How to Conquer the World Without Really Trying


Richard Moore


This is proposed final draft of my chapter which before was called "Amerikas 
role in world politics 1914-2003".  Many thanks to all of you who sent
in feedback. Many changes have been made as a result.  

Comments welcome on this version... still a bit of time before publication.

all the best,


The Story of America 
How to Conquer the World Without Really Trying 
(c) 2003 Richard K. Moore

1650-1776: Colonial prosperity and the movement for independence
The British colonies in America were largely self-governing.
There were Governors appointed by the King, but the day-to-day
business of running the colonies was carried out by local
representative assemblies. Under this regime the colonies
prospered. Boston became the empire's third largest trading port,
and the colonies competed effectively with Britain in
shipbuilding, ocean transport, iron production, fishing,
distilling, woolens, and much else. Indeed it was the success of
the colonies that initially led to problems with Britain.

British merchants demanded that Parliament protect them from
colonial competition, leading to the Woolens Act (1699), the Hat
Act (1732), Molasses Act (1733), and the Iron Act (1750). These
measures aimed to restrict production and trade by the colonies,
and they were to a large extent ignored by the Americans. More
serious conflict developed when the Crown attempted to impose
taxes to recoup Britain for its protection of the colonies in the
French and Indian War (1754-63). At the end of this war Britain
had a national debt of 75,000,00 Pounds, and the Sugar Act (1756) and
the Stamp Act (1765) were imposed on the colonies. In addition
the Crown became more insistent on enforcing the earlier trade

A movement for independence arose which was led primarily by the
more affluent elements of American society. The movement was
strongest around the main trading ports. For the wealthy
landowners and commercial elite in the colonies, the advantages
of independence were clear.  With full freedom of trade and
development, and an end to Royal levies, there were immense
profits to be made. Dissent and rebellion were encouraged among
the populace, and British rule was becoming increasingly
oppressive. But as late as 1775 most colonists were interested
not in independence but in redress of their grievances as British

What may have turned the tide of popular opinion toward
independence was the publication by Tom Paine of Common Sense in
January 1776. It sold more copies than any previous book in
history and was read out loud on street corners to attentive
crowds not only in the colonies but also in Ireland and France
and wherever else republican ideas had taken root. Paine managed
to persuasively and plainly convey the Enlightenment notion that
Kings were not a God-given necessity, that people actually could
rule themselves, and that they had a natural right to do so.
Today we take those ideas as obvious, but at the time it was a
paradigm shift of consciousness that even oppressive Royal troops
and a Boston Massacre could not bring about by themselves. Most
people had been ruled by kings and potentates, usually claiming
divine authority, ever since civilization began. It was not easy
to embrace the notion that a society could operate without them.

Thus the population began to turn toward independence, but they
did so largely in the belief that they were going to find relief
from oppressive rule generally. They were empowered by the idea
of popular sovereignty and they wanted real democracy. They meant
to overthrow not only Royal rule, but oppression by local elites
as well. Those local elites, however, were happy to take up the
rhetoric of democracy--and they now had a constituency willing to
undertake the struggle for independence. The resistance organized
rapidly under their leadership and in September 1776, only nine
months after the publication of Common Sense, the Declaration of
Independence was signed--a document espousing radical democratic
ideals, and the right of the people to replace their government
at any time they deem it necessary.

1776-1789: The Revolution betrayed
Certainly there were democratic idealists among the elite
leadership as well. Their flowery words were not all hypocritical
propaganda. Nonetheless their allegiance to democracy was
tempered by their concern for their own self-interest, and their
notion of how society should operate. They didn't want Royal
interference in their affairs, but neither did they want
interference by what many of them referred to as "mob rule".

The revolutionary struggle went on for eight years at great
sacrifice by the population and the soldiers. In the immediate
aftermath of the war the sense of democratic empowerment was
running high. Many of the conservative elite went back to Britain
or migrated to Canada. Thirteen sovereign States were formed,
under the Articles of Confederation. Many of the legislatures
were controlled by radical agrarians; the connection between
government and people was relatively strong.

The Articles turned out to be inadequate to the needs of the new
nation. Piracy was rife, with no proper navy to deter it, and
disputes between the States were sometimes difficult to settle. A
revised framework was needed that would better enable effective
cooperation among the States. The legislatures agreed to sponsor
a Constitutional Convention, empowered to amend the Articles and
bring them back for unanimous approval of the States. The
delegates were supposed to represent their States, and the
Constitution was to be an agreement among the States, an amended
version of the Articles. Such was the charter under which the
Convention was empowered to operate.

The legislatures, unfortunately, mostly appointed their delegates
from among their local wealthy elites. The delegates then
ensconced themselves in secret session and proceeded to betray
the charter under which they had been assembled. They discarded
the Articles, and began debating and drafting a wholly new
document, one that transferred sovereignty to a relatively strong
central government. The delegates reneged on the States that had
sent them, and took it upon themselves to speak directly for We
The People--and thus begins the preamble to their Constitution. In
effect they accomplished a coup d'etat. Most of them were
lawyers, and they managed to design a system that would enable
existing elites to continue to run the affairs of the new nation,
as they had before under the Crown--under a Constitution that for
all the world seems to embody sound democratic principles.

What it comes down to is the fact that laws effect what happens
in society, but what happens is in society is seldom exactly the
letter of the law. Lawyers understand this subtle relationship
between what's writ and what's practiced. They deal with it every
day as they draft contracts, prosecute lawsuits, or handle
criminal cases. They have a sense for how things will really
operate, how the legal language will be interpreted in
practice--what will be enforced and what will go on behind the
scenes. Not only that, the delegates knew also what kind of
people would be doing the interpreting and the conniving, that
being in many cases themselves when the new Federal Government
later convened.

By the very way they carried out the secret Constitutional
Convention they demonstrated how the new government was going to
operate. They were delegates, chartered to represent their
constituencies, and they were mostly from wealthy elite circles.
When gathered in their own company they represented instead their
own mutual interests--yet they presented their work as the
embodiment of their charter. And they succeeded politically in
selling their product to the people and to the States. Such has
been the story of American politics ever since, and the power of
the Federal Government has grown stronger generation by
generation, leading ultimately to the effective repudiation of
the Bill of Rights and other constitutional guarantees under the
cover of the now current "War on Terrorism".

1790-1898: The Continental Empire
One way to characterize the structure of the new United States is
to note that it was set up as an efficiently run empire. Each
State, particularly in the early days, ran its own affairs--just
as they had under the Crown. But ultimate sovereignty, especially
as regards foreign affairs, the currency, the military, and war
and peace, was wrested firmly in Washington--as before it was
wrested with the Crown. From this perspective the Federal
Government simply replaced the role of the Crown in the
administration of what had been the American portion of the
British Empire. I suggest that this characterization of the U.S.
system as an empire-from-the-beginning is a useful one. From this
perspective one can see a continuous thread in the dynamics of
US/Federal/Elite actions, connecting what are often seen as
distinct phases of US history--early nation building and later
imperial expansion.

What we've had from the beginning, from this perspective, is an
empire controlled by an elite establishment whose operations are
centered along the Eastern Seaboard. There lie the crossroads of
commerce and the halls of government; there is and always has
been the nerve center of the American Empire. There has always
been a well-trodden path between Boston, New York, and Washington
D.C. From a base of thirteen original States, the empire
expanded, primarily by means of displacing the native population
and adding more States to the empire. The empire expanded by
other means as well. America purchased the French territories
from Napoleon (1803) and picked up Texas and the southwestern
States by provoking a war with Mexico (1846). Those most able to
invest in the development of the new imperial realms were those
who already had the most money--the wealthy elite who were already
running the rest of the empire. Thus as the empire expanded,
control continued to remain concentrated largely in the same
elite community, based primarily but not exclusively on the East

An internal conflict in the empire developed as the interests of
the plantation-based South come increasingly into conflict with
the interests of the industry-based North. The plantation system
was basically a feudal economy with a trade overlay, and it
offered relatively few investment opportunities for the Eastern
Establishment. The South was, relatively speaking, outside the
capitalist economy, which dominated the rest of the empire. While
the North wanted protectionism to shelter its budding industries,
the South wanted free trade to maximize its cotton exports. The
Eastern Establishment put the South under increasing pressure as
it maneuvered Federal policies towards its own interests at the
expense of the South. Ultimately the Southern States banded
together (1861) and asserted their right to secede from the Union
and pursue their own destiny as a separate nation.

With the Southern representatives absent, control of the Federal
Government passed fully into the hands of its traditional elite,
whose interests were centered on industrialization and capitalist
development. The declaration of secession provided the Eastern
Establishment with an opportunity to do away with the plantation
system once and for all, and bring the South more fully into the
capitalist economy. The South would then be open for investment
and development, and the empire could focus its trade and tariff
policies on the needs of industrial development. The cession was
rejected by Washington and the ensuing Civil War left the South
gratuitously devastated, much as Iraq today has been so
devastated in our own time. Then as now Establishment investors
and corporations rushed in to exploit the available opportunities
to buy up resources and to develop and rebuild the impoverished
and devastated territory--for their own economic enrichment.

In this way the American Empire grew to its full continental
size, with minimal conflict or involvement with the world's other
imperial powers. While they continued to struggle and compete for
colonial territories, the U.S. was the only shark in its pool,
and immense and rich pool it was. Not only did the U.S. have
uncontested control of its official territory, but by means of
the Monroe Doctrine--a unilateral declaration with no basis in
international law--it managed to minimize European interference
with American imperial ventures South of its borders.

Historians say that the U.S. emerged as an imperial power in
1898, with the Spanish American War, but I suggest that any
account of imperialism in the 1800s should feature the American
Continental Empire as the prime and most significant example.
Particularly as it has stood the test of time.

The strategic use of leverage
The American imperial system is now and has always been
characterized by a skillful and creative application of leverage.
To begin with, the Federal Government leaves it to the States to
manage their own detailed internal affairs. Federal control over
the empire comes through its control of the critical levers of
power--the currency, the military, the power of making war and

As the empire expanded, new territories were added with equal
exploitation of leverage. Rather than confronting the native
population once and for all in a military conflict, tribes were
pushed back a little at a time by means of false promises and
treaties, threats, bribes, and by force when necessary. Their
large-scale extinction was incremental and accomplished more by
trickery than by expensive military conflict.

The Monroe Doctrine, the timely acquisition from France, the
easily won war with Mexico--these are all examples of high
leverage enterprises: maximum gain with minimal effort. As our
story continues, astute use of leverage will continue to play a
prominent role.

1898-1918: Establishment of a foothold in the global imperial game
With Spain seriously weakened, the American Establishment saw an
easy opportunity to expand the empire by seizing Cuba and the
Philippines, in yet another high-leverage venture. The (by many
considered suspicious) explosion on the Battleship Maine provided
the excuse for hostilities. In fact, I omitted from the previous
section numerous other foreign adventures, including the
"opening" of Japan by Admiral Perry, the acquisition of Hawaii,
and various other interventions around the world. The omission
was intentional to permit a focus on the imperial nature of the
core American system. In any case, When World War I came along,
the US was an experienced imperial player, hungry for a bigger

Entering full-scale into the European conflict would not have
been a high-leverage activity--the cost would have been too high.
Staying out entirely from the conflict was also not
high-leverage--that would be likely to minimize American influence
in the aftermath of the war. A high-leverage middle path was
followed. Neutrality was maintained until the worst carnage was
over, and the U.S. entered the war just in time to join the
winning side and claim a role in the postwar negotiations, while
avoiding the huge loss of life and wealth suffered by the
European powers.

1918-1941: Setting the Stage for Global Dominance
This is one of the most important periods in U.S. history. The
conventional historical myth is that the U.S. slept during this
period--lost in its isolationism while Europe suffered under civil
wars and fascism. In this myth, the U.S. giant is awakened only
by a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Then the noble giant,
aroused, goes forth to aid the forces of democracy and freedom
against the forces of darkness. The truth is something very

There is one thing about America that is important to understand.
This is not unique to America by any means, but it gets
overlooked nonetheless. In America there are two realities. You
might call them the realities of White House announcements, and
the reality of what business is up to. I'll call them PR and the
real world. In PR, the U.S. acts to "protect American citizens".
In the real world some U.S. corporation is having trouble with
some local government. What the two worlds have in common is that
the Marines are being sent into Santo Domingo.

If we want to understand what America is up to, it is often more
useful to look at what kind of business its corporations are
carrying on than it is to examine political speeches and
diplomatic position papers. During the inter-war period, while
America was officially neutral, General Motors had factories in
Nazi Germany turning out the Panzer tanks and the Luftwaffe
bombers that were later to be unleashed on the plains of France
and over the skies of Britain. So was the U.S. neutral or not?
Was GM a rogue profiteer, acting against Washington's wishes, or
was it a covert instrument of geopolitical manipulation? Perhaps
we begin to find an answer when we note that those GM plants (and
those of many other U.S. corporations, including some owned by
Prescott Bush, Grandfather of current President G.W. Bush)
continued to operate under the Nazis throughout the war, and that
during the war critical military supplies were sometimes shunted
by American corporations to the Nazis, when it was also
desperately needed by Allied forces.

In America, and again this is not unique, the same elite
community that dominates the boards of the big corporations also
runs the government agencies, heads the think-tanks, and acts as
Presidential advisors. In the real world, the U.S. government
acts as a kind of Chamber of Commerce for American big business.
Its main job is to make the world safe for American profiteering,
and to ensure that sufficient growth opportunities are available
to keep the quarterly reports in the black.

I suggest that the U.S.--as an international player--is defined
largely by what its corporations do. The government acts as a
supporting agency. Corporate activities only seldom show up in
the news or in the history books, but that is where the action
is. When things are going smoothly for business, there is little
the government needs to do and so we see news reports about
something else. If problems come up, then the Marines are
dispatched and we hear a story about a humanitarian peace keeping
mission. By the nature of what we understand to be "news", the
important business of the world seldom gets reported.

From this perspective, the inter-war years look quite different
than the historical mythology. What the U.S. actually did during
these years, if you follow the money, was to systematically set
all the ducks in a row--enabling it to emerge from the coming war
as the most powerful nation on Earth. It supported the rise of
fascist regimes in Italy and Germany; it helped finance and arm
the Nazis; it invested in and traded heavily with Japan; it
provided technological assistance to Japan and Germany; its
corporations made billions in the process. This is not
neutrality. This is collaboration. The aggressive, nationalist
governments of Germany and Japan were something that the U.S.
helped create and nurtured in their growth.

Hitler's agenda was clear. He had published it in Mein Kampf and
he remained true to it always. His main mission in life was to
subjugate Russia and establish it as a great enslaved hinterland
of the Reich. Japan's agenda was also clear, defined by its
vision of a Co-Prosperity Sphere. The U.S. collaborated--by its
business actions--in helping these aggressors prepare for their
campaigns. It watched while they launched their attacks and
embroiled their troops in wars with the world's two largest
nations, China and Russia. It waited until just the right moment,
the moment of maximum leverage, and then it entered the fray as
an official player--just in time to pick up the spoils from all
the other exhausted players.

The "right moment" had been very carefully identified in advance.
The Council on Foreign Relations carried out a series of studies
from 1939 to 1941 and decided that Southeast Asia was the line
that Japan could not be allowed to cross. And when that line was
crossed, Roosevelt promptly froze Japanese assets in American
banks and thereby cut off Japan's oil supply. Japan considered
that an act of war, which was to be expected, and Japan's
reaction was anticipated by Roosevelt. He waited patiently for
the inevitable attack, which was soon known to be Pearl Harbor.
When the intelligence reports came in identifying the time of
attack, the strategic carriers were dispatched to sea and
antiquated ships were left in harbor as sacrificial lambs. By
first pretending neutrality, and later pretending surprise and
outrage over Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was able to enter the war as
a perceived wronged party, presumably innocent of any imperial
designs of its own.

Notice the use of leverage at every turn. Instead of marching out
to conquer the world, Hitler style, the U.S. set up everyone else
to fight one another, making a tidy profit in the process.
Instead of declaring war on Japan, and being identified as an
imperial player, it provoked Japan into providing a more
appealing PR scenario. Instead of entangling itself with formal
alliances, America simply invested in those regimes it wanted to
foster, and then turned on them when it saw fit. Instead of
sending troops in to fight Hitler right away, it waited in its UK
bases until the Russians turned the tide on the Nazis. Then it
rushed in with its D-Day fanfare and raced to try to get to
Berlin before the Russians, being opposed by only a small
fraction of the Nazi divisions deployed in the Russian theater.

The supposedly slept-through inter-war years prepared the way for
a brief four years of high-leverage U.S. military activity
between 1942 and 1945. When the dust had settled, the U.S.
emerged with control of the seven seas, an intact economy and
military, 40% of the world's wealth and industrial capacity, a
monopoly on nuclear weapons, and had escaped the destruction and
economic hardship suffered by all the other participants in the
war. It was at its peak while everyone else was on the floor. It
had pulled off the greatest coup in world history and no one even
noticed. It had achieved overwhelming global hegemony while being
perceived as a benevolent liberator. It had power, wealth, and
psychology on its side as it set out to shape the postwar world.
The lion was preparing to run the world, and he was being
welcomed in most parts of the world as a lamb.

1945-1980: Pax Americana and Collective Imperialism
The U.S. came out of the war with a blueprint for the world, a
plan that had been prepared in that same series of CFR studies
that had identified the entry point for U.S. intervention. The
UN, the World Bank, the IMF, and the whole Bretton Woods setup
had all been carefully worked out in advance, before Pearl

On the PR surface, Bretton Woods appeared to be yet another act
of benevolence on the part of liberator Uncle Sam. After saving
the world from fascism, the U.S. was now sponsoring a new era of
peace and stability. Nations would sit down in the UN and work
out their problems instead of settling them by warfare.
Currencies were to be stabilized and democracy was to be spread
throughout the world as the old colonial empires were gradually

The reality, however, was quite different. In Holly Sklar's
anthology, "Trilateralism", Laurence Shoup and William Minter
examine the discussions that went on in the pre-1945 CFR planning

   "Recommendation P-B23 (July, 1941) stated that worldwide
    financial institutions were necessary for the purpose of
    'stabilizing currencies and facilitating programs of capital
    investment for constructive undertakings in backward and
    underdeveloped regions.' During the last half of 1941 and in the
    first months of 1942, the Council developed this idea for the
    integration of the world.... Isaiah Bowman first suggested a way
    to solve the problem of maintaining effective control over weaker
    territories while avoiding overt imperial conquest. At a Council
    meeting in May 1942, he stated that the United States had to
    exercise the strength needed to assure 'security,' and at the
    same time 'avoid conventional forms of imperialism.' The way to
    do this, he argued, was to make the exercise of that power
    international in character through a United Nations body".

In fact the Bretton Woods system was a design for a new regime of
global imperialism. The old regime was one of competitive,
partitioned imperialism. France, Britain, Germany, and the other
players each had their own private colonial realm. Economic
opportunities for each nation could be measured by the size of
its colonial realm, and competition over realms was the cause
behind the frequent wars among the European powers. The U.S.
vision was to convert competitive imperialism into collaborative
imperialism. Instead of partitioned realms, there would be one
global market where all players could seek their fortunes.
European nations would no longer need to compete militarily for
territories, but could instead compete in a business sense for
the opportunities opened up by the global market.

The U.S. would provide a level economic playing field to its
European counterparts, but it preserved certain prerogatives to
itself--and it had significant advantages in terms of available
investment capital and infrastructure with which to exploit the
development opportunities. As regards prerogatives, the U.S. was
to be the primary policeman, the supreme arbiter of imperial
stability. This prerogative was challenged just once, when
Britain and France launched the Suez War--the kind of thing they
had been doing for centuries. The U.S. promptly put an end to
that and Pax Americana has reigned supreme ever since as the
international military order.

For centuries people thought that European wars would never end;
they had been regular affairs all that time. But once Pax
Americana was established, the idea of France, Germany, or
Britain fighting one another became ludicrous. Credit is commonly
given to the European integration for ensuring this peace, but
that's simply pro-Brussels propaganda. By the time the EU came
along European peace had already been ensured--the motivation for
inter-sibling warfare had long been removed.

It seems strange now to realize how peripheral the Cold War was
to all this. The Cold War seemed so important at the time, so
central to world affairs. Perhaps it was the fear we all had of
nuclear catastrophe. But in fact, now that we can see it in
perspective, the Cold War was simply a matter of the U.S.
excluding the Communist World, in so far as possible, from
interfering with or participating in the global imperial regime
that the U.S. had established. We were presented with a myth of
an expansionist Soviet empire, threatening the Free World. What
we actually had was a global American empire, with the Soviets
more concerned about their own economic and literal survival than
with any kind of expansionism. So, in the end, the Cold War
stands only as a side chapter in the story of the twentieth
century, a temporary distraction to the main story--the continual
growth of American wealth and power. That is why the end of the
Cold War did not bring the great relaxation of tensions that we
had all hoped for. It turned out to be irrelevant the real
business of America, the business of empire.

The American scheme for postwar global development performed
brilliantly, as measured by the prosperity of Western elites and

In the world of Western elites there was one kind of prosperity
going on. Corporations launched forth into the global
marketplace, experienced rapid growth, and developed into what we
now call the transnational corporations (TNCs). There had always
been a few TNCs, ever since the Hudson's Bay Company and the
British East India Company. And we had the Seven Sister oil
companies. But in the postwar era TNCs sprung up in every
business sector, and became commercially dominant and all
pervasive on a scale never seen before. The commerce of the world
was being centralized, under the control of the boards of a few
dozen global corporations. From a capitalist perspective, the
postwar years might be called the "Era of Global Consolidation".

In the world of ordinary people in the West, another kind of
prosperity was going on. This was an era characterized by high
employment, rising standards of living, improved working
conditions, low crime rates, increased social services, a growing
middle class, and gains in civil rights and civil liberties. From
a social perspective, one might call the postwar period "The
Great Era of Liberal Democracy".

It is an era that is no more. Our own time can be characterized
almost as the opposite of the postwar years--rising unemployment,
lowering living standards, worsening working conditions, rising
crime rates, decreasing social services, a shrinking middle
class, and losses of civil rights and civil liberties. Where did
it all go and why?

On the surface everything seemed rosy for the West in the postwar
era. The problem with the scenario was that it was not
sustainable. All that prosperity was being driven by a particular
engine--the engine of rapid and profitable global development. The
new imperial regime had been established for the purpose of
creating an open global marketplace and exploiting the huge
development opportunities that then became available. That
happened, and the rewards were reaped, in particular by the U.S.,
Europe, and Japan. But the Earth, large as it is, is finite. Even
global markets can eventually be saturated and stop growing at
sufficient speed to feed the needs of global capitalism.

In the 1970s that is what began to happen. The postwar boom was
losing its bang. Economic growth was slowing down. Something was
going to have to give way somewhere. It would no longer be
possible to afford everything that had been possible during the
height of the postwar boom. Things weren't going to collapse
overnight, but the handwriting was on the wall. In such
circumstances a smart person or group would make preparations to
deal with the change--if in a position to do so.

Elite Planning and Global Management
Recall that the whole postwar global scenario was orchestrated
with some considerable precision way back before Pearl Harbor by
a study group of the Council on Foreign Relations. Their
blueprint was implemented, and it led to the kind of results it
had aimed for. The U.S. government showed itself to be capable of
shepherding the project along and keeping it close enough to a
true course, through the effective use of money, diplomacy, and
force of arms--both overt and covert. And the U.S. government,
along with the elite-run media, was able to maintain adequate
public support through the twists and turns of the
project--creating cover stories and spin at every juncture to hide
the real meaning behind what was going on, hiding behind the
smokescreen of the Cold War.

To put it another way: Throughout the postwar era the world was
being intentionally guided and managed according to an explicit
plan that was hatched by a group of professional analysts who
were reporting to top elements of the American elite
establishment. In it's high-leverage, indirect, behind-the-scenes
style, the U.S. and its elite had been in effect running the
world their way ever since 1945--even though most people did not
fully realize that was going on.

Although the original Bretton Woods blueprint was remarkably
comprehensive and showed considerable foresight, the day-to-day
business of managing the global imperial system American style
required ongoing monitoring, the identification of dangers and
opportunities, and the application of selective and high-leverage
interventions to deal with those. In the postwar years a huge
intelligence & analysis apparatus arose around the Washington
beltway to carry out such required tasks of empire. The CIA and
related intelligence agencies, countless think tanks, consulting
firms, law firms, and the Council on Foreign Relations all play a
role in this elite-run apparatus.

When things were booming in the postwar era, the job of this
apparatus was to keep things booming, and to alert the political
apparatus whenever intervention was going to be needed. And when
things began to stop booming, the attention of this apparatus
sensibly turned to re-considering the founding blueprint. Smart
people prepare for predictable change, and that is exactly what

One particular document stands out as a pivotal and candid
expression of the kind of thinking that was going on in U.S.
elite circles as the postwar boom began running out of steam. In
1975 Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington, of the Council on
Foreign Relations, published his now-infamous essay, The Crisis
of Democracy. Consider this passage, and again I am borrowing
from "Trilateralism":

   "To the extent that the United States was governed by anyone
    during the decades after World War II, it was governed by the
    President acting with the support and cooperation of key
    individuals and groups in the executive office, the federal
    bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks,
    law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private
    sector's 'Establishment'".

Huntington's view of how the U.S. is governed, evidently, was in
complete alignment with the perspective I have been presenting in
this chapter. He makes no mention of the electorate or the
political process as providing input to the policy-making
process. Instead he identifies a constituency that is more or
less the same as what I have been calling the "elite" and the
"intelligence & analysis apparatus".  Perhaps we can take
Huntington's words as an insider corroboration of that aspect of
this analysis.

Elsewhere in his essay, Huntington tells us that democratic
societies "cannot work" unless the citizenry is "passive". The
"democratic surge of the 1960s" represented an "excess of
democracy," which must be reduced if governments are to carry out
their traditional domestic and foreign policies.

He is claiming that whether American society "works" is defined
by whether or not the government can carry out its "traditional
domestic and foreign policies". If the elite establishment can
continue to run the empire according to its agenda, then the
society can "work," otherwise it can't. In order to keep society
"working," which is presumably an obvious imperative, Huntington
is suggesting that the level of democracy needs to be
reduced--presumably by means of appropriate actions to be
undertaken by the elite establishment.

The Civil Rights Movement, the Anti War Movement, and the
Environmental Movement are all clearly being referred to by
Huntington's "excess of democracy". The management of empire is
made more difficult when movements rise up that interfere with
economic or political arrangements, or that interfere with
imperial interventions. In the next section I will try to show
that he implied a great many more "reductions" than simply the
neutralization of dissenting movements.

Taken by itself, it is difficult to tell how widely shared
Huntington's views were in elite circles in 1975. He may have
been summarizing an emerging elite consensus, or he may have been
championing new ideas that were later to find wider acceptance.
But we do need to keep in mind that Huntington was and is a
prestigious member of the elite community, a highly respected
Professor of History at Harvard, and one whose ideas are taken
very seriously by many influential people. We can at least infer
from his words that elites were discussing the crisis of
declining global growth, and that they were willing to entertain
a radical re-examination of the basic foundations of the 1945
blueprint in order to respond to that crisis. An explicit
curtailment of liberal democratic institutions, for example, was
not beyond consideration by serious people in the elite

Capitalism and its Growth Imperative
In order to understand the dynamics of the global imperial
system, and how it responds to crises, it is necessary to
understand very clearly the relationship between capitalism and
economic growth. The fundamental driver in a capitalist society
is the investor. A capitalist, to put it simply, is someone who
has capital to invest in the expectation of having his investment
back plus a healthy return. Whether this accomplished through
currency manipulations, land speculation, or investment in a
growing enterprise is a matter of implementation. The basic thing
is return on investment. Investments naturally gravitate toward
those opportunities that promise the greatest returns / risk
ratio. If no growth opportunities can be found, then investors
withdraw their funds, stock markets collapse, and we experience
either a Depression or Recession. Capitalism does not simply
favor growth, it needs continual growth, always more than the
year before--like a dope addict needs his drug--or it simply cannot

The role of a corporation under capitalism is that of a
vehicle--an investment vehicle designed and chartered to grow
larger on behalf of its investors, as represented by the Board of
Directors. And if it fails to grow larger it will be avoided by
investors, and will have difficulty surviving at all. Thus
corporations pursue growth not so much because of greed on the
part of the CEO, but because growth is the stated purpose of the
corporation and the self-interest of the CEO and the Board of
Directors is served by making that happen.

The role of the elite planning and analysis apparatus under
capitalism is to ensure that adequate growth opportunities will
be available when needed for continued global corporate growth,
as well as for capital growth of other kinds, such as can be
found in the international financial markets. That is why
declining growth in the 1970s was seen as a looming crisis, and
why radical measures were being entertained in the elite planning
community. This was not a matter of greed; it was a matter of

1980-2001--The Era of Corporatization
Let us consider for a moment the problem of declining economic
growth in the 1970s--from the perspective of elite planners. What
options were available to them to deal with that problem?
Certainly they would not consider abandoning capitalism--and under
capitalism economic growth is not simply desirable, it is an
absolute necessity. The planners needed to find new growth room
for capitalism no matter what the cost might be in non-monetary

From the birth of the U.S. until the 1970s the problem of
economic growth had always been solved by expansion of its
economic operations The whole economic pie kept getting bigger by
this means, and from that pie the nation was able to run its
affairs, the people were able to take their livelihoods, and the
elite were able to extract their capital gains. But this time
that solution was no longer available. Expansion had reached the
ultimate global scale and was finally beginning to exhaust

If the overall pie could not grow adequately any more, the only
solution for the elite was to increase the share of the pie that
they claimed for their own profit taking. The continuation of
capitalism required that the nation must run its affairs with
less, and that the people must survive on less--so that the elite
could continue to have more. That is what was required for the
American system to continue "working," for capitalism to survive.
The postwar blueprint had been based on a growing pie, and a new
blueprint was now needed.

Redistribution of the economic pie was the only available
solution, and the implementation of that solution is precisely
what was launched with the political campaigns of Ronald Reagan
and Margaret Thatcher (1980) and carried forward in their
subsequent administrations. As we review their policies, we can
read the new blueprint.

Corporate tax cuts were one of the central policies. That
represented a direct transfer of wealth from governments to
corporations--an obvious redistribution of the pie favoring elite
investors at the expense of social programs and other
governmental operations.

Privatization was another central policy. Infrastructures and
programs which had been run on a non-profit basis for the public
good were thereby turned into profit-making ventures under the
control of private operators. This increased the elite share of
the pie still further. The cost of privatization was of two
kinds. In monetary terms, the population had to pay for the
profits taken by the investors. In terms of democratic
institutions, the cost paid was a loss of control. Programs and
infrastructure that had been under the control of the political
process were now under the direct control of elite investors and
their hired managers. This is part of what was implied by
Huntington's "reduction" of "excess democracy".

Deregulation was the third major policy, and again this
represented a disenfranchisement of democratic institutions--for
the benefit of elite profit taking. To the extent regulations
were removed, corporations were free to increase their growth in
ways that were contrary to the public good and destabilizing to
the national economy.

The consequences of these policies included loss of government
control over cross-border currency transactions, elite looting of
formerly protected industries (e.g., UK pension funds, U.S.
Savings & Loan Industry), curtailment of social benefits, a
general and continuing decline in living standards and quality of
life, and the impoverishment of governments due to under-funded
budgets. The core of the new blueprint was clearly a transfer of
both wealth and power from nations and their populations to
corporations. By this means economic growth was able to continue
under the capitalist system.

The next stage of the new elite program was to export these
corporatist policies from the U.S. and Britain to the rest of the
world--a process that came to be known as "globalization". In
order to accomplish this, it was necessary for American and
British elites to persuade European elites to go along with the
program. This was not difficult as European elites were facing
the same problem of declining growth. The U.S. and Britain had
found a formula that "worked" and that was a strong selling
point. Thus when the Maastricht Treaty was drafted, by financial
ministers rather than political ministers, its core provisions
focused on what was called a "conservative fiscal policy".
Thereby corporatism got its foot into the back door of Europe,
avoiding the political difficulty of entering by the front door
as had been accomplished via Reagan and Thatcher.

With Western elites generally on board, globalization began to
move into high gear. The GATT treaty process was employed to
force through agreements that were aimed at transferring wealth
and power to corporations globally, at the expense of governments
and populations. The IMF introduced "structural adjustment
programs" which forced third-world governments to adopt policies
favorable to global capitalism in order to obtain needed
financing. In the third world, the economic suffering and
political destabilization caused by globalization far exceeded
that experienced by Western populations.

The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the related corporatist
institutions were becoming a de facto world government. These
institutions have immense power to regulate not only
international trade, but also to dictate internal policies to
national governments. Environmental protection laws and safety
regulations by nations are routinely overruled by the WTO, on the
pretext that they are "protectionist". These all-powerful
acronymical bureaucratic agencies are dominated by delegates from
elite circles, primarily from the US. There is no pretense of any
kind of democratic representation.

As the Twentieth Century drew to a close, the world had become a
quite different place than it had been during the postwar era.
Instead of governments regulating corporations, corporations now
regulated governments through the authority vested in the World
Trade Organization and IMF by so-called "free trade" treaties.
Instead of prosperous nations and improving living conditions in
the West, governments were struggling to manage their budgets and
living conditions were continually deteriorating. The overall
pattern of the new elite blueprint was now becoming clear: the
world was being corporatized. The transnational corporation was
becoming the primary unit of power in global society, rather than
the nation state. Political power had become subservient to
corporate power. Capitalism had triumphed over democracy. The
Enlightenment vision of sovereign and democratic republics had
been covertly replaced by corporatism--Mussolini's preferred name
for fascism.

The strategic use of betrayal
America's rise to power can be characterized as a sequence of
alliances and betrayals orchestrated by the elite Establishment.
First came the betrayal of the Revolution. After the early
colonial elites adopted the rhetoric of radical democracy and led
the masses into a bloody Revolution under that banner, they then
betrayed their revolutionary allies and set up a centralized
government that would enable continued elite control. Next came
the Native Americans, who were tricked and betrayed at every
turn. The right to change of government--proclaimed in the
Declaration of Independence--was betrayed when the South, an ally
in the formation of the republic, was denied the right of

When the Bretton Woods system was set up after World War II, the
U.S. offered a kind of alliance to the nations of the world,
promising to cooperate in the development of a peaceful and
democratic new world. This alliance too was betrayed, insofar as
the third word was concerned, as the U.S. proceeded to manage its
global empire to provide growth room for corporations, and used
its Pax Americana prerogatives on countless occasions to
intervene in the affairs of other nations--usually imposing client
dictator governments subservient to international corporate

While the third world was betrayed by the postwar imperial
system, an alliance of a more real kind was in effect among the
US, the leading industrialized nations, and the elites and people
of those nations. This alliance was based on mutual prosperity
and self-interest. The growth opportunities offered by postwar
reconstruction and development--in a relatively open global
market--were immense. There were opportunities enough to support
the economies in all the industrialized nations, and profits
sufficient that they could be shared with the national
governments via taxation and with workers via rising pay
standards. Contented workers are productive workers and the
arrangement worked to everyone's advantage in the industrialized
world--until the early 1970s.

When growth in the global economy began to slow down, an elite
decision was made to betray two of the parties of the existing
alliance. The elites of the industrialized nations would continue
to benefit under globalization, but national sovereignty--along
with national and popular prosperity--were to be sacrificed to
enable continued growth in the capitalist economy.

2001-?--The New American Century: the Empire comes out in the open
In the late 1990s the globalization blueprint began to falter, as
had each previous blueprint in its turn. The problem this time
was excess global production. More cars, for example, were being
produced each year than could be sold on the global market. Car
manufacturers were forced to cut back production and there was a
downward pressure on prices. This was happening in many sectors
and the trend was hurting overall growth in the global economy.
Once again an adjustment was required, and once again betrayal
would provide the easiest high-leverage solution.

The solution to the problem of over production, from the
perspective of U.S. elites, was simply to eliminate some of the
producers--to destroy the economies of some of the industrialized
nations. In this way growth room could be made available to the
remaining players. A convenient means of such destruction was
provided by the international financial markets.

Trillions of dollars worth of trades are made daily on the
international markets--dwarfing most national economies. Using
these markets, it is not difficult to engineer a raid on the
currency of any given nation. If a few big traders coordinate
their activities, they can gradually buy into the currency, and
then dump their holdings all at once. Other traders jump on the
bandwagon and the currency plummets. The target nation then must
default on its international debts, enabling the IMF to come in
for the final kill.

Such a program of destruction can be easily carried out by the
East Coast elite Establishment, connected as it is to Wall
Street, the big international banks, and to large institutional
investors. And beginning in 1997 such a program was carried out,
with targets including Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina,
and the Asian Tigers. First the currencies were raided, and then
the IMF supervised the selling off of local assets at bargain
prices to the remaining industrial players. Those remaining
players were thereby provided more room for economic growth.

There is a currently-popular TV quiz show called Weakest Link.
The game begins with a group of players, and after each round of
questions the players vote on a "weakest link" who is eliminated
from the game. The last remaining player goes home with the
biggest prize. As globalization began to falter, the U.S.
Establishment began playing a game of Weakest Link, with itself
having all the votes. As the Twentieth Century drew to a close,
the main players left in the game were the US, Western Europe,
China, Japan, and Russia.

This is not a game that can stop. Each time a player is
eliminated, the growth provided eventually runs out. In the game
of Weakest Link, only one player remains at the end. As the
growing global economy continually collides with the limits of a
finite Earth, and finite markets, the U.S. Establishment must
increasingly monopolize global markets and resources unto itself.
And it has the means to do so. The same Establishment that
dominates U.S. commerce also controls the White House and the

The New American Century began on September 11, 2001. At the top
of the TV screen was the slogan, "War on America", and within
hours the blame had been laid on a sinister looking villain, a
villain whose only motivation was a pathological desire to
destroy democracy and freedom. Here was villain right out of 1984
or Batman. And it wasn't long before we heard about a War on
Terrorism that would last indefinitely, and already they knew it
would cost exactly $30 billion. From the very early days, the
episode had all the earmarks of a neo-Reichstag Fire, an inside
job, a new Pearl Harbor.

As evidence has become available regarding the events leading up
to the attack, that evidence has all been in conflict with the
official story line, and none has been corroborative. As the
official story has twisted and turned, in response to the
incriminating evidence, that has only detracted further from the
story's credibility. The administration keeps repeating its
claims as truths, offering no evidence, as one would expect in
the case of a Big Lie. From the perspective of an objective
detective trying to solve a case--where everyone in the room is a
suspect--an inside job Reichstag Fire is by far the most likely
explanation for what happened that fateful day.

On the other hand, if the far-fetched Bin Laden conspiracy theory
is true, then we must give the American elite credit for an
incredibly fast-footed response. In that case they managed to
capitalize on an unexpected fire with all the same precision and
speed one would have expected following a pre-planned job.

We now know that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and crew came into the
White House with a detailed agenda up their sleeve, and it was an
agenda that would have been very difficult to pursue without the
dramatic events of 9-11. Indeed, such an agenda would have been
incomplete if it did not include a plan for achieving domestic
public acceptance and international acquiescence. And after 9-11,
the pre-existing agenda was immediately launched into
implementation. In terms of evaluating suspected perpetrators for
9-11, one must clearly attribute to top U.S. elites motive,
opportunity, means, modus operandi, and lack of alibi. In
addition there has been no evidence presented that is contrary to
their culpability. That's a perfect description of a prime

The agenda of the new White House was written up as a report,
Rebuilding America's Defenses-- Strategy, Forces and Resources For
a New Century, produced in September 2000 by The Project for the
New American Century (PNAC). Some of the founding members of PNAC
include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President
Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Defense
Policy Board chairman Richard Perle. These are the folks who are
running U.S. foreign policy. Here are some excerpts from their
written agenda for the New American Century:

   "The United States has for decades sought to play a more
    permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved
    conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
    for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends
    the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein". (p. 14)
   "Further, these constabulary missions are far more complex and
    likely to generate violence than traditional 'peacekeeping'
    missions. For one, they demand American political leadership
    rather than that of the United Nations, as the failure of the UN
    mission in the Balkans and the relative success of NATO
    operations there attests" (p. 11).
   "Since today's peace is the unique product of American
    preeminence, a failure to preserve that preeminence allows others
    an opportunity to shape the world in ways antithetical to
    American interests and principles. The price of American
    preeminence is that, just as it was actively obtained, it must be
    actively maintained" (p. 73).
  "To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades,
    the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to
    experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and
    seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs" (p.
   "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings
    revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some
    catastrophic and catalyzing even--like a new Pearl Harbor" (p. 51).

Soon after the PNAC crew managed to get control of the White
House, they got their "new Pearl Harbor", they got their
"substantial American force presence in the Gulf" under "American
political leadership", and the revolution in military affairs is
now moving "more aggressively". The "War on Terrorism", enabled
by 9-11's new Pearl Harbor, is the smokescreen behind which the
agenda of the New American Century is being aggressively
implemented. American "preeminence", apparently, is to be ensured
into the future. No challenge to U.S. military or economic
supremacy is to be tolerated.

In response to yet another capitalist growth crisis, the American
elite establishment has adopted yet another blueprint defining
yet another paradigm of world order. In the postwar blueprint,
the U.S. invited the other great powers and their populations to
join in the collective imperialization of the third world. In the
corporatist blueprint, the U.S. elite invited the elites of the
other great powers to join them in betraying their nations and
populations--to enable continued corporate growth. In the New
American Century blueprint, the last surviving collaborators are
being betrayed as well. The American elite have circled their
wagons and little more than the Pentagon and the Homeland
Security apparatus remain inside their circle. Homeland Security
is needed to keep the domestic population under control, while
the Pentagon keeps everyone else under control.



    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in humanity, not gods, ideologies, or programs.

cyberjournal home page:

"Zen of Global Transformation" home page:

QuayLargo discussion forum:

cj list archives:

newslog list archives:

'Truthout' excellent news source:

subscribe addresses for cj list: