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US Imperialism in Perspective

Moritz Sedlak

First published in Fifth International 21.

1. Introduction

As the world’s most important imperialist power, developments in the United States largely determine the dynamics of global capitalism. Whilst the fall of the Soviet Union appeared to secure an unassailable global leadership role for the US, this has increasingly come under fire in recent years. In terms of political economy, this is reflected in the continuing loss of cost advantages in industry, the establishment of high-tech centres outside the United States, and the relative decline in the importance of the US’ financial sector. Politically, this is expressed in the formation of the European Union as a bloc of imperialist states (but one that remains too unstable for independence from US capital), and above all China’s rise to an imperialist power.

The recent transformation the United States’ foreign policy through the breaking of trade alliances, the more aggressive interventions within its military agreements, and its withdrawal from the World Health Organisation and the Paris Climate Convention has too often been portrayed as irrational by the bourgeois media. Some of the alleged expert analysts’ even compare Trump’s policies with the demands of the left in the anti-imperialist and anti-globalisation movements, often with a vague accusation of ‘populism’. On the contrary, these developments represent a significant transformation of US imperialism which serve the interests of the American ruling class in responding to new conditions in which they find themselves.

Marxist analysis

In his book “North American Imperialism,” Ulrich Küntzel outlines a Marxist analysis of US foreign policy of his time. Like Hilferding and Lenin, he understands the central role of capital export in the escalation of international tensions and thus in shaping the imperialist world system. While we go beyond the temporal horizon of his presentation, in this article we want to follow the same guidelines:

„It is obvious that militarism and the arms race alone can exacerbate international tensions. However, financial capital also exacerbates international conflicts economically: through the export of capital. The trusts of each imperialist nation seek to secure sources of raw materials and markets outside their own national borders and to keep their rivals out of their own spheres of influence through their own diplomacy and armed forces, the US through its CIA and NSA intelligence agencies.“ [1]

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which the US signed with Canada and Mexico is typical of the kind of imperialist exercise of power through trade alliances that the anti-globalisation movement has criticised for years. Under Trump, the US pulled out of this agreement, as well as the fully negotiated Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU. In addition, the US has more openly, and more intensely, offered partisan support of its own companied through foreign policy institutions and trade wars. As such, the Trump administration has broken with the foreign policy of recent decades – a major shift in power between the US capital factions.

Trump justified the trade war with China by accusing Beijing of “unfair” competitive practices and demanded the purchase of American goods for temporary de-escalations. The popular boycott of Huawei and the threatened ban of the social media platform TikTok are also an open rejection of market leadership from Chinese companies. The rhetoric of free competition has been replaced by an open backing of corporate interests by foreign policy and military sabre rattling.

Trump’s promise

Amongst Trump’s central election promises were the extensive withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to interference in Syria and Libya. Neither has been implemented as Trump proposed. The “threatened” withdrawal from NATO military bases in Europe has also turned into a shift of troops to countries with supposedly more US-friendly governments. Nevertheless, Trump and his allies have announced a central change in foreign policy doctrine, claiming to move away from the US’ role as the “world’s policeman”. The announcement of this plan has been accompanied by violent but brief aggressions, for example the threatened war against Iran. This is a clear difference to the permanent occupation and intimidation campaigns under Bush and Obama.

There was an even more important shift in relation to free trade agreements, which can be seen as a central tool of imperialist state policy. In the 1980s and 1990s, they and the “rules-based trading system” drove American capital’s access to the semi-colonies of the global South. This was also the result of decades of political infiltration, intelligence campaigns and military aggression against governments that refused to subordinate themselves to it and were largely eliminated, especially in Latin America. In the face of the largely lost competitive advantages of American companies and the intensified competition of imperialist capital exports for the over-exploitation of the global South, imperialist competition increasingly became a threat to American domination.

From the 1990s onward, US military interventions were motivated primarily by the need to secure energy supplies, directly through oil imports and indirectly through geostrategic security. The bloodbaths in the two Gulf wars, the invasion of Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq were the concrete results, as were the constant influence on African countries and the threats against Libya and Iran. Here, technological change and the rise of the United States as an energy exporter changed the conditions. The interests, at least those of the energy industry, have even been reversed, because the expensive extraction from shale gas and tar sands is only worthwhile at all when world market prices are high.

The imperialist state

In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Engels writes that the role of the capitalist state is to act as the “ideal personification of the total national capital”. [2] This means three things: first that the state must enforce the shared interests of its bourgeoisie by maintaining the capitalist order with repression and pacification of rebellious workers, with regulation and laws against the short term profit interests of individual capitalists. Historically, this has primarily meant the (sometimes violent) enforcement of free markets, property rights and the system of wage labour, which conservatives misrepresent as the “natural order” of capitalism. [3]

Secondly, the state must balance the interests of the individual capitalists against each other, allowing the emerging factions to take precedence in the main, but also ensuring a kind of “fair play” between them. Finally, however, the state surpasses its function as merely a tool for its own domestic firms, but eventually develops its own entrepreneurial interests.

This role is once again taken to the extreme by the imperialist state. The state, in turn, has two central tasks: 1) to expand the markets for the production of goods by domestic capital and for the export of capital, 2) to weigh up the contradictions of interest between capital fractions at home. For the USA as the world’s leading power, as for other imperialist countries, there is also the balancing of the interests of allied states and foreign capital fractions.

Where capitalism reaches the limits of domestic capital accumulation, the strongest capitals expand their sphere of influence beyond state borders. In opening up sales markets, but also cheap resources and labour, they are usually supported by the military and diplomatic state apparatus. In other words, the task of the ideal total capitalist state is oriented to the needs of individual capitals to expand.

Capitalism orients itself only superficially to the sale of goods. In fact, the central task of all capital is accumulation, i.e. the utilisation through the exploitation of labour. Imperialist economic policy is therefore also centrally oriented on the export of capital. For the US, this means investing the profits from US companies in exploitation outside the US, either directly or through loans, with the profits usually going back to the original capital. In accounting terms, this is not so easy to trace given the widespread multinational tax infrastructure in use today, but corporate structures and the nationality of the owners of the world’s largest companies provide clear indications.

On this basis, this article traces the interests of the US capital factions in different periods and the effects on foreign policy. After a brief enumeration of the changes that have taken place in recent years in Section 2, we will sketch the development of US capitalism.

Section 3 deals with the colonisation of the US, the construction of US capitalism and initial imperialist aspirations, and the qualitative ruptures in World War I and the Great Depression.

Section 4 deals with the replacement of the European colonial empires and the old colonial logic by modern imperialism, the role of US finance capital and the consolidation of the US as an imperialist leading power after World War II.

Section 5 describes the geostrategic challenges of the Cold War, while Section 6 examines interventions in Latin America, also to illustrate the link between US capital and commodity exports with examples.

Section 7 is devoted to the period of free trade and the “rule-based world order” and, in particular, to the question of which capital factions wanted to impose this course against others, and to their disadvantage.

This allows us, in Section 8, to place the breaking points of US foreign and economic policy in the conflicts within US capital. The advances, but also the defeats of the Trump administration can then be explained without any psychologization.

Finally, in Section 9 we describe the new global situation, the fundamental contradiction between the interests in protectionist enforcement of individual capitalist projects and expensive geostrategic containment of China.

The result of the article is a historical definition of US imperialism that is closely tied to an understanding of capital export dynamics. Applying this to the present situation, especially since 2008, and comparing it to the changes in Trump foreign policy compared to the Bush and Obama administrations finally allows us to work out the basic conflict in 21st century US imperialism.

2. Foreign policy before, during and after Trump

US foreign policy stands on three stable pillars of military, diplomatic-intelligence and economic rule. Its role as the world’s principle imperialist power is more than a regime of capital export (but also capital import through the American financial markets), but is inextricably linked to it.

As in any capitalist country, a stable claim to political rule, for example by the US president, is tied to the interests of important parts of capital and the extensive toleration of the rest. This usually means that sharp turns in government policy also reflect a change in capital interests or in the balance of power between different capital factions. Conversely, the logic and thrust of political changes can only be understood with a reasonable analysis of capital interests.

In addition to the global claim to leadership as the most important imperialist power, there is the extensive decentralisation of economic legislation to the states (i.e. taxes, minimum wages and regulations) and a complex system of “checks and balances” (separation of powers) at the federal level. For these two reasons, it is primarily foreign, trade and military policies that often first reflect the power shifts in class struggle. At the same time, international competition, such as China’s claim to leadership or the formation of the EU as an imperialist bloc, has more impact on the leading capital factions in the US than in other countries.

In the 1980s, capital in the imperialist countries, starting from the US and Britain, inflicted decisive defeats on the workers movement with the successful neoliberal turnaround. The historical truce of social partners, which had ensured stability in the centres and enabled stable super-exploitation of the semi-colonies, was replaced by a targeted reduction both wages and taxes.

At the same time, the US foreign policy focus also changed, from rule-based agreements in economic policy (for example, the Bretton Woods Agreement on currency stability) to increasingly important free trade agreements. These secured free paths for imperialist capital exports, access to sales markets for (primarily technology-intensive) consumer goods and, last but not least, control of the oil-producing states, which had become a factor of uncertainty for imperialist rule with the 1973 oil price crisis. The free trade agreements were designed to prevent protectionism and to utilise the competitive advantage of the industrial capitals in the imperialist states in markets far from the production plant. At the same time, the international division of labour in the form of global production chains depends on unhindered transport. And finally, the investor protection clauses of multilateral agreements such as GATT and WTO made possible the export of financial capital, which became the main business of the US financial industry.

During this period, the escalation of debt crises in the semi-colonies also became a regular occurrence. In the neoliberal reorganisation of international relations, this debt became the central lever. In return for “rescue” from bankruptcy, the IMF and World Bank called for the sale of nationalised infrastructure, but also for massive attacks on the working class. This benefited US capital, which opened up investment opportunities in privatised industries and almost unlimited exploitation of raw materials and cheap labour.

Military policy during this period had three main motivations: the geostrategic struggle against the spread of Stalinism (Vietnam War), safeguarding against emerging oil-rich rentier states and curbing democratic and social aspirations in Latin America and Africa.

Particularly since the collapse of the Stalinist “Eastern Bloc” states and their sphere of influence, the interests of US capital have been in flux. The competitive advantage in wage costs and profitability in industrial production has largely disappeared since the 1990s, and outsourcing of production has become much more important. Thereafter, it was primarily dominance in the high-tech and financial industries that legitimised a further orientation toward free trade agreements and the so-called “rule-based order”. The high-tech sector benefits from the disproportionate focus on intellectual property, while the financial sector benefits from the opening to foreign investment, which plays an important role in these agreements.

However, other US capital fractions, which have higher wage costs than their international competitors, were in part disadvantaged by these agreements. And in addition, European integration through the EU and China’s rise to imperialist power meant that more and more production chains without final assembly were being built in the US.

At the same time, the US exploited new sources of energy (especially shale gas and tar sands), although their profitability is linked to the highest possible world market price for oil and gas. Their expectations of US foreign policy are not so much to ensure low oil and gas prices, but rather direct support against the competition on the world market. This is partly responsible for the debates about Russian pipeline construction (for example, the Nordstream 2), to which American companies also offer liquefied natural gas (LNG) transported on ships as an alternative. Consequently, the “peace treaty” at the end of the punitive tariffs against the EU also included a voluntary commitment to double LNG imports by 2023. Subsidies of 650 million euros are planned for the expansion of the terminals. [4]

This has clearly shifted the interests of US capital exports. Instead of playing off their own advantages in free trade (which no longer exist), important capital factions are calling for direct subsidies for their competitiveness through military and diplomatic aggression. The swing under Trump, above all the withdrawal and renegotiation of agreements such as NAFTA, TTIP and TPP after short but fierce trade wars and the direct embargo on Chinese high technology and Russian oil and gas products, stands in favour of this.

The shift in military policy also reflects these new interests (even if Trump has not yet been able to enforce them against the decisive factions in the US military-industrial complex). The promised withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the short-term détente with Iran and Russia are possible because US capital as a whole is less dependent on low oil prices and in some cases even profits from high exchange rates.

The Trump administration’s foreign policy represents the beginning of a possible shift in US capital interests in the world market. It is not complete and is in struggle with other capital factions (especially in the financial industry) that value deregulated trade and capital exports more highly.

At the same time, however, it is attempting the balancing act between greater super-exploitation of the semi-colonies by US capital and costly geostrategic protection against imperialist rival China. This contradiction is not easily resolved and is further exacerbated by the economic crisis since 2019. With China’s rise, it will amount to a global escalation.

3. From colony to world power

The USA began its lasting rise to world power as an accumulation of English, French and Spanish colonies. The later ruling class as well as the American workers and petty bourgeoisie emerged from the colonisers of the North American continent. The colonisation followed a familiar colonial pattern – fortification of strategic landing points, gradual conquest or appropriation of settlement areas at the expense of the local population, and finally destruction of the existing political structures, up to and including the genocidal annihilation of all indigenous ethnic groups who dared to resist.

Settler-colonialism, debt-bondage and slavery

The particular form of settler-colonialism posed certain challenges for the implementation of global capitalism. After British domination of the American colonies was more or less established, this became increasingly a problem. In Britain the process of “primitive accumulation” was largely complete and all essential parts of the economic cycle were subject to the capitalist mode of production. The subsistence economy of the smallholder peasants had been destroyed by the “enclosure movement” and the former self-subsistence farmers had either been degraded to farm workers without ownership of land as a means of production or forced into the cities as proletarians.

In the American colonies this separation of producers from the production process, the famous expropriation of producers, had not yet taken place. On the contrary, the idea of colonisation forced colonisers from the Old World to seize land at the expense of the local population, but also to own land and exploit themselves as independent producers. In chapter 33 of the first volume of Capital Marx draws attention to the diametric contradiction between motherland and colony:

„The contradiction of these two diametrically opposed economic systems, manifests itself here practically in a struggle between them. Where the capitalist has at his back the power of the mother country he tries to clear out his way by force, the modes of production and appropriation, based on the independent labour of the producer.“ [5]

Consequently, the capitalists who had emigrated invoked their power and the support of “their” government to counter this inability to exploit. And the English parliament followed suit with decrees requiring wage labour, but with limited success. Marx describes a coloniser in Western Australia, Peel, as follows:

„Mr. Peel had the foresight to bring with him, besides, 300 persons of the working class, men, women, and children. Once arrived at his destination, ‘Mr. Peel was left without a servant to make his bed or fetch him water from the river’. Unhappy Mr. Peel who provided for everything except the export of English modes of production to Swan River!“ [6]

English production relations were characterised by large agricultural enterprises and industrial capital, to which the mass of former small farmers sold their labor. The sale of their own labour was forced by the systematic expropriation and the laws against the unemployed, including “poor houses”, the labour camps for the poor.

Systematic expropriation was difficult to achieve in the ever-expanding American colonies. In order to do this, the land had to be forcibly taken from the indigenous “first nations”, but it also it had to be cultivated. Family farming and forestry operations on the “frontier” were the political-economic tools of choice, extending rather than limiting the producers’ ownership of their own means of production.

Centralised conditions of production prevailed especially in plantation management. This was profitable above all for larger contiguous farms. Instead of dispossessed small farmers, the colonists, especially in the southern colonies, resorted to slave labour and bonded labour by emigrants.

In the American cities, industrial workers, and even more so domestic workers in bourgeois households, were increasingly carrying out forced labour. This was particularly the case with the poorest immigrants who, in exchange for their transport to the new world had to complete a year-long labour obligation reminiscent of European serfdom. Like slavery, these labour relations had their origin in the southern colonies, beginning with Virginia. These workers also paid off their debts on plantations.

This model worked especially well in the 17th century, when dismissed domestic and factory workers could be replaced almost seamlessly by the masses of emigrants who followed. From the 18th century onward, the number of “indentured serfs” (contract slaves and landlords) slowly declined. The central difference to slavery was that the starting point was not the violent robbery of people, but economic hardship. At the same time, serfdom was usually temporary, and those affected were then incorporated into the economic system as free workers, craftsmen or settlers. [7]

From the 17th century onwards, the large-scale plantation economy spread from Virginia, especially in the southern colonies. Like wool production in England, the centralised cultivation and industrial processing of tobacco, rice, cotton and sugar cane played a central role in the primitive accumulation of capital in the American colonies. The original accumulation is crucial because it means not only the necessary monopolisation of the means of production in the hands of the capitalists, but the creation of an exploiting proletariat. Primitive accumulation creates the economic conditions and political institutions of capital and wage labour.

In the late 17th century, capital accumulation was achieved primarily through the exploitation of slaves deported from African countries and societies. The terrorist destruction of family and social structures in Africa by slave traders was continued on the American mainland through the terror of torture, undersupply and huge workloads. Especially in the first decades of slavery, slaves were incredibly cheap and were forced to die from their labour at breakneck speed. Accordingly, Virginia enacted laws that extended the disenfranchisement of slaves (or the legal injunction of slave owners) to the complete dehumanisation of African Americans.

From Independence to Civil War

Until the War of Independence, slavery extended so far that in some states more black populations surpassed those of whites. At the same time, the importance of debt bondage was already declining before the War of Independence, both in comparison with slavery and wage labour in the northern colonies. With the severe economic crises of the late 18th century, long-term labour contracts also became more of a burden for the American capitalists under pressure. The massive restrictions on immigration after independence and the established social structures of free wage labour finally replaced debt bondage as the economic engine of capitalist accumulation.

In 1776, 13 former British colonies proclaimed the American Republic. The War of Independence was simultaneously a colonial uprising and a full-fledged bourgeois-democratic revolution. It fundamentally overturned the existing social and economic conditions, which had increasingly become an obstacle to the development of the productive forces.

Indeed, it had turned out to be even more difficult to reconstruct feudal English relations than capitalist relations of production. With the exception of the Hudson Valley in what is now New York State, the British Crown had never succeeded in establishing feudal relations in America (the feudal enclave lasted until 1839, long after the declaration of independence). [8] Nevertheless, the cultivation of the forests in the western colonial areas, for example, which was reserved for the crown and the navy, did have feudal characteristics. Land ownership in the American colonies was also initially organised under British feudal law. This meant that the Crown (or its local representatives) granted land rights and collected the “quit rent”. The suppression of colonial competition from the Netherlands, Spain, France and even Germany had also consolidated the power of the British Crown.

At the same time, it was the plantation economy, in which new forms of agriculture (monoculture) were combined with a “new” form of class exploitation (slavery). [9] Legally, the plantation economy was also rooted in feudalism, but modern slavery was equally compatible with emerging capitalism. In fact, the plantation owners of the southern colonies played an important role in independence from the British Crown – a classic demonstration of the Marxist conviction that the development of productive forces went beyond the limits of production relations. [10]

The revolt against the monarchy was preceded by important rebellions against local feudal lords and slave owners. [11] Revolts by slaves and bonded labourers have been part of American history since the 17th century and have not always been easily crushed. For example, the Virginia rebellion of 1676 (“Bacon’s Rebellion”) burned down the colony’s capital, Jamestown.

Capitalists and colonial authorities were on the same side in the oppression of workers and slaves. But the feudal land rights stood in the way of the American capitalists’ explosive development of productive forces. Taxes and import restrictions, but also the artificial shortage of money in the colonies, were designed to prevent English capitalists from facing serious competition from their compatriots in the colonies.

At the same time, in the war against indigenous nations and French colonial competition, an American national consciousness had developed as a result of the ideological divisive role of racism and the enormous importance attached to small farmers on the “frontier”. This was countered by the tyrannical arrogance of the British crown as an enemy image. A cross-class alliance of convenience first became active in the resistance against the Stamp Act taxes in 1765 and, especially in the dispute over taxes and customs duties, entered the American War of Independence, which was won in 1776. [12]

By this time the former colonies were no longer outposts of the British Empire. Plantation economy, mineral resources and the uninhibited exploitation of slaves formed a serious economic basis, and cooperation on this basis was an independent political force.

The protective tariff policy of the first American governments eventually succeeded in establishing its own heavy industry, especially in the northern states. The protectionist policy had already been a point of contention under colonial rule. The British crown had actively tried to prevent the development of an independent American industry. It took until 1789, however, before the American Congress even had the right to introduce federal customs duties, and after the war against England in 1812, until these were set high enough to be called protective duties. [13] The question of protective tariffs also became a central point of contention between the later northern and southern enemies in the Civil War of 1861–1865: The industrialists in the north built up their production behind the tariff walls, while the large agricultural owners in the south were largely dependent on cheaply imported industrial products.

After the victory of the northern states in the Civil War, industrial production and the double freedom of the workers prevailed. At the same time, the systematic disenfranchisement of the black population continued largely in a different form. On the one hand, this served the uninhibited exploitation of landless black bonded labourers as “sharecroppers” (tenants) in the large agricultural enterprises, on the other hand it served the alliance with the financially strong and enormously racist capital in the southern states.

The First World War

In the period of about 50 years between the Civil War and World War I, the USA developed into a leading industrial nation. The development into an imperialist power, however, took place in a special way until the First World War. It is only after 1918 that one can speak of a dominant role of capital export, especially outside the American continent.

„Until 1914, the US capital import and trade balance resembled that of an underdeveloped country, although it was already the world’s first industrialised nation. […] Like an underdeveloped country, it [the USA] exported agricultural and mining products, and like such a country, it was on balance a debtor country, that is, the European capital invested in the USA., mainly British capital, amounted to about 7.2 billion US dollars, about twice as much as the US’s own foreign capital, which amounted to about 3.5 billion US dollars.“ [14]

But this was not a “lagging behind” of evolving American imperialism, but rather a peculiarity, a form of non-simultaneous and combined development that we also find in other major powers before World War I (e.g. economically backward Russia). With the ongoing land grab from the indigenous “first nations,” the expansion of US capital was directed inward for much of the time. The states also possessed a wide range of natural and rare raw materials.

Expansion in search of resources was thus not as urgent as for smaller imperialist states. And finally, the US developed too late to embrace classical colonialism. For these reasons, US capital did not yet reach the national limits of accumulation in this period.

In other respects, however, the country did participate in imperialist competition. The Spanish-American War of 1898 and the subsequent occupation of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines meant the assertion of its own claims to supremacy on both American semi-continents. The war against Mexico in 1846–1848 was also driven by the desire to keep potential competitors small. As a colony that had become independent, characterized by plantation economy, genocide of the indigenous population and rapid capitalist development, Mexico was quite similar to the United States and a natural competitor for regional dominance, although the term region is difficult to apply to the 12 million square kilometers of Mexico and the United States. Preventing other imperialists from developing or becoming entrenched in their own sphere of influence was more than just a preparation for their own rise; it was an anticipation of their own imperialist capital export policies.

Even before entering World War I, American capital was deeply involved in the struggles on the continent. Billion dollar loans to the warring countries meant conflicting loyalties of American banks. These were at the same time large enough and intertwined with industrial capital to provide the conditions for imperialist capital export. When war broke out, the federal government assumed the default risks on the extensive war loans and even issued war bonds to its European allies for about $9 billion. Most of the German reparations from the Treaty of Versailles went directly to American creditors, and from 1924 onward even without the detour via French or British accounts. [15]

These loans made the USA the world’s leading capital exporter during the First World War. At the same time, they broke with the system of British domination, which had always maintained a passive commodity balance with an active capital account (i.e. more goods were imported than sold abroad). The protective tariff policy and the extensive self-sufficiency in raw materials from its own very large territories made the United States the first global economic pioneer with a doubly active external balance.

The export of capital through loans and foreign investments led to a steady flow of payments to the United States through the revenues. The same applied to goods sold abroad and paid for from abroad. Structurally, imports were characterized by low labour input (and therefore labour value), while industrial exports were largely characterised by high labour value. “In short: as the world’s leading country, the USA exploded the global economic division of labour”. [16]

This also shows that the political-economic analysis of imperialism cannot be separated from that of crisis theory. The high dependence of American profits on domestic labour and the low potential for savings at the expense of wage cuts greatly deepened the world economic crisis in the 1920s.

Roosevelt’s New Deal

Between 1933 and 1939, the government under Roosevelt attempted to resolve structural vulnerability and social instability through fiscal policy and a guaranteed standard of living for the American working class. The increased security of the working class aristocracy in particular and the class in general, financed by imperialist super-profits, is an important prerequisite for stability in the imperialist centers. The “New Deal” proposals were based on a coalition of parts of financial and industrial capital and promised to pacify the impoverished workers and peasants. The most important elements were an institutionalised trade union right of association, a fixed price guarantee for larger farmers, the decartelisation of industry and the separation of investment and commercial banks (Glass–Steagall Act).

The second major promise of the New Deal was an early Keynesian crisis strategy of rebuilding collapsed domestic demand through fiscal policy, i.e., increased and partially debt-financed government spending. This largely failed. Only the Second World War, which stabilised both employment and profits through arms policy and price controls, led the United States out of the crisis. But the creation of state and cooperative energy sources also had a stabilisng effect on prices and inflation.

4. The end of European colonial rule

As a result of the Second World War, two opposing models in American foreign policy began to develop. An economic annihilation of the European opponents of the war was proposed, symbolised, for example, by the Morgenthau Plan, which would have destroyed domestic demand in Europe in the long term. In contrast, generous reconstruction aid under the anti-Communist banner of the Marshall Plan, which was eventually to become the model of American foreign policy.

Imperialist dependence of the semi-colonies

International dominance through development policy and geopolitical dependencies became all the more important for the United States when the remaining European colonial empires collapsed after World War II. Instead of direct occupation, which ensured supremacy in the imperialist division of the world, especially for Britain and France, dominance through export of capital, trade agreements, military threats and intelligence apparatuses took over. Here the US was able both to excel with its particularly large resources and to profit from the disappearance of a competitive disadvantage over the former colonial empires.

„Since the Second World War, the empire of the United States has replaced the European colonial empires. It consists of states independent under international law, not colonies. It is organized through North American capital exports, namely through direct investments (25.2 billion in the underdeveloped countries at the end of 1972, 94 billion in total), and subsidiarily through ‘foreign aid’. North American control varies between, on the one hand, indirect, elastic influence, to which not only underdeveloped countries, but also the imperialist powers of Europe and Japan, which were independent until World War II, are subject, and, on the other hand, undisguised force of arms, defending puppet governments such as the South Vietnamese, South Korean, Guatemalan, against their own people.“ [17]

This was also expressed in the policy of the “cordon sanitaire” with which the USA surrounded itself against its new main enemies, the Soviet Union and China. The USA built its geostrategic security on the dependence of neo-colonial states in Asia and Africa. There was little capital export to some of these countries, and “development aid” was based almost exclusively on geostrategic interests (Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel and Greece). In Africa, military interests mixed with economic interests, where American capitalists were supposed to succeed in making profits from the exploitation of raw materials, for example in Libya (oil), in the later Congo (cobalt, copper, uranium) and in Egypt. In South Africa, investors benefited from the higher rate of profit due to the apartheid dictatorship and the systematic over-exploitation of the black working class.

Debt reversal

The 1960s led to the first decisive break in the role of American imperialism. While in the 1920s the insolvency of European borrowers, who had difficulty scraping together enough dollars to make repayments, had put pressure on the banking system, by 1965 the US had began to run up massive debts in European currencies and yen. The debts exceeded foreign currency revenues many times over and served not least of all to finance the extremely expensive Vietnam War.

„The foreign central banks, with the exception of the Banque de France, did not hold their emergency cover in gold but in foreign currencies, mainly dollar currencies.“ [18]

During this period, imperialist supremacy was no longer expressed through the international dominance of US credit, but through military and political supremacy within the Western bloc. This military-intelligence superiority in turn became the basis for building further economic dependencies, especially in South America, beginning in the 1960s.

American capital exports and war in its own backyard

In addition to the aforementioned interventions in Asia and Africa, US foreign policy in the 1960s also focused on Latin America. This was a direct continuation of the puppet governments and direct conquests since the end of the 19th century. In particular, the close ties between the United Fruit Company, which operated almost like a monopoly, and the US military and intelligence complex, including coups, dictatorships and murder squads against trade unionists, have been scandalised worldwide.

A centralised strategy in Latin America was organized through development aid. For the efficient distribution and enforcement of political reforms, the “Alliance for Progress” was founded in 1961 to link aid payments to concrete political projects and, above all, land reforms. [19] The simultaneous development promise of enabling massive economic growth in the affected states in a state of dependence naturally remained unfulfilled.

Dependency theory correctly recognises that the development of the South and Central American economies during this period relied almost exclusively on the investment behaviour of US capital and imported technologies. [20] The export of capital from the imperialist countries thus builds and consolidates the foundations of the international division of labour. This was already established in the underdevelopment caused by colonialism, where the raw material and labour resources of the colonies financed the growth of the centres and its own was thus inhibited. The translation of economic dependence into corresponding political structures was to be institutionalised, for example, through the “Alliance for Progress”.

The US imperialist role in South and Central America began just before the First World War, thus coinciding with its rise to imperialist power. Between 1897 and 1914, US investment quintupled from $308 million to $1.6 billion. [21]

From the 1960s onward, direct investment again increased massively, rising three times by 1980 and five times by 1990. [22] In most countries, the ratio of foreign direct investment to gross domestic product fell massively between 1914 and 1960, but rose again slightly until 1990. Thus, both from the interests of US capital and from the dependence of the South and Central American semi-colonies, the semi-continent, scornfully called “America’s backyard,” remained central to US imperialism.

Export of goods

As noted above, the rise of the US to imperialist world power after World War I was remarkable for two reasons. First, American colonial history was far less relevant to its breakthrough than the credit dependence of other imperialist state, indeed direct colonial super-exploitation remained largely marginal to American imperialism. Second, the US was simultaneously a net exporter of goods and capital.

With the reversal of credit dependency in the 1970s, the importance of commodity exports increased significantly again. Between 1970 and 1974, the share of exports in US gross domestic product rose from 6% to 10%. A brief slowdown in export growth between 1981 and 1987 (due to the rise in the dollar exchange rate) was followed by a further increase into the 1990s. [23]

5. The Cold War and the “End of History”

The Cold War was the formative geopolitical order after the victory over Nazism. It was an expression of the division of the world into two main blocs, in which the USA and the USSR were economically dominant. Capitalism is characterised by the predominance of capitalist forms of production and the subordination of other relations of production to them. The same is true of imperialism, which is “defined” by the capitalist relationship of domination between nations whose economic and political dynamics must be the basis of an analysis of imperialism. There is no such thing as a “checklist” to tick off criteria for determining whether a country is imperialist or not.

Rather, imperialism represents an international, economic and political order. It is this totality, not individual characteristics, that assigns a particular position to a country and its total capital. It is this totality that determines whether a country is imperialist or not.

The victory over fascism allowed the Soviet Union to fully expand the bureaucratic planned economy and to finally impose the theory of geopolitical “spheres of influence”. This was also an ostensibly temporary recognition of capitalist domination outside the Soviet sphere of influence. On the other hand, victory in the war without much economic destruction at home secured US domination in the capitalist countries. US capital was able to overcome the world economic crisis through war production and construction.

The anti-Soviet stance became the guiding principle of US imperialist policy in the postwar years. Military alliances, economic treaties and “development aid” were aimed at geostrategic security in addition to the profitable export of capital. The common “threat” also allowed for relative unity of competing national capitals under American leadership, at least in the imperialist countries.

An important strategic element of the Cold War was the arms race. After the Soviet zones of influence were too large to be successfully brought to their knees by embargoes or boycotts, the arms race and costly wars (Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Nicaragua) represented an attempt to drive the already stagnant bureaucratic planned economy into crisis. At the same time, however, armament was costly, even in the imperialist countries, which they could not always compensate for with the super-exploitation of the semi-colonies. It also promoted the building of the peace movement and thus political opposition in the imperialist centres – a risky contradiction for a system that secures control of its own periphery with privileges for the domestic workers. The oppression of the US proletariat in these decades was assured above all by the racist split and widespread democratic disenfranchisement, but also by the absence of a workers’ party and extensive union ties to the bourgeois Democratic Party.

In the advancing Soviet economic crisis, and thus the rule of the party bureaucracy, low labour productivity and the overproduction of goods that were not in demand or of inferior quality (in other words, a failure in the production of utility value) were the main determining factors. In response, the faction under Gorbachev found the reintroduction of capitalist market mechanisms in perestroika policies (Russian: “restructuring”), while the growing opposition from the working class (for example, in Poland) was responded to with a relaxation of political repression in the framework of glasnost (Russian: “opening”).

This led to the rapid rise of new capitalists, closely tied in foreign trade to investors from the imperialist countries. The planned-economy bureaucracy in its stagnation was unable to resist this explosive force, and within a few years capitalist restoration was imposed throughout the Soviet “sphere of influence” to the great detriment of the workers.

By the beginning of the Cold War, the US had established itself as the undisputed leader in the imperialist world, for which the common external enemy of all capitalists was at least as important as war profits. In return, another “superpower” had positioned itself as a direct rival to US imperialism. With its demise, US capital’s supremacy seemed to be sealed, embedded, as expressed in Francis Fukuyama’s famous book The End of History as a victory for neoliberal military policy. Only 30 years later, however, this supremacy is once again at stake. It almost seems as if the history of class societies does not know a capitalist end.

6. Free trade agreements and the “rules-based world order”

The Trump government’s withdrawal from numerous multilateral treaties such as the Paris Climate Convention or NAFTA have been discussed as a potential end to the “rule-based world order”. Many have remarked on the possibility of this leading to an intensification of the chaos of imperialist competition through trade wars and proxy conflicts. For example, the German Foreign Ministry, in its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, writes: “As a globally networked country, we are committed to a rule-based world order characterized by the strength of law rather than the law of the strongest.” [24]

The ideology of a rule-based, multinational, capitalist world order finds its first expression in international organisations such as the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations (UN). The liberal-democratic criticism of its political toothlessness is most evident when, in contrast, global economic agreements prove their assertiveness. The Bretton Woods Monetary Agreement and the establishment of the World Bank and IMF after World War II are the first examples of this contractual institutionalisation.

Of particular importance to US domination, however, are the rounds of negotiations for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GATT 1947 (which was absorbed into the World Trade Organization WTO in 1995) and the founding of the G7 (group of the seven “most important” capitalist nations) after the 1973 oil price crisis. The number of free trade and preferential agreements is now in the hundreds. [25]

Allegedly, these agreements serve the purpose of creating equal or even advantageous conditions for the export of capital and goods for underdeveloped countries. This is also based on the neoclassical ideologies that unhindered (i.e., duty-free and quota-free) trade is always and for all participants advantageous.

In fact, however, it is precisely the economic rise of the United States that shows how “free” trade reinforces global inequalities and dependencies. In capitalist competition, the stronger states usually prevail, and where there are inequalities in the flow of goods, these are not offset by countertrades but by debt traps. The illusion of a global division of labour for mutual benefit presents itself in reality as a dystopia of imperialist super-exploitation organised by exported capital.

7. Breakpoints: The impact of Trump’s new measures

Some of the most high-profile changes in US foreign policy under Trump have been the withdrawals from several international agreements, the membership of which had been hallmarks of the Obama administration. In addition to the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organisation (WHO), Trump withdrew from the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the Translatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA was a model example of the exploitative character of free trade agreements, a symbol against which left-wing anti-imperialists and globalisation critics have been up in arms for decades. While union fears of a wage collapse among American workers were not substantiated by simplified emigration, [26] NAFTA cemented Mexico’s dependence on the United States with its sales quotas and customs bans. The notorious “investor protection” paragraphs, which allowed companies to sue states for unpleasant and profit-threatening laws, as well as the US’s right to intervene in Mexico’s foreign trade (for example, with Cuba, Bolivia or Venezuela) underscored the openly domineering character of apparently equal free trade agreements. Even conservative (neoclassical) economists estimate that the direct economic benefits that NAFTA brought to US capitalists were not due to “unfettered” trade, but were at the expense of the semi-colonial contracting parties. [27] NAFTA was terminated by Trump in 2018 and replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreement, which, apart from a gradual improvement in the US position (access to the Canadian market for agricultural products, favourable protectionism in auto production), does not represent a break with NAFTA.

TTIP was also the subject of left-wing and left-liberal criticism in Europe, also because of investor protection and the harmonisation (i.e. in Europe mainly the deterioration) of environmental and consumer protection rules. Also the open attempt to build up a Western economic bloc with military background music against imperialist rivals in China and Russia expressed only the increasing imperialist intensification, but it certainly aroused resistance. The TTIP negotiations were broken off by Trump in 2016. After the provisional conclusion of the trade war against the EU, negotiations for a new agreement were resumed in 2019.

The transpacific partnership TPP was signed as an alliance of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam under the leadership of the USA in 2016. It was the centerpiece of Obama’s Asia strategy to curb Chinese influence and would have been the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering 40% of the global economy. The mutual preferential treatment in trade, customs and, above all, value chains would have been designed not only for American capital exports, but also for the geopolitical containment of China. The Trump government withdrew from TPP only a few months after taking office, which is now obsolete.

Its withdrawal is generally not to be understood as a rejection of free trade and certainly not as an ideological rejection of globalisation or worldwide production and exploitation chains. The “globalists” that Trump uses as an enemy image are elements of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and have nothing to do with globalisation. Above all, the rapid renegotiation following the sabre-rattling of trade wars and embargo threats (which shaped the relationship between the USA, China and the EU above all in 2017 and 2018) shows that there is no end in sight for “free” trade. Rather, the implicit economic truth that freer competition is in favor of stronger capital is to be underscored once again with the military, diplomatic and intelligence strength of the US “total capitalist”.

American capital was characterised at the beginning of its economic rise by competitive advantages in both industrial productivity and financial institutions. After the extensive destruction of capital in Europe and East Asia during World War II, freer trade and investment flows were the key strategy for the American exercise of power worldwide.

The productivity advantage is a diminishing one for US imperialism, thanks to partial technology exports, lower external labour costs and the partially ailing US infrastructure. The growing importance of “trade-related intellectual property rights” (TRIPS), which conservative economists consider a theoretical horror, was an attempt to slow down this process. [28] At the same time, by the end of the 20th century, such losses of position were compensated for by the undisputed leadership in high technology and finance. Consequently, it was these capital fractions that supported the free trade course and especially the growing importance of intellectual property clauses and their representatives.

The systematic establishment of US energy independence was also a central goal of the Bush and Obama administrations, which made the USA a net oil exporter by 2019 at the latest. This independence is bought at the price of comparatively high oil prices (at which only the very dirty and expensive shale oil and tar sand exploitation is worthwhile), the other side of the coin of the wars over oil that has shaped US foreign policy since the 1990s.

US domination of high-tech industries is no longer unchallenged. In East Asia in particular, semiconductor products of similar performance are now produced and the corresponding software developed as around Silicon Valley. The importance of the US financial industry is much less threatened, even if the handling of parts of the world trade with Chinese Renmibi and sometimes even Euros increases the importance of other stock exchanges. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, however, the importance of the financial industry declined in comparison to other capital fractions that thought less of “rule-based” free trade.

The course of the Trump government primarily reflects the need to strengthen these strongest capital fractions in international competition. The targeted attacks on Chinese technology companies (Huawei, TikTok) speak for this, as does the open demand to buy more American agricultural and industrial products.

War policy

The presidencies of Bush and Obama were shaped in foreign policy terms above all by the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Like the first Gulf wars, these were economically driven by a need for cheap and price-stable oil. Under the ideological cloak of the war on terror (and as an institutionalised background to modern anti-Muslim racism), US troops stationed hundreds of thousands of soldiers in and around the oil-producing countries of West Asia and, to a lesser extent, Africa.

In the final years of the Obama administration, direct conflict with Russia as a potential imperialist rival became a major driver of war policy. US troop support for the far-right neoliberal coalition in Ukraine and interventions in Libya and Syria had more to do with this geopolitical conflict than with securing oil and gas supplies. In fact, the United States had been moving toward net energy exports (with sufficiently high world market prices to make the production methods profitable) since 2014.

This led to a shift in intervention away from the goal of ensuring a low world market price for oil and gas. But it created new conflicts that were intended to ensure the purchase of American energy products. This is also how one must understand the occasional US demand not to build a new pipeline for Russian gas (Nordstream 2 conflict). The same applies to the EU’s commitment to double its imports of American LNG liquefied gas when the trade war ends.

The withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan promised by Trump and the détente with Iran and North Korea announced at short notice must also be seen in this light. Behind his promise is the cost-benefit calculation of the capital factions, which openly supported the president. Especially for the energy industry, the benefit is small, which is in contrast to the enormous financial and moral costs of the permanent war. The attempted détente with Russia had also clearly stood out from Obama’s policy, which had actually escalated proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria.

In these cases, however, the continuity and assertiveness of the military-industrial complex relevant to foreign policy predominates, that is, the arms industry and parts of the army and civil service. In fact, Trump was not able to assert himself here either against the “hawks”, the war-mongering Iranian opponents there.

Consequently, the withdrawal was not organised, and the USA intervened also around the oil deposits in Northern Syria, between Rojava and Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq). Nevertheless, it is important to understand that there is a political-economic background to these election promises.

In other areas, however, this shift in foreign policy has been pushed through. The policy of alliances in the Arab region is aimed at individual agreements, ideological and military concessions (relocation of embassy in Israel, possible sale of F-35 fighter planes to Saudi Arabia). Under Obama, the strategy was even more clearly oriented toward balancing the local powers against each other and was also less tailored to direct loyalty to the United States. However, open unilateralism, i.e. the US dictate of conditions, was not only intended to put pressure on individual states but also to change relations with other US allies.

The United States was also a leading participant in the reactionary developments in Latin America. This means, for example, the repression of progressive and leftist governments in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, the breaking off of détente with Cuba and the coup attempts in Venezuela. These developments, however, began under the Bush and Obama administrations and were pushed forward quite consistently under Trump. Behind them, however, is not only the chauvinist “backyard” ideology of the 1970s, but also the attempt to limit Chinese influence in the region. This refers, for example, to the fact that Brazil’s mining industry (above all copper production), as a supplier to China’s industry, became the global economic engine in the crisis from 2008 onwards, or the Chinese-Nicaraguan agreement to build an Atlantic-Pacific Canal (as direct competition to the American-controlled Panama Canal).

In summary, the Trump government appears weak in the implementation of its foreign policy program, but in crucial points it has a different thrust than previous governments. The foreign policy interests of US capital are shifting, torn between an increasing need for military support on the world market and a geostrategic policy of alliances against the emerging rival China. This contradiction is not easily resolved and will first escalate in the US before unloading itself worldwide in open military conflicts.

8. Contradictions and conflict

US imperialism faces a fundamental reorganisation. Because the US is the world’s leading imperialist power, the same is true of the global order, and conversely, changes in the US are also a product of global power shifts. Three points are crucial to the analysis of the US role, 1) the power shift between capital factions domestically, 2) the rise of China and Russia and the formation of the US into imperialist blocs, and 3) the conflicting interests reflected in US foreign policy.

The fundamental contradiction is between the reasons for and effects of China’s rise to imperialist power and direct competition with the US The direct reasons are that even by the 20th century, US capital was having to relinquish the cost advantage in industrial production to other emerging nations. This is a direct consequence of the fact that value is created only through human labour, and the temporary cost advantage of productivity gains tends to translate into a lower rate of profit in the long run.

This development led to strong pressure for wage cuts in the USA. The standard of living of many workers was maintained by importing cheap Chinese consumer products. This in turn solved the demand problem in China, where capitalists could pay their workers very poorly without having to worry about consumer demand in a macro-capitalist manner. This role was assumed by the American workers.

With the dominance of the US financial industry and high-tech sector, the growing loss of global “competitiveness” did not yet mean that its position as an imperialist leading power was at risk. The construction of global production chains dominated by American capital simultaneously allowed for the export of capital through the financial industry and the skimming of profits at the end of the “value chain” by American industrial capitalists. However, the establishment of more profitable high-tech companies in Japan, Korea and China, the relative loss of importance of the US financial industry during the crisis from 2008 onwards and the successful establishment of production chains without American participation put an end to this period.

This means a shift of interests within US capital. Fewer capitalists can expect to survive in the world market of free trade agreements in the future, and those who can cope with this have become weaker by domestic American standards. In return, more capitalist factions demand direct support for their competitive participation in the world market through military, diplomatic and intelligence superiority. Typical examples are contractual acceptance quotas, for example for agricultural products or liquid gas, sanctions against competitors, and protective tariffs against foreign consumer goods.

At the same time, however, containment of China requires broad geopolitical alliances with smaller imperialist states as well as with semi-colonies. These must, however, be offered an economically better deal than the trillions of dollars of traditional Chinese infrastructure investment. In addition to direct capital investments, this also includes the offer to consolidate common markets, which would have played an important role in the TPP Agreement. Both are expensive, however, and run fairly directly counter to the individual interests of important US capitalists.

Solving this contradiction would be the task of the state as imperialist total capitalist. This can only be achieved if its own leadership role is further secured, a largely unrealistic prospect. We are at the end of the period of clear US dominance over the global imperialist order, which will be replaced in the medium term by multipolar rule.

But this also exacerbates the contradictions between the imperialist states. The last two crises, starting in 2008 and 2019, have already shown that the accumulation of capital in the imperialist centers is reaching its limits. It is no coincidence that these limits are reached faster in the US and the EU than in China or Russia, for example. But these countries too have definitely undergone crisis developments.

For the imperialist blocs, the only perspective for capitalist crisis resolution is the expansion of their own sales, raw materials and labour markets. Imperialism results from the crisis tendencies of capitalism and an understanding of the imperialist dynamics requires a deep knowledge of the crisis dynamics.

Because the semi-colonies and spheres of influence are largely divided, this amounts to a conflict over the redivision of the world. On a smaller scale, we already see this in the international appearance of China, which is skilfully using the margins of maneuver from the logic of free trade and in areas abandoned by the US to create a better starting point. Another example is the clash of Russian and American interests with regard to the EU. This contradiction has escalated in Ukraine. The resulting danger of war is not immediate, but inevitable.


1  Ulrich Küntzel, Der nordamerikanische Imperialismus (Sammlung Luchterhand, 1974), 24.

2  Friedrich Engels, “Socialism Scientific and Utopian,” Collected Works vol. 24 (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1989), 319.

3  Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View (London: Verso, 2002).

4  Deutsche Welle, “US to EU: Our liquefied natural gas is more reliable than Russia’s,” 2 May 2019,

5  Karl Marx, “Capital, Volume I”. Collected Works, vol. 35 (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1976), 752.

6  Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 753.

7  David W Galenson, “The Rise and Fall of Indentured Servitude in the Americas: An Economic Analysis,” The Journal of Economic History 44, no. 1, 1–26.

8  Ed Burmila, “When the Serfs Rebelled”, Jacobin, 28 October 2017,

9  Jason W Moore, “Nature and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism,” Review 26, no. 2 (2003): 97–120.

10  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto”, Collected Works vol. 6. (London: L&W, 1976).

11  Marion D. Kilson, “Towards Freedom: An Analysis of Slave Revolts in the United States,” Phylon 25 no. 2 (1964): 175–187.

12  Herbert Aptheker, The American Revolution: 1763–1783 (New York: International Publishers, 1960).

13  Herbert Aptheker, The American Revolution, 79

14  Ulrich Küntzel, Der nordamerikanische Imperialismus, 53.

15  Ulrich Küntzel, Der nordamerikanische Imperialismus, 83.

16  Ulrich Küntzel, Der nordamerikanische Imperialismus, 90.

17  Küntzel, Der nordamerikanische Imperialismus, 148.

18  Küntzel, Der nordamerikanische Imperialismus, 132.

19  Susanne Bodenheimer, “Dependency and Imperialism: The Roots of Latin American Underdevelopment,” Politics and Society 1, no. 3 (1971): 327–357.

20  Dos Santos, 1968.

21  Alan M Taylor, “Foreign Capital in Latin America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” NBER Working Papers 9580. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2003.

22  Taylor, “Foreign Capital,” 29

23  Timonthy Schmidt, “The Rise of Exports to East Asia and Latin America,” Economic Review 79, no. 3 (1994): 68.

24 Hannah Birkenkötter, “Völkerrecht klar benennen: Deutschland im Sicherheitsrat und der Einsatz für die „regelbasierte internationale Ordnung”,” Verfassungsblog, 2018.

25  Jagdish Bhagwati, Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade, (Oxford: Oxford Universtiy Press, 2008).

26 Lorenzo Caliendo and Fernando Parro, “Estimates of the Trade and Welfare Effects of NAFTA,” The Review of Economic Studies 82, no. 1 (2015): 1–44.

27  Dani Rodrik, “What Do Trade Agreements Really Do?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 23, no. 2 (2018): 73–90.

28  Jagdish Bhagwati, Termites in the Trading System.


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