To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change

To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change

By Alfred W McCoy

Book Review

This book concerns the concept of “world orders,” which McCoy describes as over-arching global control by a single empire. He asserts there have been three world orders in the last 500 years.

The first was the Iberian world order, lasting from 1494 (with the creation of the first New World colonies) until 1815. The British world order (arising from the catastrophic Napoleonic wars and the replacement of slavery with fossil fuels) lasted from 1815 until 1945. The Washington world order (arising from the collapse of European economies after World War II) began in 1945. McCoy’s describes America’s world order as maintaining a strong official stance on human rights, while simultaneously using the CIA to overthrow multiple democratically elected governments. McCoy predicts America’s world order will end in 2030.

He provides a detailed historical account of the events leading up to each of these world orders. For example, he explains how the Age of Exploration was precipitated by the Black death and the loss of 60% of European and Chinese populations. This severe labor shortage meant serfs became free wage laborers, making European desperate for new sources of labor to exploit.

The book also examines the scholarly theoretical basis for forming and maintaining a new world order. Britain was very much influenced by naval historian Captain Alfred Thayer Mahal, writing in the 1890s that creating a world order required a powerful Navy and “an empire of islands” for naval bases. Mahal’s writings also influenced US strategy in their imperialist adventures following the Spanish-American War, German strategy in World War I and Japanese strategy in World War II.

In 1904, the opening of the Transiberian Railroad inspired Sir Hulford MacKinder to propose an alternative strategy for world domination: namely gaining control of the “World Island,” aka the Eurasian land mass. Zbigniew Brzezinski slavishly followed MacKinder’s approach in pressuring President Carter’s to launch a massive covert CIA operation in Afghanistan in the late seventies.

I learned a great detail about European history from this book that I never learned in school. I was intrigued to learn how labor shortages caused by the Black Death also led directly to important labor saving devices, such as the printing press and more efficient sailing ships.

McCoy’s history of the North Atlantic slave trade and Europe’s brutal colonization of India and Africa is also extremely comprehensive. I was especially intrigued to learn how active the British navy was in conducting anti-slavery patrols following Britain’s ban on the North Atlantic slave trade in 1807. In total Britain’s navy liberated a total of 82,000 captives from slave ships and transported them to Sierra Leone. There they were registered as British subjects, with some remaining there, some enlisting as soldiers and some returning to their homelands.

McCoy’s chapter on China is extremely disappointing, as it clearly reflects the US State Department-CIA view of China’s global role in the world. Likewise his final chapter (on climate change). The latter relies on he corporate elite’s exclusive focus on carbon emissions, neglecting the fact that global warming has numerous causes (with massive deforestation and industrial agriculture being far more important than fossil fuel emissions) and can’t be solved by simply replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy.

 

How the US Recycles Child Soldiers as Paid Mercenaries

Child Soldiers Reloaded: The Privatisation of War

Al Jazeera (2017)

Film Review

This documentary explores the hidden history of the private mercenaries (aka “contractors”) who have been fighting the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Bush invaded Afghanistan (in 2001) and Iraq (in 2003), unbeknownst to the American public, he deployed nearly as many private mercenaries as enlisted troops. Although they cost at least ten times as much as GIs, using private mercenaries was far more palatable to taxpayers. For several reasons.

When the media reports “boots on the ground” in any given conflict, they never include private mercenaries. Likewise, deaths and injuries of mercenaries are never reported in casualty figures.

Besides the enormous expense of using mercenaries to fight US wars, an even bigger drawback is their failure to engage in “hearts and minds” operations that are essential in winning civilian support for US military occupation. For the post part, US-funded mercenaries are despised in Iraq and Afghanistan because of their arrogance, recklessness and lack of accountability for civilian deaths. The filmmakers depict this cocksure flamboyant swaggering quite brilliantly.

Initially a second major drawback was a total absence of coordination between number private companies providing mercenaries in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon “solved” this problem by hiring yet another private company, the London-based firm Aegis, to coordinate all the other private companies.

When Bush finally withdrew US troops from Iraq in 2007-2008, the private mercenaries remained. However owing to the massive unpopularity of the war, the Defense Department significantly reduced their budget. Whereas mercenaries from the US and other developed countries are paid $1,000 a day, Peruvian and Columbia mercenaries are paid $1,000 a month (see America’s $33 Mercenaries).

Initially Aegis cut costs by switching to Ugandan mercenaries they paid $800 a month. Then they hit pay direct in Sierra Leon, with former child soldiers willing to fight in Iraq for $250 a month.

All the former child soldiers kidnapped to fight in Sierra Leone’s civil war (1991-2002) have been deeply traumatized. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars western countries have pumped into rehabilitating them, many remain too impulsive and aggressive to integrate into society. There are no jobs for them in Sierra Leone: thus their willingness to fight and die in Iraq for $8.30 a day.

The Pentagon keeps no official record of the number of mercenaries it deploys in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor the number killed there, nor the number who are former child soldiers.