The USA and its quest for Full-Spectrum Dominance across the globe
“Don’t get me into a shooting war with the Russians”, Obama told his CIA Chief during the Syrian Civil War.
This quote has resonance, because it testifies the fact that different parts of the massive US Government work largely independent of one another, sometimes at cross-purposes. Syria (again) provides us example of this when a conflict broke out between the CIA-backed Sunni Islamist jihadis and the US DoD-backed Kurds in Northern Syria.
“The USA is” or “the USA wants”, are easy and lazy mental shortcuts that allow people to assume that the world’s greatest superpower is united in purpose, when the fact of the matter is that there are different power centres, each with their own agendas, and that these agendas can sometimes align through “buy ins” with other power centres to focus on a given target. This results in the expansion (or failed expansion) of US Empire on the global stage, and this is the subject of this essay.
There has been a significant debate taking place not just on the internet between anonymous people and the occasional journalist who wades into the action, but also behind closed doors in various, relevant parts of the US Government as to whether the USA should pivot more quickly to China, or deal with Russia first, or both. But first, an explanation:
In International Relations (IR) Theory, the world is divided between hegemons (those in power), revisionist states (those seeking to change, reform, or end the current hegemonic condition and possibly replace them as hegemon), and free-riders (those that benefit from the present hegemon). The USA has been seeking to tame revisionist powers since the end of the Cold War, each in their own theatre. The following states are “revisionist” in IR terms:
Three of the above are in possession of nuclear weapons, with Iran seeking to join the club. The USA, as current hegemon, seeks to prevent the rise of threats to its hegemonic status. This can be done in various ways, from armed conflict through to economic sanctions, and everything in between.
There are those like Henry Kissinger who seek to do a “Nixon Goes to China”, but in reverse, whereby the USA engages in détente with Russia to bring it onside in a showdown with China over who gets to be the primary power in East Asia. These people view China as the greater threat, when compared to Russia, to US interests. This coloured the tone of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy as it was the first to take China on, by launching a failed rebellion in Hong Kong, by publicizing accusations of genocide in Xinjiang against the Uighurs there, and by slapping tariffs onto Chinese goods destined for the US market. COVID-19 caused a pause in the escalation of the US targeting Beijing.
There are others who insist that Russia is the greater threat to US interests and seek to surround and neutralize Moscow’s ability to engage in nuclear deterrence. Full-Spectrum Dominance is the concept whereby a military has complete control over all dimensions of any potential battlefield. It order to achieve Full-Spectrum Dominance, a state must have Nuclear Primacy, i.e. the ability to win in a nuclear war, whereby the other side’s nuclear arsenal is wiped out before it can launch any of its missiles. Russia’s nuclear arsenal is the only present roadblock towards American Full-Spectrum Dominance, which is not just why many US foreign policy planners seek to defeat the Russians first, but is also a large part of why this war in Ukraine is taking place at present.
Still others want to go for gold and take on BOTH China and Russia at the same time. This screams of hubris, and we can now safely conclude that the various moving parts of the USGov and non-governmental centres of power have agreed on this approach. The drive for global hegemony whereby both China AND Russia are targeted simultaneously is what I mean by the term “Turbo America”.
America: Never More United, Never More Powerful Than It Is Today
I get a lot of shit when I bluntly state that the USA has never been more powerful than it is today. People will point to the USA’s de-industrialization, its opiate-death crisis, its falling living standards, its disappearing middle class, crumbling infrastructure, the growing divide between red and blue states, and the collective meltdown of half of America thanks to Trump’s surprise win in 2016. All of these points are valid, but they also mean fuck all in the greater scheme of things.
To effect change (at its most conservative, or revolution at is most liberal), a segment of the elites need to defect to the side of those seeking change. The USA today is a picture of elites united in total. Bipartisan consensus on all matters imperial is the rule, with intelligence agencies in bed with both media and Silicon Valley. Those who diverge from “the current thing” are quickly cast out of good company, with some losing their jobs and becoming unpersoned. All centres of power (with the notable exception of maybe the massive NYPD) are firmly onside, happily conforming to ever-changing prevailing narratives that find their way into laws, into schooling, and into corporate governance.
“But Niccolo, half of the country hates this!” Sure, but they don’t matter. Flyover America can rot for all they care, so long as the lights aren’t turned off in the places that count. The idea that the people matter was easily laid to rest with how easily the Trump Administration was subverted through the joint action of the intelligence/security servies with the mainstream media, NGOs, the judiciary, and various planted agents within the actual Trump Regime. They then went on to “fortify” the 2020 election to ensure that such a wrong result could not be repeated. If it is repeated again, they will simply subvert once more, as they got away with it the first time and are still in the same positions of power.
It does not matter to the elites whether Peoria, Illinois or Topeka, Kansas is seeing growth or regeneration. This does not impact the concerns of those in power on the federal level because these are national concerns that have for some time taken a back seat to imperial concerns. John McWilliams in Greenville, South Carolina is as relevant to them as Jose Cortes in Arica, Chile, or Dieter Schliemann from Dortmund, Germany: they are all imperial subjects.
Russia is fighting its war in Ukraine with one hand tied behind its own back (its unwillingness to send in overwhelming force), but the Americans are fighting this proxy war with not just one hand tied behind its back, but with another four fingers on the other hand as well. Happy to fight to the last Ukrainian, the Americans are using their massive stockpiles of weapons alongside real-time intel to hamper Russian efforts in that country. US policy planners know that the Ukrainians cannot win this war on the ground, but they can make it as bloody as possible for the Russians. When combined with symbolic strikes like that on the Moskva naval flagship in tandem with their overwhelming dominance on the propaganda plane of battle, the USA can also diminish the reputation of Russia’s armed forces in the eyes of many (but not all).
To further compound matters, the USA has placed the monetary cost of this conflict entirely on the shoulders of its European satrapies. US-Russia trade amounted to very little not just in the run up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but in years prior as well. Europe, on the other hand, has had its arm twisted to reduce trade with Russia over the years to reflect the increasing strain of ties between its American lord and Moscow. Just today, Germany reported a record historical high of 30% producer price inflation, and this was from last month. The blame is laid on skyrocketing energy prices. Just think what will happen if the USA gets its way and the EU approves an embargo on Russian oil (this vote is coming up next week). Europe is seeing inflation galloping across the continent, as the USA just looks on and tells them to tighten their belts to ‘save democracy’, while planning to sell them overpriced American LNG to replace Russian gas which powers many of Europe’s economies. This is a flex.
And the flexing on Europe doesn’t stop with matters not relevant to Ukraine and/or Russia either.
The Full Spectrum Dominance of Europe
Not content with just military and economic domination of the European continent, the Americans want to transform Europe to better reflect the USA culturally and socially. With a pliant Eurocracy in Brussels, much of this is outsourced to them, leaving America’s hand invisible. But America’s hand is visible where it feels it must be made so.
Just after last Christmas, Poland’s President Duda vetoed a media law drafted and passed by his own party so as to not upset the USA. The Americans did not like and did not approve of a law that stipulated that Polish media must be in Polish hands. The reason? Poland cannot be trusted with media independent of US ideological liberalism, with George Soros at the forefront of looking to purchase Polish media outlets in order to transform Polish society. Poland is currently the USA’s forward base in its proxy war against the Russians in Ukraine, but this is no excuse for trying to protect its own media from its American overlords.
Poland still remains largely Catholic, but this is eroding. Will it go the way of Ireland? That remains to be seen.
France has fallen to Americanization (where Catholicism has been eroding for a very long time, to be fair, but where a French civilization remained separate from that of Anglosphere):
Americanisation, Fourquet writes, has profoundly transformed France. Although 27% of French people have visited the US at least once, every second person among the wealthy has done so. The upper classes are fluent in English — Macron voters were the most proficient in this language, while Le Pen voters were the least — and consume mostly American media.
The less fortunate have their own cultural markers of Americanisation. Again, Fourquet analyses names. The Maries of French tradition were replaced by Kevins (after Home Alone) and Dylans (after Beverly Hills 90210). The map of these American names coincides with the places where Marine Le Pen can count on her firmest support. Many National Rally activists bear names such as Jordan Bardella, today the number two in the party, or Davy Rodriguez, who headed its youth organisation. More phenomena of this kitschy low-status Americanisation include the immense popularity of country music clubs, vintage US cars, and pole dancing across France, as well the spread of the Buffalo Grill restaurant chain in hundreds of locations.
Both the elites and the working classes began to dream American dreams. Fourquet calls one of them the “Plaza majority” lifestyle, after the name of the celebrity real estate agent Stéphane Plaza. In his TV shows, he advertises an ideal shared across French society: a house with a garden, a desire that mimics the American suburban lifestyle. Depending on the class, this ideal assumes different forms, but it often includes a swimming pool. This vision of affluence from America captured the imagination of the French, who have built 1.3 million pools in their country. Elsewhere, Fourquet says the last common experience of the “French archipelago” is a visit, or “pilgrimage” to Disneyland — 75% of those under 35 have visited the theme park.
Americanisation was the only component of globalisation that did not bitterly divide the French. According to Fourquet the split between those for whom globalisation meant achievement and those for whom it meant dispossession, would, from 2017, become central to understanding France. As in the United States and Britain, globalisation swept the French economy. As in the United States and Britain, its impact could have perverse consequences.
Europe would benefit from a balance of powers effect whereby the USA and another competitor would be closely matched in power, so that European states (or the EU in theory) could play one off of the other to maximize their own sovereignty and best protect their own interests. With American Full-Spectrum Dominance on the European continent, Europe is reduced to little more than a collection of American satrapies, whereby the Metropole (the USA) informs the satraps by way of direct edicts, coercion, soft power, and cultural change.
Turbo-America means that the USA openly engages in coercion of both opponents and allies to get its way. There is little to stop them, so why not do it? Hiding behind the mask of “democracy” and “global norms”, the USA introduces new concepts of rule globally to further cement its rule and gain advantage for its corporations.
US-introduced sanctions have increased by a staggering 933% (!) in the past 20 years alone:
Sanctions designations net increased 933% over the last 20 years, increasing virtually every year for the past two decades, from a total of 912 sanctioned parties in 2000 to a whopping 9,421 on OFAC’s lists as of this year;
While OFAC issued over 12,000 designations during that same period, it also delisted nearly 3,000 persons – a quarter of the overall total;
Since 2000, the number of underlying sanctions authorities grew from 69 to 176 in 2021; and
The ratio of Executive versus Legislative Branch actions has remain relatively constant over the years; about 63% of sanctions authorities over the last 20 years have been executive orders while about 37% have been statutes, but the ratio has not changed much in the past two decades (64% executive orders/36% statutes in 2000 versus 61% executive orders/39% statutes in 2021).
This is known in some quarters as “sanctions inflation”, as it is the ‘go-to’ tool in the US toolbox for trying to change the behaviour of those that their policies target. Turbo-America means that sanctions will become an even more routine occurrence, and we are already seeing this with the threats to sanction both India and China over their refusal to break with Russia over the war in Ukraine. Together, these two countries account for roughly 36% of the world’s entire population.
Complementary to sanctions inflation is the new corporate concept of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) in which western concepts revolving around the fight against Climate Change, around social concerns such as race, inequality, sexual minorities, etc. and around who gets to be in charge of various businesses are standardized across the western corporate landscape. Naturally, the rules being put into place best serve the interests of American corporations, which allows for buy ins from them with respect to these policies. This is an add-on to Globalism itself, raising the barrier to entry for others, while sandbagging and extending already existing advantages for those that have them at present.
Do you want funding for your venture? Do you want to be able to bid for various contracts? Then you must conform to these new standards or you are shit out of luck. It is through ESG (and spinoffs like DEI: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) where the USA most quickly engineers social change in its satraps and dependencies. As I wrote in “The Desquamation of America”, this indicates that the USA has entered an ideological phase where once it was purely mercantalist. But this ruling ideology serves those very same mercantilist interests.
Big Tech and US Empire
America’s power is so overwhelming that they literally tell us that they will lie to us to promote their own security interests and dare us to do something about it:
It’s one of a string of examples of the Biden administration’s breaking with recent precedent by deploying declassified intelligence as part of an information war against Russia. The administration has done so even when the intelligence wasn’t rock solid, officials said, to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin off balance. Coordinated by the White House National Security Council, the unprecedented intelligence releases have been so frequent and voluminous, officials said, that intelligence agencies had to devote more staff members to work on the declassification process, scrubbing the information so it wouldn’t betray sources and methods.
Observers of all stripes have called it a bold and so far successful strategy — although not one without risks.
Big Tech is the lynchpin that effects US military, economic, and socio-cultural control over its own country and those of its allies:
A group of former intelligence and national security officials on Monday issued a jointly signed letter warning that pending legislative attempts to restrict or break up the power of Big Tech monopolies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — would jeopardize national security because, they argue, their centralized censorship power is crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy. The majority of this letter is devoted to repeatedly invoking the grave threat allegedly posed to the U.S. by Russia as illustrated by the invasion of Ukraine, and it repeatedly points to the dangers of Putin and the Kremlin to justify the need to preserve Big Tech's power in its maximalist form. Any attempts to restrict Big Tech's monopolistic power would therefore undermine the U.S. fight against Moscow.
Censorship plays a key role in this, as those with ideas that run counter to prevailing narratives and foreign policy objectives and who gain sizable audiences, are to be unpersoned to “protect democracy”, as per Max Boot.
Marc Andreessen explains how he sees this playing out:
Few reject the overwhelming evidence of growing conformity in western society with respect to prevailing narratives involving “the current thing” as the fear of punishment for those who diverge from those narratives is overwhelming, due to the increasingly precarious economic conditions that most people now live in. This makes censorship quite a lot easier, only serving to make policy much simpler to effect when opposition is either muted or silenced altogether. It also gives the impression of overwhelming support for imperial policies and dictates.
China and Hubris
The threat of applying sanctions to China for refusing to break with Russia is what took me most aback and what has led me to write this piece, as I was not sure as to whether the USA would move against Russia or China first, thinking that they could not threaten both at the same time. I was wrong of course.
As mentioned above, the USA does very little trade with Russia, but its trade with China is monstrous. It’s one thing to sanction the Russians as any costs can be put onto the Europeans who wouldn’t dare to complain, but to sanction China is a trickier adventure by exponential amounts. How do you effectively sanction them without committing economic suicide?
I am certain that US policy planners in the Treasury Department have been thinking up ways to make this work, and their confident threats to sanction Beijing tell me that they have thought it through.
The Chinese have already warned against any sanctions, saying bluntly that any threat to its gas and oil imports will be considered threats to its own national security.
Openly telling everyone that they will lie to us to make Russia bleed to death, and openly threatening to sanction both China and India at the same time for not breaking with Russia is a big, glowing red sign indicating hubris. For some, this will suggest desperation on the part of the USA to maintain its global standing. To me, it suggests that the USA is confident in its own power, having put Russia onto the Europeans to allow itself to effect its Pivot to East Asia once and for all.
By combining its economic strength with its military, its soft power, and its technological advantages to dominate and micro-manage its Americanizing client states while engaging in a proxy war with the nuclear-armed Russians AND moving towards cutting China down to size in East Asia and the Pacific, the USA is on the path towards Full-Spectrum Dominance. The only question that remains to be seen is whether they will succeed. In the meantime, Turbo-America will continue to steamroll and Americanize everything in its path.
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Also, it's Spring. Enjoy the sunshine.
This is a great article and highlights pretty much everything that's been going on. This is America going for broke. What I don't see mentioned is the financial side. $30 Trillion in debt with a ratio of 100%+ Debt/GDP that's only growing larger over time (since US treasuries are safe havens that are both a gift and a curse) interferes with stability in the financial markets. Add to that the specter of global famine and the inevitable waves of migrants that will lay siege on Europe, the ability to manage all these moving parts is going to be a very chaotic state of affairs. The illusions of American populists or the "New Right" (who have my sympathies but are going to be very disappointed) to have any influence is more bread and circuses but the move towards Asia and China's closing window for Taiwan is making instability the new normal. Keep up the good work