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Michael Hudson's "Super Imperialism:" The Economic Strategy of Imperial America

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Michael Hudson's "Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of Imperial America" - by Stephen Lendman

First written in 1972, it was updated in a 2003 edition that's every bit as relevant now - thus this review focusing on Hudson's new preface, introduction, and detailed account of the book's theme.

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He revisited it in his 2008-09 Project Censored award- winning article titled: "Economic Meltdown - The 'Dollar Glut' is What Finances America's Global Military Build-up" in which he explains the following - the "inter-related dynamics" of:

-- "surplus (US) dollars pouring into the rest of the world for yet further financial speculation and corporate takeovers;"

-- global central banks "recyl(ing) these dollar inflows (into) US Treasury bonds to finance the federal US budget deficit; and most important (but most suppressed in the US media),"

-- "the military character of the US payments deficit and the domestic federal budget deficit."

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In other words, the global "dollar glut" finances US corporate takeovers, speculative excesses creating bubbles and global economic crises, America's reckless spending, foreign wars, hundreds of bases worldwide, "military build-up," and culture of militarism and belligerence overall at the expense of democratic freedoms, beneficial social change, and human and civil rights.

In softer form, it's what former US diplomat, advisor, father of Soviet containment, and dove compared to others at that time George Kennan believed should be America's post-WW II foreign policy. In his February 1948 "Memo PPS23, he stated:

"....we have 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. (It makes us) the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships (to let us) maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national society. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction....

We should dispense with the aspiration to 'be liked' or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism....We should (stop talking about) unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans (ideas and practices), the better."

Yet Kennan advocated diplomacy over force in contrast to Paul Nitze, Dean Atcheson and other Truman and succeeding administration officials favoring hardline militarism, future wars, and National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) policies to contain the Soviet Union. In 1962, nuclear disaster nearly resulted. The threat remains, more menacingly than ever by "forc(ing) foreign central banks to bear the costs of America's expanding military empire" through recycling their dollars into US Treasuries - something the mass media call "showing their faith in US economic strength."

Hudson refers to a "sinister dynamic," not involving consumers or private investors, but central banks putting "their money" in US Treasuries, but "it is not 'their money' at all. They are sending back the dollars that foreign exporters and other recipients turn over to their central banks for domestic currency."

"When the US payment deficit pumps dollars into foreign economies, these banks (have) little option except to buy US Treasury bills and bonds which the Treasury spends on financing an enormous, hostile military build-up to encircle (today's) major dollar-recyclers China, Japan and Arab OPEC oil producers" - essentially a process by which they finance their own endangerment.

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Up to now it's continued, but, given the reckless dollar glut in recent months, with less enthusiasm by bigger buyers and hints of a possible end game or at least less buying than previously - mostly among BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and OPEC countries but other emerging economies as well getting more interdependent on themselves than on America.

In his 2002 preface, Hudson noted that "the US Treasury (pursued the same balance-of-payment) 'benign neglect' (strategy as) it did thirty years" earlier. In 1971, it "caused a global crisis when its $10 billion (level) led to a 10 per cent dollar devaluation." Now it's hundreds of billions annually and still high during the current economic crisis when exports and imports are lower.

Earlier and especially now, if Europe and Asia let the dollar deflate, their exporters will be disadvantaged at a time they can least afford it. So they're forced to "support the dollar's exchange rate by recycling their surplus dollars back to the United States" by buying US Treasuries.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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