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After World War II, the United States had a huge military-industrial complex and a new control over the future of the defeated fascist states. There would be no return to the relative isolationism and pacifism embodied in American culture before the war. The “invisible hand” of capitalism took over after that, as those corporations investing in military might, as all corporations naturally do, sought financial gain with little regard to social welfare. There could be only one marketing strategy to that end: America’s “freedom” and the freedom of individual Americans had to be seen as depending on a strong military presence around the world, and the “national interest” pursued in affairs with other nations had to be defined in terms of defending the homeland against aggression.
As a result, the United States, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, continued and sought to extend the dominance and worldwide military presence established after World War II. Client states were maintained in underdeveloped regions of the world, and the United States developed a tendency to support authoritarian, sometimes ruthless governments in pursuit of its “national interest,” which was bottomed on trade and, for the corporations, the pursuit of profits. The interests of persecuted peoples around the world were all but abandoned in government policy. The United States government supported the humanitarian and community spirit of many Americans in relatively minor efforts like the Peace Corps, and protection of people was left to organizations like Amnesty International and the Red Cross.
In support of corporate interests around the world, Americans were indoctrinated in the evils of communism, a form social organization that did not provide opportunities for big corporations to make profits. The “cold war” was defined in terms of American resistance to a looming communist domination of the world. Corporations profiting from the arms race and military investments profited greatly from America’s military supremacy and, indeed, from war. In Vietnam, a client state was defended against a popular uprising, that is against the will of the people, and the American people were told to fear the consequences if other nations in Asia, like so many dominoes, fell to communist governments.
With the Reagan Revolution, this kind of relatively “soft” imperialism turned harder, more reactionary. Policies that resulted in brutalizing local populations were pursued in Central and South America, and elsewhere in the world. The official concern about the threat of communism reached its zenith and, while the American people continued to live secure from the threat of conventional combat against other nations on its own home soil, the federal government continued to tax its citizens, and borrow even more, to enhance its military might and later fight wars. Eventually, the United States would spend more on its military establishment than all other countries in the world combined.
The GW Bush administration raised the insecurity stakes even higher. By then, a bewildered American public had to question why America needed to assert military supremacy over all other nations, and threaten invasions and war even without an imminent military threat against the American people (the “Bush Doctrine”). The truth about American imperialism became abundantly clear when a long-planned invasion of Iraq, a country with considerable oil resources, was carried out in 2004 under false pretenses.
All of this has taken place at the expense of the American people, who now find themselves increasingly less well off and impoverished while the purveyors of all of this fear and mayhem, through their control of government, have become incredibly wealthy.
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