America’s ‘Unlimited Imperialists’

As the U.S. stands poised to strike Syria in yet another display of its unbridled militarism, it is the Unlimited Imperialists along the lines of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon and Hitler who are in charge, argues Francis Boyle in this commentary.

By Francis Boyle  Special to Consortium News

Historically the latest eruption of American militarism in the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. 

The then Republican administration of President William McKinley grabbed their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to genocidal conditions. 

McKinley: Launched America’s overseas empire.

Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America’s economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the “open door” policy.   But over the next four decades America’s aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the so-called “Pacific” Ocean would ineluctably pave the way for Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 194l, and thus America’s precipitation into the ongoing Second World War.  

Today a century later, the serial imperial aggressions launched, waged, and menaced by the neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration, then the neoliberal Democratic Obama administration and now the reactionary Trump administration threaten to set off World War III.  

This Time the Stakes are Higher

By shamelessly exploiting the terrible tragedy of September 11, the Bush Junior administration set forth to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Muslim states and peoples of color living in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa under the bogus pretexts of (a) fighting a war against “international terrorism” or “Islamic fundamentalism”; and/or (b) eliminating weapons of mass destruction; and/or (c) promoting democracy; and/or (d) self-styled humanitarian intervention and its avatar “responsibility to protect” (R2P). 

Only this time the geopolitical stakes are infinitely greater than they were a century ago:  control and domination of the world’s hydrocarbon resources and thus the very fundaments and energizers of the global economic system – oil and gas. 

Bush: Pursued a hydro-carbon empire.  (White House photo by Eric Draper)

The Bush Junior and Obama administrations targeted the remaining hydrocarbon reserves of Africa, Latin America (e.g., the Pentagon’s reactivating the Fourth Fleet in 2008), and Southeast Asia for further conquest and domination, together with the strategic choke-points at sea and on land required for their transportation (e.g., Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti).  Today the U.S. Fourth Fleet threatens oil-rich Venezuela and Ecuador, along with Cuba.

Toward accomplishing that first objective, in 2007, the neoconservative Bush Junior administration announced the establishment of the U.S. Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) in order to better control, dominate, steal, and exploit both the natural resources and the variegated peoples of the continent of Africa, the very cradle of our human species. 

In 2011 Libya and the Libyans proved to be the first victims to succumb to AFRICOM under the neoliberal Obama administration, thus demonstrating the truly bi-partisan and non-partisan nature of U.S. imperial foreign policy decision-making. Let us put aside as beyond the scope of this article, the American conquest, extermination, and ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans from the face of the continent. 

Since America’s instigation of the Spanish-American War in 1898, U.S. foreign policy decision-making has been alternatively conducted by reactionary imperialists, conservative imperialists, and liberal imperialists for the past 120 years and counting.

Trump is just another representative for U.S. imperialism and neoliberal capitalism. He forthrightly and proudly admitted that the United States is in the Middle East in order to steal their oil. At least he was honest about it. Unlike his predecessors who lied about the matter going back to President George Bush Sr. with his War for Persian Gulf oil against Iraq in 1991. Just recently, Trump publicly threatened illegal U.S. military intervention against oil-rich Venezuela and now he’s poised to strike Syria.

It’s About Power, Not Just Resources

But oil and other resources are not the only U.S. motive. Enforcing its global power and undermining or removing leaders who defy it are also at play. As my teacher, mentor, and friend, the late, great Professor Hans Morgenthau, who coined the term “unlimited imperialism” in his seminal 1948 critique of U.S. foreign policy, Politics Among Nations, said:

          “The outstanding historic examples of unlimited imperialism are the expansionist policies of Alexander the Great, Rome, the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, Napoleon I, and Hitler. They all have in common an urge toward expansion which knows no rational limits, feeds on its own successes and, if not stopped by a superior force, will go on to the confines of the political world. This urge will not be satisfied so long as there remains anywhere a possible object of domination–a politically organized group of men which by its very independence challenges the conqueror’s lust for power. It is, as we shall see, exactly the lack of moderation, the aspiration to conquer all that lends itself to conquest, characteristic of unlimited imperialism, which in the past has been the undoing of the imperialistic policies of this kind…”  

Since September 11, 2001, it is the Unlimited Imperialists along the lines of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon, and Hitler who have been in charge of conducting American foreign policy decision-making.  The factual circumstances surrounding the outbreaks of both the First World War and the Second World War currently hover like twin Swords of Damocles over the heads of all humanity.

Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Among his many books is “Destroying World Order.”


28 comments for “America’s ‘Unlimited Imperialists’

  1. April 18, 2018 at 13:34

    Barbara Bush held forth for the US to eventually discover WMDs in Iraq long after it was clear that this was a false assertion.

  2. No_SoY_gOy
    April 15, 2018 at 13:43

    “America’s ‘Unlimited Imperialists'”?


  3. polistra
    April 15, 2018 at 04:35

    No, it’s not about resources. Leftists constantly believe that wars are fought for resources. This was partly true 100 years ago, but not now. We didn’t obtain ANY new resources from ANY of our wars since 1950. Most wars didn’t involve resources at all; some wars ELIMINATED a source of oil or minerals.

    And that’s the real point. Not obtaining resources but BLOCKING the production of countries that compete with Saudi.

    It’s classic mob action. Similar to the use of patents to eliminate innovation, or the use of LBOs to acquire and slaughter competing companies.

  4. Mary M
    April 13, 2018 at 12:05

    The political leaders of the US, of course, taking orders from the corporists and are, to use an over used phrase, drunk with power…all they can see is ‘their’ military invading and conquering basically defenseless countries for their natural resources. The US will be stopped, however….and the Russia China bloc will do it…economically as well as militarily. The world outside the US has not had their fill of the senseless and warring aggression of the US and its NATO puppets and is now standng at the ready to stop them dead cold in their tracks.

  5. Sumiteru Taniguchi
    April 13, 2018 at 11:46

    The striking thing about this piece is what you don’t see. Boyle’s the guy who, with Gadafy, stopped US aggression against Libya. He often proposes practical legal strategies to resolve the problems he writes about. Not this time.

    That seems appropriate. It’s going to take a war to stop the US regime. The SCO and the global south accept that. It’s clear to any rational American observer. Russia and China will be making sure that the rain men of RAND get yanked out of their game-theoretic fantasy world. Let’s hope Russia can decapitate the US regime before it can destroy the world in a final fit of pique.

  6. Ali muhammad lashari
    April 13, 2018 at 06:20

    Yes you are right as there’s no ethic and norm in the actions of United states of America in all misadventures. I think it’s right time that world should United on one platform to criticize and condemn these activities and actions.

  7. Mild-ly - Facetious
    April 12, 2018 at 13:44

    Many thanks to the editors for bringing Dr. Francis Boyle to these pages.
    Professor Boyle is a treasure trove of fidelity to factual reality. (Truth in an age where “We create Reality” / Misinformation)

    • Mild-ly - Facetious
      April 12, 2018 at 13:52

      Poison Gas – Weapon of Choice for “False News”

      By Peter Koenig, April 12, 2018

      The recent fake gas attack on Douma outside of Damascus, has allegedly killed 80 to 120 people, mostly women and children. Of course, that sells best in the propaganda theatre – women and children. But there is not proof, none whatsoever.

      False Flag in Syria Sets Stage for Wider War

      By Tony Cartalucci, April 12, 2018

      The US rush to conflict attempts to sidestep any meaningful investigation into the attack, fitting a larger pattern of Washington and its allies using baseless chemical weapon allegations for wars of aggression stretching back to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

      Trigger-Happy Trump and Syria: “The Worst Case Scenario Is Now Our Reality.”

      By Felicity Arbuthnot, April 12, 2018

      The discredited White Helmets – a “rescue” group only operating in areas held by “rebels” who routinely decapitate, including children, set fire to people and commit numerous unspeakable acts – have produced a video of an apparent chemical attack on 7th April.

      The Most Important U.N. Security Council Vote Ever? Alleged Syria Chemical Weapons Attack and US-NATO Plans to Invade Syria

      By Eric Zuesse, April 12, 2018

      On Tuesday, April 10th, the U.S. and France were sending missiles, ships, planes and soldiers for an invasion of Syria, which is defended by Russia; and two alternative draft proposals were presented to the U.N. Security Council for authorizing an expert investigation to be done into the alleged April 7th chemical attack in Douma in Syria, which alleged event the U.S. and France allege to be the justification for their planned invasion.

      US Government Backs Dangerous New Genetic Manipulation of Plants and Animals

      By F. William Engdahl, April 12, 2018

      The Trump Administration is backing a new technology for the genetic manipulation of plants and even animals with no intend to supervise or regulate against possible dangers. If left unchecked, it could open a Pandora’s Box of dangers to human health for generations.

      Yulia Skripal Is Plainly Incommunicado and Under Duress

      By Craig Murray, April 12, 2018

      Only the Russians have allowed us to hear the actual voice of Yulia Skripal, in that recorded conversation with her cousin. So the one thing we know for certain is that, at the very first opportunity she had, she called back to her cousin in Russia to let her know what is going on. If you can recall, until the Russians released that phone call, the British authorities were still telling lies that Sergei was in a coma and Yulia herself in a serious condition.

  8. April 12, 2018 at 10:04

    back-evol, F. William Engdahl has an excellent article on New Eastern Outlook and reposted to Global Research today, “Trump’s China Trade War Has Deeper Agenda”. Trump taking bluster tactic shows, unfortunately, that he has no diplomatic skills, and the Chinese will not back down from their better economic position than US. China views US as a debtor nation that is declining in power. My view is that all nations need to cooperate to deal with global ecological issues caused by Earth’s population approaching 8 billion, but instead we are dealing with dominance by a few unbalanced, immature imperialist warmongers who are holding us all hostage. (Engdahl always writes great articles, well worth reading.) I don’t say China is right, but i do say the West is wrong. Bluster won’t work with China, and Russia will not accept being kicked around like a football, either.

    • mike k
      April 12, 2018 at 13:27

      You have got it down right Jessika.

    • occupy on
      April 12, 2018 at 19:29

      Yes Jessika….All powers must soon start working together tho save the earth. I think Russian and Chinese leadership understand this, and it’s been passed on to leaders they’ve worked with economically. That’s the only glimmer of light I see for the future. That’s a reason for me to shun the US major political parties. Many many new parties have been affecting politics in Europe and elsewhere in the world; it’s only natural that it should happen to the ancient, miasmic political swamps of USA,

  9. Babyl-on
    April 12, 2018 at 06:57

    The foreign policy of the United States of America – the home office of the AngloZionist/Wahhabi Empire established at the end of WWII – has been and is today “Global full spectrum domination.” From August 6, 1945 until today and ongoing the USA and its allies have slaughtered innocent people around the globe. EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 73+ YEARS The AZ/W empire has every intention to take over the entire world and the death of even a billion people is, for them – “worth the price”

    Look at Syria, Yemen, Libya and conflicts all over the world. Everywhere one looks one sees that the interests of the Calvinist US, Zionist Israel and Wahhabi Saud family (all owners of the holy sites of their “religions” and controllers of religious doctrine) are fully aligned.

    Syria is a good example war and the overthrow of the government in Syria clearly serves the interests of the US which wants total domination, Israel because it wants the same as well as serving its own interests and the Saud family also is completely in line with the other two. There is a “holy trinity” all right and it does what the “holy” always do – slaughter the innocent to appease a vengeful god and rid the world of evil.

    • mike k
      April 12, 2018 at 13:26

      Excellent, clear insight Babyl-on!

  10. backwardsevolution
    April 12, 2018 at 00:17

    Article entitled “There Wasn’t A Single Corpse”: Russia Claims ‘White Helmets’ Staged Syria Chemical Attack”.

    “Russia claims that the reported chemical attack in Syria last Sunday was staged by the “white helmets,” a US-funded NGO lauded by mainstream media for their humanitarian work, while long-suspected of performing less-than humanitarian deeds behind the curtain.

    Speaking with EuroNews, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov, said “Russian military specialists have visited this region, walked on those streets, entered those houses, talked to local doctors and visited the only functioning hospital in Douma, including its basement where reportedly the mountains of corpses pile up. There was not a single corpse and even not a single person who came in for treatment after the attack.”

    “But we’ve seen them on the video!” responds EuroNews correspondent Andrei Beketov.

    “There was no chemical attack in Douma, pure and simple,” responds Chizov. “We’ve seen another staged event. There are personnel, specifically trained – and you can guess by whom – amongst the so-called White Helmets, who were already caught in the act with staged videos. […]

    Prime Minister Theresa May told President Trump on Tuesday that Britain would require more evidence in last weekend’s suspected chemical attack before committing to a military strike against Syria, reports The Times. […]

    President Trump also appears to have backed off an imminent strike after promising Syria would “pay a big price,” and that the U.S. response would be decided by Wednesday.”

    This article also contains a short video of Eva Bartlett explaining to a journalist why you have to be skeptical of the accounts received “on the ground”.

    • Tom Welsh
      April 12, 2018 at 07:28

      ‘“But we’ve seen them on the video!” responds EuroNews correspondent Andrei Beketov’.

      Yeah… so Mr Beketov presumably believes that Darth Vader, the Emperor, Han Solo and the Death Star exist.

      After all, everyone has seen them “on the video”.

      Not to mention that enchanting creature, Jessica Rabbit.

  11. Zachary Smith
    April 11, 2018 at 23:16

    “‘President William McKinley” – merely seeing his name gets me riled up. My understanding of the man is that he was a flabby bowl of jelly in ethical terms. During his first term he allowed himself to be railroaded into the Spanish-American war. Theodore Roosevelt was the equivalent of John Bolton – a totally loose cannon with too much access to power within the McKinley administration. Yet McKinley wimped out and put Roosevelt in as Vice President! I’d favor giving Mt. Rushmore back to the proper Indian owners with the proviso that Roosevelt’s image be removed from the structure. They could use their own judgment with the rest of it.

    • WC
      April 11, 2018 at 23:40

      Trump would like to see his face up there. And in his lifetime! Mt. Rushmore is the narcissist’s nirvana, which explains why it was built. :)

    • Brad. Owen
      April 12, 2018 at 04:00

      And when he was railroaded and figured it out, he was shot to make room for the col. House-managed Teddy R to move into the White House. This is typical British Empire stuff, keeping their colony in line with the Imperial geopolitics. The Guelph Black Nobility has struck again. McKinley was actually a Pacificist looking West to Japan and China instead of East to the Mother Country. That is why the Brits made him eat a bullet. From EIR. But you won’t see this comment because of the moderator, so this comment is for you, mr. moderator.

    • dbrize
      April 12, 2018 at 15:49

      A salutary post Mr Smith. Well done.

  12. jeff montanye
    April 11, 2018 at 20:55

    imo much of the reason for the mideast wars is less oil than it is turning israel’s potential opponents into failed states. why do we need to change governments to be able to buy the oil? it doesn’t really make any sense: wars reduce a country’s ability to find, extract, transport, possibly refine such resources. the yinon plan and seven countries in five years are much more likely the underlying reason for these crimes against humanity. and to call trump somehow uniquely violent after his two immediate predecessors each killed over a million largely innocent people who never attacked us, particularly as nation states, seems absurd.

    • Typingperson
      April 13, 2018 at 01:54

      Ding ding ding! Back in 2003, I opposed the US invasion of Iraq. I thought then that USA was doing it for oil. I still read MSM newspapers for my news then, so I didn’t know anything abut Israeli zionists.

      USA wars in Middle East are at the behest of Israel. Israel wants to balkanize all Arab states in Middle East, as you correctly note.

      They’re in a “bad neighborhood,” to use the racist Israeli language–and they want to “mow the grass”–and destroy every Arab state in the Middle East. Using the USA to do the heavy lifting.

      Astounding that the USA mainstream media/press does not report this. Or not so astounding. USA is in no way, shape or form a free country.

  13. April 11, 2018 at 19:37

    Great article, so succinct to give a short summary of the mentality of imperial aggression! Thank you, Dr. Boyle.

    I cannot stop myself to interject something ironically amusing, which is that China has refused to accept 469 tons of American garbage at their shores and is sending it back to America. And in a separate statement, President Xi had harsh words for Donald Trump’s arrogance, which Xi said will get the US nowhere. This was on RT, will CNN report it?

    • backwardsevolution
      April 12, 2018 at 00:44

      Jessika – I am on Trump’s side more on this topic than anything else. Trump is right about this.

      “Trump said on his Asian tour: ‘I don’t blame China – after all, who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens… I give China great credit,’ said Mr. Trump while addressing a room of business leaders. Instead, the US leader said previous US administrations were responsible for what he called ‘a very unfair and one-sided’ trade relationship with China.

      It’s no surprise; I’m sure they knew it would end someday. Probably never dreamed it would go on this long. However, the way the game is played, China will still negotiate all they can as the inevitable ends. And with retaliatory tariffs, they negotiate their best deal, and as quoted, Trump understands that too. Nothing personal.”

      The U.S. multinational corporations sold the U.S. out. They took U.S. jobs to China, thanks to the sell-out of the century man, Bill Clinton. They struck up a deal with the Chinese elite (the 1% of the population who belong to the Communist Party of China; no, the rest of the population don’t belong to the Party) whereby the U.S. multinationals would be able to set up shop in China, get use of the cheap labor and no environmental controls, but in return China negotiated that all U.S. corporations must take on a Chinese business partner (a loyal Communist Party member) who would get 51% ownership of the company and the U.S. corporation would have 49% ownership. In addition, if the U.S. corporations chose to leave China, they had to leave behind the plant and equipment.

      For their part, China promised not to steal intellectual property, copyrighted material or technology, and they promised that, in time, they would open up their markets to U.S. exports. But that’s not what happened, as China proceeded to steal absolutely everything that wasn’t nailed down. They copied all the U.S. taxpayer-subsidized research and technology they could get their hands on. AND they did not open up their markets to U.S. goods. The Chinese elite didn’t care how much China got polluted. All they cared about was getting their ill-gotten gains out of the country and over to the West where they proceeded to buy up property and drive up prices.

      The U.S. has a huge trade deficit with China. You can’t gut your own manufacturing base and replace it with part-time service jobs. The Chinese elite and the U.S. multinationals had a cozy, symbiotic relationship, and they’ve all gotten filthy rich. The peasants in the West and the East have been the ones to suffer.

      As the above-quoted excerpt said, Trump doesn’t blame China. He blames Clinton, Bush and Obama. They were the ones who sold the American public out. Trump is just trying to right the unfair trade imbalance.

  14. jaycee
    April 11, 2018 at 19:19

    The proper procedure is to allow an independent forensic investigation to determine – to the best of its ability – what did or did not happen in Douma. If appropriation of blame can be assigned, then it should be referred to the international criminal court. That is what the rule of law (or the “rules based international system”) means.

    The improper procedure is to form a lynch mob and undertake frontier justice.

    That the latter pursuit is apparently the preferred option is an affront to any civilized values, and the only means by which it could seem appropriate is by the stunningly irresponsible reporting and narrative shaping by the mainstream/ corporate western media complex, whose owners and editors should be held criminally responsible should the worst occur.

    • Clarke
      April 12, 2018 at 12:57

      Whenever the u.s. government and media demonize the leader of another country, proper procedure should be to assume they are lying.

    • occupy on
      April 12, 2018 at 19:14

      You said it, brother!

  15. mike k
    April 11, 2018 at 19:04

    This is patently true, and obvious – if you can see it. And there is the problem; most Americans cannot see the American Empire! Talk about a huge elephant in the living room! How could anyone miss it?? The magic power of cradle to the grave propaganda does the job. A nation of mindless zombies, perfectly controlled by their evil Masters living at the top of the wealth/power pyramid. When will these sleepers awaken? I truly believe that even a nuclear Armageddon will not be enough to dislodge them from their profound sleep. They will probably draw their last breath blaming somebody else but their own country for the disaster.

Comments are closed.