American hegemony is the basic fact of global politics, recognized by all other powers. This has been the state of world affairs at least since the Bretton Woods conference of 1944 established the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — and put them in Washington, DC. The U.S. will to dominate its perceived enemies and intimidate its allies was confirmed by the two American nuclear bombing attacks on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945

American global authority rests on a nuclear arsenal, and an armed empire composed of over 1,000 military bases around the world. The U.S. have 95 per cent of all bases maintained outside national territory by all countries. These American bases cost over $100 billion a year to operate.

American industrial, financial, and military expansion rely on its world financial sovereignty: U.S. dollars (credit and currency) are accepted everywhere.

For Canada and other powers the main political question has been how to deal American hegemony. Enter into close alliance with the giant power? Come together to create a counter-weight to the U.S.? Or, build a world not dependent on American military might or the U.S. dollars used as reserves by banks and other governments?

Militarily, the Western nations (France dissenting), agreed to second American hegemony by joining the NATO alliance, currently conducting failing military operations in Afghanistan, much like Alexander the Great, the British, and the Soviets before them.

Since the conclusion of World War II, Western European nations have been building a counter-weight to U.S. domination, beginning with the Monnet Plan. The launch of the Euro represents only the latest in a series of serious attempt to dethrone the dollar within Europe. Indeed, European monetary co-operation was the stepping stone to the 1957 Treaty of Rome which established the six nation European Common Market.

The framers of the United Nations Charter foresaw the creation of a new political world where power would be shared. However, the UN Charter of 1945 was never to escape American authority despite its promising preamble: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined ….”

Generations of Canadians took the 1958 Noble Peace Prize awarded to Lester Pearson to mean that Canada supported the exercise of political power through the UN, where all nations would have a say, and middle powers like Canada would play a leading role in promoting peaceful settlement of disputes. Multilateral institutions, like those devoted to trade (GATT/WTO), health (WHO), child welfare (UNICEF), agriculture (FAO), and other UN agencies, would build a coherent approach to a wide range of international questions based on co-operation and sharing.

Canadians were duped. By and large Canadian leaders, including Pearson, were primarily interested in option one, maintaining a close alliance with America. Brian Mulroney took this policy to its apparent limit by negotiating an economic integration scheme with the U.S. called free trade that came into effect in 1989. In his efforts to have Canada emulate the U.S. in its policies, Stephen Harper surpasses even Mulroney.

In Canada, as elsewhere, the cynics, and the self-declared pragmatists have bested the arguments made for building a just society on a world scale. State politicians addicted to political realism — calculations of interests and power — have abandoned creativity, empathy, intelligence, and ultimately, reason itself.

Now, the basic facts of environmental destruction, economic injustice, and criminal waste of resources for military purposes need to be brought to the forefront. American hegemony can no longer be used as an excuse to stifle debate in Canada or elsewhere. The preamble to the UN Charter set the task that awaits: “to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.”

Cathryn Atkinson

Cathryn Atkinson is the former News and Features Editor for Her career spans more than 25 years in Canada and Britain, where she lived from 1988 to 2003. Cathryn has won five awards for her...