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FORCE MULTIPLIERS: The Instrumentalities of Imperialism


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In the drive to accumulate ever more global power for the US state and its allies, both political and corporate, the quest for totalization confronts the challenge of “overreach”. To operate using smaller efforts to carry larger loads, US strategists have devised what they call “force multipliers”. Force multiplication is about “leverage”: using partners and proxies in an expanding network. Forces are conceptualized in multi-dimensional terms. Anything in the world of cultural systems, social relationships, and material production can become force multipliers for imperialism: food security, oil, electricity, young leaders, aid, social media, NGOs, women’s rights, schoolgirls, democratization, elections, the G8, the European Union, NATO, the IMF, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, AFRICOM, development, policing, borders, and epidemics, among others.

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FORCE MULTIPLIERS: The Instrumentalities of Imperialism

  2. 2. Overview In the drive to accumulate ever more global power for the US state and its allies, both political and corporate, the quest for totalization confronts the challenge of “overreach”. To operate using smaller efforts to carry larger loads, US strategists have devised what they call “force multipliers”. Force multiplication is about “leverage”: using partners and proxies in an expanding network. Forces are conceptualized in multi-dimensional terms. Anything in the world of cultural systems, social relationships, and material production can become force multipliers for imperialism: food security, oil, electricity, young leaders, aid, social media, NGOs, women’s rights, schoolgirls, democratization, elections, the G8, the European Union, NATO, the IMF, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, AFRICOM, development, policing, borders, and epidemics, among others.
  3. 3. THE SCIENCE OF CONTROL US hegemony is reframed in terms of science and rationality. Thus,  The US Department of State declares: “smart, effective American leadership” (DoS, 2010, p. 14)  The US Army proclaims “the science of control” (US Army, 2008a, p. 6-1) The building blocks of this thinking involve ideas of TIME, ENERGY, MASS, & VELOCITY which spawns an array of euphemisms and buzzwords:
  5. 5. MMMaaannnyyy ooottthhheeerrr nnnaaatttiiiooonnnsss wwwiiillllll fffaaaccceee gggrrreeeaaattteeerrr pppeeerrriiilll aaasss ttthhheee UUUSSS llleeeaaannnsss mmmooorrreee ttthhhaaannn eeevvveeerrr ooonnn sssoooccciiiaaalll aaannnddd cccuuullltttuuurrraaalll fffooorrrccceeesss iiinnnttteeerrrnnnaaalll tttooo ttthhhooossseee nnnaaatttiiiooonnnsss iiinnn ooorrrdddeeerrr tttooo aaadddvvvaaannnccceee iiitttsss pppooollliiitttiiicccaaalll aaannnddd cccooorrrpppooorrraaattteee iiinnnttteeerrreeessstttsss...
  6. 6. However, what hides beneath an ambitious—if not desperate—plan for deepening US intervention on a global scale, is muddled policy sold as “science”.
  7. 7. For example, it is not clear that either the US Department of Defense or the US Department of State has a clear idea of what is a “force multiplier”. First, the concept was borrowed from physics:
  8. 8. “Force multipliers: Machines which allow a small effort to move a larger load are called force multipliers. Some examples of force multipliers include: a crowbar, wheelbarrow, nutcracker, and bottle opener. The number of times a machine multiplies the effort is called its mechanical advantage. The mechanical advantage of a machine is the number of times the load moved is greater than the effort used. Mechanical advantage (MA) = load/effort.” (Avison, 1989, p. 109)
  9. 9. US military writers then began to expand on the “force multiplier” idea in the following ways:
  10. 10. “Force Multiplier. A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.” (US Department of Defense [DoD], 2007, p. GL- 11)
  11. 11. “Observation Number 9, cultural awareness is a force multiplier, [sic] reflects our recognition that knowledge of the cultural ‘terrain’ can be as important as, and sometimes even more important than, knowledge of the geographic terrain. This observation acknowledges that the people are, in many respects, the decisive terrain, and that we must study that terrain in the same way that we have always studied the geographic terrain.” (General David H. Petraeus, 2006, p. 8)
  12. 12. “Gender issues aren’t just personnel issues. They are intelligence issues! Gender is a force multiplier—if you understand how gender works in a particular society, you can control that society much more effectively!” (A senior US military lawyer speaking at a workshop on gender and international humanitarian law, in 2007. Quoted in Orford [2010, p. 335])
  13. 13. ...even states of mind became “force multipliers”: “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier” (Ret. US General Colin Powell, 2006)
  14. 14. “Force multipliers” has become the new code phrase for: US intervention, everywhere, at all times, using anything and anybody as a tool to maintain US domination. But why “force multipliers”?
  15. 15. SEVEN THESES ON FORCE MULTIPLIERS Thesis #1: Scientific-sounding language masks deep insecurity, doubt, a fear of rising instability, and mutes aggression.  the resort to the language of science (linguistic scientism) betrays a need for conceptual security on the part of political and military leaders  attempts to provide assurance of clear thinking and successful outcomes to deeply fatigued and disgruntled masses at home  creates an aura of order and neutrality, which helps to mask much uglier realities.
  16. 16. Everything, at home and abroad, is cast in terms of overt or implied destabilization:  US strategists and policymakers do abroad what they fear at home  protests are not about free speech or free assembly, but about destabilization—thus protests are repressed at home, yet encouraged abroad  The “fear of the masses,” at the heart of democratic elitists, is now projected externally and turned into policy as “democracy promotion”  Fear at home is conveyed by an “all-threats, all-hazards” philosophy of enhanced national security awareness, with calls for more community policing and even the use of conservation officers as “force multipliers” in “counterterrorism” (Carter & Gore, 2013, p. 285)
  17. 17. The language of “force multiplication” refuses to reject or deflect conspiratorial views of power; instead, it actively promotes such views, thereby validating them.
  18. 18. Thesis #2: Needing a smaller effort to move a larger load, involves recognition of limits, but also threatens further expansion.  Anxiety, it’s official. “success will increasingly depend on how well our military instrument can support the other instruments of power and enable our network of allies and partners” (DoD, 2015, p. i) “control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important…and that as a hedge against unpredictability with reduced resources, we may have to adjust our global posture” (DoD, 2015, p. i)
  19. 19. Thesis #3: Imperialism, now more than ever, works through partners and proxies. Force multipliers are the virtual territorial possessions of the new imperialism.  Shifts struggles for power from the international arena, between states, to the domestic arena within states.  (Anti)imperialist violence becomes domestic, not international.
  20. 20. Thesis #4: Use of local force multipliers and covert operatives is part of a chain of escalating force. As the first fails or weakens, more direct force becomes necessary.  The force multiplier idea would thus appear to be a perilous, deceptive means of making a down payment on future US aggression against another nation, without wishing to telegraph such intentions too far in advance.
  21. 21. Thesis #5: As there are “force multipliers,” so there are “force diminishers”. The way of thinking summarized by George W. Bush as, “you’re either with us or against us,” is repackaged and polished in the terms of Newtonian physics.
  22. 22. Thesis #6: The real message of “force multipliers” is not partnership, it is domination. Otherwise, the language misdirects uncritical readers to believe in scientific fakery.  The misdirection deflects questioning US assumptions about the nature of humans, the nature of its allies, and the potential for contradictions and reversals, let alone potential harm to human proxies.
  23. 23. Thesis #7: Force multiplication is another form of capital accumulation, namely, extraction.  The need to “multiply” plus the need to reduce energy expended, are both meaningful as an expression of cost  The US seeks to minimize the cost of any intervention in the affairs of another nation-state, by passing those costs onto others  Using others as strategic resources, and by using more of them and at the least possible expense, signifies a relation of extraction  Power itself is thus transferred to the US  The trick for an “overstretched” empire is how to minimize financial burdens by instead using cultural means—“shared values”—to win allegiance, acceptance, and acquiescence.
  24. 24. FORCE MULTIPLIERS, GLOBALIZATION, & US DOMINANCE: The Official Narrative “No nation should be better positioned to lead in an era of globalization than America—the Nation that helped bring globalization about.” ~ Barack Obama (White House, 2010, pp. ii, iii)
  25. 25. An Imperial Vision of Globalization US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:  “protecting our interests and projecting our leadership in the 21st century” (DoS, 2010, p. iv)  “American global leadership” resting on “our global military advantage” (DoS, 2010, p. 8)  commitment to “shaping the international order to advance American interests” (DoS, 2010, p. 9)  “We will support democratic institutions within fragile societies, raise human rights issues in our dialogues with all countries, and provide assistance to human rights defenders and champions” (DoS, 2010, p. 10)
  26. 26. “The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone—indeed, our adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by overextending our power. In the past, we have had the foresight to act judiciously and to avoid acting alone. We were part of the most powerful wartime coalition in human history through World War II, and stitched together a community of free nations and institutions to endure a Cold War....we will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well....As influence extends to more countries and capitals, we will build new and deeper partnerships in every region”. 2010 National Security Strategy (White House, 2010, p. ii)
  27. 27.  Encouraging partner nations to assume lead roles in areas that represent the common interests of the United States and the host nation.  Encouraging partner nations to increase their capability and willingness to participate in a coalition with U.S. forces.  Facilitating cooperation with partner militaries and ministries of defense.  Spurring the military transformation of allied partner nations by developing multinational command and control, training and education, concept development and experimentation, and security assessment framework. Goals of the US Army, from FM 3-07 (US Army, 2008b, p. 1-12)
  28. 28. The US Military’s “Brave New World” Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell Lieutenant Colonel Steven M. Leonard “The forces of globalization and the emergence of regional economic and political powers are fundamentally reshaping the world we thought we understood. Future cultural and ethnocentric conflicts are likely to be exacerbated by increased global competition for shrinking natural resources, teeming urban populations with rising expectations, unrestrained technological diffusion, and rapidly accelerating climate change. The future is not one of major battles and engagements fought by armies on battlefields devoid of population; instead, the course of conflict will be decided by forces operating among the people of the world. Here, the margin of victory will be measured in far different terms than the wars of our past. The allegiance, trust, and confidence of populations will be the final arbiters of success”. (Caldwell & Leonard, 2008, p. 6)
  29. 29. FORCE MULTIPLIERS, GLOBALIZATION, & US DOMINANCE: Hybrid & Asymmetric Wars, Interoperability, Destabilization & Infiltration In 1987, the US created the Special Operations Command, based in Tampa, Florida. The Assistant secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) is responsible for the Special Operations Command In 1991, the US Congress’ Section 2011, Title 10, authorized the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program, allowing the Pentagon to send Special Operations Forces on overseas exercises with military units of other countries, “so long as the primary purpose of the mission was stated to be the training of our soldiers, not theirs” (Johnson, 2004, p. 72).
  30. 30. By 1998 the Special Operations Command had established JCET missions in 110 countries (Johnson, 2004, p. 72).
  31. 31. During 1998 alone, Special Forces operations “were carried out in each of the nineteen countries of Latin America and in nine Caribbean nations” (Johnson, 2004, p. 73)
  32. 32. JCET missions fulfill espionage functions: “They return from such exercises loaded with information about and photographs of the country they have visited, and with new knowledge of its military units, terrain, and potential adversaries” (Johnson, 2004, p. 72)
  33. 33. In 1990 the US Army published Doctrine for Special Forces Operations (Field Manual No. 31-20) which described one of the principal activities of Special Forces on JCET missions as training foreign militaries in what the Army calls “Foreign Internal Defense” (FID)
  34. 34. “SF can conduct a UW [Unconventional Warfare] mission to support an insurgent or other armed resistance organization. The United States may undertake long- term operations in support of selected resistance organizations that seek to oppose or overthrow foreign powers hostile to vital US interests. When directed, SF units advise, train, and assist indigenous resistance organizations. These units use the same TTP [tactics, techniques, and procedures] they employ to conduct a wartime UW mission. Direct US military involvement is rare and subject to legal and policy constraints. Indirect support from friendly territory will be the norm”. (US Army, 1990, p. 1-17)
  35. 35. “The United States cannot afford to ignore the resistance potential that exists in the territories of its potential enemies. In a conflict situation or during war, SF can develop this potential into an organized resistance movement capable of significantly advancing US interests….the objectives may range from interdicting foreign intervention in another country, to opposing the consolidation of a new hostile regime, to actually overthrowing such a regime”. (US Army, 1990, p. 9-5)
  36. 36. “We in the West are facing a seemingly new form of war—hybrid war. Although conventional in form, the decisive battles in today’s hybrid wars are fought not on conventional battlegrounds, but on asymmetric battlegrounds within the conflict zone population, the home front population, and the international community population” (Colonel John J. McCuen, 2008, p. 107) Success will depend on “effective surrogates” (General Robert Scales, 2006)
  37. 37. THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE & “CIVIL SOCIETY”: Force Multipliers to Diminish the Sovereignty of Others “The potential of civil society organizations around the world to advance common interests with us is unprecedented.... Civil society, universities, and humanitarian organizations can often act in areas or in a manner that a government simply cannot: as neutrals or aid providers in conflict zones; as thought-leaders; and as intermediaries between states or between states and peoples. They are indispensable partners, force multipliers, and agents of positive change”. (DoS, 2010, p. 14)
  38. 38. “We will reach beyond governments to offer a place at the table to groups and citizens willing to shoulder a fair share of the burden. Our efforts to engage beyond the state begin with outreach to civil society— the activists, organizations, congregations, and journalists who work through peaceful means to make their countries better….many groups share common goals with the United States, and working with civil society can be an effective and efficient path to advance our foreign policy”. (DoS, 2010, pp. 21-22)
  39. 39. Youths & Women: Targeted by the State Department as Ideal Force Multipliers “In the Middle East and North Africa, for example, large youth populations are altering countries’ internal politics, economic prospects, and international relations. The United States must reach out to youth populations to promote growth and stable democratic government” (DoS, 2010, p. 13)
  40. 40. The State Department officially announced that the “protection and empowerment of women and girls is key to the foreign policy and security of the United States….women are at the center of our diplomacy and development efforts—not simply as beneficiaries, but also as agents of peace, reconciliation, development, growth, and stability” (DoS, 2010, p. 23).
  41. 41. As “women are increasingly playing critical roles as agents of change in their societies,” the US would, “harness efforts and support their roles by focusing programs to engage with women and expand their opportunities for entrepreneurship, access to technology, and leadership” (DoS, 2010, p. 58)
  42. 42. Even while US diplomats tout their support for “women and children” in numerous international fora—even if it is a structurally adjusted, neoliberal vision of women and youths fetishized as individualists, consumers, and US “agents of change”—in numerous other cases US actions display quite the opposite, as when…
  43. 43. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” according to Michael Haas, a senior airman in the US Air Force and former drone operator (The Intercept, 2015/11/19).
  44. 44. For its part, the CIA proposed using Afghan women for propaganda purposes to influence European electorates to support NATO’s military occupation of Afghanistan: “Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission”. (CIA, 2010, p. 4)
  45. 45. The CIA thus advanced the idea that, “media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences” (CIA, 2010, p. 4)
  46. 46. PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: Neoliberal Force Multiplication THE STATE DEPARTMENT “The problems we face today will not be solved by governments alone. It will be in partnerships— partnerships with philanthropy, with global business, partnerships with civil society” “By combining our strengths, governments and philanthropies can more than double our impact. And the multiplier effect continues if we add businesses, NGOs, universities, unions, faith communities, and individuals. That’s the power of partnership at its best—allowing us to achieve so much more together than we could apart”. (US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 2009)
  47. 47. The Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships, instituted in 2009, is officially described as, “the entry point for collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, the public and private sectors, and civil society” (DoS, 2015) The “partners” listed for the State Department’s GPI include philanthropic foundations, universities, airlines, weapons manufacturers, software companies, Google, Yahoo, soft drink manufacturers, retail giants, entertainment, banks, and oil companies (DoS, 2014b, pp. 30-31), the core corporate sectors of the contemporary US economy. Among the US universities working under GPI are, as listed in 2014: University of Kansas, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Washington, Northwestern University, and the University of California system (DoS, 2014b, p. 31)
  48. 48. “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist— McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps”. (Thomas Friedman, 1999/3/28)
  49. 49. Since the creation of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) in 1985 under the Reagan administration, the State Department has been involved in “security cooperation” with US “private sector interests worldwide”. More than 3,500 US corporations, educational institutions, “faith- based institutions,” and NGOs are OSAC “constituents”. Current members include Northwestern University, the University of California system, McGraw Hill, and a range of the most familiar names in US entertainment, software, weapons manufacturing, financial industries, from Monsanto to Raytheon, Boeing, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Wal-Mart, Target, VISA, joined also by the Pentagon, FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security.
  50. 50. The US Military’s Force Multipliers: Corporations, Academics, NGOs “Connected Capitalism,” a concept promoted by Coca-Cola’s CEO, Neville Isdell, involves the basic idea of corporate alliances with state institutions, to improve the image of corporations and to further US domestic and foreign policy goals. “Connected capitalism” has attracted the attention of military strategists in the US.
  51. 51. Admiral James Stavridis was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of the US European Command (EUCOM); Evelyn N. Farkas was his Senior Advisor for “Public-Private Partnership”. The two reminded readers that the most recent National Security Strategy at the time, “calls on the executive branch to work with the private sector, repeatedly referring to public-private partnerships” (Stavridis & Farkas, 2012, p. 7). It was under that banner of “public-private partnerships”—for which they single out Coca-Cola and Isdell’s “connected capitalism—that they explained collaboration as a “force multiplier”. It is a force multiplier, they maintain, because it permits the state to share “the resource burden”.
  52. 52. “the U.S. Southern Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and U.S. Africa Command all have full-time personnel dedicated to garnering efficiencies and fostering effectiveness for DOD by collaborating with the private sector— businesses, academic institutions, and non- profits”. (Stavridis & Farkas, 2012, p. 9)
  53. 53. “““III hhhaaaddd nnnooo hhhiiinnnttt ttthhhaaattt,,, aaasss aaa ssstttuuudddeeennnttt ooofff AAAsssiiiaaa,,, III wwwooouuulllddd bbbeeecccooommmeee aaasss mmmuuuccchhh aaa ssspppeeeaaarrr--- cccaaarrrrrriiieeerrr fffooorrr eeemmmpppiiirrreee aaasss III hhhaaaddd bbbeeeeeennn iiinnn ttthhheee nnnaaavvvyyy”””... (((JJJooohhhnnnsssooonnn,,, 222000000444,,, ppp... xxxxxxvvviii))) CCChhhaaalllmmmeeerrrsss JJJooohhhnnnsssooonnn,,, fffooorrrmmmeeerrr CCChhhaaaiiirrr ooofff PPPooollliiitttiiicccaaalll SSSccciiieeennnccceee aaattt BBBeeerrrkkkeeellleeeyyy (((111999666222---111999888888))),,, CCChhhaaaiiirrr ooofff ttthhheee CCCeeennnttteeerrr fffooorrr CCChhhiiinnneeessseee SSStttuuudddiiieeesss,,, aaannnddd,,, cccooonnnsssuuullltttaaannnttt tttooo ttthhheee CCCIIIAAA (((111999666888---111999777777)))...
  54. 54. The US military has been very interested in utilizing non-governmental organizations. In 2005 then President George W. Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 44 (NSPD-44), instructing US forces to “coordinate USG [US government] stability operations with foreign governments, international and regional organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector entities” (US Army, 2008b, pp. 1-13-1-14). Referring to NGOs in particular, the US Army noted with interest, “their extensive involvement, local contacts, and experience,” which make “NGOs valuable sources of information about local and regional governments and civilian attitudes toward an operation” (US Army, 2008b, p. A-10).
  55. 55. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, declared to leaders of NGOs at a foreign policy conference in 2001: “I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with the NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team” (Powell, 2001).
  56. 56. “NGOs are increasingly working in tandem with the military on mutually agreed projects and objectives across the globe, with some projects “that symbolically and literally support U.S. and NATO operations”. (Stavridis & Farkas, 2012, p. 10)
  58. 58. In 2014, virtually nobody noticed a formal admission by the Obama administration that the US had been responsible for creating failed states: “We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state” (White House, 2014)
  59. 59. onetheless, Obama spoke as if the use of force multipliers produced success in Libya: “We’re going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again—most recently in Libya—that it’s a force multiplier” (Obama, 2012). N
  60. 60. On Libya, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that, “building a multilateral coalition to deal with foreign conflicts actually strengthens the hand of the United States. The support of the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League for the NATO mission in Libya was a ‘force multiplier’,” and she advised using the “responsibility to protect” principles essentially for propaganda to build military coalitions, thus lessening US military and political expense (however nominally) (Landler, 2013/7/23).
  61. 61. However, rather than prevent the creation of a failed state, the use of “force multipliers” in Libya (local insurgents, terrorists, and human rights activists) instead destroyed a state. This unleashed years of civil war, social chaos, economic ruin, religious persecution, torture, abductions, and racist lynching.
  62. 62. Now, many and perhaps most of the US’ Libyan proxies, openly regret having served as the US’ force multipliers in regime change.
  63. 63. And the US glimpsed its own first “blowback” with the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other US agents in Benghazi in 2012:
  64. 64. Outcomes? Increased chaos from fighting a global war among the world’s populations produces new mixes and imbalances of power. Some force multipliers turn on their sponsors when agendas and interests diverge. As a result, citizens in Europe and North America are made to live under the constant fear of impending terrorist attacks.
  65. 65. The nastiest, ugliest, and bloodiest wars to be fought this century will be between states opposed to continued US dominance, and the force multipliers of US dominance. Sovereign self-defense programs will take diverse forms: banning foreign funding for NGOs operating in a state’s territory; controlling mass media; arresting protesters; shutting down CIA-funded political parties; curtailing foreign student exchanges; denying visas to foreign academic researchers; terminating USAID operations; expelling US ambassadors, and so forth. There will be more open warfare between governments and armed rebels backed by the US, or more indirectly (as the force multiplier principle mandates) backed by US allies. US intervention will provoke and heighten paranoia, stoking repression, and create the illusion of a self-fulfilling prophecy that US interventionists can further manipulate. There will be no discussion, let alone admission, that US covert intervention helped to provoke repression, and that the US knowingly placed its “force multipliers” on the front line.
  66. 66. Within the pseudo-science of “force multipliers,” there is a dangerous statement of intent: to use humans as a form of drone, being less expensive yet more precise and in less need of constant guidance, than their mechanical counterparts. The threat to sovereignty is an insidious one. Though the confrontation with local collaborators of empire is not by any means “new,” the current phase of struggles against US domination will require more intensified efforts, beginning at home, given that an overreaching empire relies ever more on local proxies.
  67. 67. For a list of the sources used for this presentation, see the Introduction in the book at: