The international consensus is that while the United States does not engage in blatant imperialistic projects of a by-gone age, it still bullies, threatens and controls its interests worldwide. Viewed in this light, the post Cold War American foreign policy framework is one of economic imperialism, which is a sophisticated form of militaristic imperialism of yester-centuries. It was not simply a matter of plundering wealth, but of preserving long-standing systemic conditions for retaining power and privilege within the neo-imperialist society. Though masked in the rhetoric of aversion to old-fashioned imperialism and its hopes for world peace, the centrepiece of its strategy remains economic expansionism. And, to execute that strategy the imperialist government will do all it can in “pushing and holding open doors in all parts of the world with all the engines of government ranging from polite coercion to the use of arms”. With such a tarnished recent history, the United States has lost its credibility across the rest of the world (Anderson, 2005, p.21).
Richard Jackson, in his scholarly work “Writing, The War on Terror” points out how the mainstream American media colludes with the government in carrying out favourable propaganda campaigns and indoctrination. In particular, the author analyses “the role of language and discourse in the construction of the “war on terrorism”‘. According to the author, language, in this context is used to “normalize the practice of war” on terrorism (Jackson, 2005, p.69). The book is also an exposition on how the political elite of the United States use language as a medium of public deception. The power wielded by the political elites of the country, the author argues, is so ubiquitous that even legislations are subject to manipulations. An interesting case in point is the “Patriots’ Act” (a euphemism). By delving into the labyrinth of official rhetoric over the last few years, the author comes up with impressive essays on the nature of American hegemony and its quest for global dominance. In Richard Jackson’s own words, “the language of anti-terrorists actually prevents rather than facilitates the search for solutions to political violence; that it actually encourages terrorism” (Jackson, 2005, p.120).
The events of 9/11 were followed by calamities in the United Kingdom and Spain. The latter terror attacks were no less brutal when compared to the former, yet the reactions to these catastrophes in the respective parts of the world has been disproportionate. While the anger and indignation expressed by the American public representatives is quite vocal and well known, the reactions of their British and Spanish counterparts has been rather subdued – if not in rhetoric, surely in actions. Jackson alludes to a salient point when he tries to explain this discrepancy. This is mainly because other nations are regularly subject to acts of terror, but for Americans, a one-off event such as 9/11 had set off such melodrama and popular outcry that the American populace is surely out of touch with the realities of the outside world. This is also an indication of the “insular” nature of the post Cold War American society, which makes it difficult for their public representatives to understand and cooperate with alien leaders of state (Nye, 2006, p.139).
A recent addition to the list of grievances against the world’s only super power is its handling of foreign nationals. The Guantanamo Bay detainment centre had gained notoriety for the way its inmates are treated. And to top it all, the Bush Administration attracted criticism for torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib. If photographs of prisoner treatment in Abu Ghraib is anything to go by (the photos showed Iraqi prisoners blinded by hoods and slung over prison railings, tied to leashes as animals and piled naked one upon another in heaps). Susan Sontag poignantly compares them to lynching of black Americans when pictures of corpses decorated postcards and souvenir albums. When defenceless, non-resistant prisoners were mercilessly tortured and killed, the very fundamentals of martial law are being breached. In Vietnam insurgents were named disparagingly as “gooks” and “slants”. In Iraq they are disdainfully termed “terrorists” and “thugs” without paying attention to their genuine grievances and interests. Reverend Jesse Jackson aptly describes this war as “without moral, legal or military legitimacy.” Hopefully, American citizens will demand an overhaul of American foreign policy, so that the neoconservative craving for power is not allowed to thrive (Hope, 2004, p.810).