Decline of U.S. empire good for the US of A, speaker argues
Joe Courter
February 2006

A hidden independent media gem in our area is the broadcasting of Alternative Radio on Monday nights at 6:30 on WUFT-FM 89.1 FM (Classic 89). (During the Florida Legislative session, it's played at 7 p.m.) The January16 Alternative Radio edition featured Johann Galtung giving a talk entitled;" The Decline and Fall of the American Empire." It was recorded in Santa Barbara, CA, shortly after the November 2004 election.

Galtung is Norwegian and a leading advocate of non-violent solutions to conflict. He founded and heads Transcend, a global network for conflict resolution. The words of his Alternative Radio talk are enhanced by Galtung's Norwegian accent and sly humor, but his message is serious and deserves a wider audience. (Ordering information on this and other Alternative Radio programs are available from

The gist of Galtung's talk is that the United States, while an empire, is rapidly isolating itself and falling out of favor with most of the rest of the world. This he claims, will have future consequences, particularly in the economic sphere. Much like when the apartheid government of South Africa came under worldwide condemnation and economic pressure, the U.S. may face a backlash on its products due to its foreign policy and actions. One major U.S. foreign export is military goods, often props up regimes repressing their own citizens. This adds to the resentment abroad.

Galtung gives an example in Iraq: "The purpose of the U.S. Army is to make the world safe for American business and cultural assault. Toward that end, there will be a fair amount of killing. We see that going on right now. I don't think it makes sense to see Falluja without quoting directive number 39 by L. P. Bremer III (former U.S. head of the Coalition Provisional Authority) that very clearly calls for the privatization of all businesses owned by the Iraqi state, with the possibility of 100% acquisition by foreigners and 100% repatriation [to foreign countries] of any profit. The 14 bases being built in Iraq may then serve as an illustration."

Galtung defines "empire" as "a trans-border concerted effort to exercise economic, political, and cultural dominance, puffed up by military efforts." He feels that when the rest of the world looks at the U.S. empire, it responds with wishes that the U.S. would change its course; militarily to stop killing and setting up bases; economically to stop exploiting; diplomatically, to join the rest of the world and act more with diplomacy and not dominance, and culturally stop acting with such a tone of supremacy.

Part of this cultural dominance goes beyond what we normally think of as culture; the music, the movies, the fashions, and the consumer goods. For Galtung culture in this case goes to religion, and the 'God is on our side' moral certitude which seems to underscore the Bush teams' justifications. What Galtung sees is the Christians and Jews merging their theologies to a common cause which leaves the Muslims out. The Christians awaited Second Coming is blended with the Jews coming Messiah. The Muslims become outsiders in some great stand-off. For the rest of the world this is of great concern, and for many of us it sparks wondering how sanity can be heard let alone prevail if religiously justified and inspired beliefs dominate the discourse of our world's future.

Galtung says: "Give up the idea of being a chosen people by God with a direct mandate and that you somehow have the solution to all problems. The antidote, the opposite of this, is called dialogue. In other words, dialogue, for the political aspect, participation. For the economic aspect, equity. And then how about the military aspect? Instead of seeing security problems all over (and there are some security problems) shift your attention. See conflicts all over the place. Instead of building strength, try to solve them. It's possible. It can be done. But in order to do it, you have to give up one idea, namely, that the other party is born evil, will continue to remain evil, and that the only remedy is to crush and exterminate.

"Unfortunately, these four aspects [economic, political, cultural, military] hang together so I think what the world is demanding is in one sense a tall bill. In another sense, it is not that terribly difficult. Stop killing, withdraw your bases, have equitable economic deals, join the world, for all its multilateralism and slowness, and enter into dialogue with a fascinating variety of civilizations. It can be done. Most countries try to do it, more or less perfectly. If this should happen, the greatest beneficiary from the decline and fall of the U.S. empire would be the United States of America. it would blossom. Why?

"First of all, it would get rid of an enormous economic burden. All of us know a little bit about the costs of empire in economic terms. But secondly, it would get rid of an enormous amount of fear. And that fear is based on a mechanism, which is ridiculously simple. One day all these people that we have bossed and bullied and killed will come back and do the same to us. Since there have been 240 military interventions since Thomas Jefferson started in Libya, there are lots of people who might dream of vengeance. In order to get out of that, you withdraw your tentacles and you start processes of reconciliation."

Perhaps the Bush agenda is to keep the Empire going, and maybe the Republicans and Democrats are together with them in this, differing only in tactics and subtleties. Out of view in all this is the U.S. program for the weaponization of space. At their headquarters in Huntsville Alabama over the main entry are the words "Masters of Space".. They are looking for worldwide enforcement from off-planet platforms. What interests will they be acting on?

On February 15, 2003 millions of people all over the planet came out into the streets in opposition to Bush & Co.'s invasion of Iraq. For one commentator it was the collective voice of the rest of the world speaking up as opposition to the world's sole superpower. Bush himself dismissed it as a "focus group" which he would ignore.

The world is changing while the U.S. stays rooted in its current strategy of dominance. Latin American elections are demonstrating a breaking away from World Bank/ IMF/ U.S policies. Worldwide communication and the internet have indigenous peoples finding common cause. International corporate media are being challenged by small and large opposition voices, from Indymedia to Aljazeera to Telesur.

Bush said: "you're either with us or with the terrorists"

Well, actually, there's a third voice which wants to be heard, those who are on the side of a reality-based analysis, working toward a sane, sustainable future. It'll be hard work, but it's the good fight, and the road that needs to be taken.

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