Africa & Beyond

Oilgarchy: Neo-Imperialism Or Empire-Building Or Democracy?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world was left with a lone power. The fall of the Berlin Wall placed the United States of America in an enviable position- the position of a super-power status. The leaders of the later saw a future hold of the world as their goal and thereby reformed and re-strategize their foreign policies to match this goal. With the containment policy in place, American leaders and policy makers felt that giving up their grip on global dominance will be “inconceivable”. Americans felt it was worth it to begin to reap the fruit of their labor-victory (given their involvements and sacrifices in WW1 & 11, Vietnam, Civil War and the bloodless but brain-won Cold War). So they began to add up to their already existing military bases all over the world.According to the Department of Defense records, American military bases outside the United States itself are at least seven hundred and twenty-five (725) as at September 2001.

America’s pursuit of happiness could not be complete without this expansion of power through what Chalmers Johnson called “militarism”. For us to better comprehend this expansionism as militarism we have to put on Chalmers Johnson’s lens whenhe defined military and militarism in his book “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic”. According to Chalmers, “by military I mean all the activities, qualities, and institutions required by a nation to fight a war in its defense. A military should be concerned with ensuring national independence, a sine qua non for the maintenance of personal freedom….militarism, the phenomenon by which a nation’s armed services come to put their institutional preservation ahead of achieving national security or even a commitment to the integrity of the governmental structure of which they are a part of”.

He went further to explicate and expand militarism by saying that “overseas bases…come within the scope of the peacetime standing army and constitute a permanent claim on the nation’s resources while being almost invariably inadequate for actually fighting a war”.

The question thereby arises: Why the establishment of military bases in foreign countries? What is the aim of American global militarism? Is it an act of being proactive or anticipatory? Is it to secure her global hold on and policing of the other blocks? Is it to strengthen democracy? Is America trying to become the Roman or British empires of old? Or is this another form of imperialistic exhibition?

Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as has been written by authors like Bob Woodward, Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson, plans were on the way to topple the Taliban government of that period. The despicable, inhuman, immoral and cowardly attack on America on September 11 2001 only spiked and pushed up this urge and surged an excuse for attack. And if plans were being hatched to attack the Taliban government of Afghanistan before 9/11, what must have been the reason for the attack?

According to Chalmers, “starting with the CIA’s 1953 covert overthrow of the government of Iran for the sake of the British Petroleum Company, American policy in the Middle East-except for its support of Israel-has been dictated by oil. It has been a constant motive behind the vast expansion of bases in the Persian Gulf.” He went further to stipulate that “oil is a very old subject around the Caspian Sea and especially in the city of Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, itself located on the Apsheron Peninsula that juts into the Caspian from its western shore”.

The attack on Afghanistan was for no other reason than to control their oil by the American government. This was simply because the Taliban became recalcitrant and obstinate to Washington. They reneged on the original deal. And this did not favor the power brokers in the White House.

On Iraq, its invasion was to protect Americas “vital interests in the Persian Gulf”. The plan of attack on Iraq has been an on-going process. It was first camouflaged as regime-change and further re-typed as possession of weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.) and links with al qaeda and drawn down to defending democracy. As has been documented by so many authors, extensive plan to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime has been on from 1992 to 2000. The planners and executioners of the first American invasion of Iraq i.e. the 1991 Gulf War had wanted to go back in to conclude what they started. So they were waiting in the corridors of Pennsylvania Avenue to usher in a Republican government. They had a hard time convincing Bill Clinton on an attack against Iraq. So these political hawks organized themselves into a group called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) consisting of Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol, Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Richard Perle, William J. Bennet, Richard Armitage, Zalmay Khalilzad, Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby and Stephen Cambone. These men signed a letter dated May 29, 1998 and addressed to the then speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and senate majority leader Trent Lott “complaining that Clinton had not listened to them” in their call to remove Saddam Hussein. These “president’s men” are still presidents men till today. Does that tell us anything?

History has a lot to say.

Democracy as we were thought is supposed to be “a government of the people, for the people and by the people”. This means to say that power belongs to the people. But contemporary fashion of democracy as dictated and directed by the world mega-power has become “government of a few, for the few and by the people” or “government of the oilgarchs, for the oilgarchs and by the oilgarchs”. Democracy has lost its taste and value. Its history has been distorted and disjointed. It is now confused and redefined by a few “oilgarchs” not oligarchs who has hijacked power at the White House in the recent years. These neocons or neo-conservatives have so made American foreign policy to become more of isolationism than containment. Their attitude and approach to power and governance has made the world begin to think twice about the bride of the world-America.

This goes a long way to telling us why they rigged the 2001 Presidential election that brought George W. Bush to power. This was why there were a lot of Floridian flying chards. This was why it took a slim vote to be in power in a country like America. This was why the U.S. Supreme Court decision took the turn it did. As Chalmers Johnson put it, “James A. Baker 111, former secretary of state”, was the “mastermind of the scheme to get the Supreme Court to appoint Bush Junior president in 2001”.

The Middle East is in turmoil today because of America’s display of power. Africa is left to fall apart because of lack of interest or no interest at all, except for oil and gas, on the part of the world super-power. The constant chaos in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria is not fun or past-time. It is real. It is real because of the negative influence the multi-national corporations (M.N.C.’s) are having on the communities. They have destroyed the meaning of life in those communities. They have sowed seeds of acrimony and discord among the elders and the youths. The camaraderie has died. They have made governance and the essence of it unbearable (I’ll take this up in another letter). However, Asia is not at rest as well.

It is time for a re-think of America’s foreign policy. It needs a total overhaul and re-engineering, not by people who have private purposes and intents but by patriotic citizens and conscientious people. This negative sphere of influence and empire ambition should not continue. Where are the Roman and British empires today?

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