Abdul Ghafur Kassi
In Greek, it is called Hegemonic – meaning leadership or hegemon for leader. It is political, economical, cultural and ideological power exerted by a dominant group over the weak; regardless of explicit consent of the latter. In a nut shell, it means political and economical dominance by the strong over the weak, in the field of culture, lingua franca and bureaucracy. The leader has to exercise power and in some cases invading countries to achieve its objectives.
Hegemony has existed over thousands of years: ancient world of Sparta, Mongols, Persians, Romans, Russian, Ottoman, Great Britain, and now USA. These are world wide examples of hegemony, however there are regional and local power influences in many parts of the world, like Israel in Middle East.
The initial hegemony started as an mercantile supremacy in form of commercial hegemony. Technological development of wind power created the era of shipping. Ships were built and used to deliver goods and services, and to bring back raw materials and goods from far off lands. Britannia and Spain, were in the forefront of building huge mercantile carriers and war ships. Both countries fought for the colonial domination. With the establishment of Amsterdam Stock Market (Amsterdam Beurs) in 1602. It was realised, that concomitant dominance of world trade was a probability and it issued the first bonds of Dutch East India Company. It was France under Louis XIV, who advanced the economical, cultural and military domination of European monarchies took place.
Hegemony is different from colonialism, as it does not depend on territorial occupation and direct control of important institutions of the subordinate country. It is a sophisticated form of imperialism. Particularly after world war II the US took over the control of the countries, where Britain and France left. Over the years, hegemon power US has evolved its hegemony around the world by developing economical, social, political, military and cultural domination in the infra-structures of all its subordinate nations. Subsequently, the subordinate states would adopt and emulate the system of the hegemony. The emulation normally takes the form of pleasing the leader. It is a one sided relationship.
The international relationship developed under hegemony usually result in exploitative economical relations. In the late nineteenth century the liberal world economy was truly global and non-discriminatory in trade and free movement of capital, which brought stable monetary system. When the US dominated it, and called it ‘free world’, it has been typified by trade discrimination, capital control. The British model was structured by bilateral agreements, the US promoted trade liberalisation through multilateral negotiations in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The US had enough of money to develop a system that would serve its own political and economical interest. The US was successful in persuading Europe, in agreeing to its terms of American multinational corporations shall be treated as their own. So it was successful in deflecting discrimination against American corporate interests, by the European countries. In 1949, America created NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and brought western Europe under its army. It thus allowed US to station its army in Europe. Thus hegemony over Europe was established, both Europe and the US became one voice and force to pursue western national economical and political interest around the world. This has led to resentment in other dependent countries, and has given rise to indifference towards US economical, political and military expansion around the world.
The expansion is seen from two different point of views: One, those who oppose such discrepancy of interests, call it self-serving, rather than pro mundi boneficio (for the benefit of the world). Two, those who support the US foreign policy and capitalism in general, call it interdependence. When you analyse the world politics, it seems that the balance of the scale is tilted towards the hegemon power. Evidently, there is inherent inequality and exploitative relationship. Because the powerful always dictates the rules and terms of the game; and may likely to change, if it suits its interest. A true interdependent relationship is one where both parties benefit and their interests are equally served. Unfortunately, this is not the case, the powerful always put their interest before the others. So, the plan of the game is simple. Put in power a lackey or a stooge, in dependent countries. who can do your oppressive job for you, in the name of democracy. Democracy is about rights and responsibilities; about equality and justice – autocracy is not a democracy. In fact it is a delusion, used to trick the nations – but for how long? The recent events in North Africa and Middle East has blown off the cover from such a deceit and undercover cosy relationship, between the hegemon and its dictator puppets and their corrupt associates. Corruption works well for the hegemonic power, because all the military aid and civil aid is siphoned up by corrupt political leaders, army generals and bureaucratic officials. Subsequently, the money end up in the Western Banks, particularly the Swiss banks – back to where it started!
To maintain the hegemony of dollar in the world economy, through International Monetary Fund (IMF). Dollar became the foundation stone of international monetary system. It has helped to keep US alliance with other countries. However it has failed to provide stability to world economy. Most of the funds provided to other countries under IMF are guarded by strict rules and requisitions on the borrowing countries. Some countries also get extra funding for the army expenditure like Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia and many more. Their army generals are trained by the Pentagon in the USA. Despite all the canniness by the US, there is growing hatred against America around the world.
In last few years, US foreign policy has been a failure because of flawed strategy. In the bipolar world US was stronger super- power than Soviet Union. After the fall of Soviet Union, America got an open field and failed to adjust its foreign policy in more objective manner. Instead it pursued its old agenda of global dominance. Its defence spending is more than the cold war era. It has failed to understand the implications of the reality of absence of hostilities in Europe, Asia and Middle East. It has failed to redesign its foreign policy, in accordance with the new realities. On the contrary, it has taken the path of perpetual domination and military intimidation around the world. In response, other countries wants to develop nuclear weapons to counter the threat of US hegemony.
Military hegemony of the US is threatened by the proliferation of nuclear weapons in countries like India,Pakistan, North Korea and Iran,
etc. Because, the US cannot intimidate countries with nuclear weapons and makes cumbersome, its wartime strategy. Therefore Current US thinking is to prevent nuclear weapons development by “pre-emptive strike”, on countries which have the capability of producing nuclear weapons. It is being debated and have been tried in Iraq with a failure, because there were no weapons of mass destruction. Instead it has flared the sentiments of the people around the world generally and in Middle East particularly.
The current uprising in Africa and Middle East are expression of resentment of the people against the US foreign policy in the regions. The American public is kept in the dark, about the cause and effects that have bruised American foreign policy. The media is churning mis-information and dis-information (weapons of mass deception) to the American public – the classic example is Raymond Davis case in Pakistan. It is time for the American people to closely scrutinise, their government’s hegemonic foreign policy. They need to look beyond the rhetoric of rationale of rogue states, axis of evil, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and genocide, etc. The reality beyond America opposition towards North Korea’s nuclear weapons, is its fear of Japan wanting to develop nuclear weapons some day. Similarly, the war in Kosovo was to reassure Germany and keep it in the NATO alliance – and Iran is too close to Israel. Non-state actors like Al Qaeda have no facilities or the capabilities to develop nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapon is not something one can make in the garden shed and launch it from a van or motor cycle. It is a very complicated and sophisticated technology. Yet we are persistently fooled by the rhetoric that military action is the solution. What we have seen is destruction of nations, killing of innocent lives, for a very little achievement. Therefore militarisation is not the answer to the solution. It is time for Pentagon to understand: politics is the solution – not military intervention.
A modern form of slavery is instrumented through militarisation and “free market”. US controls 191 governments in the world, according to UN report. It is an extensive military empire. US military and political strategic configuration is different in each country. US has 700-800 military bases worldwide in 63 countries, from Afghanistan to Venezuela. Since 9/11 US has formed military bases in 7 more countries. About 255,000 military personal are deployed worldwide, this figures does not include secret servicemen. About 846,000 buildings and about 30 million acres of land is covered by the US military bases. Pentagon is the largest land owner in the world. NATO is expanding and currently has membership of 30 European countries. These bases are costing America about a trillion dollars a year. Yet the US cannot control the changes that are currently taking place around the world.
The capitalist economy is in shambles since the credit crunch. China and India are rising economical forces. US does not have the resources to impose proper, formal, global rule, despite its military and political strength. The US need to abandon the path of past disasters, and avoid self-inflicted disasters in the future. It need to look at its foreign policy in more objective manner and concede to the wind of change. It can maintain its influence: by promoting true democratic values around the world; by allowing the people to to decide their own destiny in each country.
America need to behave like a friend of the people and not their master. As Obama said in his electioneering campaign “yes we can do it”. So, yes indeed let us do it, not only for America, but pro mundi beneficio. AGK “76”