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According to Hubert Védrine, the world is currently living crushed under the weight of a “superpower”. International relations are limited to the stance each state adopts with regard to that superpower. The difference among the powers is so big that it is useless to speak of independence for the other states and thus, of democracy for their peoples. The United States appears as an omnipresent superpower that controls economies, mass media and means of defense.

That is why our works of analysis continue to deal with this topic. The attention we pay to the United States and its role may seem obsessive, yet it is nothing but the result of a situation.

Marking the end of the “balance of terror”, the collapse of the Soviet Union opened the way for disarmament and thus, for a time of world peace and prosperity. At least, that was the general belief in the heart of the Atlantist bloc. Although then US President George H. Bush encouraged his people to get even richer by taking advantage of the opening of new markets in the East, he soon noted that the circumstances represented an opportunity to expand the US leadership to the rest of the world.

In his famous speech of September 11, 1990, before Congress, President Bush Sr. rejected Gorbatchov’s plan, according to which, nations would establish a contract supervised by international organizations. Instead, he replaced it with his own “New World Order” project, guaranteed by Washington, a reminiscence of the “New European Order” that the 3rd Reich tried to impose. After verifying its own ability to build and lead a coalition, during the Gulf War (1991), the United States theorized about its new objectives in a document written under the supervision of Paul Wolfowitz (1992) [1]: preventing the emergence of a new competitor (mainly, preventing the European Union from playing a role beyond its borders); preventing industrialized countries from creating areas of influence in the Third World (this does not involve the United Kingdom as long as it agrees to link the Commonwealth to the US power); and finally preserving the lead in the field of weapons in order to secure the monopoly of deterrence. After all, the “New World Order” would only rest on the United States instead of depending on international law and the United Nations…

However, the crisis that shook the United States brought the electoral defeat for Bush Sr. and his substitution for Bill Clinton, who tried to ignore those delusions of grandeur and tried to improve the economy and increase the influence of the country. Nevertheless, stopped by the 1998 Lewinsky scandal, Clinton lost control of the foreign policy and defense affairs. The Congress then retook on its own the project of “New World Order” and unilaterally resumed the arms race, even when the United States had no visible enemy. All in all, the executive and the legislative powers reconciled and declared the war on Yugoslavia, without the approval of the UN Security Council. The rest is well known.

This presentation of the superpower has its limits though, as it does not make any distinction between strength and who benefits from it. The Founding Fathers of the United States believed that the notion of general interest could only lead to dictatorship. [2]. According to them, the state’s main objective, therefore, should be putting itself at the service of a coalition, as large as possible, of particular interests. At the same time, they distrusted the masses and conceived their constitution in such a way that the people could not have the power, but a small group of oligarchs who were supposed to reproduce the model of the British aristocracy. It was precisely on behalf of this original constitutional system that, for example, the Supreme Court named George W. Bush president in 2000, not waiting for the result of the recount in Florida.

Ignoring borders, the US ruling class, not being in solidarity with its own people, has common interests with other economic and political leaders of the world. Therefore, although the United States technically imposes its world supremacy, it is not the dominance of the US people but that of a transnational ruling class whose centre of gravity is located in the United States. There is a big difference. That is why, after hurricane Katrina, we have witnessed in Mississippi scenes similar to those we usually see in Iraq: with different excuses, the internal capacity of intervention of the State has been reduced to the minimum and the population, in New Orleans and also in Baghdad, has been abandoned. Instead of helping them, troops are sent to suppress them.

We will continue studying the US domestic and foreign policy, but we will not let ourselves be misled by appearances.

[1] Defense Policy Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999, February 18, 1992.

[2] How democratic is the American Constitution?, by Robert A. Dahl, Yale University Press, 2002.