia to the Hague Tribunal or the path taken by the United States from Afghanistan via Guantánamo to its new military courts? And the US perspective of the “long war” against terrorism is also accurately reflected in the following sentence: “This type of ongoing intervention, both on a moral and military level, corresponds to the logic of the use of legitimate force under conditions of legitimacy which is based on the state of emergency and the police measure in perpetuity. […] In this sense, intervention by means of police operations proves to be an effective instrument that contributes directly to the development of the moral, normative and institutional order of the Empire. "[21]

However, it should not be overlooked that these “police operations” are again only a euphemism for wars, the destruction of which actually prohibits any allusion to police regulatory tasks. Those who regard the world as their property and make the countries their forecourt by ensuring order and democracy through the military and members of the government do in fact tend to declare the state of emergency to be normal according to their own interests and to accept the normative order of their empire to align the requirements of the necessary "police measures". For Hardt and Negri, this is the inevitable consequence of the Empire and has a fatal effect for the future. For it reverses the disciplining and limiting influence that international law is supposed to have on the unbridled violence of international conflicts and directs it against law itself, which is now to be redefined by the imperatives of power politics. The call for the reform of the UN and the “further development” of international law is being voiced loudest by those states whose global regulatory interests feel that they are most constrained by the institutions of the UN and its charter.

The modern strategy papers of the USA, NATO and the EU are replacing the UN Charter and the general principles of international law. They have largely emancipated themselves from the absolute prohibition of violence and contain clear references to military interventions in those regions in which the states see their central economic and political interests at risk. In the words of their academic apologists, it is about the “establishment of imperial order in order to secure zones of prosperity at the edges.” [22] According to the military character of every imperial order, war is planned as an unavoidable means of security: “The compulsion to An increasing policy of intervention is also the reaction to the consequences of globalization on the periphery. The question remains whether it will be possible to include the central areas in the prosperity zones, i.e. to create order in the area, and to exclude the rest. But there is no question that the war will become endemic at these new 'imperial barbarian borders', namely in the form of a war of pacification from the center to the periphery and in the form of a war of devastation from the periphery to the center. "[23]

As samples of this "war of pacification" we can understand the wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, which could only be legitimized with the invocation of human rights and the fight against terror and weapons of mass destruction. The "war of devastation from the periphery" means the various terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, the term deliberately hiding the extent of the devastation of both types of war. Yes, we are asked to accept “the category of empire in the future [...] as an alternative organizational category of the political, namely as an alternative to the form of the territorial state”. The imperial relationship of violence installed in this way must therefore be praised as a “guarantor of peace”, as a “guardian of political, cultural values ​​and safeguards of large-scale trade relations and economic structures” [24], although the author obviously does not relapse into Wilhelmine ideas. [25]

A Second American Century?

So let's come back to the USA and the question: Are we experiencing a second American century? Foreign Office, the magazine Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Mallaby came to the conclusion in the spring of 2002 under the title "The hesitant imperialist: Terrorism, collapsed states and concern for the American empire":

“From Sudan via Afghanistan to Sierra Leone and Somalia. If such power vacuums threatened great powers in the past, they had a quick solution ready: imperialism [...]. The logic of neo-imperialism is too convincing for the Bush administration to resist. The chaos in the world is too dangerous to be ignored. "[26]

The order of chaos could also be understood as globalization under US hegemony. But I gradually share my skepticism towards this term with the sociologist Walden Bello, who, from the perspective of the Philippines, where he teaches at the University of Manila, objects to this naturalized term that we are no longer just dealing with hegemony, but with imperialism USA have to do. [27] Whether the United States alone may not be considered at the moment, but the main reason is that this term contains what has historically made it a recognized epoch designation: the combination of economic expansion, ideological leadership and military intervention. In the dynamic of the imperial occupation of all resources on earth we find all means of politics, from threats to blackmail, deception and bribery to targeted military intervention and classical war. [28] From the perspective of the countries that will be part of the battlefield rather than the command center of future wars, the perception of this fate is particularly sober and clear.For example, with the Indian writer Amitav Gosh, who briefly sums up the "connection between capitalism and empire":

"It is strange that the fall of the Berlin Wall is still widely seen as a confirmation of 'capitalism'. In truth, the global experience of the past 15 years suggests that unrestrained capitalism inevitably triggers imperial wars and the expansion of empires. Shouldn't the almost undisputed rule of a single system actually bring about an epoch of universal peace? Or at least an era in which there is broad consensus on the appropriate means of ensuring peace?

What we are experiencing is the exact opposite. We are in a period of extraordinary instability and fear, confronted with the prospect of a constant spread of poorly disguised colonial wars [...].

In other words, the combination of capitalism and empire implies a program of permanent war, the notion that first got drunk by the Trotskyists and that those neoconservatives who devise the "Project for the New American Century" are now making their own have. "[29]

This dual character of imperialism was explained very vividly in the Observer in April 2002 by Robert Cooper, the former advisor to Tony Blair and later office manager of Javier Solana. There he wrote under the title “The New Liberal Imperialism”: “Firstly, there is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy. It is usually administered by an international consortium through international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. [...] The challenge of the postmodern world is to come to terms with the idea of ​​double standards. We deal among ourselves on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when it comes to more traditional states outside of the postmodern continent of Europe, we have to resort to the rougher methods of a bygone era - violence, preemptive attacks, misleading, whatever it takes to deal with those still living in the 19th century in which each state stood for itself. We obey the law between ourselves, but when we operate in the jungle, we must also apply the law of the jungle. ”[30]

US imperialism never had the colonial occupation character of the old European states. His methods were neither settler colonialism nor direct or indirect rule, but a legal instrument, the intervention contract. In his annual message of December 1904, Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the new version of the Monroe Doctrine for the twentieth century a year after his election as President, mentioning this instrument rather casually:

“It is not true that the United States has any hunger for land or any project against the other nations of the Western Hemisphere except for the benefit of their well-being. All this country wants is to see its neighboring countries stable, orderly and prosperous. Every country whose people are well behaved can count on our warm friendship. If a nation shows that it is acting with reasonable efficiency and honesty in social and political affairs, keeping order, and fulfilling its obligations, there is no need to fear US interference. However, repeated misconduct, or a general inability that leads to the dissolution of the special cohesion in a civilized society, in America as elsewhere, may require a civilized nation to intervene. In flagrant cases when the United States is faced with such misconduct or incompetence in the Western Hemisphere, the Monroe Doctrine may force, however reluctant, to act as a world police force.

If every country lapped by the Caribbean Sea shows the progress in stable and just civilization that Cuba has shown with the help of the Platt Amendment since our troops left the country, and that so many republics in both Americas have so persistently and brilliantly show that all questions of interference in their affairs by our nation would be superfluous ... "[31]

The mention of the Platt Amendment of 1901 indicates the American strategy of the intervention treaty. After many years of unsuccessful efforts to buy Cuba from Spain, the USA used the sinking of their warship in the port of Havana as a result of an explosion in a long-planned war against Spain - according to the two great theorists of imperialism of the time, John Atkinson Hobson [32] and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin [33], as different as they were, the perfect example of an imperialist war. It did not last long and at the Paris Conference Spain had to cede Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the United States. In Cuba they renounced their immediate colonial status, but installed a military government, imposed a constitution on the island and "adorned" it a year later with the amendment named after Senator Platt. In Article VIII they decreed: “The Cuban government declares its readiness to grant the United States the right to intervene in the following cases: to maintain Cuban independence, to maintain a government capable of living and property and to protect personal freedom, and to honor those obligations which the United States entered into in the Treaty of Paris and which the Cuban government is now to fulfill. "

At the same time, the establishment of a number of military bases was agreed, the last of which is still of dubious use to the United States today: Guantánamo.

The Intervention Treaty, i.e. the legal agreement to intervene in the internal affairs of another state by certain means under certain conditions, is a product of US foreign policy and has been extended in particular to the states of Central America: in addition to Cuba, Haiti, and San Domingo, Panama, Nicaragua. The states remain formally independent and sovereign, but in fact under strict US control. They are not colonies, but a new form of pseudo-sovereign protectorate - based on the Monroe Doctrine.

As much as the various US administrations renovated and adapted the old Monroe system, essential elements have been retained. In doing so, they initially turned the once revolutionary prohibition of intervention into its opposite and made the rather hidden imperial part, more precisely the Roosevelt interpretation, the center of the new doctrine. What remains is the sole right of decision and interpretation as to whether, when and which means of intervention are used, whether and which treaties, conventions and rules of international law are observed and the decision on the binding nature of this doctrine as a whole. What has remained is the system of formally sovereign protectorates with their military bases for the protecting power and the contracts of intervention. MEP André Brie recently came across the intervention contract during his trip to Afghanistan when he saw the task on a board in the US headquarters: "To install an Afghan regime that will bring the army back if there is renewed instability."

Without a doubt, the contractual obligations of a future Iraqi government to the protecting power will contain a similar intervention passage, whereby we can assume that, as with the Platt Amendment a hundred years ago, the decision on whether, when and how to intervene will remain with the USA.

So are we experiencing a second "American century"? In my opinion, Hardt and Negri rightly pointed out that globalization is not only limited to the fact that no region in the world can no longer evade economic and military access, but that the center of power has also been denationalized. Not in the sense that it is no longer identifiable and stored in a subjectless empirical structure. The transnationalization of the largest corporations, whether in the oil, automotive, pharmaceutical or food industries, has created a system of power - from the Bretton Woods institutions to the G8 to the WTO - which, despite all domestic competition, is dominated by the leading states with an extensive identity of interests bracketed to the new colonies and protectorates in Africa, Asia and Latin America - which can be observed at all WTO conferences. The conflict between the USA and some European states over the Iraq war is not about safe and cheap access to the oil resources on which all these states depend, but about the method of military intervention - which they are, however, prepared to accept themselves practice when it is in their interest, as the example of Yugoslavia shows.

There is no doubt that in this imperialist ruling structure the USA occupies the hegemonic and dominant position, which is already evident from its armaments industry. However, globalization has so closely linked them to the other states of the second stage via the transnational corporations that they cannot do without them in the reorganization, i.e. recolonization of the world, the establishment and administration of the new protectorates. However, they have even less the choice of the opposition if they are at risk of being marginalized: those who want to sit at the permanent table of the Security Council have only very limited leeway. So let us speak of an Atlantic imperialism rather than an increasing gap between the US and Europe. From the point of view of the Congo and Sudan, Venezuela or Indonesia, the Atlantic contradictions are not so serious that these countries could still use them for an alleged side exit, as they did in the times of the Soviet Union.

And the demand to build Europe into a countervailing power against the USA fails to recognize the structure of globalized capitalism, in which - as long as it rules - there is competition and rivalries for the European states, but no longer a decisive countervailing power. The 19th and 20th centuries are over after all. In the 21st century, there is at best a countervailing power of a completely different structure, which could be composed of countries such as China, Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil.

[1] Cf. for example Michael T Klare, Imperial Reach, in: The Nation v. April 25, 2005; Michel Chossudovsky, Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran, Center of Global Research on Globalization v. May 1, 2005,; Scott Ritter, The US war with Iran has already begun, in: Aljazeera v. June 19, 2005, exeres / 7896BBD4-28AB-48BA-A949-2096A02F864D. Just recently, Daniel Ellsberg even pointed out the danger of targeted attacks against Iran with nuclear weapons in a lecture in Hamburg. High time to commit treason, in: Frankfurter Rundschau v. December 13, 2006.

[2] Chossudovsky, ibid, p. 5.

[3] Michael T Klare, Energizing new wars, v. May 20, 2005.

[4] Jim Lobe, Hawks push regime change in N-Korea, in: Asia Times v. November 24, 2004.

[5] Cf. Financial Times v. December 13, 2007. On this, N. Paech, No operations against “failed states”, in: Friday No. 51/52 v. December 22, 2007.

[6] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Only World Power, Frankfurt 1999, p. 92.

[7] Quoted from Fritz Fischer, Bündnis der Eliten, Düsseldorf 1979, p. 20.

[8] Quoted in Fischer, ibid, p. 21.

[9] Wladimir Illitsch Lenin, Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, Berlin-GDR 1970, p. 84.

[10] John Atkinson Hobson, Der Imperialismus, London 1902, Cologne, Berlin 1970, p. 53 f.

[11] W. I. Lenin, booklets on imperialism. Preparatory work for the work “Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism”, Berlin (GDR), 1957.

[12] Hobson, ibid, p. 125 f.

[13] Lenin, Hefte zum Imperialismus, p. 397.

[14] Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, German: Empire. The new world order, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., 2001.

[15] Toni Negri, Empire - the highest stage of capitalism, in: Le Monde diplomatique, January 2001, German version p. 23.

[16] Negri, ibid, p. 23.

[17] Negri / Hardt (note 13), p. 267.

[18] Cf. recently Tony Blair, A battle for global values, in: Foreign Affairs, Jan / Febr. 2007.

[19] Negri / Hardt (note 13), p. 49.

[20] Ibid, p. 52.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Herfried Münkler and Dieter Senghaas, Alte Hegemonie und Neue Kriege, in: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 5, 2004, pp. 539 ff., 549. Münkler adds: “In this model there are central regions that have to included, i.e. territorially controlled - that is, for example, the Gulf region. "

[23] Münkler and Senghaas, ibid, p. 549 f.

[24] Münkler, ibid. In his new book “Empires. The logic of world domination - from ancient Rome to the United States, Berlin 2005, the author praises the imperial security gain in even more detail: “If empires manage to keep their promise of prosperity, to erect an imaginary border through the barbarian discourse, the persuasiveness of imperial mission to maintain and ultimately to secure the peace in the space they rule, then that gives them stability and duration. "

[25] On the media impact of his concept calculated by Münkler, K. Prümm, The Historiography of “New Wars” Must Be Media History, in: Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History, 2005, online edition 2, volume 1. www / 16126041-Pruemm-1-2005, attentively.

[26] Steve Mallaby, The Reluctant Imperialist: Terrorism, Failed States, and the Case for American Empire, in: Foreign Affairs, 2/2002, pp. 2 ff., 6.

[27] Cf. Walden Bello, Interview “Globalization is over”, in: taz v. 28/29 June 2003. p. 8.

[28] Cf. for example Michel Chossudovsky, GlobalBrutal, Der unleashed world trade, the war, Frankfurt a.M. 2002; Maria Mies, War Without Frontiers, The New Colonization of the World, Cologne 2004.

[29] Amintav Gosh, Life in America is comfortable. But not a model for everyone, in: Die Zeit No. 18, 2005.

[30] Robert Cooper, The new liberal imperialism, in: The Observer v. April 7, 2002.

[31] Source:

[32] Cf. Hobson, Der Imperialismus, p. 49

[33] Cf. Lenin, Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, pp. 17, 145.

This article was published in line no.73, March 2008