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By Nicanor Perlas[1]

August 2003

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Something happened on September 17, 2002 that is altering the course of history. Among others, the event laid the basis for the U.S. attack on Iraq—not because of Bin Laden, not because of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and not just because of oil. The U.S. attacked Iraq because of something larger and much more encompassing.

Witness the recent admission of the White House that it had no solid factual basis for its claim that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Some U.S. democrats are blunter. They are accusing the Bush Administration of launching a war on Iraq on the basis of a lie.

On September 17, 2002, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, officially announced the grand doctrine for a new world order, a doctrine that had been in the making for 12 years. Iraq was a smokescreen for the “coming out party” of the new doctrine of conquest.

The official name of this doctrine is the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (NSS). The media call it the Bush Doctrine. In reality, it is the U.S. blueprint for world Empire, the domination and governance by a single superpower over the lives and destiny of billions around the world.

The NSS or Bush Doctrine is a comprehensive formula for taking over the planet, placing it in the hands of the U.S. Empire. The Bush Doctrine aims at taking control of the economic, political, and cultural systems of the diverse societies and countries of the world. It will transform the world by radically altering the roles of key national, regional, and global institutions, of allies and enemies, of client states and competing blocks. The Bush Doctrine will also undertake a sweeping overhaul of U.S. laws and institutions to fulfill dreams of global Empire.

Yet, surprisingly, very few have scrutinized and analyzed the September 17 event with the depth it deserves. It is an urgent task to decode the Bush Doctrine on U.S. Empire and to disseminate this understanding to as many people as possible, including policy makers who are falling into the trap of Empire.

With the emergence of the U.S. global Empire, heads of states, civil society activists, and founders of socially and ecologically sound businesses will have to re-think the relevance of their current values, views, and approaches to the shaping of their societies and the world. Global reality is radically morphing beyond recognition. Past practices are no longer a guide to the future.


The Bush Doctrine does not state flat out that the U.S. is establishing a global Empire. That’s not the direct impression it wants to create, for that would alarm people, including most Governments and Heads of States. Instead, the policy document promotes noble-sounding intentions that seem harmless on the surface. Reading between the lines, however, one begins to appreciate the lowly and raw motives connected with Empire building that animate the Bush Doctrine. And when examined in the light of actual U.S. behavior in domestic and world affairs, the outline of Empire in the Bush Doctrine becomes unmistakable.

Let us first take a look at what Bush and his colleagues want people all over the world to believe about the new U.S. foreign policy.

Near the beginning of the National Security Strategy (NSS), one finds the following statement.

The United States possesses unprecedented—and unequaled—strength and influence in the world. Sustained by faith in the principles of liberty, and the value of a free society, this position comes with unparalleled responsibilities, obligations, and opportunity. The great strength of this nation must be used to promote a balance of power that favors freedom. . . . . We will work to translate this moment of influence into decades of peace, prosperity, and liberty.” (NSS, p.1)

The NSS then goes on to say that unfortunately the world has drastically changed after the Cold War. There are now terrorists and rogue states willing to use weapons of mass destruction against the U.S.A. and its allies and friends. The U.S. then has no choice but to run after and defeat these terrorists and rogue states.

The U.S. will bring its case to international bodies. The U.S. however, does not see itself bound by the decisions of these international bodies, including the Security Council of the United Nations. The priority of the U.S. government is to defend its citizens. If necessary, it will unleash a pre-emptive strike against terrorists and rogue states. This it will do either alone, if necessary, or with a “coalition of the willing” composed of allies and friends who want to join.

But a unilateral pre-emptive strike is only part of the proposed solution. The roots of terrorism go deep. The U.S. will unveil a comprehensive, multi-faceted initiative to destroy terrorism at its roots and establish world peace.

Among others, the U.S. will continue promoting free trade and democracy around the world so as to spur prosperity, reducing the incentives for terror. It will encourage or “compel” countries to abandon any and all support for terrorist groups. The U.S. will engage in a “war of ideas” for the hearts and minds of people the world over. It will align all its foreign policy priorities to serve these goals. And it will transform existing global arrangements, including its relations with other “great powers” as well as institute changes to U.S. law and institutions to achieve its all out war on terror and advance freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Finally, to ensure the ultimate safety of its citizens, the U.S. will not allow the emergence of any national or regional military superpower that could threaten the security of the United States of America. “Our military’s highest priority is to defend the United States. To do so effectively, our military must: . . . dissuade future military competition . . . [and] decisively defeat any adversary if deterrence fails.” (NSS, p.29)

In order to prevent its enemies from derailing its all-out-war against terrorism, the U.S. will not recognize the jurisdiction of the U.N.’s International Criminal Court (ICC). The U.S. does not want its efforts towards global security to be “impaired by the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the . . . ICC.” (NSS, p.31)


Even taking the policy document at face value, there are already profoundly problematic elements deeply embedded in the Bush Doctrine—Pre-emptive war; Unilateralism; Suppression of non-aggressive military competition; Coercion of nations to follow U.S. priorities; War on terror as the overriding and integrating framework for all U.S. foreign policy and programs; Demotion of the UN to second class status; Antagonism versus the International Criminal Court of the UN.

A deeper examination uncovers the true intentions behind the unusually aggressive posturing of U.S. foreign policy—the domination of the world by a conscious Empire under the mask of freedom, justice and peace. A quick look at the key elements of the Bush Doctrine will convince even skeptics that the unbelievable reality of a conscious and publicly-announced U.S. Empire is at hand, set to conquer and dominate the world.

The Bush Doctrine can be summarized into 7 general themes. I will also draw out an 8th theme that cannot be found in the decoded language but which permeates the whole doctrine. These 8 themes are:

  1. “Distinct American Internationalism” Based on Raw Power

  2. Unilateral, Preventive War Against Rogue States

  3. Shadow Multilateralism and Coalitions of the Willing

  4. Iraq as Demonstration Case and Part of a Network of Bases

  5. Suppression of Military Competition and Global Police

  6. Systemic Societal Approach

  7. Suppression of Internal Dissent

  8. Legitimation of Empire and Disinformation

The principal elements of the Bush Doctrine of Empire can be ascertained by decoding the various paragraphs and chapters of the NSS document. The inserted page numbers refer to the official NSS document.

“Distinct American Internationalism” Based on Raw Power

Early on, the Bush Doctrine warns that “a distinctly American internationalism” is at work in the world.

“The U.S. national security strategy will be based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests. The aim of this strategy is to help make the world not just safer but better. Our goals on the path to progress are clear: political and economic freedom, peaceful relations with other states, and respect for human dignity.” (NSS, p.1) (Emphasis added.)

For those familiar with the track record of the United States in international affairs, it is clear what lies behind the veil of idealistic-sounding phrases. This is a signal that the U.S. will continue its “distinctly American” deviant behavior—unilateralism. And as we shall see below, the U.S. Empire will also inaugurate a new form of unilateralism—unilateral preventive war.

Here is a sample track record of the “distinctly American internationalism” raised to the status of a fundamental axiom in the Bush Doctrine. The U.S. is NOT a signatory to dozens of U.N. or global treaties. Here are a few examples.

  • Rights of the Child
  • Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming
  • Ban on the Use of Land Mines
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • International Criminal Court

In the decade after the Cold War, the U.S. has had the “distinction” of being a non-signatory to many treaties and conventions of the United Nations. The U.S. has consciously made itself an outcast when it comes to agreements that extend the rights of the child and women, ban land mines, create an international criminal court, lower the emission of gases that cause global warming, and preserve global biodiversity, among others. It is “distinctly” unashamed of snubbing dozens of other global initiatives meant to increase the “peace, prosperity, and liberty” of billions around the world.

Those familiar with U.S. tactics at many UN treaty negotiations describe the behavior of U.S. representatives as: going for the lowest common denominator and, in the end, refusing to sign the treaty.

Knowing this track record, this “heritage” and “principle” of unilateralism, protects us from naively believing the claim of Bush that the U.S. will leverage its overpowering military strength for good.

The document reminds the world about the overwhelming military, economic, and political power of the U.S.A. (NSS, p.1), capable of creating an atmosphere of “shock and awe” in the battlefield. The not-so-subtle message here is as follows.

Potential allies and enemies now have to choose whether they want to be part of the Empire or against it. They can now choose to be a force for “good” in the world or be part of the “Axis of Evil” and thus a target of U.S. military power and covert/overt operations. The saber-rattling of the U.S. against Iran, Syria and North Korea during and after the war on Iraq is the same principle spoken in another language.

Unilateral, Preventive War Against Rogue States.

With the Bush Doctrine, U.S. unilateralism, that “distinctly American internationalism” has mutated into a global foreign policy nightmare for the U.N. and the nations of the world. The Bush Doctrine justifies the Empire’s upcoming invasions by identifying and defining targets as “rogue states” (p. 14) and, irrespective of world opinion, unleashing, unilaterally, preventive wars against terrorists and rogue states (p. 6, 15.)

The U.S. as a Rogue State

The following statements in the National Security Strategy (NSS) clearly lay out this foreign policy of the United States of America.

“. . . [N]ew deadly challenges have emerged from rogue states and terrorists. . . . the nature and motivations of these new adversaries, their determination to obtain destructive powers hitherto available only to the world’s strongest states, and the greater likelihood that they will use weapons of mass destruction against us, make today’s security environment more complex and dangerous.

“In the 1990s we witnessed the emergence of a small number of rogue states that, while different in important ways, share a number of attributes. These states:

  • brutalize their own people and squander their national resources for the personal gain of the rulers;

  • display no regard for international law, threaten their neighbors, and callously violate international treaties to which they are party;

  • are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, along with other advanced military technology, to be used as threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs of these regimes;

  • sponsor terrorism around the globe; and

  • reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands.” (p.14)

There is one fatal defect with this policy. The U.S. is the greatest rogue state in existence today. Many of its past and current actions fit the bill of a “rogue state”.

William Blum, author of Rogue State documents in detail how the U.S., from 1945 to 2000, attempted regime change in 40 foreign governments and crushed more than 30 populist movements resisting totalitarian regimes. In the process, the U.S. bombed about 25 countries, assassinated dozens of leaders of many countries, and contributed to the deaths of millions of people and the suffering of millions more.

In these brutal and immoral actions, the U.S. displayed “no regard for international law” and “callously violated international treaties” to which “it is a party”. It developed “weapons of mass destruction” and used them “as threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs” of its hawkish regime. Along the way, it sponsored “terrorism around the world” to achieve its nefarious objectives. In a number of instances, especially in connection with the war on Vietnam and Iraq, it “brutalized” its “own people” and “squandered its national resources for the personal gain of its rulers”. In doing all these, the hawkish elite of the United States have basically displayed their “rejection” of “basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands”

Unilateral, Pre-emptive War

Being a rogue state, it is not surprising that the U.S. will resort, unilaterally, to pre-emptive war which is illegal under international law. Who cares about international law? The U.S. is bound by only one law, the “golden rule”. He who has the “gold” rules!

The U.S. has codified this “golden rule” in the Bush Doctrine.

“War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. The conflict was begun[2] on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.” (Statement of President Bush, Washington, D.C. (The National Cathedral) September 14, 2001. NSS, p. 5.)

The U.S. is angry now that it is reaping what it has sown. In the words of its own Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it is “blowback” time, the back-firing of U.S. covert policy. The U.S. wants to remain blind to the effects of the “stealth, deceit, and murder” that it has “waged” on many countries around the world including the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua, Iraq, and others. It wants to remain blind to the fact that Osama Bin Ladin , Al Queda, and other terrorist groups are all “blowback” creations of U.S. covert operations.

Forget all talk about multilateralism, which is supposedly the main intent of this section of the NSS entitled, “Strengthen Alliances to Defeat Global Terrorism”. The U.S. will go about this pseudo-war on terror in its own way and on its own terms. It is only under these unilateral conditions that one can become a friend and ally of the United States of America. September 11 is a perfect means to stir up strong emotional and ultra-nationalistic sentiments among U.S. citizens who do not discern the larger game that their elite leaders are playing.

 “We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by:

·         defending the United States, the American people, and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders. While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country;” (p.6) (Emphasis added.)

The U.S. is mutating and formalizing its already existing practice of political unilateralism, which has increasingly characterized its foreign conduct in the past decade. It will wage A PREEMPTIVE WAR on perceived enemies of the U.S. state.

“‘We have our best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace instead of prepare for war.’ President Bush West Point, New York June 1, 2002” (NSS, p.24)

Basically, the Bush Doctrine is saying that post-September 11 is the best time to get rid of the outdated concept of the nation-state. It has outlived its usefulness. It is now time to build a new world order where one great power, the United States of America, competes with all the rest and determines when to declare war and when seek peace.

The U.S. tries to legitimize its resort to preemptive war as having precedents in international law.

“For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack.” (NSS, p.15)

The problem is that international law recognizes this right only under the context of self-defense in the presence of clear and imminent danger. The U.S. warns however, that with the Bush Doctrine, they are now about to create a new kind of precedent and a new kind of preemptive approach, irrespective of whether it is legal under international law or not. They rationalize it on the basis of September 11 and the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists . . . they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.

“. . . . The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.” (NSS, p.15)

History has subsequently shown that the UN and most nations of the world did not buy the U.S. attempt to self-servingly extend international law with the U.S. doctrine of pre-emptive war. Nor did the U.N. and most nations take the bait about the alleged link between Bin Laden and Hussein. For those in the know, Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were mortal enemies, the former a radical fundamentalist and the latter an avowed secularist. Nor did the U.N. and most of the world believe that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction. Previous U.N. efforts had effectively dismantled most of Iraq’s WMD.[3]

The U.N. and most nations of the world were right about Iraq. The Bush and Blair administrations have recently admitted that their own intelligence agencies expressed doubts as to whether Iraq had WMDs, not to mention the lack of any proof regarding the purported link between Bin Laden and Iraq. In short, and in the words of one of the U.S. democrats running for U.S. President, the Bush administration led the American people to war on the basis of a lie.

It is clear that the Bush administration basically fabricated the “facts” and ignored international law and the U.N. Despite heavy opposition from most in the world, the U.S. declared and waged war against Iraq. Why? The U.S. has its sights set way beyond Iraq. It has set its eyes on inaugurating a world empire. Facts, the U.N. and world opinion can become casualties in the pursuit of empire.

Shadow Multilateralism and Coalitions of the Willing

The Bush Doctrine lays out the U.S. game plan against the UN and other nations. Deal with adverse global opinion by paying lip service to the UN and other global institutions (p.3 Bush on NSS). Engage when multilateral institutions can advance the interests of the Empire. Drop them when they are no longer useful (p.5, 31) Create, instead, “coalitions of the willing” (pp11, 24) as substitutes for true multilateralism. Depend also on the shadowy world of bilateral relations as the preferred tool to advance Empire in the different regions of the world (pp.24-26).

“We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of American States, and NATO as well as other long-standing alliances. Coalitions of the willing can augment these permanent institutions. In all cases, international obligations are to be taken seriously. They are not to be undertaken symbolically to rally support for an ideal without furthering its attainment.” (p.3 of Bush Introduction to NSS)

Regional Alliances: The Case of Europe

The U.S. recognizes the role of other nations in building true peace and prosperity in the world. However, in the pursuit of Empire, we have seen in the case of the war against Iraq that the U.S. is willing to destroy the legacy of the United Nations should the latter run counter to U.S. interests. As we shall clearly see, the same fate awaits formidable regional multilateral institutions like NATO.

“America will implement its strategies by organizing coalitions—as broad as practicable— of states able and willing to promote a balance of power that favors freedom. Effective coalition leadership requires clear priorities, an appreciation of others’ interests, and consistent consultations among partners with a spirit of humility.” (p.24)

If the U.S. cannot depend on the UN, it will instead rely on its own kind of shadowy multilateralism which it calls, “the coalition of the willing”. In effect, a “coalition of the willing” is just the U.S. term for the old imperial practice of establishing and governing a network of vassal and tributary states, on the basis of mutual self-interest and survival.[4] The U.S. is not a “territorial empire” and therefore needs the help and support of states that prefer to come under its control in exchange for economic and political benefits.

Thus, among others, the above phrase regarding “consistent consultations among partners with a spirit of humility” is nothing but a smokescreen for the purely utilitarian practice of “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours”. It is also a gross caricature of the true practice of multilateralism. In the run-up to the war in Iraq, the U.S. insulted some of its most important historical and strategic allies like France and Europe, in general. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example, insulted its allies in the EU by calling them “old Europe”.

Thus, the following NSS perspective on Europe, given the above imperial realpolitik, can only come across as hollow and self-serving.

“There is little of lasting consequence that the United States can accomplish in the world without the sustained cooperation of its allies and friends in Canada and Europe. Europe is also the seat of two of the strongest and most able international institutions in the world: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which has, since its inception, been the fulcrum of transatlantic and inter-European security, and the European Union (EU), our partner in opening world trade.” (p.24)

The NSS further states:

“• take advantage of the technological opportunities and economies of scale in our defense spending to transform NATO military forces so that they dominate potential aggressors and diminish our vulnerabilities; (p.24)

Not content with insulting and basically marginalizing Europe, U.S. hawks now want to leverage NATO to become its de facto army in that region of the world. They will invest in NATO, but, of course, only if NATO continues to be a docile instrument of the U.S. Empire.

The NSS then goes on with a telling remark:

• maintain the ability to work and fight together as allies even as we take the necessary steps to transform and modernize our forces.” (p.25)

The operative Freudian-slip here is “even as”. The U.S. plan is basically saying the following. Let us not put our eggs in one basket. Meanwhile, let us use NATO to buy time while we modernize our forces to achieve complete global military superiority. NATO is a transitional strategy, especially in case France and Germany and Russia do not ultimately climb on board the “Empire express train”. But by that time, we will have our “Star Wars” operational, thereby giving us global military dominance, with or without NATO, by using an array of smart and highly advanced weapons in outer space to complement our conventional military superiority.

Other Regional Formations

NATO and Europe are examples of what the U.S. intends to do in the different regions of the world. In developing global coalitions and regional alliances, the U.S. will identify key institutions it will leverage to advance its goal of Empire. It will provide the “carrot” incentive approach to institutions like APEC and ASEAN, in addition to the “stick “of military power. Thus,

“• build on stability provided by these alliances, as well as with institutions such as ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, to develop a mix of regional and bilateral strategies to manage change in this dynamic region.” (NSS, p.26)

Alongside these regional economic and political alliances, the U.S. will also build strong military coalitions of the willing.

“The attacks of September 11 energized America’s Asian alliances. Australia invoked the ANZUS Treaty to declare the September 11 was an attack on Australia itself, following that historic decision with the dispatch of some of the world’s finest combat forces for Operation Enduring Freedom. Japan and the Republic of Korea provided unprecedented levels of military logistical support within weeks of the terrorist attack. We have deepened cooperation on counter-terrorism with our alliance partners in Thailand and the Philippines and received invaluable assistance from close friends like Singapore and New Zealand.” (p.26)

Instead of an embarrassment, the U.S. is starting to use the September 11 tragedy to energize its global military networks. It now becomes decisive as to whether the U.S. can win over, one by one, the key military regional forces of the world and align its relations with them under the new context of U.S. Empire. If successful, the U.S. will therefore have created a global military projection unprecedented in human history.

The regional military formations will constitute the vassal or tributary military forces of the U.S. Empire. They will help police national and regional hot spots, or attempts to resist the Empire.

In short, the U.S., using a “mix” of “soft” and hard military power, will leverage the resources of naïve, weak, or ambitious governments and regimes to attain the global objectives of Empire.

Bilateral Sweeteners or Intimidation as Preferred Instruments for Creating “Coalitions of the Willing” to Advance Empire

Creating global and regional “coalitions of the willing” are important. The U.S., however, intends to do important foundational work at the level of the nation state, especially with countries of strategic value from the U.S. point of view.

“This Administration invested time and resources building strong bilateral relations with India and Pakistan. These strong relations then gave us leverage to play a constructive role when tensions in the region became acute.” (p.10)

“Africa’s great size and diversity requires a security strategy that focuses on bilateral engagement and builds coalitions of the willing.” (p.11)

The U.S. has subverted the true spirit of multilateralism and has appropriated it for the purpose of building a global empire. “Coalitions of the willing”, even at the bilateral level, are all about consolidating strategic control over key territories of the world and of constraining potential aspirants to world power.

Hence, Chapter VIII of the NSS, “Develop Agendas for Cooperative Action with the Other Main Centers of Global Power”, is really about U.S. strategy in connection with potential threats to U.S. supremacy and rule. This Chapter identifies the key challengers to and potential support for U.S. hegemony. It discusses how these key nations can either be neutralized as a force or kept within the ambit of the U.S. Empire as a de facto tributary state.

If this seems a far fetched interpretation, decision makers are encouraged to read Zbigniew Brezenski’s The Global Chessboard and Rebuilding America’s Defenses issued by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Both lay out the geopolitical and military imperatives of Pax Americana. The insights of both are echoed in the NSS or Bush Doctrine.

PNAC’s Rebuilding America’s Defenses is especially relevant since the founders of PNAC now occupy top positions of the U.S. government, including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, among others. It is also clear that most of PNAC’s Building America’s Defense heavily influenced the direction and content of the Bush Doctrine.

Thus all these initiatives under the guise of “cooperative” action could be more accurately described as strategies of containment of potential rivals as well as strategies for maintaining the co-optation of vassal and tributary nation states.

Iraq as Demonstration Case and To Be Part of Global Network of Bases

The U.S. means business. It will demonstrate (and has demonstrated) its will to establish a global Empire by attacking Iraq. For the U.S., Iraq is a test case, showing its resolve to advance its plan of world domination. After Iraq, the U.S. will tackle the problem of North Korea (p.6, 14), with eyes towards other “rogue” states.

In addition, the defeat of Iraq will enable the U.S. to have a permanent land base in a strategic area (pp.29-30) like the Middle East. This continues the old U.S. practice of establishing permanent military bases in and around conquered areas. Empires can govern only if they can ward off security threats through forward military bases.

The Bush Doctrine is hoping that people have forgotten that after the first Iraq war, the U.S. established military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. When the U.S. bombed Yugoslavia, it ended up with military bases in Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia. After the defeat of Afghanistan, the United States is now establishing military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia. Why do you think the U.S. still has major bases in Germany, Japan and Korea; decades after World War II and the Korean War ended?

Iraq as Test Case. North Korea to Follow

The NSS is explicit about its intentions.

 “We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by:

·         direct and continuous actions using all the elements of international power. Our immediate focus will be those terrorist organizations of global reach and any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism which attempts to gain or use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their precursors.” (p. 6)

“In the past decade North Korea has become the world’s principal purveyor of ballistic missiles, and has tested increasingly capable missiles while developing its own WMD arsenal. Other rogue regimes seek nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well. . . . . We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends.” (p.14)

The U.S. will wage war on any country or terrorist network that has the potential for terrorism and WMD. However, under the context of the Bush Doctrine, the Iraq war is ultimately not about terrorism or WMD, but about the implementation of a new doctrine of global Empire by the United States. And so it will also be with future potential wars against North Korea and other countries, including Iran and Syria. The war against terrorism will be the continued excuse for the U.S. to unleash unilateral preventive war outside the ambit of international law and the processes of the UN.[5]

Dominate the World Through Strategic Network of Military Bases

The war on “rogue” states serves an additional purpose.

“The presence of American forces overseas is one of the most profound symbols of the U.S. commitments to allies and friends. Through our willingness to use force in our own defense and in defense of others, the United States demonstrates its resolve to maintain a balance of power that favors freedom. To contend with uncertainty and to meet the many security challenges we face, the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. forces.” (NSS, p.29)

The first sentence in this quote is obviously self-serving. The presence of U.S. bases and/or forces around the world is there to ensure global domination and to encourage weak states and leaders to align themselves with imperial America. Seemingly altruistic military exercises, including the Balikatan exercises in the Philippines, are ultimately there to advance the strategic interests of the U.S. Empire. If the U.S. cannot have a permanent base, at least they can have a “visiting” right to land its armed forces in vassal countries beholden to the Empire.

The military presence also serves another purpose. When bilateral intimidation fails, when “soft power” falters, then the U.S. can have immediate recourse to “hard power”, its “big stick”—visible military deployment and “shock and awe” techniques.

Suppression of Military Competition and Global Police

For the U.S., maintaining its Empire means, foremost of all, maintaining its military superiority. It aims to achieve this in two ways. It will continue to build the U.S. military as the overwhelmingly dominant military force in the world. Second, the U.S. will sustain its Empire by preventing the rise of a competing military power anywhere in the world (pp.29-31).

It is this latter historically unprecedented intent which clearly signals the intention of the U.S. to be a world empire. One can forget all the rhetoric about “rogue states”. This rationale, which is clearly a lame excuse, is insignificant and pales in comparison with the real military and political intention of the Bush Doctrine—the establishment of the world’s first global Empire.

And when the U.S. carries the biggest “stick” in the world and has prevented others from carrying an equally big “stick”, then the U.S. can act as a global policeman, encouraging or compelling other nations to stay within the limits set by the U.S. Empire. The U.S. will “compel” (p.6) other countries to follow its foreign priorities. As a global police, the U.S. will reward allies and friends that follow its lead through, among others, its multi-billion dollar Millennium Challenge Account (pp.21-22), thereby dividing and conquering the world. .

The NSS clearly articulates these strategic intentions.

“It is time to reaffirm the essential role of American military strength. We must build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge. Our military’s highest priority is to defend the United States. To do so effectively, our military must:

  • assure our allies and friends;

  • dissuade future military competition;

  • deter threats against U.S. interests, allies, and friends; and

  • decisively defeat any adversary if deterrence fails.” (p.29) (Emphasis added.)

Let us now take a close look at the various aspects of this military doctrine which underpins the pursuit of Empire.

Maintaining Overwhelming Military Superiority

The NSS reaffirms “the essential role of American military strength” which it must “build and maintain”. Under the context of Empire, it is not surprising that the U.S. military budget is larger than all the military budgets of the world combined. It needs to sustain the giant appetite of its five global military commands; supervising more than a million armed men and women on four continents and deploying carrier battle groups in every ocean of the world.

And the U.S. will leave no stone unturned in its quest to “maintain” its overwhelming military dominance.

“Before the war in Afghanistan, that area was low on the list of major planning contingencies. Yet, in a very short time, we had to operate across the length and breadth of that remote nation, using every branch of the armed forces. We must prepare for more such deployments by developing assets such as advanced remote sensing, long-range precision strike capabilities, and transformed maneuver and expeditionary forces. This broad portfolio of military capabilities must also include the ability to defend the homeland, conduct information operations, ensure U.S. access to distant theaters, and protect critical U.S. infrastructure and assets in outer space.” (pp.29-30) (Emphasis added.)

The U.S. drive for military superiority will include “information operations” including covert spying and psychological warfare, “U.S. access to distant theaters” or the capability to conduct war in multiple theaters simultaneously, and the protection of “critical U.S. . . . assets in outer space”, a euphemism for the increased military use of space.

The Bush Doctrine, in effect, is accelerating the deployment of “Stars Wars”, the military program that will confer “full spectrum dominance” by means of sophisticated space-based weapons systems[6], including new generation laser guns, nuclear weapons, and the transformation of the ionosphere into a combat zone with super-weapons capable of disrupting communications systems, shutting off power lines, and exploding underground tunnels. With “Star Wars”, the U.S. will inaugurate, for the first time in world history, a military capability that can paralyze the most advanced military operations anywhere in the world.

No competing military power

The NSS further states:

“We must build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge. … To do so effectively, our military must:

  • … dissuade future military competition;

  • . . . and, decisively defeat any adversary if deterrence fails.” (p.29) (Emphasis added)

The Bush Doctrine is not satisfied with this display of unmatched military power. It will make sure that the other “great powers” are not able, singly or in alliances, to challenge the U.S. (pp.26-27). In the words of a 1997 Pentagon study, “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere ... we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

The NSS spells out more clearly what it means by dissuading future military competition.

“We know from history that deterrence can fail; and we know from experience that some enemies cannot be deterred. The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy—whether a state or non-state actor—to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends. We will maintain the forces sufficient to support our obligations, and to defend freedom. Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” (p.30)

“Translated”, this quotation means the following.

There will be no other superpower in the world other than the United States of America. The U.S. will prevent any competition for its superpower status, whether globally or in any single theater of the world. The U.S. will encourage its allies (vassals) and friends (tributaries) to stay aligned with overwhelming U.S. power.

This policy is probably one of the most shocking aspects of the Bush Doctrine. News accounts have it that this is the reason why this military doctrine was placed towards the end of the National Security Strategy. In an earlier version, in 1990, it was formerly known as the Cheney Doctrine after Dick Cheney who was Secretary of Defense under George Bush, Sr. at that time. It was so controversial then that the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations tabled this hawkish approach. When joined together with the doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive war, then you have the military foundations of the U.S. Empire in full view.

Operationally this arrogant military approach entails the need to properly manage potential competitors for global military supremacy.

“We are attentive to the possible renewal of old patterns of great power competition. Several potential great powers are now in the midst of internal transition—most importantly Russia, India, and China. In all three cases, recent developments have encouraged our hope that a truly global consensus about basic principles is slowly taking shape.” (NSS, p.26) . . . .

“The events of September 11, 2001, fundamentally changed the context for relations between the United States and other main centers of global power, and opened vast, new opportunities. With our long-standing allies in Europe and Asia, and with leaders in Russia, India, and China, we must develop active agendas of cooperation lest these relationships become routine and unproductive.

Every agency of the United States Government shares the challenge. We can build fruitful habits of consultation, quiet argument, sober analysis, and common action. In the long-term, these are the practices that will sustain the supremacy of our common principles and keep open the path of progress.” (p.28)

The calculating mind of the U.S. imperial strategists recognizes the opportunities latent in the current challenges that Russia, China, and India are facing. The general approach of the U.S. is to lure, as a first choice, the great powers into the orbit of American interests—through seemingly altruistic intentions.

This is clear in the case of Russia, for example, where the U.S. is facilitating the involvement of Russia in NATO through the NATO-Russia Council, and, as a possibility, the U.S. sponsorship of Russia in the WTO.

Meanwhile, the Bush Doctrine will rely on the old and favored approach of divide-and-rule.

“We will continue to bolster the independence and stability of the states of the former Soviet Union in the belief that a prosperous and stable neighborhood will reinforce Russia’s growing commitment to integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.” (p.27)

In other worlds, the U.S. will never allow Russia to come together again with its former allies as a reborn U.S.S.R. Instead the U.S. will continue to either isolate Russia or encourage it to integrate with U.S.-influenced Europe.

The Bush Doctrine strategy for China is not only patronizing; it is unsophisticated, short-sighted and dangerous.

“In pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, China is following an outdated path that, in the end, will hamper its own pursuit of national greatness. In time, China will find that social and political freedom is the only source of that greatness.” (p.27)

This overt “lecturing at” and tongue-in-cheek name-calling by the U.S. of one of the most powerful countries in the world is uncalled for and destabilizing. The U.S. also is clearly telling “outdated” China that the U.S. path to progress is the superior one and the path to salvation.

The U.S. is also being hypocritical in its judgment of China. The U.S. has the most advanced military systems that threaten the world. But this inconsistency is fine. When the U.S. possesses the weapons, it is not a threat to anybody!

But the U.S. is not satisfied with its hypocritical name-calling.

“We expect China to adhere to its nonproliferation commitments. We will work to narrow differences where they exist, but not allow them to preclude cooperation where we agree.” (p.28)

In other words, China has to adhere to its nonproliferation commitments while the U.S. can wantonly violate its own nonproliferation promises. This contradiction is only understanding under the context of an Empire which sees itself as the ideological model and the law-giver, one that is above the law itself.

Global Policeman: Carrots for Followers and Sticks for Enemies of the Empire

Maintaining and increasing its global military hegemony, the U.S. can now step into its role as the policeman of the world.

“We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by:

·         denying further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities.” (p.6) (Emphasis added.)

As part of their responsibility, nation states have the obligation not to support terrorism within their boundaries. If they fail in this responsibility, they lose their sovereign rights as a nation. The U.S. will come in and “compel” them to get rid of terrorists. In this way, the U.S. will become the policeman of the world.

In the pursuit of democracy, compulsion will not only be the other name of war. Compulsion, as a prelude to war, will also have the same status and urgency as war.

‘In World War II we fought to make the world safer, then worked to rebuild it. As we wage war today to keep the world safe from terror, we must also work to make the world a better place for all its citizens.’ President Bush Washington, D.C. (Inter-American Development Bank) March 14, 2002” (NSS, p.21)

So much for the promotion of freedom and democracy around the world.

As a global cop, the U.S. can also play another set of cards.

“The United States should be realistic about its ability to help those who are unwilling or unready to help themselves. Where and when people are ready to do their part, we will be willing to move decisively.” (p.9)

The U.S. is sending a clear message that they will reward allies supportive of their Empire. But, in this paragraph, the U.S. is vague about those who are “unwilling” to help themselves. However, as noted in p.6 of the NSS above, the U.S. stands ready to “compel” states to accept “their sovereign responsibilities.” It becomes clear that deviant or “rogue” states will be the target of U.S. covert and overt operations if they are not willing to align themselves with the goals of the U.S. Empire.

To develop the case for “compulsion”, the soft power approach of diplomacy will first be tried. But even here, the U.S envisions justifying radical societal engineering through diplomacy.

“Our diplomats serve at the front line of complex negotiations, civil wars, and other humanitarian catastrophes. As humanitarian relief requirements are better understood, we must also be able to help build police forces, court systems, and legal codes, local and provincial government institutions, and electoral systems. Effective international cooperation is needed to accomplish these goals, backed by American readiness to play our part.” (NSS, p.31)

Then, if this radical form of societal engineering fails, the U.S. will “act apart”, that is, bare-fisted, it will demonstrate its “unique responsibilities” using the cold, steel hands of Empire. This is what the following statement means when read in the context of global military supremacy.

“In exercising our leadership, we will respect the values, judgment, and interests of our friends and partners. Still, we will be prepared to act apart when our interests and unique responsibilities require.” (p.31)

The U.S. will feign understanding of the concerns of other nations. If the other nations do not agree with the U.S., then the U.S. will “compel” them with the many different instruments that it has at its disposal. The U.S., for example, recently threatened to “punish” France, a major world power, for leading the UN opposition against the U.S. war on Iraq.

Systemic Societal Approach

Tempting as it is for the world’s most powerful military power, the U.S. understands that it ultimately cannot rely on military force alone. The U.S. also aims to conquer the economic, political, and cultural battlegrounds of the world. The Bush Doctrine therefore calls for wide-ranging societal revolutions to remake nations into docile vassals or tributaries of the Empire. It will create laws or practices for others, but exempt the U.S. itself as in the case of weapons of mass destruction (p.3, 5, 14, 15).

The U.S. will guide all other aspects of foreign policy under the rubric of Empire (p.4). It will secure the economic basis of Empire through free trade (pp17-20 and all of Chapter VI). It supports the corporate or elite globalization championed by the World Trade Organization, World Bank and IMF even though the policies and programs of these institutions result in massive poverty and social disorder—the very conditions that give rise to terrorism. The U.S. will increase and align development aid to advance, like a Trojan horse, the goals of the Empire (pp.21-23 and all of Chapter VII).

As part of its systemic societal approach, the Empire will encourage the trappings of shallow democracy and pepper the world with pseudo-democratic leaders that are beholden to the wishes of the United States. In Iraq, the U.S. is already setting up the beginnings of a new puppet regime, friendly to U.S. interests. The U.S. is ensuring that the fundamentalist Shiite majority do not take over the government of Iraq.

The Bush Doctrine recognizes the power of global civil society. So it also has developed a game plan to co-opt civil society. The Doctrine calls for harnessing the energies of civil society to enhance the national security of the United States of America. In the guise of cooperation and partnership, it aims to co-opt civil society to support the Empire project or at least to be silent about it. The Bush Doctrine thereby makes it more difficult for authentic, strategic, and critical tri-sector partnerships[7]—which do exist, to create a world radically different from Empire.

And, nations beware!! The Bush Doctrine has now designated the U.S. State Department (and all its embassies) to promote all the non-military elements of the Empire.

Free Trade As Economic Framework for Empire

The U.S. will continue to rely on the neo-liberal doctrine of “free” trade as the economic framework for its Empire. Not only is “free” trade an ideology. For the U.S. it is also a “moral principle”. The U.S. intends to “seize the global initiative” in the arena of “free” trade, especially within the context of the WTO.

“The lessons of history are clear: market economies, not command-and-control economies with the heavy hand of government, are the best way to promote prosperity and reduce poverty. Policies that further strengthen market incentives and market institutions are relevant for all economies—industrialized countries, emerging markets, and the developing world.” (NSS, p.17)

“The concept of ‘free trade’ arose as a moral principle even before it became a pillar of economics. . . . To promote free trade, the Unites States has developed a comprehensive strategy:

Seize the global initiative. The new global trade negotiations we helped launch at Doha in November 2001 will have an ambitious agenda, especially in agriculture, manufacturing, and services, targeted for completion in 2005. The United States has led the way in completing the accession of China and a democratic Taiwan to the World Trade Organization. We will assist Russia's preparations to join the WTO.” (NSS, p.18)

It is important to recognize how the Bush Doctrine is reframing the whole economic globalization debate under the rubric of its war on terrorism and quest for Empire. Those familiar with the elite/corporate globalization debate know how mixing up of the two concerns—trade and empire, will have distortive effects on both trade and security.

For one, the effects of mixing imperial objectives in the conduct of trade will not result in prosperity. This unhealthy mix will provide uncertainty, unpredictability, and continued lack of peace and order, among others. This is clear in the case of the examples detailed in the Bush Doctrine.

“Beyond market access, the most important area where trade intersects with poverty is in public health. We will ensure that the WTO intellectual property rules are flexible enough to allow developing nations to gain access to critical medicines for extraordinary dangers like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.” (NSS, p.19)

This turns out to be a bad illustration in the light of objections by U.S. transnational corporations on the use of the drugs without intellectual property compensation.

“Enforce trade agreements and laws against unfair practices. Commerce depends on the rule of law; international trade depends on enforceable agreements.” (p. 19)

This is also another problematic statement given the propensity of the U.S. to violate WTO rules for its own gains. The U.S., for example, has imposed steeper tariffs on steel imports to protect its steel industry. The WTO recently found this practice in violation of WTO rules. Yet, such actions will increasingly become common on the part of the U.S., especially now that its unilateral streak has mutated into a full blown desire for Empire.

“We will strengthen our own energy security and the shared prosperity of the global economy by working with our allies, trading partners, and energy producers to expand the sources and types of global energy supplied, especially in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Central Asia, and the Caspian region.” (NSS, p.19-20)

This is an almost incredulous statement given that the U.S. went to war in Iraq partly to secure Iraq’s vast oil reserves for itself. This surely will “strengthen” the “energy security” of the U.S., but not in the way idealized in the Bush Doctrine.

Here is another amazingly flawed statement from the Bush Doctrine.

“Economic growth should be accompanied by global efforts to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations associated with this growth, containing them at a level that prevents dangerous human interference with the global climate. Our overall objective is to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions relative to the size of our economy, cutting such emissions per unit of economic activity by 18 percent over the next 10 years, by the year 2012.” (NSS, p.20)

This claim is empty especially following the withdrawal of the United States from the Kyoto Protocol, the global agreement designed to cut down greenhouse emissions. The U.S. withdrew because it found the targets of the Kyoto Protocol too stringent.

Oblivious to its inconsistencies, the Bush Doctrine asserts:

“Our strategies for attaining this goal will be to:

  •  remain committed to the basic U.N. Framework Convention for international cooperation;

  •  promote renewable energy production and clean coal technology, as well as nuclear power—which produces no greenhouse gas emissions, while also improving fuel economy for U.S. cars and trucks; “ (NSS, p.20)

  • assist developing countries, especially the major greenhouse gas emitters such as China and India, so that they will have the tools and resources to join this effort and be able to grow along a cleaner and better path.” (NSS, p.20)

All these statements can be taken with a grain of salt. The U.S. has demonstrated so many times its low regard for the UN and has not participated in many of its agreements. And, of course, recently, the U.S. humiliated the U.N. for not endorsing the war on Iraq. Furthermore, the U.S. statement on nuclear energy is self-serving and is really a cover for facilitating the export of a dying and hazardous technology.

The U.S. is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. And it has not demonstrated the political and economic will to reduce its emissions. So the statement above is vacuous. It will be like the blind leading the blind. How can the world’s biggest polluter, which does not want to curb its greenhouse emissions to conform to global standards, achieve any level of moral suasion over other greenhouse gas-emitting nations like China and India?

Development and Aid as Trojan Horse for Empire

Even an enthusiastic supporter of “free” trade like the U.S. realizes that economic assistance and “free” trade alone are not enough. The whole spectrum of development concerns have to be addressed.

“Decades of massive development assistance have failed to spur economic growth in the poorest countries. Worse, development aid has often served to prop up failed policies, relieving the pressure for reform and perpetuating misery. Results of aid are typically measured in dollars spent by donors, not in the rates of growth and poverty reduction achieved by recipients. These are the indicators of a failed strategy.” (P.21)

This is actually a perfect description of the impact of U.S. aid, which has often operated under the ambit of the Cold War and now operates under the ambit of world Empire. The U.S. Agency for International Development, with its many conditionalities, hidden agendas, and low-intensity-conflict programs, is one of the least progressive aid institutions in the world. Furthermore, as a percentage of its GNP, the U.S. has one of the world’s lowest aid budgets. In addition, U.S. development aid is linked heavily with overt U.S. geopolitical and military objectives. Among the largest recipients of U.S. aid are Israel, Turkey, and Pakistan. Now that aid has formally come under the orbit of the Bush Doctrine of Empire, the situation can only get worse.

And now another remarkable statement from the Bush Doctrine.

“A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just nor stable. Including all of the world’s poor in an expanding circle of development—and opportunity—is a moral imperative and one of the top priorities of U.S. international policy.” (NSS, p.21)

This statement indirectly exonerates the U.S. from any responsibility for the billions of poor people around the world. However, U.S. policies of war, covert operation, installation of dictatorial regimes, and “free” trade, among others, have caused and are causing many of the suffering of the world.

And here comes the “carrot” for those that would follow the star of Empire.

Provide resources to aid countries that have met the challenge of national reform. We propose a 50 percent increase in the core development assistance given by the United States. While continuing our present programs, including humanitarian assistance based on need alone, these billions of new dollars will form a new Millennium Challenge Account for projects in countries whose governments rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom. Governments must fight corruption, respect basic human rights, embrace the rule of law, invest in health care and education, follow responsible economic policies, and enable entrepreneurship. The Millennium Challenge Account will reward countries that have demonstrated real policy change and challenge those that have not to implement reforms.” (NSS, pp.21-22)

In effect, the U.S. is saying this. We will subtly or not so subtly advise or nag leaders regarding how they are running their countries. They will be amply rewarded should they decide to align themselves with the social framework and style of the Empire.

The World Bank and other multilateral development banks will not escape the pressure to align policies and programs with that of the U.S. Empire. The U.S. will see to it that the World Bank, IMF, and other similar institutions will lock step with the marching orders of the Empire.

“Improve the effectiveness of the World Bank and other development banks in raising living standards. The United States is committed to a comprehensive reform agenda for making the World Bank and the other multilateral development banks more effective in improving the lives of the world’s poor.” (NSS, p.22)

Establishing a global empire is both an immediate and a long term commitment for the U.S. It therefore needs to deal with the nemesis of empires past: the hearts and minds of people around the world. This will require investing in approaches that will shape a consciousness and a feeling supportive of Empire.

 “Emphasize education. Literacy and learning are the foundation of democracy and development. Only about 7 percent of World Bank resources are devoted to education. This proportion should grow. The United States will increase its own funding for education assistance by at least 20 percent with an emphasis on improving basic education and teacher training in Africa. The United States can also bring information technology to these societies, many of whose education systems have been devastated by HIV/AIDS.” (NSS, p.23)

The U.S. recognizes the immense value of education in the permanent subjugation of a people. You have not conquered a people unless you have also subjugated their soul and spirit. They know this from their first imperial adventure when they took over the global possessions of the Spanish Empire. The U.S. sent their teachers to the Philippines to “educate” their “brown brothers.” Over 90 years later, most Filipinos still have a hard time shedding their colonial mentality.

The U.S. wants to make sure that its effort in building an empire is pervasive. Therefore, the U.S. even has an agriculture and agricultural biotechnology component in its quest for a global empire.

“Continue to aid agricultural development. New technologies, including biotechnology, have enormous potential to improve crop yields in developing countries while using fewer pesticides and less water. Using sound science, the United States should help bring these benefits to the 800 million people, including 300 million children, who still suffer from hunger and malnutrition.” (NSS, p. 23)

The Bush Doctrine is the perfect context to understand the biotech war that is going on between the U.S. and the EU at the present time. The U.S. has sued the EU before the WTO because the EU has declared a moratorium on the import of genetically engineered products into Europe. The EU has signaled its intention to lift the moratorium but will replace it with labeling requirements. Of course, the U.S., the supreme defender of “freedom” and human rights, does not support the consumers’ right to know and continues to object to EU policies. Under the Bush Doctrine, the U.S. wants to maintain its economic basis of Empire and is therefore positioning its biotech industry to gain control over the land regions of the world.

There is also something interesting in the tone and language of this explicit support for the biotech industry in the Bush Doctrine. It seems as if it was written by the biotech industry which has very deep connection with the U.S. government, whether Republican or Democrat.

Above the Law: Empire As Law-Giver, not Law-Follower

In all these areas of “free” trade, societal development, and aid, the U.S. will de facto provide the new global rules. However, it will not bind itself to these new rules.

“In many regions, legitimate grievances prevent the emergence of a lasting peace. Such grievances deserve to be, and must be, addressed within a political process. But no cause justifies terror. The United States will make no concessions to terrorist demands and strike no deals with them. We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them.” NSS, p. 5.

What is the U.S. really saying with a statement like this? Follow what we say but not what we do. Only the United States can use extra-political means, like covert operations, terror and war, to press its grievances against other countries. If other countries imitate the U.S., then they will become the victims of the U.S.-led global war on rogue states and terrorism.

“America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women; religious and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property.” (NSS, p.3)

Of course, this statement is for other nations only, not the U.S. The U.S. can violate international law like it has with its pre-emptive war against Iraq. Others cannot rely on the “absolute power of the state” or on the concept of “national sovereignty” to justify internal acts. Only the U.S. can do this especially in its absolute and unlimited capability to declare war on other nations under the pretext of a global war on terrorism.

“The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather.” (NSS, p15)

For the U.S., preemptive strike is moral self-defense. For other nations, the U.S. will construe it as aggression. Clearly there is a double standard at work. But who will punish the U.S. for this double standard when the U.S. is the Empire?

Empire as Context for All Foreign Policy

When all is said and done, everything boils down to one thing.

“Our principles will guide our government’s decisions about international cooperation, the character of our foreign assistance, and the allocation of resources. They will guide our actions and our words in international bodies.” (NSS, p. 4)

In short, if you want to understand the U.S.A. of today, understand it as a global Empire. That will clue you in on what “will guide our actions and our words in international bodies” and world affairs.

Or in a parody of Clinton’s famous statement about the economy: It is the Empire—Stupid!

Deal with Global Civil Society

Earlier, we have mentioned the nemesis of all empires past and present. It is the “unconquerable world”[8] of hearts and minds of the would-be subjects of empires. There are no empires if there are no passive “citizens” of empires.

In this tradition, the greatest threat to the Empire project of the U.S. is global civil society. In civil society resides cultural power—the power to sway hearts and minds, the power to deconstruct symbols and brands, including the brand of Empire, the “brand” of U.S. lifestyle. The U.S. cannot consolidate its Empire if resistance is endemic in the different territories of the world. Thus, the U.S. recognizes the importance of “diplomacy” with civil society, including non-governmental organizations.

“The State Department takes the lead in managing our bilateral relationships with other governments. And in this new era, its people and institutions must be able to interact equally adroitly with non-governmental organizations and international institutions. Officials trained mainly in international politics must also extend their reach to understand complex issues of domestic governance around the world, including public health, education, law enforcement, the judiciary, and public diplomacy.” (NSS, pp.30-31)

This imperative of dealing with civil society is urgent especially in the light of the massive global demonstrations against the war in Iraq. Thousands of civil society organizations around the world mobilized in over 600 cities and town and convinced over 15 million people to attend this historical demonstration against the United States. As a result, The New York Times characterized global public opinion, an aspect of the cultural power of global civil society, as the “second global superpower”.

Suppression of Internal Dissent

As it secures its global frontiers, the U.S. is also making sure that it is not vulnerable from within. It is securing its domestic front by suppressing internal dissent with draconian measures like the Patriot Act I (p.6), and the forthcoming Patriot Act II. The U.S. government is prepared to declare emergency rule once their “Code Red” is breached. (See Gannett News Service) In addition, the Bush Doctrine aims to drastically transform U.S. law and institutions (Chapter 9) to align U.S. society with its new role as conscious global Empire.

“Ultimately, the foundation of American strength is at home. It is in the skills of our people, the dynamism of our economy, and the resilience of our institutions. A diverse, modern society has inherent, ambitious, entrepreneurial energy. Our strength comes from what we do with that energy. That is where our national security begins. (NSS, p.31)

The U.S. elite recognize that, ultimately, their project of global Empire can only continue with the support of its citizens. They are therefore prepared to take very unusual measures to secure the support of their citizens. And what does and will this consist of?

“While we recognize that our best defense is a good offense, we are also strengthening America’s homeland security to protect against and deter attack.

This Administration has proposed the largest government reorganization since the Truman Administration created the National Security Council and the Department of Defense. Centered on a new Department of Homeland Security and including a new unified military command and a fundamental reordering of the FBI, our comprehensive plan to secure the homeland encompasses every level of government and the cooperation of the public and the private sector.” (NSS, p.6) (Emphasis added.)

Before imposing the ultimate nightmare of martial law, the U.S. government will first aim to tame internal dissent by hijacking the powerful tri-sectoral approach for the purposes of the Empire.

In recent yeas, many scholars, policy and decision makers have realized the existence of three societal powers: government in politics, business (“private sector”) in the economy, and civil society (the “public”) in culture. Business and civil society, especially the latter, can countervail powerful government initiatives. In the alternative, these three powers can come together, under a common agenda and agreed principles of unity, to undertake constructive national and global reforms.[9] Now, the intention of the Bush Doctrine is to use the tri-sectoral approach to confer legitimacy to empire.

Legitimation of Empire and Disinformation

Connected with its battle to control the minds and hearts of its “subjects”, the U.S. will retain the legitimacy of Empire through a “war of ideas” (p.6), read as “disinformation”.

For example, the U.S. has reframed the “clash of civilizations” as internal to the Muslim world (p.31), diverting attention away from the culture of the U.S. Empire as the “mother” of all clashes of civilization.

For another example of psychological warfare, the U.S. keeps on referring to September 11 and the war on terrorism (p.5, among many pages) as an excuse for Empire, even if it has become obvious that many of the previous and current global moves of the U.S. have nothing to do with September 11. In this context, it would be useful to read the 2002 book by Scott Ritter, War on Iraq, which devastates, with facts, the alibis of the U.S. for attacking Iraq.

In addition, the U.S. will also make sure that it will avoid criminal liability for Empire by ignoring the UN’s International Criminal Court (p.31).

Empire building is a very radical and revolutionary departure from current practices in world affairs so it is important NOT to be too blunt about this radical doctrine of global empire. Therefore, as we shall presently see, the U.S. has couched this new aggressive doctrine in nice phrases like freedom, peace, security, etc.

Covering Up Aggressive Policies with Nice Words

Let us take our first example.

“We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, . . . and NATO . . . Coalitions of the willing can augment these permanent institutions. In all cases, international obligations are to be taken seriously.” (Bush Introduction to the NSS)

As we have seen in great detail above, the Bush Doctrine says one thing while the U.S. does another in practice. The U.S. has implemented many unilateral policies, including the unilateral decision to go to war against Iraq despite objections from the UN. “Coalitions of the willing” means gathering allies for war. The real meaning of “augment” is to conduct war.

Legitimacy Through Psychological Warfare

Examples of disinformation abound in the Bush Doctrine.

“Just as our diplomatic institutions must adapt so that we can reach out to others, we also need a different and more comprehensive approach to public information efforts that can help people around the world learn about and understand America. The war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations. It does, however, reveal the clash inside a civilization, a battle for the future of the Muslim world. This is a struggle of ideas and this is an area where America must excel.” (NSS, p.31)

This statement tries to psychologically calm down the guilty American conscience. There is no problem with the U.S. worldview. The war on terrorism is about a clash of civilizations internal to the Muslim world.

In addition to this kind of irresponsible re-framing, the “comprehensive approach to public information” means, among others, supporting the equivalent of a Christian Right BBC broadcasting [dis]information to the Arabic world. The U.S. does not see that its worldview of Empire is the mother of all “clashes of civilizations”.

Part of the psychological conditioning is to continue using September 11 as an excuse to launch a global empire, even if future global adventures, like the war in Iraq, have no connection with September 11.

“The United States of America is fighting war against terrorists of global reach. The enemy is not a single political regime or person or religion or ideology. The enemy is terrorism— premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents.” (p.5)

Legitimation Through Disinformation

In addition to psychological condition, the U.S. will achieve legitimacy for Empire through disinformation. Here is a good example taken from the Bush’s Introduction to the National Security Strategy.

“Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence. In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage. We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty. . . . We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.” (p. 1 of Bush Introduction to NSS.)

There are at least three lies contained in this sentence. In actual practice, the U.S. has ignored the U.N. in its unilateral pre-emptive war against Iraq. Thus the U.S. has used its strength for “unilateral advantage” and has destroyed the “good relations among the great powers”. And, as documented earlier, the Bush Doctrine clearly states that the U.S. will not only “encourage” the opening of societies. It will “compel” other nations to do its will!

Here is another example of NSS disinformation that does not have to be interpreted because it is contradicted by another statement in the NSS itself. Bush, in his NSS introduction, says:

“We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations …”

The truth is:

“We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by . . .defending the United States . . . and our interests at home and abroad. While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists” . . . (NSS, p.6) (Emphasis added.)

A final example.

“The presence of American forces overseas is one of the most profound symbols of the U.S. commitments to allies and friends. “(NSS, p.29)

Not only is the presence of U.S. forces hated around the world. It is also a “most profound symbol” to ensure global domination and to encourage weak states and leaders to align themselves with imperial America.

These examples of blatant disregard of its own track record in international affairs reveal to us the real nature of the National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The Bush Doctrine is a disinformation document, a means of psychological warfare and propaganda meant to cover the real intent and game plan of a Bush regime that has taken over the most powerful nation in world history. For, as we have seen, the Bush Doctrine is nothing else than the formal declaration that the U.S.A. has now chosen the route of EMPIRE, that it will remake the world in its own image, and will shatter any resistance that stands in the way.

Avoid Criminal Liability for Empire

One last point: “Shatter any resistance” also means “shattering” the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over the U.S.

 “We will take the actions necessary to ensure that our efforts to meet our global security commitments and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept.” (NSS, p.31)

If the U.S. conducts criminal activities in the pursuit of its interests, or Empire, as it has done in the past (see above), these acts will not be subject and liable to the globally accepted international body that prosecutes criminal action.


The Bush Doctrine details an ambitious and comprehensive plan to deploy both hard and soft power to ensure the imperial domination of the world. And the U.S. has ignored and continues to ignore international law and multilateral arrangements to advance Empire.

The emergence of the U.S. Empire has cast serious doubt on the future of the United Nations. Can it exist in its present form? Or will the UN slide into oblivion in a manner similar to the League of Nations. It raises the question—what organizing principle beyond the nation state would be installed, if any at all, should the UN become an irrelevant global player?

Similarly, the emergence of the U.S. Empire also raises the question of the relevance of all the commitments made in the world summits convened in the last decade of the 20th century. And what about all the treaties that have been agreed under the rubric of the United Nations?

The U.S. also understands the weakness of the nation-state construct when it comes to the inviolability of the universal rights of human beings. Increasing numbers of people all over the world agree with setting limits to the absolute jurisdiction of the nation-state over its citizens when it comes to grave abuse of human rights, including torture and killings. The U.S. is exploiting this fatal weakness but is instituting a new world order that equally violates a range of human rights. For better or for worse, nation-states are loosing their legitimacy as the sole and final arbiter of human rights of their citizens. And beyond the issue of human rights, the U.S. Empire also portends serious interference with aspects of the nation state that are legitimately within a country’s right to resolve.

In the economic realm, the issue of Empire is also highly problematic. Will fair trade ever be possible when the political world is reconstituting itself in response to the U.S. imperative of Empire? What will be the future of economic agreements when the most powerful player, the U.S., will no longer abide by the rules and will use existing rules always within the context of advancing its own imperial interests?

These debates on new forms of global cooperation and governance, of the future of nation-states, of the inalienable rights of human beings beyond any social construct, among others, are not going to be very easy debates to resolve. But the U.S. Empire is forcing the world to enter with it into un-charted territory—the new social forms of the future, more benign or even more destructive of human lives and nature.

The “good” news for the other countries is that the U.S. has clearly laid out its grand plans for world domination. Nations are therefore forewarned. The signals for Empire are clear. Nations do not need to second-guess and can develop their response on the basis of this reality.

The bad news is that, as the war in Iraq has shown, the nations of the world no longer have recourse to international law and multilateral arrangements to reign in the ambition and greed of the U.S. government and its elites. They will now have to find another way to contain the most powerful and ambitious Empire that the world has ever known.

Nations and their leaders are in a dilemma. Will they become members of the “coalition of the willing” of the U.S. Empire and prostitute themselves for a fee? Already government leaders of countries including the United Kingdom, Britain, Spain, Italy, and the Philippines, have chosen to be vassals or tributaries of the Empire, creating chaos in their own societies. Or will they resist the U.S. Empire and suffer the brunt of covert and overt efforts by the U.S. to punish them?

The only light at the end of the tunnel is the increasing resistance to Empire by millions and the increasing alternative initiatives they are starting to implement all over the world.

What will the future world look like when these two “superpower” forces clash in earnest? Will it be the descent of humanity and civilization to new lows of barbarism? Or will it be the birth of a new civilization?

There is only one thing for certain and under our own area of influence. We all now face the choice of what we do with our lives. Shall we become slaves to the Empire? Or will we awaken our full human potentials and create a new and better world?


[1] Nicanor Perlas is President of Center for Alternative Development Initiatives (CADI), a civil society organization based in Metro Manila, Philippines ( He has lectured extensively in several continents on the topic of the U.S. Empire and its impact on the future of humanity. His book, Shaping Globalization: Civil Society, Cultural Power, and Threefolding, has been translated in over 7 languages. He was also recently awarded the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel) for 2003.

[2] For more details, see Chalmers Johnson. 2002. Blowback; The Consequences and Cost of U.S. Empire.

[3] See Scott Ritter. 2002. The War on Iraq. Ritter was the former head of the UN Inspections Team. He resigned when the U.S. started using the UN Inspections Team for illegal activities, specifically as an instrument for covert intelligence gathering against Iraq.

[4] See Michael Mann. 1986, The Sources of Social Power, for the dialectics between empires and their vassal and tributary states.

[5] It should be clear by now that this briefing paper does not support dictators and totalitarian regimes. However, the question is how to solve the problem. Will it be through the “distinctively American internationalism and its search for Empire or through processes within the United Nations.

[6] See NASA’s Vision 2020 for fuller details regarding “Star Wars”.

[7] Genuine tri-sector partnerships are cooperative but critical engagements among civil society organizations, government agencies, and socially responsible businesses in pursuit of authentic and comprehensive sustainable development. These partnerships have arisen due to the growing recognition that civil society’s cultural power carries clout as is the third global force shaping world affairs. As such civil society initiatives act as a countervailing force against totalitarian tendencies in the state and the market. Authentic partnerships have also emerged out of the recognition that comprehensive sustainable development requires the mobilization of culture, in addition to political will and economic resources.

[8] This is used in the sense of Jonathan Schell’s, The Unconquerable World which was published in 2003.

[9] See, Nicanor Perlas. 2001. Shaping Globalization: Civil Society, Cultural Power, and Threefolding. Or visit or


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