William Pfaff is the author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny, published in June 2010 by Walker and Company (New York) -- his tenth and culminating work on international politics and the American destiny. He describes the neglected sources and unforeseen consequences of the tragedy towards which the nation's current effort to remake the world to fit America's measure is leading. His previous books and his articles in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and his syndicated newspaper column, featured for a quarter century in the globally read International Herald Tribune, have made him one of America's most respected and internationally influential interpreters of world affairs.   [Read more...]
His latest article

The Millennium Threat

Paris, October 29, 2014 The Western nations since the age of exploration and imperialism have accustomed themselves to mastery over emergent, backward or broken nations, or primitive or failed empires.

They exercised over them a rule that ranged from the ruthless and exploitative to the paternalism of the latter-day colonialism of the 1920s to 1950s. They nominated their monarchs, offered them western education and religion, and held out to them unconsidered and unfulfilled promises that someday they would be like their western masters, possessing an imitation of western ways of life and the prospect of distant graduation into their own version of the civilization practiced by the West.

Today the tables have been turned in the relations of imperialist victims and imperial rulers; the nature of the relationship is changing into a new one of terrorization or victimization of the latter by the former.

This is true even for the United States, which traditionally has proudly held itself a liberator of nations, but held a real Empire from 1898/1901 until 1945, including the Philippines, with Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and scattered Pacific territories its ambiguous present-day reminder and remnant. In present-day America the liberation flag can no longer in conscience be flown.

The threat of terror produced by past victims of American Middle Eastern imperialism reacts to the new imperialism of the United States that appeared after it had survived the Cold War in its Russian and Vietnamese phases, and moved into the Arab world.

Now the Islamic Middle East is striking back in a sudden and ruthless way that has alarmed and even panicked many European and North American individuals and politicians.

People once refugees in the West, now are returning to the Islamic scene as candidate-terrorists, ambitious afterwards to return to the countries that had once taken them in -- and then pretty much abandoned them to ghetto life, the governments of these countries not knowing what to do with them that might turn this mass of persecuted peoples into integrated Westerners.


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