The empire "NEW WORLD ORDER" would be centred in Washington
In some conditions the cognitive framework -- local actions, big power reactions -- is useful. Such conditions exist when the superpower is satisfied and secure that the structures which it has established to ensure its dominance are safely in place. It is sitting astride the oceans comfortably and it reacts now and again to little local blow-outs and break downs.
Some might regard that as being the situation of the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. If we look at the power of the United States in the 1990s in resource terms, it has had no rival or even potential group of rivals in the military field, it dominates the international political economy, there is no power on earth remotely able for the foreseeable future to challenge the United States for world leadership.
Yet curiously enough, the United States has been far from satisfied with its situation in the 1990s. It has felt itself to be facing a number of important challenges in the two key traditional regions of the world where it must exercise leadership -- Europe and the Pacific Rim -- and the challenges there are linked to another big challenge: the battle to ensure the preponderant weight of US capitalism in the so-called 'emerging markets'. Leadership of Europe and of the Pacific in turn ensure that the United States can channel the activities of these states to ensure that US interests predominate in designing regimes to open up and dominate the 'emerging markets'.
These problems were all connected to another, deeper issue: concerns about the basic strength and dynamism of the American economy and American capitalism. When the Clinton administration came into office it was determined to rejuvenate the dynamism of American capitalism through an activist foreign drive to build a new global set of political economy regimes accented to the strengths and interests of American capitalist expansion. Getting leverage over the Europeans and Japanese to achieve that was key.
To understand US policy in the 1990s, we must appreciate the double-sided situation that it found itself in: on one side, its old way of dominating its capitalist 'allies' had been shattered by the Soviet Bloc collapse, giving lots of scope for these 'allies' to threaten important US interests in their particular regional spheres. But on the other side, the US had gigantic resources, especially in the military-political field and if it could develop an effective political strategy it could convert these military power resources into a global imperial project of historically unprecedented scope and solidity. We must grasp both the challenges and the great opportunities after the Soviet Bloc collapse to understand the strategy and tactics of the Bush and Clinton administrations.
(a) The Post-Cold War Problems
The challenge to the US in Europe created by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc has too often been ignored. That collapse not only made the USA the sole global super-power. It also simultaneously destroyed the political structures through which the USA had exercised its direct leadership over West European capitalism. And it simultaneously opened the whole of Eastern Europe for business with the West, a business and political expansion opportunity which the West European states, especially Germany, would spontaneously tend to control. What if West European capitalist states threw off US leadership, forged their own collective military-political identity, joined their capitals with Russian resources and Russian nuclear capacity? Where would that leave the USA in Western Eurasia outside of Turkey?
The central political pillar of US leadership over Western Europe during the Cold War was NATO. The US-Soviet confrontation positioned Western Europe on the front line in the event of a US-Soviet war. This situation enable the USA to gain political leadership over Western Europe by supplying the military services -- the strategic nuclear arsenal -- to protect Western Europe.In return for these military services, the West European states agreed to the US politically brigading them under US leadership. The US could exercise control over their foreign policy apparatuses, integrating the bulk of their military forces under US command, imposing discipline of the dealings of West European capitalism with the East and so on. And the US could also exercise this political leadership for economic purposes, especially to assure the free entry of US capitals into Europe, to ensure that Europe worked with the US over the management of the global economy etc. So NATO was a key military- political structure. The hierarchy was: US military services give political leadership which gives leadership on the big economic issues, those to do with the direction of accumulation strategies.
But the Soviet collapse led to the redundancy of the US strategic arsenal which led to the redundancy of NATO, the collapse of the political leadership structure for the US in Europe and the undermining of the US's ability to impose its core political economy goals for Europe and for the world on the West Europeans.This is one of the key things that has made the United States a paradoxically dissatisfied power in the 1990s. It has had to combat all kinds of European schemes for building political structures that deny the US hegemonic leadership in Europe. And in combating such schemes it has had to develop a new European programme and strategy for rebuilding US European leadership. In short, the USA has been an activist and pro-active power in Europe during the 1990s, not a satisfied and reactive power. The 1990s have been a period of political manoeuvres amongst the Atlantic capitalist powers as the key players have sought to advance their often competitive schemes for reorganising the political structures of the continent.
And in these manoeuvres, the territory and peoples of the former Yugoslavia have played a very special role. The states bearing competing programmes for a new European political order have all sought to demonstrate the value of their political project for Europe by showing how it can handle an important European problem: the long Yugoslav crises.Yugoslavia has been the anvil on which the competing great powers have sought to forge the instruments for their new European orders. No power has been more active in these endeavours than the United States.
And this means that a cognitive framework for understanding the Balkan wars cannot take the form of: local actions, great power reactions. We need an entirely different framework: great power European strategies, and the tactical uses of Yugoslavia's crisis for advancing them.
(b)The New Opportunities.
Yet the United States was not just a power dissatisfied with the international arrangements it confronted at the end of the Cold War. It was also aware that it had a gigantic relative lead over all other powers in the world in terms of the resources for entirely reshaping arrangements on the planet.It had not only unrivalled military capacity but command of new military technologies that could enable it to strike safely and fairly accurately at will anywhere on the planet. It could, for example, out of a clear blue sky, destroy the great dam on the Yangtse river and drown 100 million Chinese at the heart of the Chinese economy without the Chinese government being able to stop it: that kind of power. It could take on China and Russia together and win. It could militarily seal of Japan and Western Europe from their sources of vital inputs for their economies and from the export markets vital for their economic stability.
The United States also have supreme command over the international political economythrough the dominance of the Dollar-Wall Street Regime over international monetary and financial affairs and through US control over the key multilateral organisations in this field, especially the IMF and the World Bank.
With resources like these, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc opened up the possibility of a new global Empire of a new type. An empire made up of the patchwork of the states of the entire planet.The legal sovereignty of all these states would be preserved but the political significance of that legal sovereignty would be turned on its head. It would mean that the state concerned would bear entire juridical and political responsibility for all the problems on its territory but would lose effective control over the central actual economic and political processes flowing in and out of its territories. The empire would be centred in Washington with Western Europe and Japan as brigaded client powers and would extend across the rest of the world, beating against the borders of an enfeebled Russia and a potentially beleaguered China.
And it would be an Empire in which the capitalist classes of every state within it would be guaranteed security against any social challenge, through the protection of the new Behemoth,provided only that they respected the will and authority of the Behemoth on all questions which it considered important. It the US played its new strategy for empire building effectively, it could thus earn the support and even adulation of all the capitalist classes of the world.
Thus the decade from 1989 to 1999 has been marked above all by one central process: the drive by the US to get from (a) to (b): from political structures left over from the Cold War which disadvantaged and even threatened the US in the new situation, to entirely new global political and economic structures which would produce an historically new, global political order:New Democrats, New Labour, New NATO, new state system, new world economy, new world order.