The Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid for World

  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • The Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid for World Dominance
  • Peter Gowan
  • English
  • 26 May 2015
  • 9781859842713

6 thoughts on “The Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid for World Dominance

  1. Elle Elle says:

    Given the chaos that has been visited upon Ira Libya Afghanistan Syria Ukraine and Yemen over the past decade and half you'd be forgiven for thinking that a book on US foreign policy written in 1999 could have little contemporary relevance Peter Gowan's 'The Global Gamble' is different Written in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis but coming just before the dot com bubble burst and 911 'The Global Gamble' is probably the most lucid far sighted and incisive analysis of US imperialism I've ever come across Much has been written far too much on Neoliberalism as a culture an ideology or as a 'mode of governmentality'; Gowan's focus is suarely on the raw power politics of it all Part 1 details the evolution of what Gowan calls the 'Dollar Wall Street regime' The tight nexus of hedge fund managers central bankers and political elites in Washington who flourished after the overthrow of the 'financial repression' of the Bretton Woods era The purpose of this 'liberalisation' was 'rollback' an extraordinary attempt to preserve the privileged global financial position of the US and maintain the dollar's central international role This would reuire conuering the barriers raised by the social democratic post war compromise in Western Europe the national bourgeoisie projects of the Global SouthNon Aligned countries and actually existing socialism in Eastern Europe and China By the 1970's the long post war boom was turning into a long downturn contender development in Germany and Japan cut into the US's share of the global market and high investment rates in fixed capital stock drove down profitability Working class mobilisation Keynesian demand management and the easy extension of credit to low profitability firms prevented the necessary exit and destruction of excess capacity in these lines Inflation from Vietnam and domestic unrest also drove pressures that made the convertibility of the Dollar into Gold unsustainable An alternative presented itself when the OAPEC countries raised the price of oil in 1973 By guaranteeing Gulf Oil sales would be denominated in Dollars Nixon ensured a steady supply of credit rolled into Wall Street whilst the increased cost of oil put the sueeze on competitors in Japan and Germany who were much dependent on imports than the US With the lifting of capital controls other countries were incentivised to lift theirs as well Financial institutions were free to expand their operations across the world into ever exotic and increasingly risky financial instruments Before private capital had been largely excluded from involvement in the international monetary system now it was in the driving seat Tempted by the appealingly low interest rates many countries in the Global South took advantage of this to spur development At the time it was a reasonable and rational decision to make since it could be paid back with the proceeds of industrialisation and growth But the new DWSR gave the US an incredible amount of power The Federal Reserve could weaken or strengthen the dollar at will up and down With the dollars world role secured the US's trade and budget deficits were free to spiral upwards and they could be covered by simply printing the money to fund it When Paul Volker took the decision to raise interest rates to eye watering levels the effects would have to be shouldered by those countries least able to bear the load in what became the Third World Debt crisis of the 80's One by one countries found themselves insolvent and the IMF and World Bank were called in to 'restructure' their economies There would be no forgiveness debts were to be paid in full Capital accounts were opened up to foreign direct investment; companies and public sector assets were sold at knock down prices to western monopolies and speculative investment was prioritsed at the expense of human development When it was over multinational corporations would have a pool of cheap labour and dependent economies who had few options other than export led growth to the markets of the advanced capitalist economies De industrialisation transferred the centre of manufacturing from the advanced capitalist economies to the Global South but the power of the US's financial sector ensured that the benefits would accrue largely to Wall StreetIn country after country Hedge funds and Washington declared financial warfare on recalcitrant national governments When a crisis inevitably broke out capital would flee back to the US; giving a boost in liuidity to US financial markets maintaining downward pressure on interest rates and stoking the stock market boom furtherIt's this shift in the global political economy that went by the name of 'Globalisation' during the 90's But what Gowan demonstrates is that 'Globalisation' wasn't an inevitable or irresistible force this idea that it was was than anything a discourse of power designed to obscure the fact that 'Globalisation' was a political choice by leading states the US as well as the UK with it's enormous financial sector as its satellite A dynamic dialectical relationship between private international financial actors in financial markets and US government dollar policy However alongside the endless optimism about the new economy that 'Globalisation' engendered was a system that was rapidly undermining its material foundations The DWSR provided an escape from stagnation for a while but economic growth in the US was increasingly dependent upon high levels of public and household debt to purchase the world's manufactures a deep structural balance of payments deficit and a business cycle dependent on asset price bubbles After the fallout from the East Asian financial crisis of 97 another gamble engineered to prevent the development of a rival regional bloc in China or Japan capital fled back to the US stoking the dot com boom that would eventually break in 2001 Greenspan lowered interest rates even further and the 'wealth effect' from the asset price bubble in the housing sector kept the fires going until 2007 Unleashing the financial sector allowed the US great levity in restructuring the world economy to it's advantage but at the expense of deeply distorting the US economy itself – making it far vulnerable than ever before to forces that it cannot fully control One feels that the US is than due for a 'structural adjustment' of its own Part 2 is a selection of essays on geopolitics and the Dollar Wall Street regime beginning with The Gulf War The Gulf War is important in that it marked the beginning made possible by the general collapse of the Soviet Union of America's desperate and audacious attempt to unilaterally reorder the global balance of power in its favour by securing both economic and military control of the planet; starting with the destruction of Ira and its ability to assert itself as an independent regional actor He breaks down the traditional arguments in favour of the war that came from liberal political theory at the time and shows them to be found wanting at best inconsistent and at worst duplicitous before delving into the political economy of Gulf Monarchy Petro Dollars Wall Street and US policy in the Middle East since the Carter Doctrine expertly and intelligently It remains a superb account of the opening shots of a new world war upon the peoples of the Middle East Rather than marking a rupture with what came before it George Bush's War on Terror was merely the extension of a project that had been underway since the 90's In later chapters the book delves into Gowan's area of specialisation Eastern Europe He opens with an extended essay on Neoliberalism in Eastern Europe and the geopolitics behind the merciless shock therapy that was applied to the post Soviet statesA strategic decision was taken to divide the countries of the former Warsaw Pact from one another preventing them from taking advantage of their deeply interconnected economies and a reasonable' market socialist'Keynesian alternative from emerging Many were left with few options outside of total shock therapy setting the foundations for their later integration into the global economy in a subordinate role Jeffrey Sachs Washington's ideologue of the 'shock therapy' market transition finds himself incredulous that the US and EU were behaving 'irrationally' in destroying the economies of the former Soviet bloc unaware that the development of their economies wasn't the point of the exercise In the face of this unconscionable decline in living standards for the working class those imperial clerks who had spent the 80's advocating for the development of a robust 'civil society' and liberal parliamentary democracy independent of the 'authoritarian' communist parties like Michael Ignatieff and Timothy Garton Ash found themselves aghast when it actually arrived in mass protests strikes an outpouring of support for the Left and a yearning to return to state socialism That which had been long awaited in theory became disagreeable in practice Gowan develops on this in an account of the fate of the Left in the transition countries and how their success problematises any easy story of a popular overthrow of communism and an eager embrace of capitalism Given the decline of left wing forces in many of these countries in the interim his optimism is bittersweet The final chapter concerns the enlargement of NATO and the EU the driving motives behind it and its potential to sharpen conflict across the region Of the US Gowan is bitterly critical of what he sees as the US's opportunism in expanding NATO into Poland 'gambling with Europe's future security for the sake of something other than security' An attempt to divide the European continent with Western Europe remaining subordinate to America dependent upon it for its military to advance its interests; and a weakened Russia who had 'lost' the Cold War and was thus 'rightfully' excluded Linking up east with the west via a collective security agreement that would allow the whole of the continent to decide it's own affairs was off the table sabotaged by the US For the time being at least America still rules the roost It taking the lead in the bombing of Yugoslavia was 'merely' a demonstration to that effect He also notes that the idea that Russia poses a grave security threat is pure propaganda; rather it was Russia's weakness in the 90's that led the drive east something that would be less easy to pursue once it's economy began to recover Perceptively he notes that 'particularly dangerous will be the onset of intense American Russian rivalry within Ukraine Russia has powerful levers for pursuing this struggle not least its economic leverage over the Ukrainian economy its links within Ukraine's political elites and the crisis of Ukraine's armed forces and state administration not to speak of its appalling general economic crisis At the same time American hopes that it has a strong base of political support in Ukraine may prove unfounded and a deep internal crisis within that country could ensue' On this he has been sadly entirely vindicated In his conclusion he is deeply pessimistic America's global gamble has been not only disastrous for human development it's a systemic breeder of economic political and social crises in country after country whilst at the self same time undermining the West's leadership of the world economy It's successes have filtered into the pockets of the few whilst pauperising the many Outside of continuing to generate and instability it's unlikely that it can or will be changed by effective political intervention in the near future These problems are deep rooted something that can't be fixed by a mere change in policy or the election of the 'right' political party'It will therefore take than persuasion to change course in Europe Therapies will not be applied until an exogenous shock brings home the truth that the West's interlocking structures of accumulation and governance are not acceptable The best kind of such a shock leading to therapy would be a social movement by the peoples of Europe The worst would be a blow out in the globalised financial system or a full scale breakdown of order in the big republics of the former Soviet Union' Absent of something like a new 'Marshall Plan' for the European continent or an effective challenge to America's dominance by the emerging capitalist economies it just goes on like this

  2. Simon Wood Simon Wood says:

    GOWANS GLOBAL OUTLOOKPeter Gowan's 1999 publication The Global Gamble is a book of three parts The first looks at American attempts to retain its global position especially vis à vis Western Europe and Japan in the period from the United States unilaterally ending the Bretton Woods era of stable currencies and a gold backed dollar in the early 1970's to the Asian financial crisis of 1998 This is followed by a forty odd page look at the Gulf War of 1990 91 and finishes with a collection of articles relating to developments in Eastern Europe during the post cold war eraThe first part is a concise comprehensive and utterly brilliant look at how the Americans unilaterally ended the Bretton Woods regime under real economic pressures not least caused by the war in Vietnam and what came after it Gowan terms the successor regime the Dollar Wall Street Regime DWSR the Dollar is the primary currency for trade currencies are no longer pegged to the Dollar which was no longer pegged to gold capital controls are gradually reduced under American pressure and financial capital flows relatively unhindered causing untold damage to economies especially in the developing world And when countries get into trouble up steps the so called multilateral institutions the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to wreak further damage in forcing countries to further open their economies deflate and to privatise their assets at fire sale prices The ultimate example of this was the Asian Financial Crisis of 1998 which Gowan covers in some detail as are those parts of the DWSR that function to keep Western Europe and the Far East at the time of writing Japan and South Korea in check Overall this section is a sophisticated look at developments in the financialmonetary sphere from 1970 98 and is probably the best account of this period I have came acrossThe second part The Gulf War Ira and Western Liberalism examines the Gulf War of 1990 91 in light of the precepts of Western Liberalism Gowan cites many figures from within that canon and finds that the self appointed Liberal Democracies of the west led by the US and the UK failed to meet the standards set by leading Liberal thinkers In the second part of the article Understanding Modern Ira Gowan's delivers a short though insightful look at the history of Ira in tandem with a critiue of Samar al Khalil's Kanan Makiya's pen name at the time this article was written Republic of Fear The Politics of Modern Ira Updated Edition where he shows up the shortcomings and limitations of al Khalil's Kanan Makiya analysis and the liberal tradition in which it is rootedIn the third part Gowan turns to the area which he specialised in not least as a founding editor of Labour Focus on Eastern Europe The first of the four articles The Theory and Practice of Neo Liberalism for Eastern Europe examines Eastern Europe's experience under western prescribed Shock Therapy whose key theoretician was Jeffrey Sachs among the cheerleaders in the UK were Timothy Garton Ash and John Lloyd both of whom are politely but firmly dealt with by Gowan Of particular interest is how the EU and the US essentially cut off the Eastern European economies from the Soviet UnionRussia and from each other and how the Western Europeans re engineered the Shock Therapy programs to their even greater advantage The dire social and economic costs of this era were an absolute catastrophe for the region In Neo Liberalism and Civil Society some fun is had looking at Liberal concepts of civil society promoted by writers such as Timothy Garton Ash and Michael Ignatieff see Michael Ignatieff The Lesser Evil for a thorough dissection of the Ignatieff phenomena During the communist era these writers and doubtlessly others of their ilk promoted concepts of civil society that fell within the Liberal canon During the Shock Therapy era when popular anger was building with regards to the costs of the disastrous economic policies being foisted on them Garton Ash Ignatieff et al were seriously cutting back on the Liberal dimension of their analysis in order to prevent the overturning of Shock Therapy Programs in Eastern EuropeThe third article The Post Communist Parties in the East focusses on the experience of the former Communist Parties in Poland Romania Hungary and Bulgaria and how they changed into parties that claimed to be Social Democratic in the tradition of Western Europe and Scandinavia Gowan delivers plenty of detail on the changing contexts within which each party developed perhaps too much detail for some readers tastes as well as how they met the challenges of being active in an era where Western European countries and International Institutions such as the European Union NATO Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe the IMF and the World Bank were with a great deal of success setting the parameters within which each countries Social Economic and Political Development occurred The final article The Enlargement of NATO and the European Union looks at the prospects for both organisations advancing into Eastern Europe and how the Americans were particularly keen for NATO to expand in that direction so that they could keep a hand in regarding developments in Europe It makes particularly interesting reading in light of recent developments in UkraineThis book shows a writer at the height of his powers in the first part Gowan manages to make convincing sense of developments in the global economic sphere over the last third of the twentieth century in writing that despite his position as an academic is clear concise and illuminates the subject like nothing else I've read in short utterly brilliant The lengthy article on the Ira CrisisWar of 1990 91 and four articles on Eastern Europe are all of a high uality and provide an invaluable insight into the events described In totality this book is amongst the most impressive books on Global Political Economy I have ever read I'd also recommend the only other book length writing of Gowan's before he died in 2009 A Calculus of Power Grand Strategy in the Twenty First Century

  3. Molly Molly says:

    very useful book about The Dollar Wall Street Regime how finance took the driver's seat in the Reagan era and the immense instability of the global financial system that arose Coming to an end in the late 90s the book is dated now regarding turbulence crises bailoutsbut still valuable

  4. Ryan Ryan says:

    Best account of neoliberalism I've read so far even though it ends before Dubya That's actually one of its strengths you can't blame it all on our second generation Lone Star Lots of accounts tell you how neoliberalism works as a system and an ideology This one tells you how it has worked as statecraft for whose specific interests and according to whose vision of the worldIt's hard to find these days so here's a pdf version of the 'meat'

  5. Alysemac Alysemac says:

    So far so goodMinus one star for making claims that contradict the conventional wisdom of recent history without the necessary evidence I'm a big believer in footnotes

  6. Lulumelon Lulumelon says:

    Very penetrating observation of the neo liberal trend and its political and economic conseuences

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The Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid for World Dominance[EPUB] ✶ The Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid for World Dominance ✻ Peter Gowan – The collapse of the Soviet Bloc presented policy makers in Washington with a temptation reminiscent of Faust’s opening up vistas of hitherto unimaginable global power; but the cold breath of Mephist The collapse Gamble: Washington's MOBI î of the Soviet Bloc presented policy makers in Washington with a temptation reminiscent of Faust’s opening The Global ePUB ´ up vistas of hitherto unimaginable global power; but the cold breath of Mephistopheles is already blowing across devastated communities Global Gamble: Washington's Epub à from southeast Asia to the Balkan peninsula in the wake of America’s bid for world powerIn this major analysis Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid ePUB ´ of the new era of American domination Peter Gowan strips away the language of humanitarian ideals that have cloaked US interventions from Baghdad to Belgrade to reveal far cynical goals with the real democratic hopes of the peoples of Europe the South Global Gamble: Washington's Faustian Bid ePUB ´ and East systematically trampled down in the rush to impose NATO based US political leadership across the globeGowan surveys the transformation of NATO from Cold War ‘security shield’ for Western Europe into a global vigilante force in pursuit of US interests with European footsoldiers under American command He explains the projected expansion of the EU into a set of first and second class countries incapable of any political action independent of the United States; and he analyses the catastrophic social and economic effects of the neo liberal ‘Shock Therapy’ imposed on Russia and Eastern Europe with devastating resultsFar from being an unstoppable natural force against which every nation state is powerless Gowan argues compellingly that the process of globalisation has been relentlessly driven forward by the enormous political power of the US state and business interests in a highly conscious bid to extend their strategic dominance over the world economy He shows how the international finance system—the ‘Dollar Wall Street Regime’—created out of the ashes of Breton Woods has been exploited as a political lever to open up local economies to US products and speculative flows of ‘hot’ money and demonstrates how each financial crisis over the last ten years has been used by the Washington Wall Street axis to force through dramatic economic and social re engineering in the targeted countries While posing as a benign economic education for ‘developing’ economies US led rescue packages in fact leave these countries seriously weakened destroying national industrial sectors while elevating to power such local rentier interests as the Russian mafia capitalists and leaving the already fragile social tissue of many of these companies irreparably damagedThis masterly survey both bold and compelling will become a landmark in the debate on the new world order threatening the twenty first century.