Mapping Trump’s Empire: Assets and Liabilities


Mapping Trump’s Empire: Assets and Liabilities

Written by Prof. James Petras; Originally appeared at Global Research

The US empire spans the globe; it expands and contracts, according to its ability to secure strategic assets, willing and able to further military and economic power to counter emerging adversaries.

The map of empire is a shorthand measure of the vectors, reach and durability of global power and wealth. The map of empire is changing — adding and subtracting assets and liabilities, according to the successes and retreats of domestic and overseas power centers. While the US empire has been engaged in intense conflicts in the Middle East , the imperial map has been enlarged elsewhere at lower cost and greater success.

Enlarging the Empire

The US empire has substantially increased its scope and presence in several regions, especially in Latin America . The additions and enlargements include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Central America, Peru and the Caribbean. The most important asset redrawing the empire in Latin America is Argentina. The US has gained military, economic and political advantages. In the case of Argentina , political and economic advances preceded military expansion.

The US provided ideological and political support to secure the election of its client Mauricio Macri. The new Argentine President immediately transferred over $5 billion dollars to the notorious Wall Street Vulture speculator, Paul Singer, and proceeded to open the floodgates for a lucrative multi-billion dollar flow of financial capital. President Macri then followed up by inviting the Pentagon and US intelligence services to establish military bases, spy stations and training operations along its borders. Equally important, Argentina embraced the US directives designed to overthrow the government of Venezuela, undermine Bolivia ’s nationalist government under Evo Moralesand pursue a policy of US-centered regional integration.

Argentina: A Client without an Economic Patron

While Argentina is a useful political and military addition to the US empire, it lacks access to the US market — it still depends on China – and has failed to secure a strategic trade agreement with the European Union. Washington has enlarged its military presence with a one-legged client.

Colombia and Mexico, long time US client states, have provided springboards for enlarging US influence in Central America, the Andean region and the Caribbean. In the case of Colombia, the US has financed its war of extermination against anti-imperialist insurgents and their peasant and working class supporters and secured seven military bases as launch pad for Washington’s destabilization campaign against Venezuela.

Mexico has served a multitude of military and economic functions – from billion dollar manufacturing platforms to multi-billion dollar laundering of narco-profits to US banks.

Brazil is the new addition to the empire with the ousting and arrest of the leaders of the Workers Party. The shift in political and economic power has enhanced US influence through its leverage over the wealthiest country in the continent. In sum,the US has enlarged imperial influence and control via its acquisition of Latin America. There is one caveat: At least in the cases of Brazil and Argentina, the US advance is tentative and subject to reversal, as it lacks firm economic and political foundations.

If Latin America reflects an enlargement and upsurge of US imperial influence, the rest of the global map is mostly negative or at best contradictory.

The empire-building mission has failed to gain ground in Northeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. In Europe, the US retains influence but it appears to face obstacles to enlarging its presence.

The key to the enlargement or decline of empire revolves around the performance of the US domestic economy.

Imperial Decline: China

The determination of the US in remapping the global empire is most evident in Asia. The most notable shift in US political and economic relations in the region has taken place with China’s displacement of the US as the dominant investment, trading infrastructure building and lending country in the region. Moreover, China has increased its role as the leading exporter to the US , accumulating trade surpluses of hundreds of billions of dollars each year. In 2017, China ’s trade surplus reached $375 billion dollars.

Against the relative economic decline of the US, Washington has compensated by widening the scope of its maritime-military presence in the South China Sea, and increased its air and ground forces in South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines and Guam. As to how the bolstering of the US military presence affects the US ‘re-mapping’ of its imperial presence, it depends on the dynamics of the US domestic economy and its ability to retains its existing principal military clients – South Korea, Japan, Australia and the Philippines. Recent evidence suggest that South Korea shows signs of slipping outside of the US economic and military orbit. Seoul has trade issues with the US ‘protectionist agenda’ and opportunities to expand its trading links with China. Equally important, South Korea has moved toward reconciliation with North Korea, and downgraded the US military escalation. As goes South Korea, so goes the US military power base in northern Asia.

The US military strategy is premised on sustaining and expanding its client network. However, its protectionist policies led to the rejection of a multi-lateral trade agreement, which erodes its economic ties with existing or potential military partners. In contrast to Latin America, the US remaking of the imperial map has led to economic shrinkage and military isolation in Asia . US military escalation has poured even more deadly strategic US arms into the region, but failed to intimidate or isolate China or North Korea .

Re-mapping the Middle East

The US has spent several trillion dollars over the past two decades in the Middle East , North Africa and West Asia . US Intervention from Libya and Southern Sudan, Somalia , across to Syria , Palestine , Iraq , Iran and Afghanistan has resulted in enormous costs and dubious advances. The results are meagre except in terms of suffering. The US has spread chaos and destruction throughout Libya and Syria , but failed to incorporate either into an enlarged empire. The Middle East wars, initiated at the behest of Israel , have rewarded Tel Aviv with a sense of invulnerability and a thirst for more, while multiplying and unifying US adversaries.

Empires are not effectively enlarged through alliances with with armed tribal, sectarian and separatist organizations. Empires, allied with disparate, fractured and self-aggrandizing entities do not expand or strengthen their global powers.

The US has waged war against Libya and lost the political leverage and economic resources it enjoyed during the Gaddafi regime. It intervened in Somalia , South Sudan and Syria , and has gained enclaves of warring self-serving ‘separatists’ and subsidized mercenaries. Afghanistan , the US ’ longest war in history, is an unmitigated military disaster. After seventeen years of warfare and occupation, the US is holed up in the walled enclaves of the capital, Kabul . Meanwhile, the puppet regime feeds on multi-billion dollar monthly subsidies.

Iraq is a ‘shared’ imperial outpost — the result of fifteen years of military intervention. Kurdish clients, Sunni-Saudi warlords, Shia militia, Baghdad kleptocrats and US contractor-mercenaries all compete for control and a larger piece of the pillage. Every square meter of contested ‘terrain has cost the US five hundred million dollars and scores of casualties.

Iran remains forever under threat, but retains its independence outside of the US-Saudi-Israeli orbit. The US geo-political map has been reduced to dubious alliance with Saudi Arabia and its micro-clients among the Emirate statelets – which are constantly fighting among themselves – as well as Israel, the ‘client’ that openly revels in leading its patron by the nose!

Compared to the period before the turn of the millennium, the US imperial map has shrunk and faces further retrenchment.


Russia has reduced and challenged the US pursuit of a uni-polar global empire following the recovery of its sovereignty and economic growth after the disaster of the 1990’s. With the ascent of President Putin, the US-EU empire lost their biggest and most lucrative client and source of naked pillage.

Nevertheless, the US retains its political clients in the Baltic , the Balkans and Eastern and Central European regimes. However, these clients are unruly and often eager to confront a nuclear-armed Russia , confident that the US-NATO will intervene, in spite of the probability of being vaporized in a nuclear Armageddon.

Washington ’s efforts to recapture and return Russia to vassalage have failed. Out of frustration Washington has resorted to a growing series of failed provocations and conflicts between the US and the EU, within the US between Trump and the Democrats; and among the warlords controlling the Trump cabinet.

Germany has continued lucrative trade ties with Russia , despite US sanctions, underscoring the decline of US power to dictate policy to the European Union. The Democratic Party and the ultra-militaristic Clinton faction remains pathologically nostalgic for a return to the 1990’s Golden Age of Pillage (before Putin). Clinton ’s faction is fixated on the politics of revanchism . As a result, they vigorously fought against candidate Donald Trump’s campaign promises to pursue a new realistic understanding with Russia . The Russia-Gate Investigation is not merely a domestic electoral squabble led by hysterical ‘liberals.’ What is a stake is nothing less than a profound conflict over the remaking of the US global map. Trump recognized and accepted the re-emergence of Russia as a global power to be ‘contained’, while the Democrats campaigned to roll-back reality, overthrow Putin and return to the robber baron orgies of the Clinton years. As a result of this ongoing strategic conflict, Washington is unable to develop a coherent global strategy, which in turn has further weakened US influence in the EU in Europe and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the intense Democratic onslaught against Trump’s initial foreign policy pronouncements regarding Russia succeeded in destroying his ‘pivot to realism’ and facilitated the rise of a fanatical militaristic faction within his cabinet, which have intensified the anti-Russia policies of the Clintonite Democrats. In less than a year, all of Trump’s realist advisers and cabinet members have been purged and replaced by militarists. Their hard core confrontational anti-Russia policy has become the platform for launching a global military strategy based on vast increases in military spending, demands that the EU nations increase their military budgets, and open opposition to an EU-centered military alliance, such as the one recently proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Despite President Trump’s campaign promises to ‘pull-back’, the US has re-entered Afghanistan , Iraq and Syria in a big way. The Trump shift from global containment and realism to ‘rollback and aggression’ against Russia and China has failed to secure a positive response from past and present allies.

China has increased economic ties with the EU. Russia and the EU share strategic gas and oil trade ties. Domestically, the US military budget deepens the fiscal deficit and drastically threatens social spending. This creates a scenario of increasing US isolation with its futile aggression against a dynamic and changing world.


The Trump remaking of the global empire has had uneven results, which are mostly negative from a strategic viewpoint.

The circumstances leading to new clients in Latin America is significant but has been more than countered by retreats in Asia, divisions in Europe, turmoil domestically and strategic incoherence.

Remaking global empires requires realism – the recognition of new power alignments, accommodation with allies and, above all, domestic political stability balancing economic interests and military commitments.

The key shift from realism toward a recovered Russia to militarization and confrontation has precipitated the breakdown of the US as a unified coherent leader of a global empire.

The US embraces prolonged losing wars in peripheral regions while embracing destructive trade wars in strategic regions. It budgeted vast sums on non-productive activities while impoverishing state and local governments via sweeping tax ‘reform’ favoring the oligarchs.

Global remapping now involves a volatile and impulsive US-driven empire incapable of succeeding, while emerging powers are immersed in regional power grabs.

There is no longer a coherent imperial empire controlling the fate of the globe. We live in a world of political maps centered on regional powers and unruly clients, while the most incompetent, gossip-mongering politicians in Washington compete with an arrogant, benighted President Trump and his fractured regime.



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  • John Mason

    US is a parasite and once it has consumed what it needs it leaves behind an empty shell, any nation that willingly goes along with the US like Argentina deserve what they will eventually end up with.

  • chris chuba

    The problem for the U.S. is that we have pretty much screamed at the top of our lungs at both China and Russia that they cannot play real politik with each other and that they better form an alliance. Under the Obama Administration, the strategy was self evident but there was enough smoke and mirrors that people in both countries could at least remain in denial.

  • Rodger

    “China has pledged to increase trade with the region by $500 billion and foreign investment to $250 billion by 2025. And, to show they mean it, China’s two development banks, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, now provide more development finance to Latin America than the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) — combined! — each year.”

    Latin America will have been lost to the US long before Trump leaves office. Just like Africa is now already.
    The US can’t afford to spend $700 billion on its armed forces while it loses $500 billion in trade with China and $200 billion in remittances. They certainly can’t afford to invest in other countries on top of that while China can use a big share of the $500 billion from the US to invest around the globe and prevent overheating some parts of their economy while growing it’s sovereign wealth.

  • Douglas Houck

    Excellent summary of the current “US Empire”

    To be the world’s hegemony, a country needs to have the largest economy, technological advantages, and be the world’s reserve currency.

    Paul Kennedy in his analysis, “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” showed that once an empire begins to lose it’s economic power relative to other countries, they are on a downward slope that no country in over 500 years has ever recovered from. China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy before the year 2040 and will most likely continue to separate itself from all others.

    While the US used to have a number of technological advantages (Integrated circuits, GPS, catapult and arresting cables, stealth, etc.) that allowed it to project power from afar with impunity, Russia has shown via the Syrian war that those days are over. At this point the only technological advantage it has is the tracking of money, so that it’s very hard to escape economic sanctions.

    The US dollar is still the reserve currency of the world but it has come at a price whose payment is coming due. Triffin’s dilemma has shown that there is a conflict of economic interests that arises between short-term domestic and long-term international objectives for countries whose currencies serve as global reserve currencies. For the US that has meant the eroding of the middle class as a result of a strong dollar and ever reducing domestic manufacturing. The middle class is reaching it’s breaking point and simply won’t allow the neo-conservative’s double down on military spending at the expense of social programs. The old “guns vs butter” and income inequality issues.

    China and Russia are putting together the pieces to have an alternative reserve currency. This March starts the trading of oil futures in yuans. China has even started putting together the foundation for contract dispute resolutions between nations that will be independent of the existing western European/US based system currently in place.

    The days of the US Empire are numbered as all Empires are. When faced with that, a country has two options, double down thinking that this time is different, or accept it and make the most of it. No country has ever reversed a decline. On it’s present course the US will most likely have a hard landing, hopefully without killing a lot of people.

    • EoF

      “On it’s present course the US will most likely have a hard landing, hopefully without killing a lot of people.”
      Now this is what i’m scared of. The neo-cons know that their days are numbered and are going completely nuts.

      • Douglas Houck

        Yes, the double-downing of the Neoconservatives, even though the handwriting is clearly on the wall, shows they are lost in their own ideology. A most dangerous place to be.

  • RichardD

    There aren’t a lot of analysts beside myself addressing the Jew part of the problem. The American empire is the Jew parasites using the control that they’ve gained over the US government to advance their global hegemony drive. They’ve done enormous damage in the post WW2 era to everyone but themselves. Their hegemony project is failing and they need to be gotten out of power before they do anymore damage. Their evil cult should be outlawed to create a Jew free planet that will be much better for humanity.

  • RichardD

    Jew occupied territory inside the DC beltway and a 50 mile radius of NYC and America First outside those areas are two different places. As America First opposition to fabricated Jew war illustrates:

    “Washington (CNN) – Support for the war in Afghanistan has dipped below 20%, according to a new national poll, making the country’s longest military conflict arguably its most unpopular one as well.

    The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.

    Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.

    “Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support than other conflicts,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told Gallup’s interviewers that war was a mistake.”

    – Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history –

    • Joe Dirt

      LOL you are getting information from CNN

      • RichardD

        Do you think after 18 years of a losing war that we were obviously lied into that Americans support it? I don’t.

        • Joe Dirt


          • RichardD
          • Joe Dirt

            Is that your way of justifying your argument?

            US has no interest in defeating the Taliban, but only keep the Taliban out of Afgan government.

          • RichardD

            It’s been 18 years, it’s called losing the war. Your denying it shows that you’re irrational and delusional, or you’re just lying. If the US won the war the Taliban would have been defeated long ago. Not controlling half of the country and running resistance operations in most of the rest. This is why the war has almost no public support in the US. Because it’s a waste of time, money and lives that serves no purpose for the American people.

          • Joe Dirt

            What is the geopolitical purpose for the US still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan? Why remain in Afghanistan if you are ”losing” a “war”?

            Telling me it’s a “waste of time” is emotional response, please back up your argument with facts.

          • RichardD

            You’re the one questioning if the US is losing and trying to change the subject, because it’s obvious to any rational observer that the US is losing.

          • Joe Dirt

            If the US is “LOSING” then what is the geopolitical purpose for the US still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan? Why remain in Afghanistan if you are ”losing” a “war”?

            Telling me it’s a “waste of time” is emotional response, please back up your argument with facts.

          • RichardD

            We shouldn’t be in Afghanistan, I’m an American, we should get out. The war is a fabrication based on lies. You’re the one saying that the US isn’t losing, not me.

          • Joe Dirt

            You are obviously an emotional Libtard, you quoted CNN, lol

            Please give FACTS as to why we are “losing” the “war”. If the US is “LOSING” then what is the geopolitical purpose for the US still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan? Why remain in Afghanistan if you are ”losing” a “war”?

            You obviously don’t know the answer to this. BUT you will continue to display emotional based opinions.

            FYI, opinion – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

            In my opinion Dick you are wasting my time. lol

          • RichardD

            You’re questioning if the US is losing the war in Afghanistan when any rational person can see that it obviously is. And you’re falsely claiming that I haven’t proven that.

            So, why don’t you answer the question yourself, is the US losing the war in Afghanistan? And we’ll see who the idiot and time waster is.

          • Joe Dirt

            Get out of here Dick. You quoted CNN!

          • RichardD

            You didn’t answer the question.

            Is the US losing the war in Afghanistan?