Open Fire and Open Markets: Strategy of an Empire

October 1, 2003

By Anuradha Mittal

OAKLAND, Oct 1 2003 (IPS) - Eruptions of armed aggression by the US should not distract us from the underlying logic of economic imperialism. America's 'war for freedom' or 'war on terrorism' is at one with its expansionary goals for the market: open invasion in some places, and open markets everywhere. In this article for IPS, the author writes that the plans for Iraq go beyond reconstruction. The intention is to create a dream economy — completely privatised and foreign-owned. The war on Iraq was shadowed by a battle among American corporations to win reconstruction contracts. Resistance to the unilateral US strategy does not go over well. In March 2003, President Bush alluded to the possibility of reprisals if Mexico didn't vote America's way in the UN Security Council on the question of Iraq. In July 2003, the administration cut off military aid to 35 friendly countries in retaliation for their support of the International Criminal Court (ICC). And following the collapse of trade talks in Cancun, the US is threatening 'to take note' of those countries that 'torpedoed' the negotiations in Cancun. However, the US position as a solo superpower could be short-lived. Washington's desire to dominate affairs around the world has created a global resistance stoked by a combination of developing country resentments inflamed by US arrogance, a crippled economy, an expensive invasion and occupation of Iraq that has not gone well for the US, and reinvigorated civil society resistance to corporate driven globalisation.

Eruptions of armed aggression by the US should not distract us from the underlying logic of economic imperialism. America’s ”war for freedom” or ”war on terrorism” is at one with its expansionary goals for the market: open invasion in some places, and open markets everywhere.

The recolonisation of the South by the US is a carefully crafted strategy. First it cut its UN contributions. Then it shrank aid to the Third World, using its trade agenda as a justification. It uses both carrots –trade agreements for acquiescent states like Israel and Jordan, military aid and graft for once-”friendly” Iraq and Afghanistan– and sticks –embargoes and bombs for non-compliant nations such as Cuba and out-of-favour Afghanistan and Iraq.