Events on the Road to US Hegemony
US foreign policy may be characterized since the end of WW II as a quest for US hegemony in the world. Among other things, the US’s most significant opponents regarding its hegemony were all virtually destroyed by WW II, the USSR, Great Britain and its empire, France and its empire, Germany, with one exception, China, which had however undergone a Communist revolution that had decimated that nation. So, the temptation to seek hegemony would have been irresistible even if the US had not shown a desire for an empire since at least 1789. The following are significant signposts on the US’s road to hegemony.
The use of atomic weapons to end WW II even though Japan was prepared to surrender if given assurances that it could retain its emperor, which after the attacks it was allowed to do.
The creation of the conditions for war in the remnants of the French empire in “Indochina,” and especially in Vietnam.
The isolation of Communist or “Red” China and a virtual US alliance with the Chinese on Taiwan.
The election of Eisenhower as president and the elevation of the Dulles’ brothers, John Foster and Allan, to be the chief executives of US foreign policy.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy when it became obvious, after he sabotaged the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and refused to attack Cuba during the missile crisis, that he would was not supportive of US hegemony.
The ascension and then election of LBJ as president, who indicated his approval of US hegemony by reversing Kennedy’s policy of not committing US armed forces to the wars in Southeast Asia.
The “silent coup” against Richard Nixon after his landslide victory in the 1972 presidential election because he – and Kissinger – rejected the desirability of US hegemony and sought détente with both the USSR and China, as well as withdrawal without victory in Vietnam.
The subversion of Jimmy Carter’s presidency by both Republicans and Democrats – ala’ Ted Kennedy – because he too opposed US hegemony in favor of human rights, and as a result was labeled “a wimp.”
The election of Ronald Reagan as president, who was surrounded by those favaoring US hegemony, who were labeled “neo-conservatives.”
The election of former CIA head, George H.W. Bush, as president, who then virtually invited Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait so he, Bush, could proclaim the end of “the Vietnam syndrome” and the creation of “a new world order.”
The election of Bill Clinton president in 1992 when it appeared that Bush might be threatened with impeachment for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, a scandal that made any reproachment with Iran impossible into the foreseeable future.
The attacks of 9/11, facilitated or not by US agencies like the CIA, NSA, and the FBI, after Bush, Jr. had been “elected” president in 2000, attacks that allowed Bush to openly embrace his father’s “new world order,” which Dick Cheney described as “the dark side.” Bush was supported by both Republican and Democratic elites.
The election of Barack Hussein Obama, who completed by legitimating Bush, Jr.’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, while expanding the war on terror by claiming that he and other presidents had the right to kill anyone, why where, at any time, for any reason(s). As if to legitimate Obama’s claims, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
The election and then the impeachments – twice – of Donald Trump who, although he proclaimed the desire to “make America great again,” indicated he did not embrace endless wars or nation-building.
The election of Joe Biden, who would be touted as “saving America democracy,” especially after “the insurrection” of 1/6, while embracing US hegemony as a return to a rational foreign policy uninfluenced by Russia or China.
And, yet, even after these events, the embrace of US hegemony remains suspect among large segments of the US population. These suspicions take the form of negative assessments of sitting presidents like Trump and now Biden, but they reflect not so much the very real limitations of these men as they do the very real limitations of the quest for US hegemony. And one has to wonder who is delusional, our elites or those who large swaths of the American people. But it is fair to say that the people are disillusioned while our elites are not. It should be interesting to see how this plays out as “time goes by” and “the fundamental things apply.”