Military Power & Imperialism

The previous discussion on science and technology has touched upon the connections with military power. Underlying everything else over the last two centuries has been the military superiority in every field, on land, sea and, in last 75 years, in the air. At this point in time we have to add space.

To all this has to be added the means of military production with the most up-to-date technology and the necessary finance.

Two-thirds of the world were subdued with the firepower of the Western hegemonic nations. So great was the awe struck into the hearts of the invaded that the Colonial invasions of the 1880s were relatively undisputed. I say this with caution. A hundred years later the people of the so-called Third World knew far more about Western ways and had learnt something about the sophisticated ways of resisting oppression by the Western Imperial powers.

Military Resistance

Counter-strategies to Western military dominance have been a part of the political scene for sixty years. Successful Maoist guerrilla tactics have been followed by many peoples across the globe. The Nepalese people have risen in a guerrilla strategy to topple their government by force.

These tactics have been countered by the American and British military, in nearly every case in conjunction with the military of the powers concerned, with violence and terror on large scale. Counter- guerrilla tactics became an art form for the Western military forces. The British put down the Mau Mau struggle in Kenya with unprecedented ferocity. The US air force carpet-bombed the Vietnamese and Cambodians, and in Central America hundreds of thousands of people were killed in fighting. The US military provided the weapons and the training and the local forces the manpower to carry out counter-tactics of almost unimaginable terror.

Military superiority has consisted of more than firepower and counter-terror tactics. Military intelligence has proved crucial. Few people know about Echelon. Echelon is the device for listening to digital telephone calls, and intercepting emails and faxes. It involves satellite technology and people on the ground. It is the final word in electronic eavesdropping.

Echelon originates out of the British attempt to locate German submarines during the Second World War. Since that time, when Britain shared its techniques with the Americans, the two countries alone have together in great secrecy spent huge sums of money in developing this technology. They can both listen to everyone around the globe. And as US bases now begin to surround the world, the first thing that they put in place are listening devices connected to their HQs in the UK and the US.

US bases now surround the world, across central Asia, towards Western China, across the Caspian Sea and into Southern Europe. This is all planned to provide the military at home with quick aircraft access and local intelligence through the use of Echelon.

US military superiority would be severely hampered if their actions were curtailed by international treaties, many of which had their origin during the Cold War period. With no USSR to be contained, the following international treaties hampered their own right of action, as they saw it:

  • The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
  • The International Criminal Court
  • The 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty
  • The UN proposals on control of arms transfers
  • The control of weaponisation of space
  • The Kyoto Protocol
  • The Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention

The American government felt that it would be hampered by these treaties and agreements so painfully negotiated during the earlier Imperial period. The global circumstances had altered. By the year 2000 the Americans had become so powerful militarily that no smaller nation state could ignore their wishes.

The big issue was what was all this arms build-up about, why did the US unilaterally projects itself as the sole guardian of world order, the undisputed master of the universe?

Roger van Zwanenberg


Source: Essays on Muslims and the Challenges of Globalisation, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Republished with permission.
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