The modern hegemonic empire

It is the new form of empire, however, that is most inter­esting. This is the hegemonic empire, based on influence (including threats and bribery). Only one exists, and it is almost global. Australia is a respected part of it. The empire of the USA does not physically control any foreign territory (except for a few islands here and there), unlike the Chinese and the colonising nations of Europe. It exercises influence in a variety of ways that are decidedly clever.

It appoints so-called ‘deputy sheriffs’ to safeguard the interests of the West in their respective bailiwicks; it has trade and mutual-defence agreements with nations which seek protection from imagined foes; and it has military bases here, there, and everywhere to protect the nations of the West and their allies. The USA will fight terrorism anywhere and everywhere; defend itself from attack by enemies, real or cre­atively conceived; keep the sea routes open, thereby making other navies unnecessary; sell armaments (its primary objec­tive?), and contain political threats, even imagined ones. This has given it the right to have a foothold in all sorts of places; we Aussies are grateful for such protection!

It also makes generous grants as strategically needed, to keep unpopular, even undemocratic, foreign leaders in power. Their job is to ensure that the needs of the USA, viz. oil and other resources, bases, access routes and export opportunities, are met.

Its deputy sheriff Israel is furnished with the latest weaponry to prevent an Islamic resurgence. This includes the intended breakup of Iraq into three ethno-religious regions; so wrote an Israeli scholar recently. A strong foothold on Iraqi soil will give the US power to over­sight lesser nations and overlook the more powerful. … … The US will also enable Israel to recover Judah and Samarra as that pure Jewish nation that their God decided was OK, even as it works assiduously to bring about ‘peace’ between oppressor and oppressed. Justice? Only the Court of Cosmic Justice can ensure that.

Ethnic cleansing, like ‘rendering’-with-torture, and assassination are acceptable, but only in the interests of protecting Western democracy. Australian politicians who visit Israel without being able to notice the plight of state­less Palestinians couldn’t possibly have any concern with this view of the Middle East of the future.

Thus, acceptable democracy in these nations of interest to the West is one with tribal leadership either adequately constrained or destroyed. The desired tribes are political par­ties. The good news is that there is no intended destruction of native cultures. The bad news is that, without occupying each country of interest, tribalism will continue.

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

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