Full text: The Report on Origins, Facts and Perils of U.S. Military Hegemony (3)

(Xinhua) 09:07, September 08, 2023

Chapter III: Perils of U.S. Military Hegemony

In 1901, U.S. writer Mark Twain wrote "And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one -- our States do it: We can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones," to condemn the imperialist actions of the United States in launching a war and carrying out massacres in the Philippines.

Founded through war and bloodshed and expanding through intervention and intrigue, the United States developed its military hegemony in pursuit of power and profit and maintained its military hegemony through domineering and bullying.

Walter Russell Mead, a distinguished scholar at the Hudson Institute and professor at Bard College, once observed that "the United States of America is the most dangerous military power in the history of the world."

Numerous facts have proved that U.S. military hegemony, which is the main source of global instability, poses the greatest challenge to human progress and runs counter to the trend of peace and development.

Such hegemonic actions have caused humanitarian disasters, violated the sovereignty of other countries, trampled on international rules, undermined the international order, and led to significant risks and dangers for other countries, and even the United States itself.

3.1 Humanitarian disasters

-- Massacring civilians

Brandon Bryant, a former U.S. military drone operator, has recounted his personal experience to the media on several occasions. After firing a Hellfire missile at a building containing his target, he saw a child exit the building just as the missile struck. When he alerted his superiors about the situation after reviewing the tape, he was told that it was just "a dog".

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, headquartered in London, U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen have killed between 910 and 2,200 civilians, including 283 to 454 children, from February 2004 to February 2020.

The Intercept, a U.S. non-profit news organization, in 2015 disclosed that during one five-month period of U.S. operation, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.

The United States continues to violate the right to life, the most basic human right, and has caused innumerable humanitarian catastrophes worldwide. The American Indian Wars directly wiped out millions of Native Americans, the Philippine-American War caused the death of 200,000 to 1 million Filipinos, the Korean War resulted in over 3 million civilian deaths, the Vietnam War led to 2 million civilian deaths, the war in Afghanistan caused over 100,000 civilian casualties, and the Iraq War killed between 200,000 to 250,000 civilians. According to Costs of War, a project led by Brown University, as of September 2021, Washington's so-called "war on terror" since 2001 has directly caused the deaths of approximately 929,000 people, including 387,000 civilians, and has displaced 38 million people.

-- Trampling on human dignity

The frequently reported scandals of systemic prisoner abuse by the U.S. military in recent years are evidence of blatant disregard for human rights and trampling on human dignity.

As far back as 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism reported to the 10th session of the Human Rights Council that the United States had established a comprehensive system of extraordinary rendition, long-term and secret detention, and practices that contravene the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In the report presented to the 64th session of the UN General Assembly, the rapporteur pointed out that the United States, along with its private contractors, resorted to interrogation techniques against male Muslims detained in Iraq and other countries, including but not limited to, forcing detainees to strip naked, piling detainees on top of each other naked, and threatening them with rape and sodomy.

According to a report from the Costs of War Project at the beginning of 2022, following the 9/11 attacks, the United States, in the name of a so-called "war on terror," orchestrated a system of black sites in at least 54 countries and regions across the world. Over 100,000 people were detained at these sites, including Muslims, women and children.

Bedu al-Hamad is a former Iraqi detainee who was jailed by the U.S. army under the pretext of allegedly supporting terrorism and detained in Abu Ghraib prison, located west of Baghdad. Describing life in the prison as hell and saying that the food he was given was just barely enough to keep him alive, he said that one of the many horrific violations committed by U.S. troops was solitary confinement by imprisoning him for a month, preventing him from seeing anyone, and exposing him to extreme cold or heat.

"The Americans were making the Iraqis torture each other, as they brought a detained policeman, and put him among the extremists. The militants tortured him, broke his hands and feet and tried to kill him, and this goes beyond violating human rights," al-Hamad said.

As a result of his prolonged confinement, al-Hamad experienced severe psychological trauma and was unable to recognize his family.

In addition to widespread abuse and torture at Guantanamo, U.S. personnel have tortured prisoners by desecrating the Quran and violating Islamic beliefs, including throwing the Quran into toilets, tearing it to pieces or burning it under the guise of searching for weapons, and having female guards spy on naked male prisoners in bathrooms, which has sparked collective protest and even caused mass suicide among the detainees.

-- Damaging ecology

The U.S. military operations across the world have caused severe ecological crises.

Over 350,000 tons of explosive bombs and landmines were left by the U.S. military in Vietnam, and it is estimated that it would take another 300 years to completely clear them. The massive use of depleted uranium ammunition in the U.S.-led NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has led to a surge in cancers and leukemia among the local population, causing serious damage to the local and even European ecological environment. From 2002 to 2016, there were at least 270 incidents of environmental contamination at three U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Japan, most of which were not reported to the Japanese government. The soil and underground water pollution of the U.S. military base which was returned to South Korea in Yongsan in May 2022 has far exceeded the standard for a park and is full of carcinogens, with total petroleum hydrocarbons exceeding the standard by 29 times, and benzene and phenols exceeding the standard by 3.4 and 2.8 times, respectively.

Furthermore, the U.S. military is the world's largest energy consumer of fossil fuel and its fuel consumption outside wartime along with the resulting carbon emissions exceeds most countries'.

While the United States may verbally support environmental protection and carbon neutrality, the priorities of the U.S. military are its safety and lethality. Every major weapon system, whether jet fighters or aircraft carriers, is carbon-intensive. In sum, no other nation's military can match the devastation of the U.S. military greenhouse gas emissions.

"The U.S. military's carbon footprint is so big it outranks that of most countries in the world," said a joint study published by Lancaster University and Durham University in 2019, adding that "the U.S. military is the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world when looking at emissions from fuel use." According to data from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, since the start of the so-called "war on terror" in 2001, the U.S. military has generated over 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases.

3.2 Violation of sovereignty

In 1648, when the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War and laid the foundation for the modern nation-state system, the principle of sovereignty was established.

Examples of the United States using military hegemony to violate the principle of sovereignty are commonplace. In addition to direct military invasions of other countries, the United States has also subverted lawful governments, exercised extraterritorial jurisdiction, and violated the airspace and territorial waters of other countries.

-- Adopting military intervention abroad

Since the Declaration of Independence in 1776, U.S. foreign military interventions through direct invasion by force have spread across the globe.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once referred to the United States as "the most warlike nation in the history of the world," adding that it "has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation."

According to a Tufts University report, "Introducing the Military Intervention Project: A new Dataset on U.S. Military Interventions, 1776-2019," the United States undertook nearly 400 military interventions globally between those years, 34 percent of which were in Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 percent in East Asia and the Pacific, 14 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, and 13 percent in Europe and Central Asia. Currently, its military interventions in the Middle East and North Africa as well as sub-Saharan Africa are on the rise.

-- Subverting lawful governments

The United States began subverting the lawful governments of other countries soon after its founding. In the Tripoli War from 1801 to 1805, the U.S. consul in Tunisia participated in intriguing the subversion of the Tripoli government with the authorization of then President Thomas Jefferson, which was the first time the United States conducted a subversive operation against a lawful government in a foreign country.

As the Boston College political scientist Lindsey O'Rourke wrote in her book "Covert Regime Change: America's Secret Cold War," from 1947 to 1989, the United States carried out 64 covert operations of subversion and six overt ones in other countries, regardless of whether they were enemies or allies, or what political system they had adopted.

Following the end of the Cold War, the United States undertook subversive operations in several countries, including Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Venezuela.

In 2022, former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton publicly admitted that he had assisted in planning coups in other countries, alluding to the unsuccessful coup attempt in Venezuela in 2019.

-- Enjoying "extraterritorial jurisdiction"

It is common for U.S. military personnel to violate the local laws of the countries in which they are stationed. However, the U.S. government has tried to avoid subjecting U.S. military personnel to the jurisdiction of local governments, causing serious violations of the judicial sovereignty of the countries in which they are stationed.

A recent study conducted by Asif Efrat, "Facing U.S. Extraterritorial Pressure: American Troops in Foreign Courts during the Cold War," showed that the involvement of U.S. troops overseas in crime was far greater than previously known, and suggested that in countries dependent on U.S.-provided security, U.S. troops were less likely to face trial, with over 360,000 criminal cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families from 1954 to 1970, but only about one-third of these cases were tried in the courts of the countries where they were stationed.

A South Korean media outlet reported in 2017 that the non-prosecution rate for crimes committed by U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea stands at a whopping 70.7 percent and the figure for violent crimes, including murder, rape and robbery, is even higher at 81.3 percent.

-- Invading airspace and territorial waters

During the Cold War, the United States took advantage of its technological superiority to conduct high-altitude reconnaissance and other military activities, violating the airspace of other countries. From June 1956 to December 1959, the CIA used U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft to conduct more than 250 overflight and peripheral reconnaissance missions in Europe, the Soviet Union, the Middle East and East Asia to gather imagery and signal intelligence.

After the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in May 1960, the CIA shifted the focus of its high-altitude reconnaissance activities to Latin America and East Asian countries, and the reconnaissance activities in East Asia, including China, continued until 1974. Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States, under the pretext of the so-called "war on terror," has launched large-scale drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries, violating the airspace sovereignty of these countries while causing a large number of civilian casualties.

In order to preserve its freedom to conduct military deployment worldwide, the United States began implementing "freedom of navigation" in 1979 to threaten and undermine the sovereignty of other nations' territorial waters.

According to Annual Freedom of Navigation Reports, an annual report released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the United States used military options to challenge the sovereignty or jurisdiction of more than 70 coastal states and regions over territorial waters, exclusive economic zones, archipelagos and straits between 1990 and 2021, including its traditional allies such as Japan, South Korea, Italy and Saudi Arabia.

3.3 Disruption of Order

Stanley Hoffmann, an international relations professor at Harvard University, has stated that the world order is an idealized model for establishing peaceful relations between nations. It serves as an important condition for friendly coexistence between states and provides a set of rules for normative behavior, as well as an effective means for resolving disputes and conflicts while promoting international cooperation for common development.

The United States, relying on its military hegemony, has consistently refused to abide by the basic principles of international law and the basic norms governing international relations and has deliberately acted in opposition to them.

The prohibition of the unlawful use of force or threat of force, a fundamental principle of international law, has been consistently ignored by the United States, a country that has repeatedly and brazenly launched wars against sovereign countries. The creation of an independent Space Force and the establishment of a Space Command have accelerated the testing of U.S. space weapons and military exercises, seriously contradicting the concept of the peaceful use of space. Moreover, scandals of systemic prisoner abuse at the Guantanamo Bay prison proved the U.S. military has trampled on the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In September 2022, during the official negotiating conference of the State Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention held in Geneva, Switzerland, the Russian delegation made public a series of documents alleging that the United States had violated the Convention. One of the disclosed documents described a patent technology, named "Toxic Mosquito Aerial Release System," which involves the use of drones to transport a large number of mosquitoes with toxins to specific areas. These mosquitoes are then released with the intention of infecting the targeted population with deadly diseases, achieving a "low-cost dissemination of lethal diseases," and incapacitating the adversary. The document added that once "legal restrictions are adjusted or removed," the technology could be used immediately for military purposes and become a more lethal "tool" than the most advanced weapons available.

The Biological Weapons Convention was opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975, with 185 States Parties and four Signatory States now. It serves as the foundation of global governance for biological security.

However, the United States, as one of the States Parties to the Convention, has been conducting dangerous biological experiments in countries such as South Korea and engaging in human experimentation in its own country for a long time, while being exclusively opposed to the establishment of a relevant multilateral verification mechanism, which has stalled the negotiation on a verification protocol to the convention until now.

It has been the consistent practice of the United States to be selective in its approach to international laws, norms and organizations, complying when it serves its interests and withdrawing when it does not.

Statistics show that since the 1980s, the United States has withdrawn from 17 international organizations or agreements, including the UN Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the Paris Agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Arms Trade Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty.

Meanwhile, there have been situations in which the United States has withdrawn and then later rejoined these organizations or agreements, only to withdraw again.

Despite the current U.S. administration having made high-profile claims that "America is back" and returned to some international organizations and agreements, the United States has not abandoned its "America first" doctrine. It continues to withdraw from or violate agreements that are not considered to be in line with the U.S. interest, such as the Open Skies Treaty.

Noting that "these are now the unwritten rules of the road for our planet. They represent the real American exceptionalism," Alfred McCoy, a U.S. historian, has pointed out that Washington will continue to violate national sovereignty through old-style covert as well as open interventions and insist on rejecting international conventions that restrain its power.

3.4 Backlash

The U.S. military hegemony of launching wars and invading other countries has brought disaster to the world while also causing serious damage to the United States itself.

French historian Thomas Rabino, in his book "De la guerre en Amérique," pointed out that almost every generation in the United States has suffered the consequences of political, economic, and social turmoil caused by wars.

-- Domestic Casualties

The wars launched and participated in by the United States have resulted in the deaths of many U.S. soldiers.

According to statistics from the DoD, approximately 36,000 U.S. soldiers were killed and over 100,000 were wounded in the Korean War, while 58,000 U.S. soldiers were killed and over 150,000 were wounded in the Vietnam War.

The Costs of War project showed that more than 7,000 U.S. soldiers and around 8,000 U.S. defense contractors have died in the wars launched by the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

In addition, U.S. veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have higher rates of suicide, PTSD, drug and alcohol dependency, divorce and child abuse rates than ordinary people. More than 30,000 U.S. soldiers committed suicide in the post-9/11 wars, four times the number killed in combat.

-- Economic cost

The exorbitant military spending to maintain its military hegemony has placed a heavy burden on the taxpayers in the United States.

According to data adjusted for inflation to 2011 dollars, U.S. military spending on the Vietnam War (1965-1975) amounted to 737 billion U.S. dollars, which had a severe impact on the U.S. economy, resulting in high inflation and huge deficits, ultimately leading to the collapse of the Bretton Woods system.

The United States has spent over 5.8 trillion dollars on wars since 2001. According to a U.S. media report in 2019, the United States has spent more than 350 billion dollars on medical and disability care for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And studies predicted that another 2.2 trillion dollars have to be invested in the same field in the next 30 years.

U.S. military spending from the post-9/11 wars could have provided health care coverage through adulthood and two years of early education for 13 million U.S. children living below the poverty line, public college scholarships for 28 million students, 20 years of health care coverage for 1 million veterans, and 10 years worth of salaries for 4 million clean energy industry workers.

-- Credit crisis

The U.S. military has a history of resorting to deception and falsehoods to justify the initiation and extension of wars, from the "Gulf of Tonkin" incident to the fabrication of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and from the "Pentagon Papers" to the "Afghanistan Papers."

Moreover, the U.S. military is accustomed to concealing the truth when it comes to the various atrocities committed by it in foreign conflicts such as the No Gun Ri massacre during the Korean War, the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, the abuse of prisoners during the Iraq War, and the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by drones during the so-called "War on Terror."

As a result of its successive lies and deceptions, the credibility of the United States continues to erode.

Nicholas Burns, the current U.S. ambassador to China and a former professor at Harvard University, acknowledged in 2010 that the war in Iraq was a strategic misjudgment and the single greatest blow to its power and prestige since the Vietnam War, adding that Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay prison did lasting damage to America's reputation among more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide.

A poll released by the Pew Research Center in 2019 showed that the international reputation of the United States has declined significantly from 2013 to 2018, with foreigners who view U.S. power and influence as a serious threat rising from 25 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2018.

The U.S. military hegemony of starting wars and invading other countries has created and strengthened extremist groups, to the detriment of its own security situation.

The 9/11 attacks in 2001 are a typical example, causing the death of nearly 3,000 people in the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States has invoked the term "war on terror" to justify its interventions and exertion of military hegemony, which has resulted in the development of extremist groups like ISIS and instability in many regions.

At the same time, these actions have backfired on the United States itself, as evidenced by the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and the New York City truck attack in 2017.

-- Divided society

The prolonged foreign wars have also exacerbated domestic unrest in the United States. During the Vietnam War, the casualties and atrocities committed by the U.S. military in Vietnam, as well as the U.S. government's conscription and tax increases, caused strong anti-war sentiment and distrust of the government at home. In May 1970, the Ohio National Guard shot at students who were protesting against the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Ohio, resulting in four students being killed and nine others injured, which is considered a symbol of the deep political and social divisions that existed in the United States during the Vietnam War. Harry Haldeman, then White House Chief of Staff, later said that this incident was a turning point for then-President Richard Nixon and the beginning of his Watergate scandal.

Nearly half a century later, with U.S. constitutional freedoms violated by legislation and intelligence work, the U.S.-led so-called "war on terror" has led to the erosion of basic social and political rights domestically while the militarization of the U.S. police also increased significantly after the 9/11 attacks. During the two-decade war on terror, U.S. law enforcement departments have acquired a significant amount of military weapons and surveillance equipment from the military, which has led to changes in law enforcement's organizational culture, training, and tactics, as well as a rift in the relationship of trust between law enforcement officers and the public, and a correlation between U.S. police officers' access to military equipment and their use of force has also been noted.

Moreover, according to the Costs of War project, the U.S. government may continue to increase inequality in U.S. society by borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for the war while cutting taxes.

Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, argues that the connection between U.S. "imperialistic ventures" abroad and domestic turmoil cannot be ignored. Through its "endless wars" abroad, the United States has unleashed a series of political forces such as militarism, strengthened executive power, xenophobia, pseudo-patriotism, and demagoguery, all of which run counter to the civic morality upon which a healthy democracy relies.


The United States of America was founded in war, expanded in war, and gained hegemony in war.

Over the past 240 years since its independence, the United States, with its deeply rooted imperial ideology, has transformed itself from an isolated country in a corner of North America into a global military hegemony and gained dominance in a unipolar world through wars and military expansions, including but not limited to the Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

Thus the United States has built an American-style democracy, or "Ameri-cracy" upon a foundation of hegemony and bullying other countries.

The United States has never been satisfied with its dominant position and has spared no effort in seeking to expand its military hegemony. Its actions were motivated not only by capitalism's natural greed for expansion and profit, but also by its ambition and paranoid quest for power, as well as manipulation via domestic politics and interest groups.

For an extended period, the United States has used starting or intervening in wars and building a global network of military bases as overt means, and the alliance system and U.S.-dominated world order as implicit means to maintain its global military hegemony. When the situation changes, it applies new models, technologies and concepts to prevent any potential challenger from overturning the U.S. hegemony.

Facts have proved that the U.S. military hegemony of bullying and domineering poses severe dangers to the world. Presenting unprecedented challenges to human society, it could not foster peace and security, but only create war and disaster; it could not bring equality and freedom, but only slavery and oppression; it could not offer development and cooperation, but only cause conflicts and division.

The world today is going through profound changes unseen in a century, while the United States is still expanding its military hegemony, bringing instability and harm to our shared future.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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