The heavy price of US hegemony

5th June 2022

US advanced missiles to fuel the conflict in Ukraine

The closer the foreign policy of the United States can be made to appear like the plot of a Hollywood Western or modern action movie, the better the White House likes it.  Complex issues can be reduced to simple black and white options, good guys vs bad guys, the old style cowboys and Indians.  How the West was won.  How the US and its allies continue to maintain it.  Conveniently air brushed from history is the fact that the West was only won through genocide and enslavement.  It is also not in the script that similar methods are deployed as the means for the West to continue the defence of its privilege.

The methods are not always as direct.  If it has learned nothing else over the course of decades imperialism has certainly learned the art of subterfuge.  Direct military intervention, while still in the tool box, is seen as a position of last resort when economic coercion, stranglehold or blockade have failed.  Ostensibly benign front institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are the initial troop deployments, imposing neo-liberal policies of privatisation, wage restraint, free rein for Western corporations, as the price of financial support for struggling economies.

The economies continue to struggle but are beholden to the US and the vagaries of the dollar as the international currency for their survival. Very often economic support is followed through with the siting of US military bases, along with further financial inducements and the promise of the protection of US arms.

The absorption of the former socialist states of Eastern Europe into both the European Union and NATO, over the past 30 years, has been such a process of inducement in both economic and military terms.  For the West there could be no ambivalence.  Any states not directly part of the NATO/EU alliance would be in danger of being sucked into a Russian sphere of influence and potentially undermine the US position as the world’s single superpower.

Alongside the fear of perceived growing Russian influence the West has also had to consider the reality of the economic growth of China over the same period.  Worst case scenario for the West would be any potential co-operation, political, economic or military, between the two states that could challenge the pre-eminence of the dollar, or result in the formation of an alternative power bloc to the NATO/EU alliance.

Both Russia and China are the source of massive natural resources.  In the case of Russia there is also the question of its significant nuclear arsenal.  In relation to China there is the growing challenge to the West in the field of technology, hence the exclusion of Huawei from any 5G technology consortia.  This means that neither state can be ignored and economic relations cannot be entirely severed.

Reliance on Russian fuel and gas has been key to recent debates on EU sanctions in relation to the war in Ukraine.  The EU position adopted recently to end reliance on imports of Russian energy, with some exclusion for Hungary and Slovakia, flies in the face of the calculations of the German Central Bank’s recent assessment.  That suggested that a complete halt to energy imports from Russia could result in an annual deficit to the German economy of 180 billion Euros.  Such an impact upon the EU’s most powerful economy could only mean dire consequences for the rest of the bloc.

Meanwhile US President, Joe Biden, has approved a further escalation of arms to Ukraine, including long-range precision rockets.  Ukraine will be provided with a mobile rocket artillery launcher by the Pentagon. The weaponry has a 40-mile range, compared to the U.S.-provided M777 howitzers with a range of under 20 miles.  Other western allies have provided similar howitzers, also known as High Mobility Rocket Systems.

The rocket systems are part of a new $700m tranche of security assistance for Ukraine from the United States that will include helicopters, Javelin antitank weapon systems, tactical vehicles, spare parts and more.

In a piece for the New York Times Biden attempted to justify his decision claiming that it is in “our vital national interests” to make sure Russia pays “a heavy price for its actions.”

The US cannot have any “vital national interests” in Ukraine, other than its desire to maintain and extend its economic and political control in the area, to complete the military encirclement of Russia in order to contain any perceived expansion of Russian influence.

Similarly, the US is already making clear to China that any attempt to ‘reclaim’, Taiwan, legitimately a part of China, will meet with resistance.  The US State Department in its official documents is clear that,

“Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability -– and maintains our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of Taiwan.”

The current conflict in Ukraine may just turn out to be one step in the US bid to maintain its status as the world’s only economic and military superpower.  The “heavy price” Biden intends to make Russia pay has yet to be worked out, other than in the suffering of the people of Russia and Ukraine, the victims of US ambition.  The price of a direct or proxy US conflict with China, to maintain US hegemony, could be heavier still.

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