Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Ronald Reagan’s star wars programme of the early 1980s was very much a part of a wider right-wing Republican vision of facing down the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union. It also involved a substantial increase in nuclear armaments and a wide-ranging transformation of the US armed forces so that they would be ready and willing to defeat the Soviets in the event of war.
Similarly, the current Bush administration’s commitment to missile defence is part of a much wider strategic ambition to ensure “full-spectrum dominance” in all areas of warfare as part of creating the “new American century”. Washington’s neo-conservatives believe the US has an historic role to spread its free-market dream across the world. That way lie peace and security for the US and its allies, and stability and prosperity for like-minded people everywhere.
To the neo-conservatives it is obvious: communism is finished, capitalism rules and the US way of life is predominant. This doesn”t mean a neo-colonial role for the US, more a shaping of the world economy and polity in the US image. There is an implicit belief that no other approach is acceptable; any other vision is deeply wrong-headed, if not malign.
At the same time, there is a recognition that there are dangerous forces at work that do not recognise the wisdom and certainty of the neo-conservative vision. In a campaign speech nearly a year before his election and 18 months before 11 September, Bush said: “It was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who the -they- were. It was us versus them, and we knew exactly who them was. Today we”re not so sure who the -they- are, but we know they”re there.”
Four years later, “they” are more easily characterised as international terrorists and “rogue states”, with one of the greatest threats coming from rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction – especially when they are carried on ballistic missiles.
An essential aspect of the neo-conservatives” vision of military dominance is missile defence. The programme would form part of a modernised nuclear arsenal that would have the ability to fight “small nuclear wars in far-off places”. This arsenal would be complemented by a range of other weapons and forces including much-expanded counter-insurgency capabilities, long-range strike aircraft, massive blast bombs and, in the longer term, airborne and space-based lasers.
The missile defence programme is motivated by the concern that, in the fairly near future, some states may develop a limited deterrent capability that will curtail the US’s freedom to act militarily in what it perceives as its interests. Much was learnt from the Scud missile problems of the 1991 Gulf War.
If missile defence can be made to work, then it removes the one limitation on US forces acting with impunity whenever and wherever necessary. The combination of such defensive systems with the world’s most powerful offensive military forces (nuclear as well as conventional) will get remarkably close to full-spectrum dominance – helping to ensure that the new American century moves closer to reality.
Paul Rogers is professor of peace studies at Bradford University and writes a weekly column on international security for www.opendemocracy.comPaul Rogers is professor of peace studies at Bradford University and writes a weekly column on international security for www.opendemocracy.com
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle