SKOPJE, Macedonia, March 17 (UPI) -- European intellectuals yearn for the mutually exclusive: a United States contained and a regime-changed Iraq. The Chinese are more pragmatic -- though, bound by what is left of their Marxism, they still ascribe U.S. behavior to the irreconcilable contradictions inherent in capitalism.
The United States is impelled by its economy and values to world dominion, claimed last week an analysis titled "American Empire Steps Up Fourth Expansion" in the communist party's mouthpiece People's Daily. Expansionism is an "eternal theme" in American history and a "main line" running through its foreign policy.
The contemporary United States is actually a land-based empire, comprising the territorial fruits of previous armed conflicts with its neighbors and foes, often one and the same. The global spread of U.S. influence through its culture, political alliances, science and multinationals is merely an extrapolation of a trend two centuries in the making.
How did a small country succeed to thus transform itself?
The paper attributes America's success to its political stability, neglecting to mention its pluralism and multi-party system, the sources of said endurance. But then, in an interesting departure from the official party line, it praises U.S. "scientific and technological innovations and new achievements in economic development."
Somewhat tautologically, it also credits America's status as an empire to its "external expansions".
The rest of the article is, alas, no better reasoned nor better informed. American pilgrims were forced westward because "they found there was neither tile over their heads nor a speck of land under their feet (on the East Coast)." But it is the emphases that are of interest, not the shoddy workmanship.
The article clearly identifies America's (capitalistic) economy and its (liberal, pluralistic, religious and democratic) values as its competitive mainstays and founts of strength.
"U.S. unique commercial expansion spirit (combined with the) the puritan's 'concept of mission' (are its fortes)," gushes the anonymous author.
The paper distinguishes four phases of distension: "First, the continental expansion stage; second, the overseas expansion stage; third, the stage of global contention for hegemony; and fourth, the stage of world domination."
The second, third and fourth are mainly economic, cultural and military.
In an echo of defunct Soviet and Euro-left conspiracy theories, the paper insists that expansion was "triggered by commercial capital." This capital -- better known in the West as the military-industrial complex -- also determines U.S. foreign policy. Thus, the American Empire is closer to the commercially driven British Empire than to the militarily propelled Roman one.
Actually, the author thinks aloud, isn't America's reign merely the successor of Britain's? Wasn't it John Locke, a British philosopher, who said that expansion -- a "natural right" -- responds to domestic needs? Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who claimed that the United States must "constantly acquire new land to open up living space" (the forerunner of the infamous German "Lebensraum")?
The author quotes James Jerome Hill, the American railway magnate, as exclaiming, during the Spanish-American War, that "If you review the commercial history, you will discover anyone who controls oriental trade will get hold of global wealth." Thus, U.S. expansion was concerned mainly with "protecting American commercial monopoly or advantageous position." America entered the first world war only when "its free trade position was challenged," opines the red-top.
American moral values are designed to "serve commercial capital." This blending of the spiritual with the pecuniary is very disorienting.
"Even the Americans themselves find it hard to distinguish which matter is expanding national interests under the banner of 'enforcing justice on behalf of heaven' and which is propagating their ideology and concept of value on the plea of national interests."
The paper mentions the conviction, held by most Americans, that their system and values are the "best things in human society." Moreover, Americans are missionaries with a "manifest destiny" and "the duty and obligation to help other countries and nations" and to serve as the "the beacon lighting up the way for the development of other countries and nations."
If all else fails, it feels justified to "force its best things on other countries by the method of Crusades."
This is a patently non-Orthodox, non-Marxist interpretation of history and of the role of the United States -- the prime specimen of capitalism -- in it. Economics, admits the author, plays only one part in America's ascendance.
Tribute must be given to its values as well. This view of the United States -- at the height of an international crisis pitting China against it -- is nothing if not revolutionary.
(Part 2 of this analysis will appear Tuesday. Send your comments to [email protected])