Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire

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Macmillan, Jan 10, 2006 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
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From "the world's leading no-nonsense revolutionary," a bold and effective analysis of American military, economic, and political vulnerability (Naomi Klein)

The empire seems unassailable, but the empire is weak--and precisely because of its quest for global domination. So argues Walden Bello in this provocative portrait of imperial self-destruction, which systematically dissects the dilemmas confronting America as a result of its drive for supremacy.
Puncturing the myth of American invincibility, Bello exposes its carefully concealed contradictions: despite the enormity of the U.S. military apparatus, American forces are critically overextended and ever threatened by the simmering resistance each new "victory" breeds. Though America is still the land of unprecedented prosperity, economic breakdown looms, the consequence of gargantuan military costs, exploitative trade and investment relations with developing countries, and record-breaking deficits.
A clear and prophetic examination, Dilemmas of Domination reveals a not-too-distant future in which the empire's hidden weaknesses will yield fatal challenges to American omnipotence.

"With unsentimental clarity, Walden Bello speaks the truth about American empire and why it is doomed by its own contradictions." --William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism


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DILEMMAS OF DOMINATION: The Unmaking of the American Empire

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Cherish the American imperium while ye may, o Neocons, for its days and yours are numbered.So, resonantly and assuredly, declares Bello (Sociology/Univ. of the Philippines), who courted controversy ... Read full review

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Whereas many media commentators and intellectuals (at least in the US) described the 2003 invasion of Iraq as an affirmation of US power and global hegemony, Bello, as an observer in the South of US policy, saw the growing vulnerabilities underlying Washington's attempt to "shock and awe" the Iraqi population into subjugation. The failure of the "war" to end with then-president Bush's declaration of US victory largely confirmed his assessment. In this book, he describes the US empire's central crisis as a convergence of three related crises: a crisis of overproduction, a crisis of overextension, and a crisis of legitimacy. The crisis of overproduction permeates the global economy, which is dominated by the United States, and stems from contradictions between the Biosphere's finite capacity to supply natural resources for global capitalism to consume and to absorb the waste that this process generates, between the small number of people who actually control society's productive and financial resources and the vast majority of people who are subjected to the whims of these elites, and finally between the global economy's productive potential and what consumers are actually able to purchase. The crisis of overextension reflects the extent to which the imperial ambitions of US policymakers and industry-owners have over-stretched the country's military capacity---both in terms of the financial resources needed to power the bloated war-machine and the willingness of the public to tolerate further imperial adventures. This also relates to the third crisis, of legitimacy, which US elites face both at home and abroad. The multilateral institutions on which US and other elites have typically relied to implement their economic policies---and what Richard Peet calls the "Unholy Trinity" of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization in particular---are reviled by vast majorities in virtually every country, and have increasingly faced challenges from politicians in the South who, noting the growing social tensions, are unwilling to turn their populations against them by agreeing to further attacks on social services or national sovereignty. Corporate and political support from within the US for the authoritarian regimes willing to subvert or eliminate democratic institutions to impose US-backed trade and economic policies despite this opposition has further eroded both the domestic and international legitimacy of the US empire, while the blatant subordination of US politics to corporate dictates, alongside the growing disregard for civil and human rights within the country has further undermined domestic support for imperialism. Although exceptional in its brazen arrogance and ideological fanaticism, the Bush administration's policies largely reflected more blatant versions of principles, such as the sovereign rights of corporations to profit through any means necessary and the rejection of national sovereignty or international law, that have governed official policy since the Second World War (and beyond), which Bello demonstrates by reviewing the "grand strategies" of US administrations from Roosevelt to the second Bush. From this perspective, Bush's foreign policy could best be described as an amped-up version of Reagan's "rollback," or what Bello terms "rollback plus."
What has taken place since the book's publication in 2006 has confirmed a number of Bello's observations. The global financial crisis in 2007 exposed both the systemic corruption of the financial sector and the extent to which the system was relying on credit and fake wealth to boost the ability of workers whose wages have been stagnant or declining for several decades to continue consuming at a level sufficient to stave off a major crisis of overproduction. Rather than delivering the change sought by the public, the Democrats' outright rejection of even moderate reforms to the financial sector, preemptive


The Road to Baghdad 7
The Ascendancy of Finance 707
The Economics of Antidevelopment 729
Crisis of Legitimacy 7 93
The Way Forward 277

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About the author (2006)

Walden Bello, a professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines, is the author of numerous books on globalization. An award-winning peace and human rights activist, he lives in Quezon City.

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