Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Marc Adler

I am a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and will start law school next fall.

June 17th, 2011 12:59 PM

Imperial Initiatives

Whether it's "international communism" or "the war on terror," our leaders will always find a pretext to expand.

For more work from Marc Adler, check out his blog:

The nature of imperial politics has largely remained consistent since World War II, as historian Lloyd C. Gardner’s Three Kings, the Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East after World War II illustrates. Our leaders, bent on global domination, always mask their imperial initiatives under the guise of self-defense, from the fight against “international communism” to the “war on terror.”

During World War II FDR moved America into the Middle East through the Lend-Lease program, which, among other things, allowed the United States to extend largesse to the Saudis under the cover of fighting the Axis powers in exchange for oil and eventually the Dhahran air base, laying the groundwork for an empire that would replace the British, who were financially drained. Gardner writes that state planners “envisioned” for the Middle East “a combined economic and strategic approach through postwar airbases that would tie in with the desires of the rulers of those countries.” “Here,” Gardner explains, “in nascent form, was an outline of how American policy would develop after the war, not only in the Middle East but also worldwide.” This “would eventually extend to military advisory missions, status-of-force agreements, and all the rest that updated classic British methods in India.” Lend-Lease also set in motion the “imperial presidency,” in which the president would eventually have a personal budget from which he could allocate billions to whomever he pleases.

After the war, with the termination of Lend-Lease, new pretexts were needed. Accordingly, Truman filled the void by creating the Truman Doctrine in 1947, purporting to help all countries, particularly Greece and Turkey, struggling to maintain their place in the “free world” against the march of communism. The real objective was to expand American power into the Mediterranean. According to Gardner, “the ‘Russian threat,’ as Truman understood, presented the opportunity to seize the moment to secure what American arms and their technological breakthrough with the atomic bomb seemed to offer: the tempting vision of omnipotence.” General George A. Lincoln explained the true motives behind the Truman Doctrine at the behest of the Pentagon: “Anything that happens in Greece and Turkey inevitably has an effect on the rest of the Middle East, on Western Europe, and clear around the Pacific, because all these people are watching what the United States is doing,” adding further that “we face a situation that we have not seen since the days of Rome and Carthage—and we all know what happened to Carthage.”

The propaganda campaign during the lead-up to intervention in Greece and Turkey was strikingly similar to those that preceded the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. New York Times columnist James Reston echoed the words of Undersecretary Dean Acheson in describing a top secret White House meeting: “The primary short-term objective of United States foreign policy in the past two years has been to halt the expansion of Soviet influence into Western Europe and the Mediterranean.” Furthermore, “responsibility for world peace and stability… is what is at issue rather than the appropriation of a loan to a small Mediterranean country.”

The Truman Doctrine would go on to form the basis for American intervention until the end of the Cold War. During the Eisenhower administration, Defense Secretary Dulles would further develop the theme by introducing the concept of “international communism,” which had no real meaning, as he demonstrated when pressed by Congress during a hearing to define the term:

“International communism is a conspiracy composed of a certain number of people, all of whose names I do not know, and many of whom I suppose are secret. They have gotten control of one government after another. They first got control of Russia after the First World War. They have gone on getting control of one country after another until finally they were stopped. But they have not gone out of existence. International communism is still a group which is seeking to control the world, in my opinion.”

Subsequent presidents would claim that the communists were around the corner in every country they sought to dominate, from Vietnam to Nicaragua. In truth the Soviet Union was far weaker than the United States, and it knew not to expand much beyond its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.

Nevertheless, the pretext of international communism served U.S. leaders well as they worked to establish an empire. The Saudis fell in line immediately, but there were problems elsewhere. First Iran was becoming intoxicated with nationalist fervor, and the rise of Mohammed Mossadeq threatened U.S. power with the prospect of nationalizing Iranian oil. In 1953 the CIA organized a coup to remove him from power and install the Shah. Then Egypt became a source of concern, as Nasser took over and sought to unite the Arab world under his secular nationalist ambitions. This did not sit well with the United States, which walked a diplomatic tightrope until Israel crushed Nasser during the Six Day War.

Throughout the rise of the Pax Americana, Israel was and continues to be a source of conflict for American planners, who have had to manage Arab anger over Israeli aggression and the expulsion of the Palestinians while sustaining their strong and strategically positioned client state. Finally, Iraq, which in the early post-World War II era served as a model client by joining the Baghdad Pact—an alliance with Pakistan and Turkey designed to keep Nasser at bay—eventually caught the virus of Arab nationalism in the form of Abdul Kareem Kassem, prompting the CIA to help Saddam Hussein rise to power through two coups, one in 1963 and another following the Six Day War. The Iraqi dictator at first seemed manageable to his CIA backers, but he ultimately became too ambitious.

The “war on terror” has been as useful to state planners as “international communism” was during the early days of America’s worldwide empire. In the 1990s leaders had to resort to the war on drugs to justify intervention in South America, but 9/11 opened a vast new framework for expansion. It has enabled the state and its corporate backers in the energy business and the military-industrial complex, such as Halliburton and Lockheed Martin, to exploit the nation’s fear to expand the empire through direct occupation during a time marked by declining resources and rising global population.

Creative Commons License This content is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles