In an excellent new essay titled “We’re Not the Good Guys — Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action?”, Tom Engelhardt criticizes the way western media outlets consistently describe the behavior of disobedient nations like Iran as “aggressions”, but never use that label for the (generally antecedent and far more egregious) aggressions of the United States.

“When it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror, I think I can say with reasonable confidence that, in the past, the present, and the future, the one phrase you’re not likely to find in such media coverage will be ‘American aggression,’” Engelhardt writes. He then asks a very fair question:

“So here’s the strange thing, on a planet on which, in 2017, U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to 149 countries, or approximately 75% of all nations; on which the U.S. has perhaps 800 military garrisons outside its own territory; on which the U.S. Navy patrols most of its oceans and seas; on which U.S. unmanned aerial drones conduct assassination strikes across a surprising range of countries; and on which the U.S. has been fighting wars, as well as more minor conflicts, for years on end from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Niger in a century in which it chose to launch full-scale invasions of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), is it truly reasonable never to identify the U.S. as an ‘aggressor’ anywhere?”

In other words, does it really make sense for any nation to be able to take over the world and then look up with Bambi-eyed innocence saying “I was attacked! Completely out of the blue!” whenever any government pushes back on this? If you ask the empire’s narrative makers, the answer is a resounding yes.

This important discrepancy is as close as we’ll ever get to an honest admission from the political/media class that they consider empire-building and endless war to be normal, and any opposition to it freakish. All nations are meant to submit to America’s use of military and economic force upon them, and if they don’t, that’s “aggression”. The official position of the political/media class is that the US is a normal nation with the same rights and status as any other, but the unofficial position is that this is an empire, and nations will either obey or be destroyed.

It’s a machine with the same values as Napoleon or Hitler or Genghis Khan or any other imperialist conqueror from ages past; the only difference is that it pretends not to be the thing that it is. The US markets itself as an upholder of rules-based liberal democratic values, even though it consistently flouts international law, wages imperialist wars of aggression, imprisons journalists, crushes dissent and uses propaganda just as much as any totalitarian regime. The only difference is that it does so in a way that enables its supporters to pretend that that’s not what’s actually happening.

Forget the “war on terror”. If US foreign policy were honest it would unite all its war propaganda sloganeering under a single banner: the War on Disobedience.

After the end of the first cold war there was much celebration. At long last! The USSR was no longer a threat, so America could finally stop pouring its resources into the nuclear arms race and finally just relax and start acting like a normal country in the world. But it didn’t take long after the Berlin Wall fell for the neoconservatives to find their way into key points of influence and steer US foreign policy into the agenda of ensuring that America never again risks losing its status as the world’s only superpower. Which necessarily meant expanding the use of military and economic force to a level never previously seen.

So now you’ve got this weird dynamic where the US is constantly working to make sure that no other countries surpass it and gain the ability to treat America the way America treats other countries. That’s all US military and economic agendas in a nutshell right now.

The nation that poses the greatest threat to US hegemony is of course China. Most of the US war machine’s aggressions right now are ultimately built around securing resource control and geostrategic dominance to prevent China from surpassing it without attacking China itself. Any time you see the US ramping up hostilities toward a given nation, just do a search for that nation’s name plus China (or plus “Belt and Road Initiative”), and you’ll usually find a strong connection.

So the USSR was simply replaced with China, and the nuclear arms race was simply replaced with greatly increased global military expansionism. The plutocrat-owned media and the plutocrat-owned political class have fallen right in line with this and normalized the idea of US imperialism around the world. The cold war never ended, it just shifted its narrative and focus. Neoconservatism never went away, it just went mainstream.

But the thing about neocons and the rest of the increasingly indistinguishable proponents of American imperialism is that their underlying thesis is actually fundamentally correct: the US empire doesdepend on endless war in order to maintain its dominance over other nations. America doesn’t have the leverage to stay on top using economic prowess alone; it requires both the carrot of US military backing and the stick of US military aggressions. War is the only adhesive holding the US-centralized empire together, and the more its economic dominance slips away in the face of China’s economic rise, the more ham-fisted and desperate its warmongering is necessarily going to get.

This is completely unsustainable, especially in a world where the other major nuclear weapons force, Russia, is on China’s side of the new cold war dynamic. We’ve all now found ourselves trapped on a planet made of limited resources with two major alliances trying to out-consume and out-resource control each other, while hurtling toward a major military confrontation between nuclear superpowers. This puts us on a direct trajectory toward either nuclear annihilation or ecosystemic collapse in the near term. This means the argument that America needs to maintain its dominance at all cost is no longer a viable one, since that cost will almost certainly be everything in the world.

So we’ve all got some important questions to ask ourselves, haven’t we? Do we desire to stay in the familiar US-controlled world order at the price of omnicide and ecocide, or do we wish to roll the dice and bet on humanity instead? Do we wish to stay the course because it preserves a status quo that is all we’ve ever known, or do we take a leap of faith on the possibility that we can de-escalate all geopolitical enmity and move into collaboration with each other and with our ecosystem?

This choice right here is why I write so much about mankind’s need to transcend its old conditioning patterns and move into something wildly unprecedented. Our current fear-based mentality makes a populism-driven leap of faith into transcendence impossible and ensures that we remain on an oligarch-driven trajectory toward extinction. I firmly believe that we have the freedom to either pass or fail this test, but we don’t have the freedom not to take it. We’ll transcend our old conditioning patterns which we inherited from our evolutionary ancestors who lived in a wildly different world from the one we’ve created, or we will perish. It’s an A or B choice, but the choice is ours.


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11 thoughts on “Caitlin Johnstone, US FOREIGN POLICY IS A WAR ON DISOBEDIENCE”

    1. Bahmi….Might be easier if you use the reply under my comment….makes it easier to find. No disrespect intended.
      I am sure you understand I speak of the collective ‘we”.
      This country is built on violence. In my lifetime I have watched it grow into what seems to be an untreatable and unstoppable virus. Hollywood leads the way. I watch many movies and very, very few are not violent. We see it in endless games our children play on those devices. It’s on TEE VEE…which I refuse to watch or have . As Americans, we are victims of the MIC to a degree we cannot possibly comprehend.
      We sure as hell saw it and still see it in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

      Steve Allen wrote a great book about violence in the media…Vulgarians at the Gate…

      If you live in the US, INC today, you are likely in one way or another influenced by violence…possibly not to the degree most are…but influenced nonetheless.

      …whether or not you admit it.


      1. War is catabolic, while it makes money for a select few, it makes light of murder. The massive anabolic growth we’ve experienced is far greater in scope than our disgusting wars. The latter leaves a positive memorial to itself, while the former leaves a legacy of debauched disdain for life.

      2. Do you not ever wonder where we would be today if war had been outlawed many, many years ago? Our growth and evolution as humans and society would have been far greater if resources had gone into positive construction instead of war and negative destruction.
        War keeps the masses in their place and any evolution or growth is controlled.
        This does not mean one must allow violence to rule ones existence, as we all have a degree of subjective control over our everyday choices.
        I just cannot help but wonder where we would be as a collective if violence did not play such a large part on this stage.

      3. “I watch many movies and very, very few are not violent.”

        You’re wrong. Of this week’s Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Top Ten, maybe three contain violence: Spiderman, Avengers and Men In Black Int’l. All three are comic-inspired violence, with superheroes and aliens.

        The other seven — Rocketman, Toy Story 4, Yesterday, et al. — contain no violence.

        Of course, since you pride yourself on your disassociation from popular culture (“It’s on TEE VEE…which I refuse to watch or have”) you can’t be counted on to provide reliable commentary on that culture.

      4. Anyone who denied that movies are predominantly violent is in a serious case of denial.
        Why not post under your real name?

      5. Do you understand the inanity of a remark that insinuates because I do not watch TEE VEE, I cannot be relied upon for reliable commentary on ‘that culture’?
        IF you are of the opinion that TEE VEE and movies are representative of American culture, I would doubt we could have an intelligent conversation.
        TEE VEE and movies are representative of media that has been forced down the throats of the average American to destroy their minds and ability to reason and think logically
        and to keep them in a state of fear, anxiety and fantasy.
        YOU are obviously a VICTIM of their strategy.

      6. Never mind, Will, you’re right about everything. When facts don’t matter, opinion is all we have left.

        You’re an angry guy.

        P.S. My name is Kelli. I am posting under my real name. <– Oops, another fact…

      7. You only presented opinion…not facts….for the most part, that’s all any of us do here….. it’s a blog…that’s what blogs are for.
        Of course I’m angry. Anyone who is not angry in this country today is numb or fooling themselves. IF we had MORE angry folks, maybe we could make some change. What’s wrong with anger? Has real human emotion become a disease?
        I remember the world from the 50’s…when it made at least some sense.
        Now it’s a free for all with children being taught sodomy in the 1st grade.
        Angry…you’re damn right….maybe you should look at why you are not angry, eh?

  1. I don’t think the bulk of our population “needs” war, the MIC, and regime changes. In reality, this decision is made NOT by the US government as much as it is made by our dear and wonderful, only, friends and allies in the Middle East. The US government fellates Israel every chance it gets, but look what that realization and pronouncement got Rep. James Trafficant. The US general population is stuck in reverse, lazy as a mule, and only cares about their “stuff”. Try getting a good, mature reply to a question directed to the average American and see what you get. More often that not, you’ll get the reply, “it’s all about me”. The complete and utter insouciance shown by Americans foretells a future that won’t be what we expect. Our future is headed for the shoals of obliteration and servile bondage among those Americans that are not killed before it hits the fan. Most people when asked about the NWO think it refers to what you buy down at the local Dairy Queen.

  2. How can we argue against WAR when we exist in a society that promotes violence everywhere? This idiocy permeates all levels of our existence. We thrive on violence. How often do we find a movie devoid of vio;ence, maiming and killing?
    A hoax or not, The iron Mountain Report sums it up ….the US, INC. needs war.

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