The Empire Strikes Out


The U.S. debacle in Iraq is not just a humiliating defeat for Bush, but also signals the erosion of American hegemony throughout the region. The Saudis now face internal revolt. The Turks, holding down the eastern end of NATO, refused to let us march troops across their territory. Musharraf’s rule over Pakistan continues to be precarious. Afghanistan is not secure, and Karzai is pleading for more support.

In Iraq, the abrupt “turnover” of power is viewed in other parts of the world as a desperate PR effort to cover a deteriorating situation in which insurgents continue to attack U.S. forces seemingly at will. As for the Saddam trial, Iraqis are reportedly embarrassed that he has been put into a show trial by their American occupiers, once more making the Iraqis look like a bunch of fools.

Beyond the Middle East, there are other danger signals for what some people like to call the American empire. The European Union, with 11 new members (25 nations now belong), is growing into more of a force.

Seldom noticed is Europe’s growing leadership in social policies, led by its determination to bring the world into agreement on an international criminal court—a court that the U.S. refuses to enter.

In the world of money, the EU is really flexing new muscle. The euro is stronger than the dollar. With 455 million people, the EU is larger than the U.S. and currently accounts for more than one-quarter of all world trade.

The U.S. trade deficit is colossal. Our economy—especially our wealth of natural resources—is increasingly owned by foreigners. In January, the International Monetary Fund warned that America’s growing foreign debt threatens the world economy and the value of the dollar.

Empire? In some ways America’s beginning to resemble a colony again.