TFF logoFORUMS Meeting Point

Will the Empire be Fascist?




Richard Falk

Visiting Distinguished Professor, Global Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara and Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University

TFF associate

March 24, 2003

The United States is by circumstance and design an emergent global empire, the first in the history of the world. Prior empires have had frontiers and boundaries, although occupying large expanses of territory, and exerting control from a distant center that due to available technologies of communication and transportation were further away in time than is any part of the global from Washington. In purely temporal terms, the American Empire is thus smaller than earlier great empires associated with China, the Ottomans, the Persians, the Austro-Hungarian, and the overseas empires of the British, French, Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese.

It is important to appreciate the consequences of an empire of global scope. Such an empire, to the extent that it is established and sustained without significant resistance, raise a special challenge to world order. Over the course of modern history, in particular, stability in international relations has been maintained primarily by reliance on countervailing power, often interpreted by reference to "the balance of power," and giving rise to various schools of "realist" thinking to explain the central ordering role of power. Such an international equilibrium was complemented in the Westphalia Era by "war," which served as a crude and cruel legislative substitute, introducing periodic changes in maps portraying the boundaries of territorial states. A third ordering instrument was by way of various forms of "hegemony" that established geographic zones of control, known as "spheres of influence," by which powerful states exerted control over the behavior of weaker states, as illustrated by such patterns as the Monroe Doctrine, the Soviet Bloc, and the Atlantic Alliance. The fourth and weakest, yet most promising ordering device in world politics, is associated with international law, especially as institutionalized within the United Nations. Such a framework of international law, the struggle to find an alternative to war in the setting of conflict and change has taken on a sense of urgency since the development of weaponry of mass destruction, but lacks the independent capabilities to ensure respect for its constraints by powerful states and by newly formidable non-state actors (the al Qaeda network).

Against this background the shape of the world order crisis becomes more evident. An American Empire that repudiates international law and is unchecked by countervailing power is a political actor that possesses an abundant arsenal of nuclear weapons and is confronted by a non-state enemy that has been pronounced as "evil," justifying an exterminist approach to the conflict. Beyond this, the American approach to global security extends its response to anti-terrorism to encompass states that are perceived as hostile, and possess or may possess weaponry of mass destruction. The Iraq War is an expression of this extension, made particularly disturbing because the alleged casis belli was not endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and cannot be reconciled with international law.

This essay explores the implication of these trends as defining the American Empire, and specifically argues that the prospects associated with such a reality no longer support, if indeed they ever did, the school of benign imperialists who while acknowledging the imperial moment for the United States, insisted that it was a benevolent political configuration as compared to prior imperial projects, and provided the world with the global public good of security without oppression and exploitation. [Prime explicit imperialists of this stripe are Robert Kagen, Michael Ignatieff, see notes-] Indeed, I believe that the American Empire is turning toward a system of militarized control that includes a repudiation of the authority of international law and of the United Nations. To underscore my sense of concern about this style of imperial control I treat these trends as posing a threat of "global fascism." It is a threat that has begun to be realized in the context of the American response to the September 11 attacks, but especially by the extension of this response by way of aggressive war making to the "axis of evil" countries. Such a threat is also accentuated by the development of resistance to this American project by the peoples of the world, as evident in the anti-war movement that took shape during the Iraq crisis, including in the United States itself. The response of cynical disregard by the US Government occurred in an atmosphere in which sweeping claims to curtail liberties have been given legislative backing by the Congress and where discriminatory policies have been formally and informally pursued with respect to Muslims resident in the United States, especially young male Arab-Americans and non-citizens. Given this rising tide of resistance that encounters an official mindset that is empowered by a dangerous blend of religious and geopolitical zeal, the moves toward fascist modes of control are plausibly feared and anticipated.


An Imperial Moment

Andrew Bacevich expresses clearly a view that is increasingly encountered in mainstream American commentary, acknowledging for better or worse, a new imperial role for the United States: "..the question that Americans can no longer afford to dodge&emdash;is not whether the United States has become an imperial power. The question is what sort of empire they intend theirs to be." [Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002)244] Bacevich ends his book by stressing the importance of this acknowledgement of empire, insisting that concealing such an imperial reality will lead to "..not just the demise of the American empire but great danger for what used to be known as the American republic." [also, p. 244]

A similar theme was influentially intoned by Michael Ignatieff who calls for an American understanding of its imperial role as "a burden" that is the consequence of its preeminence in the world. Ignatieff gives empire a potentially favorable gloss, arguing that "[t]he case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope of democracy and stability alike." [Michael Ignatieff, "The Burden," NYTimes Magazine, Jan. 5, 2003, 22-27, 50-54, at 54] Ignatieff couples his advocacy with the warning that empires decline and fall when they overreach, ignoring limits on their capabilities. As with Bacevich, Ignatieff believes that overcoming the American inhibition to mention the "E-word" is the first requirement for reinterpreting the appropriate US global role given its preeminent power.

Clarifying this American role did not begin with the presidency of George W. Bush. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 there have been strong statements based on a new American-dominated power structure, including celebrations of a so-called "unipolar moment" (Charles Krauthammer) and assertions that the United States is "the indispensable nation" (Madeleine Albright). [Krauthammer, "The Unipolar Moment," Foreign Affairs 70(No. 1) 1990-91] These sentiments as intoned during the Bush Sr. and Clinton years were mostly understood as leadership challenges to be met by the United States in the aftermath of the cold war. In the wings of American policymaking were shrill more radical neo-conservative voices arguing that the end of the cold war presented the US Government with an extraordinary opportunity to fill the vacuum created by the Soviet collapse with American power for the benefit of the world. Such a vision hatched in the ideologically overheated incubators of such well-financed think tanks as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. This historic possibility, it was argued, could only be realized if the US Government would consciously pursue a global dominance project by way of an increased investment in military capabilities, that is, going against the flow of mainstream thinking at the time that "a peace dividend" and nuclear disarmament were the best ways to take advantage of the end of the cold war. It was further contended that if the United States failed to rise to the occasion, it would encourage forces of disorder throughout the world, producing a variety of dangers and setbacks for the United States. In a sense, there was no choice but to make use of American power, as enhanced by an expanded global military capability. [These neo-con views were influentially laid out by the contributors to Robert Kagan & William Kristol, eds., Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy (San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2002); and again in the report of the project of The New American Century Project entitled "Rebuilding our Defenses," published in 2000]

In the same period, more centrist figures in the United States were articulating more modest versions of a parallel vision of a reconstituted world order. [For example, under the auspices of the Council of Foreign Relations see Jan Lodel, The Price of Dominance (New York: Council of Foreign Relations Press, 2001; also G. John Ikenberry, ed., America Unrivaled: The Future of the Balance of Power (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002)]. Joseph Nye suggested that American superiority in the increasingly important domains of "soft power" would allow the establishment of a more stable and beneficial world order that was anchored in multilateralism and patterns of cooperative international problem-solving. [Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 1991); also, Nye, The Paradox of American Power: Why the world's only superpower can't go it alone (New York: Oxford, 2002).] These centrist leadership models relied on non-military means to sustain American global dominance, and avoided illiberal designations such as "empire" or "imperial" to designate the process. Yet, by so framing the grand strategy debate in this period after the cold war, it provided space for those more neo-conservative perspectives that insisted that these goals could only be reached by "hard power," the ability and willingness to project superior military to the four corners of the planet. [See Frank Carlucci, Robert Hunter, and Zalmay Khalilzad, eds., Taking Charge: A Bipartisan Report to the President-Elect on Foreign Policy and National Security (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2001)]

This commentary on the global scene was basically overshadowed during the 1990s by the preoccupation with economic globalization as the defining reality of a new era of international relations in which market forces associated with trade and investment assume priority over traditional security concerns, given the absence of serious strategic or ideological conflict among leading states. From this perspective, a principal world order concern was the future of the sovereign state, as well as the struggle of non-Western peoples to sustain their distinctive identities in a consumerist world shaped by the materialist tastes of the American people and their hegemonic popular culture. This challenge mounted by the economic globalizers energized global civil society, giving rise to a global democracy movement designed to make the world economy more equitable in its distribution of benefits, and accountable to the peoples of the world as well as to their corporate boards. It also gave rise to a religious resurgence of global scope, which in certain manifestations, especially in the Islamic world posed a direct challenge to globalization and American global leadership. [For an assessment of this dynamic see Richard Falk, Religion and Humane Global Governance (New York: Palgrave, 2001)]

The September 11 attacks occurred against such a background, and almost immediately moved the global security agenda back onto the center stage world politics, and once again removed global economic issues from active public concern. But what became clear almost from the first responses by the US Government was a decision by the White House to frame its response to mega-terrorism in terms that incorporated the radical neo-conservative conception of a future world order. President Bush immediately insisted that other countries have the choice of either being on the side of the United States or "with the terrorists." At the same time, the net was spread much wider than the defensive necessities of the situation, encompassing "terrorism" in general, and not just the "mega-terrorism" of the al Qaida challenge. [This distinction is a central theme of my book, Falk, The Great Terror War (Northhampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2003] This enlarged conception of "the war" allowed the Bush administration to shift the focus of the American response from the al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan to "the axis of evil" countries that had essentially no connection with mega-terrorism, but were definitely standing in the way of the American espousal of global dominance as a goal to be actively pursued. It is this shift that has brought the issue of "empire" into the open, and raised the question of what type of empire, what repercussions it would have for America as a constitutional democracy, and how it would play out in world politics. The international turmoil generated by the White House resolve to wage war against Iraq has placed these issues in the sharpest possible relief, giving rise to a massive popular mobilization of resistance throughout the world and a diplomatic revolt by some of America's closest allies and traditional friends. The Iraq crisis played out in part within the United Nations Security Council posed a dreadful choice for the membership, to go along with aggressive warmaking in violation of the UN Charter or to find itself bypassed by American military unilateralism.


Depicting the Radical Vision of the Bush administration at home and abroad

President Bush has set forth the American commitment to an imperial world order with relative clarity. Elements of this vision were being promoted by the Bush presidency well before September. The priority accorded to the militarization of space, which included the unilateral scrapping of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, was certainly an expensive, destabilizing step taken in the direction of American global dominance. Beyond this, an imperial approach to the rest of the world was disclosed by the repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol on the emission of greenhouse gasses, by a reject of the treaty setting up the International Criminal Court, and by an overall diplomatic posture that was dismissive of humanitarian undertakings. Also, relevant was the appointment to positions of the greatest influence in the Bush administration the most extreme cold war hawks who were the principal authors of the neo-con worldview in the 1990s, including Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, the reputed architects of a Pentagon leaked document in 1992 that advocated an American grand strategy that was centered on ensuring that in no region of the world should the United States allow a military power to emerge that might be capable of challenging American dominance.[David Armstrong, "Dick Cheney's Song of America: Drafting a plan for global dominance," Harper's Magazine, Oct. 2002, 76-83; Nicholas Lemann, "The Next World Order," The New Yorker, April 1, 2002, 42-48; and see Robert Kagen writing in 1998, "The Benevolent Empire," Foreign Policy, Summer 1998, 24-35,]

The American response to September 11 has greatly accelerated the drive for global dominance, although it has been masked beneath the banners of anti-terrorism. The rapid military buildup of American forces, their adaptation to the challenges of hostile forces in the non-Western world, the extension of anti-terrorism to "axis of evil" countries, and the general acceptance of this role by mainstream American public opinion have all had the effect of moving the project of American empire into the center of political consciousness. The Bush administration in its formal public presentations has been careful to discuss its goals as premised upon anti-terrorism, but the broader claims, although expressed in an indirect form lent undeniable support to imperial allegations. President Bush has made his most authoritative statement in a June 2002 address at West Point, and more comprehensively in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America released by the White House in September 2002.

At West Point Bush repeated the familiar litany about American goals in the world as fully compatible with traditional ideas of world order based on the interaction of sovereign states. The president told the graduating cadets that "America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish." He then went on, after describing the threats posed by weaponry of mass destruction in hostile hands, to articulate precisely American plans for global dominance and a utopia of sorts. The utopian element was the promise to eliminate war among "civilized" states from the international scene, insisting that "civilized nations find themselves on the same side..thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace." But such a promise was coupled with the dominance theme, indeed, present in the same sentence: "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge." And so the global security system is based on the combination of demilitirization for the rest of the world, while the US relies on its military might to keep the peace. [Quoted passages all from the text of the West Point speech as available from the White House website ]

This double emphasis is repeated in a more oblique form, yet unmistakably, in the White House National Security Strategy document. In his signed cover letter introducing the document Bush says "[t]oday, the international community has the best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers compete in peace instead of continually prepare for war. Today, the world's great powers find ourselves on the same side&emdash;united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. The United States will build on these common interests to promote global security." Such expectations are accompanied by an embrace of "the democratic peace theory" so popular among the benign imperialists during the 1990s. In Bush's words, "..the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world." Such a design combines ideas of American dominance associated with economic globalization, that were prevalent before September 11, with more militarist ideas associated with the anti-terrorist climate of the early 21st century.

There is the further disclosure of a deliberate bid to impose a hierarchical form of world order, in other words, an imperial structure on the rest of the world, by the official approach taken in NSS 2002 toward its one plausible geopolitical rival, China. In discussing American plans for Asia-Pacific region China is given some patronizing advice, sure to cause consternation in the policy institutes at work in Beijing and Shanghai. The language is worth quoting: "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." [NSS 2002, 27] Apparently oblivious to the inconsistency, a few paragraphs later NSS 2002 suggests the essential reliance of the US on its military superiority: "It is time to reaffirm the essential role of American military strength. We must build our defenses beyond challenge." [p.29] And further, [T]he unparalleled strength of the United States armed forces, and their forward presence, have maintained the peace in some of the world's most strategically vital reigons." [p.29] To lecture China (and presumably others) about the outdatedness of military power while spending devoting more resources to its military budget than the next fifteen countries combined can only be understood as a message from the imperial capital to a subordinate part of the empire.

It seems safe to conclude the following about the drift of American power in the early 21st century. The basic move is to adopt policies that anchor the imperial project in a military approach to global security. While not abandoning the ideological precepts of neoliberal globalization, the Bush administration places its intense free market advocacy beneath a security blanket that includes suspect advice to other governments to devote their resources to non-military activities. Such advice is coupled with an acknowledgement of the new and acute American vulnerability to mega-terrorist attack by non-state actors, and an accompanying call for unity at home and internationally to help in confronting such a threat. There was a considerable show of such unity in the aftermath of September 11, but it has started to fray when the Bush administration extended its response to Iraq, raising suspicions that it was deliberately confusing the challenge of mega-terrorism with the ambition to establish an American Empire.

There is another quite different line of interpretation suggested by Nelson Mandela that September 11 had a disorienting effect on President Bush and his entourage of advisors. In Mandela's words, "[W]hat I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust." [quoted from a speech at the International Women's Forum in Sandton, South Africa, Feb. 2003] In effect, Mandela is implying that the imperial option to the extent pursued by the Bush approach will produce a massive war, not an era of peace, prosperity, and security.

What is meant by "think properly" can be understood in different ways. If taken to mean in a clear and self-interested way, it is a prediction that aggressive American military moves will provoke forms of resistance that eventuate in a war that is a disaster for America as well as for the rest of the world. But think properly can also be interpreted to mean in accordance with ethical and legal norms in which case the disregard of this framework of restraint will itself lead to an all-encompassing tragedy.


Why Global Fascism?

The benevolent empire school that surfaced in the 1990s, and maintains a subdued voice on the sidelines at present, was based on an acceptance of American claims of "moral exceptionalism." It focused on America as the vehicle for the spread of democracy and the only political actor willing to and capable of managing humanitarian interventions. Its advocates also believed that to the extent that countries could be induced to enter the modern world of industrial development and technological innovation within the setting of a globalizing world economy, the problems of disorder and political extremism would be abated.[For example, Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999)] The Bush approach seemingly repudiated such a path, insisting that the alleged "nation-building" of the 1990s was not serving America's strategic interests, and that much more emphasis should be placed on military capabilities to project American power to the four corners of the earth. This course of action suddenly became national policy, reinforced by support from the entire political spectrum, in the patriotic climate of opinion that has prevailed since the momentous events of September 11.

But to some extent, the idealism of the benevolent school has been incorporated into the refashioning of the imperial project by the Bush leadership. While other countries have interests, the United States has sustained the pretension, that it additionally, unlike other great powers of the past, embodies values of benefit to all, a claim repeated as if a mantra by President Bush and his main advisors. These values are designated as "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] In the NSS document: "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."[p.1] In relation to both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars the U.S. Government has defended its war making by pointing to alleged humanitarian gains associated with its reliance on military power. The US Government also disavowed any self-aggrandizing goals, angrily dismissing widespread accusations of anti-war critics that recourse to war against Iraq was driven by its oil ambitions, and promising to hold oil in trust for the people of Iraq during any period of American occupation.

Given this kind of emphasis is it not misleading to suggest that there has been a shift from the benevolent empire model that was articulated in the 1990s? And further, has not the reliance on military power been justified by the changed global circumstances brought about by the September 11 attacks and their repetition? Is not, in fact, the American advocacy of democracy and human rights both a continuation of the nation-building of the 1990s that it had earlier derided and an expression of an anti-fascist geopolitics? The weight of such questions does suggest that the debate about American Empire is far from over, but it does not undermine the argument of an emergent global fascism.

The analysis offered here is largely structural, although bolstered by the way in which the authority of the UN Security Council was manipulated by the United States, and then disregarded. The structural element arises from the facts of American military, economic, and diplomatic preeminence, and its explicit resolve to keep that edge. The US Government is devoting huge resources to the monopolistic militarization of space, the development of more usable nuclear weapons, and the strengthening of its world-girdling ring of military bases and its global navy, as the most tangible way to discourage any strategic challenges to its preeminence. True the realities of dominance are unlikely to be translated into formal relations of governance and subordination, but non-compliant actors in the world will either be destroyed or replaced with compliant actors. Compliance will be measured by accepting the American approach to global security, including the espousal of a free market ideology and the practice of a nominal constitutionalism. This combination of factors adds up to "empire" according to my assessment.

But why fascist? I would stress three elements. First of all, the combination of unchallengeable military preeminence with a rejection by the US Government of the restraining impact of international law and the United Nations. The Iraq debate brought this global militarist posture into the open. The Bush administration has relied on a novel and extensive doctrine of "preemption" (redescribed as "preventive war" by some critics to emphasize the absence of any show of imminent threat) that claims a right by the United States (but presumably no others) to initiate war against a foreign state without sustaining the burden of demonstrating a defensive necessity. It has further strained credulity, and weakened world order, by applying this doctrine to the circumstances of Iraq without even making a minimally credible showing of justifying evidence of an Iraqi threat. To take advantage of the anti-terrorist mood in the United States to mount this war was widely understood as the practice of vengeful geopolitics against an essentially helpless country.

The fact that this policy was filtered through the United Nations both revealed the imperial structure and the prospect of resistance. The imperial structure was evident in the manner with which the issue of Iraqi inspections was unanimously framed by UNSC Res. 1441, which accepted implicitly the central unsubstantiated claim that Iraq's possession of weaponry of mass destruction posed a war threat, which if not immediately removed by inspection and Iraqi disarmament, would lead to an American-led war outside the United Nations. If the Charter had been the guideline, it would be Iraq that would have received protection against such American provocations as constant military intrusions on its airspace over the course of years, ill-concealed programs of support for armed uprising by the enemies of the Baghdad regime, covert operations designed to destabilize governmental control in Iraq, and a military buildup that was shamelessly threatening a "shock and awe" attack unless the regime of Saddam Hussein capitulated to the demands being made that encroached centrally on Iraqi sovereign rights. Instead, the UN membership tried to reach the proclaimed American goals by reliance on inspection leading to disarmament. But the proclaimed American goals were rather evidently not fully expressive of American objectives, and so even effective inspection was not acceptable to Washington as an alternative to war and "regime change."

It is here that the membership of the Security Council has drawn the line, rejecting an abandonment of inspection despite the increasing evidence that it was accomplishing what the United States contended was the basis of the Iraqi threat and the grounds for the hypocritical claim that it was important to the credibility of the UN that its resolutions be implemented. It did not take observers long to note the US unwillingness to take steps over the years to implement the numerous Security Council resolutions directed at Israel with respect to withdrawal from the territories occupied during the 1967 War and the application of the Geneva Conventions specifying the obligations of Israel as the occupying power in the West Bank and Gaza.

From the moment the United States agreed to seek support for war at the UN, a seemingly multilateralist step that was vigorously opposed by the administration's ultra-hawks who sought to fashion American foreign policy without the bother of collective provcdures, the UN was placed in an untenable position. The speech of President Bush on September 12, 2002 to the General Assembly gave the UN the choice of supporting the US position, which seemed from the outset irreconcilable with international law and the UN Charter, or finding its authority bypassed by action undertaken by the United States and whatever coalition partners it could muster. The UNSC struggled hard to avoid an outcome that appeared to make its authority "irrelevant," bending 80% of the way in Washington's direction, but in the end it was not enough.

The major point here is that the US puts its strategic approach above the claims of international law and the procedures of the UN on the most vital matter of the decision to embark on a non-defensive war. Its shaping of the issue at the UN confirms the imperial structure of world politics, but the outcome reveals anti-imperial tensions that threaten to shrink the American Empire from its pretensions of global reach. The Iraq debate can thus be seen as both confirming the existence of an American Empire, but also as expressive of an emerging geopolitical resistance. The American defiance of this resistance, its abandonment of diplomacy and accommodation, is expressive of global fascism. It represents a consolidation of unaccountable military power on a global scale that overrides the constraints of international law and disregards the procedural role of the UNSC in authorizing uses of international force that cannot be encompassed within the right of self-defense enjoyed by all sovereign states.

Secondly, the US Government in moving against terrorism has claimed sweeping powers to deal with the concealed al Qaeda network. Some of these claims are necessary and justifiable to deal with the magnitude and nature of the threats posed by mega-terrorism. But the character of the powers claimed that include secret detentions, the authority to designate American citizens as "enemy combatants" without any rights, the public consideration of torture as a permissible police practice in anti-terrorist work, the scrutiny applied to those of Muslim faith, the reliance on assassination directed at terrorist suspects wherever they are found, and numerous invasions of privacy directed at ordinary people. These mechanisms of state power, given legal backing in the USA Patriots Act, and awaiting expected further strengthening in proposed legislation now called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act prepared by the Justice Department. The slide toward fascism at home is given tangible expression by these practices, but it is also furthered by an uncritical and chauvinistic patriotism, by the release of periodic alarmist warnings of mega-terrorist imminent attacks that fail to materialize, and by an Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who seems to exult in an authoritarian approach to law enforcement.

The third main concern about the onset of fascism arises from an impending collision between Washington's imperial geopolitics and the rising tendencies of grassroots resistance to the American Empire, along with the planetary spread of anti-American resentment. If such a movement from below becomes more aggressive, as is likely, and to the extent the other elements of the American approach continue, there will be felt the need to control and repress this populist resistance. Such an interaction will inflame feelings on both sides, making reliance on a fascist conception of control likely to prevail despite continuing American professions of belief in the ways of democracy and freedom.

For all these reasons, the dangers of global fascism cannot be discounted as imaginary or alarmist. Hopefully, counter-tendencies within the United States and the world will be sufficiently awakened by these dangers to fashion an effective response. America has proved to be resilient in the past as when anti-democratic forces were unleashed by the rabid witch-hunting anti-communism of McCarthyism during the 1950s, but this resilience is now being tested as never before, because the proponents of this extremist American global strategy currently occupy the heights of political influence in and around the White House and Pentagon, and seem to have no intention of giving ground under the increasing pressure of a growing challenge mounted by American grassroots opposition as reinforced by international public opinion.

Along the lines of the overall argument presented here, removing the threat of global fascism would not entirely dispose of the existence of an American Empire. There would still be the advocates of benevolent empire and the structural possibilities of reviving an economistic approach to globalization as existed in the 1990s.[See Falk, Predatory Globalization: A Critique (Cambridge: Polity, 2000); also Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000]



© TFF & the author 2003  


Tell a friend about this article

Send to:


Message and your name





Photo galleries

Nonviolence Forum

TFF News Navigator

Become a TFF Friend

TFF Online Bookstore

Reconciliation project

Make an online donation

Foundation update and more

TFF Peace Training Network

Make a donation via bank or postal giro

Menu below












The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
Vegagatan 25, S - 224 57 Lund, Sweden
Phone + 46 - 46 - 145909     Fax + 46 - 46 - 144512

© TFF 1997-2003