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This is the risk countries take by entering the world economy.
China is an emerging economic power in the world. This has come about due to the enormous market there -- almost two billion people -- and their gradual movement into the global economy. China, Malaysia, and Singapore are all entering the last stage of economic development and much of their success has been a result of foreign direct investment. "Foreign direct investment has played an important role in many -- but not all -- of the most successful development stories in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, and even China," (Stiglitz 67). Advocates of the world economy suggest that the third world nations in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America follow these examples.
However, the relative "success" of the second world nations has come about through cooperation with tyrannical governments and the exploitation of the working class. By making a small minority wealthy, these foreign investors have created a consumer market in the upper classes of these countries. This may make success apparent on the surface, but it also has the result of increasing the gap within these nations between the rich and the poor. It should be noted that the United States faces a similar problem: the class divide is currently increasing. Whether such advancement should be regarded as a success or a failure really depends upon the social status of the individual in these second world nations.
Over the last hundred years the whole world has learned what Europe and North America learned in the nineteenth century -- that capitalism can create both wealth and inequality," (Downing 40). The response in the now developed parts of the world was mass labor movements and governmental regulations. However, globalization has both degraded the accomplishments of labor in Europe and North America, as well as reintroduced the old problems to the developing nations of the world. If the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished is to be solved on a global scale it is likely that it will require the same methods that worked on the national scale. "Only gradually have they [multinational corporations] come to recognize the lessons that they learned all too slowly at home. Providing better working conditions may actually enhance worker productivity, and lower overall costs -- or at least not raise costs very much," (Stiglitz 68-69). Domestic companies recognized these facts only through labor organization and governmental regulation. It would appear that, on a global scale, the degradation of the working class and increase in poverty needs to be addressed with global organization of labor, and some form of global government.
However, at this point in world history, the closest thing we have to a globalized government is the United States' government. Accordingly, as many critics have argued, the United States needs to drastically alter the way in which it has conducted business and diplomacy worldwide to weather the storms promised by globalization. A particularly insightful book is Johnson Chalmers' Blowback.
He argues, "World politics in the twenty-first century will in all likelihood be driven primarily by blowback from the second half of the twentieth century -- that is, from the unintended consequences of the Cold War and the crucial American decision to maintain a Cold War posture in a post-Cold War world," (Johnson x). Obviously, this proclamation can be very easily applied to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; as a result, Blowback has re-emerged in recent years as a popular analysis of American foreign policy for those seeking the answer to the question posed by President Bush: "Why do they hate us?" (Johnson ix). Johnson indicates that we should be troubled by the inadequacy of Bush's answer -- namely, that they hate our freedoms -- and that this hints at something very dubious about the motivations and practice of U.S. foreign policy. To Johnson, it is unfortunate that the assertion of practically all politicians that we are "the greatest nation on earth," is simply accepted my much of the public on faith, and never critically examined.
From even a cursory understanding of these conflicts, Johnson definitively leads the reader to the inevitable question: how might other peoples retaliate? He provides his answer by providing a characterization of terrorism: "Terrorism by definition strikes at the innocent in order to draw attention to the sins of the invulnerable," (Johnson 33). This assertion strongly contrasts with the stance of President Bush, who associates terrorism with "shadowy networks" and the forces of "chaos." To Bush, the very mechanisms of terrorism are the "gravest danger our Nation faces," (Bush). From the Bush perspective, the fact that terrorism is necessarily covert and inexpensive makes it a deplorable course of action, and associates it with everything that the United States acts against both within our nation and on a global stage. So, Johnson makes it readily apparent that his understanding of terrorism and the motivations behind it are vastly different than the sheer hatred of freedom that Bush expounds.
After having established the idea that the United States is fundamentally a modern imperial force, Johnson goes on to discuss the most significant region under American control that he calls "Asia's last colony." Specifically, this is Okinawa, which has, according to Johnson, become an American colony for all intents and purposes. Johnson argues that there is no practical purpose to the presence of a significant American military force in East Asia, beyond that of merely attempting to expand U.S. hegemonic power. He cites an Okinawan governor as having said, "What's actually happening in Japan is that, with practically no public debate, hypothetical enemies are produced one after another, and potential threats are loudly proclaimed. People talk of the need to maintain an American military presence... without making any move to accept bases in their own communities," (Johnson 61). According to Johnson, there is no legitimate military threat in the east to warrant the American presence there. He concludes that Okinawa has become a modern military colony purely because it is beneficial to the military to remain there.
It would seem that Johnson's analysis of Okinawa situates it as truly the exception to the rule of American imperialism in the post Cold War era. This is because the manner by which the United States makes its demands felt throughout the world is through what Johnson calls "stealth imperialism." To Johnson, the factor that makes U.S. foreign policy so damaging is that it combines a level of national arrogance with deception and secretive military or economic practices. He writes, "Military might does not equate with 'leadership of the free world.' It is also not a substitute for an informed public that understands and has approved the policies being carried out in its name," (Johnson 94). In short, he believes that the public has a right to know what the government's international maneuverings; after all, if they do not know what has been done in their name, they lack the very tools to grasp why blowback might occur.
Once armed with this framework for how the United States operates abroad, Johnson delves into the specifics of what our foreign policies have been in the major regions of the world. He attacks the inconsistencies in the American approach to nuclear nonproliferation, issues of human rights, as well as globalization. Johnson's strong ability to juggle these varied issues is apparent; furthermore, the success he has in demonstrating how particular policies fit within his broad thesis of American imperialism is fairly convincing. For instance, he even contends that the very way in which most Westerners perceive what breeches of human rights are, is peppered with a deliberate and implicit accusation against communism and the east: "We conveniently fail to classify civilian safety from land mines, for example, among human rights; and we are regularly indifferent or conveniently look the other way when human rights as we define then are suppressed by regimes... important to us for political, strategic, or economic reasons," (Johnson 167). Essentially, Johnson's indictment against the United States is not simply that its foreign policy is inconsistent, but that it is purposefully inconsistent with the ultimate goal being the expansion of an American Empire.
The result of the Bush stance is that it has justified military intervention in the interest of installing democratic governments and capitalistic liberal economies in foreign nations. This general policy has taken many forms in recent years; most obviously, it has become the new rationalization for U.S. involvement in Iraq -- the initial reasoning being that the Hussein government posed a direct threat to the United States through weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Another form that the Bush policy has taken has been to encourage privatization of numerous international resources by American corporations, thus encouraging a more democratic economy in developing countries. Bush and the neoconservatives have also become associated with the notion of…[continue]
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