‘The American Century’ Has Plunged the World
Into Crisis. What Happens Now?
U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out
of sync with real global challenges. Is continuous war
inevitable, or can we change course?
By Conn Hallinan and Leon Wofsy
June 23, 2015 "Information
There’s something fundamentally wrong with U.S.
Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative nuclear
agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba
— we’re locked into seemingly irresolvable conflicts in most
regions of the world. They range from tensions with
nuclear-armed powers like Russia and China to actual combat
operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and
conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating
cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the
world as it actually is?
The United States is undergoing a historic
transition in our relationship to the rest of the world, but
this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign
policy. We still act as if our enormous military power, imperial
alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to
set the terms of “world order.”
While this illusion goes back to the end of
World War II, it was the end of the Cold War and collapse of the
Soviet Union that signaled the beginning of a self-proclaimed
“American Century.” The idea that the United States had “won”
the Cold War and now — as the world’s lone superpower — had the
right or responsibility to order the world’s affairs led to a
series of military adventures. It started with President Bill
Clinton’s intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, continued on
with George W. Bush’s disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and
Iraq, and can still be seen in the Obama administration’s own
misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.
In each case, Washington chose war as the
answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound
consequences for both foreign and domestic policy. Yet the world
is very different from the assumptions that drive this impulsive
It’s this disconnect that defines the current
Acknowledging New Realities
So what is it about the world that requires a
change in our outlook? A few observations come to mind.
First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the
Middle East — and to a significant extent, our tensions with
Russia in Eastern Europe and with China in East Asia — distract
us from the most compelling crises that threaten the future of
humanity. Climate change and environmental perils have to be
dealt with now and demand an unprecedented level of
international collective action. That also holds for the
resurgent danger of nuclear war.
Second, superpower military interventionism
and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict,
terror, and human suffering. There’s no short-term solution —
especially by force — to the deep-seated problems that cause
chaos, violence, and misery through much of the world.
Third, while any hope of curbing violence and
mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international
cooperation, old and disastrous intrigues over spheres of
influence dominate the behavior of the major powers. Our own
relentless pursuit of military advantage on every continent,
including through alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the
world into “friend” and “foe” according to our perceived
interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial
rivalries and overrides common interests in the 21st century.
Fourth, while the United States remains a
great economic power, economic and political influence is
shifting and giving rise to national and regional centers no
longer controlled by U.S.-dominated global financial structures.
Away from Washington, London, and Berlin,
alternative centers of economic power are taking hold in
Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent
formations and alliances are springing up: organizations like
the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion
people); the Union of South American Nations; the Latin American
trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.
Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur
have caused in the wider world, there are enormous domestic
consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out
over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as
our social safety net frays and our
infrastructure crumbles. Democracy itself has become
(Photo: U.S. Army / Flickr)
Short Memories and Persistent
But instead of letting these changing
circumstances and our repeated military failures give us pause,
our government continues to act as if the United States has the
power to dominate and dictate to the rest of the world.
The responsibility of those who set us on this
course fades into background. Indeed, in light of the ongoing
meltdown in the Middle East, leading presidential candidates are
tapping neoconservatives like
John Bolton and
Paul Wolfowitz — who still think the answer to any foreign
policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders seem
to forget that following this lot’s advice was exactly what
caused the meltdown in the first place. War still excites them,
risks and consequences be damned.
While the Obama administration has sought,
with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited, our
government makes wide use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen,
and Somalia, and has put troops
back into Iraq to confront the religious fanaticism and
brutality of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) — itself a
direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reluctant
to find common ground in the fight against ISIS with designated
“foes” like Iran and Syria, Washington clings to allies like
Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious
fanaticism and internecine barbarity. Elsewhere, the U.S. also
continues to give massive support to the Israeli government,
despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its
horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.
A “war first” policy in places like Iran and
Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives like former
Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman
John McCain. Though it’s attempted to distance itself from
the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions with
planned military realignments like the “Asia
pivot” aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to
confront China. It’s also taken a more aggressive position than
even other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with
We seem to have missed the point: There is no
such thing as an “American Century.” International order cannot
be enforced by a superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if
we don’t learn to take our common interests more seriously than
those that divide nations and breed the chronic danger of war,
there may well be no tomorrows.
There’s a powerful ideological delusion that
any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy must
confront: that U.S. culture is superior to anything else on the
planet. Generally going by the name of “American
exceptionalism,” it’s the deeply held belief that American
politics (and medicine, technology, education, and so on) are
better than those in other countries. Implicit in the belief is
an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on
the rest of the world.
Americans, for instance, believe they have the
best education system in the world, when in fact they’ve dropped
from 1st place to 14th place in the number
of college graduates. We’ve made students of higher education
the most indebted section of our population, while falling to 17th
place in international education ratings. According to the
Organization for Economic Cooperation, the average American pays
more than twice as much for his or her education than those in
the rest of the world.
Health care is an equally compelling example.
In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care
systems in 2000, the United States was ranked 37th. In a more
Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked
the lowest among 17 developed nations studied.
The old anti-war slogan, “It will be a good
day when schools get all the money they need and the Navy has to
hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier” is as appropriate
today as it was in the 1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies,
tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive military budgets over
education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the
most educated in the world.
But challenging the “exceptionalism” myth
courts the danger of being labeled “unpatriotic” and
“un-American,” two powerful ideological sanctions that can
effectively silence critical or questioning voices.
The fact that Americans consider their culture
or ideology “superior” is hardly unique. But no other country in
the world has the same level of economic and military power to
enforce its worldview on others.
The United States did not simply support
Kosovo’s independence, for example. It bombed Serbia into de
facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban,
Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi from power, it just did so.
No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force in
regions thousands of miles from its borders.
The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from
45 to 50 percent of the world’s military spending. It has
hundreds of overseas bases, ranging from huge sprawling affairs
like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo and unsinkable aircraft carriers
around the islands of Okinawa, Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to
tiny bases called “lily
pads” of pre-positioned military supplies. The late
political scientist Chalmers Johnson estimated that the U.S. has
some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire
had at its height in 1895.
The United States has long relied on a
military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans have been
at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some
of these wars were major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos,
Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some were
quick “smash and grabs” like Panama and Grenada. Others are
“shadow wars” waged by Special Forces, armed drones, and local
proxies. If one defines the term “war” as the application of
organized violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars
(Photo: Dennis Dimick / Flickr)
The Home Front
The coin of empire comes dear, as the old
According Harvard University’s Kennedy School
of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan and
Iraq wars — including the long-term health problems of veterans
— will cost U.S. taxpayers around
$6 trillion. One can add to that the over $1 trillion the
U.S. spends each year on defense-related items. The “official”
defense budget of some half a trillion dollars doesn’t include
such items as nuclear weapons, veterans’ benefits or retirement,
the CIA and Homeland Security, nor the billions a year in
interest we’ll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars.
By 2013 the U.S. had already paid out
$316 billion in interest.
The domestic collateral damage from that set
of priorities is numbing.
We spend more on our “official” military
budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human
Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined.
we’ve spent $70 million an hour on “security” compared to
$62 million an hour on all domestic programs.
As military expenditures dwarf funding for
deteriorating social programs, they drive economic inequality.
The poor and working millions are left further and further
behind. Meanwhile the chronic problems highlighted at Ferguson,
and reflected nationwide, are a horrific reminder of how deeply
racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic
abuse of black and Latino youth —
continues to plague our homeland.
The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged
our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security state to
levels that many dictators would envy. The
Senate torture report, most of it still classified, shatters
the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable
apparatus that runs
the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised.
Bombs and Business
President Calvin Coolidge was said to have
remarked that “the business of America is business.”
Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate interests play a major role in
American foreign policy.
Out of the top 10 international arms
producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions
lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and it defends its
turf with an efficiency and vigor that its products don’t always
emulate on the battlefield. The F-35 fighter-bomber, for example
— the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost
$1.5 trillion and doesn’t work. It’s over budget, dangerous to
fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare
challenge the powerful corporations who have shoved this lemon
down our throats.
Corporate interests are woven into the fabric
of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals. Both combine to
try to control energy supplies, command strategic choke points
through which oil and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to
Many of these goals can be achieved with
standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the U.S. always
reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 “Carter
Doctrine” — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine
about American interests in Latin America — put that strategy in
blunt terms vis-ŕ-vis the Middle East: “An attempt by any
outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be
regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United
States, and such an assault will be repelled by any means
necessary, including military force.”
It’s no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will
certainly engage in peaceful economic competition with China.
But if push comes to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets
will back up the interests of Washington and its allies — Japan,
the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.
Trying to change the course of American
foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international
tensions. It’s critically important to shift the enormous wealth
we expend in war and weapons toward alleviating growing
inequality and social crises at home.
As long as competition for markets and
accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations
will vie for spheres of influence, and antagonistic interests
will be a fundamental feature of international relations.
Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined — and the
impulse to respond by military means — is characteristic to some
degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more that some
governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic
control, the greater is the peril.
Finding the Common Interest
These, however, are not the only factors that
will shape the future.
There is nothing inevitable that rules out a
significant change of direction, even if the demise or
transformation of a capitalistic system of greed and
exploitation is not at hand. The potential for change,
especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social
movements here and abroad respond to the undeniable reality of:
1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in
“American Century” exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of
international efforts to respond to climate change.
There is, as well, the necessity to respond to
health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty, to rising
messianic violence, and above all, to prevent a descent into
war. This includes not only the danger of a clash between the
major nuclear powers, but between regional powers. A nuclear
exchange between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect
the whole world.
Without underestimating the self-interest of
forces that thrive on gambling with the future of humanity,
historic experience and current reality elevate a powerful
common interest in peace and survival. The need to change course
is not something that can be recognized on only one side of an
ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on
national, ethnic, or religious identity. Rather, it demands
acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything
falls apart around us.
After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the
political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience shows that
elections, important as they are, are not necessarily indicators
of when and how significant change can come about in matters of
policy. On issues of civil rights and social equality, advances
have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority
movement helped change public opinion in a way the political
establishment could not defy.
The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end,
despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican
administrations, when a stalemate on the battlefield and growing
international and domestic opposition could no longer be denied.
Significant changes can come about even as the basic character
of society is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of
colonialism caused the British Empire and other colonial powers
to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was
eventually defeated in the United States. President Nixon was
forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs has
been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small
band of activists whose initial efforts were labeled “quixotic.”
There are diverse and growing political
currents in our country that see the folly and danger of the
course we’re on. Many Republicans, Democrats, independents, and
libertarians — and much of the public — are beginning to say
“enough” to war and military intervention all over the globe,
and the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries
into “friend or foe.”
This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war
sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded into
supporting the use of force. In early 2014, some 57 percent of
agreed that “over-reliance on military force creates more
hatred leading to increased terrorism.” Only 37 percent believed
military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around
the Islamic State began, those
numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent
supported the use of military force, 46 percent opposed it.
It will always be necessary in each new crisis
to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public into
acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the
current hysterics about ISIS, disillusionment in war as an
answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide
than it has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to
produce a shift away from perpetual war, a shift toward some
modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.
Making Space for the Unexpected
Given that there is a need for a new approach,
how can American foreign policy be changed?
Foremost, there is the need for a real debate
on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses negotiation,
diplomacy, and international cooperation over the use of force.
However, as we approach another presidential
election, there is as yet no strong voice among the candidates
to challenge U.S. foreign policy. Fear and questionable
political calculation keep even most progressive politicians
from daring to dissent as the crisis of foreign policy lurches
further into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of
political acquiescence has to be broken.
Nor is it a matter of concern only on the
left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither — who
sense the futility of the course we’re on. These voices have to
be represented or the election process will be even more of a
sham than we’ve recently experienced.
One can’t predict just what initiatives may
take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement suggests
that necessity can override significant obstacles. That accord
is an important step forward, although a limited bilateral pact
cannot substitute for an essential international climate
treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in the U.S.-Russian
joint action that
removed chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations
with Iran, which continue despite
fierce opposition from U.S. hawks and the Israeli
government. More recently, there is Obama’s bold move — long
overdue — to
restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Despite shifts in
political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there is a need
and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.
We do not claim to have ready-made solutions
to the worsening crisis in international relations. We are
certain that there is much we’ve missed or underestimated. But
if readers agree that U.S. foreign policy has a national and
global impact, and that it is not carried out in the interests
of the majority of the world’s people, including our own, then
we ask you to join this conversation.
If we are to expand the ability of the people
to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy, and
encourage dissent and alternative ideas. The threats to the
world and to ourselves are so great that finding common ground
trumps any particular interest. We also know that we won’t all
agree with each other, and we believe that is as it should be.
There are multiple paths to the future. No coalition around
changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to
conform to any one pattern of political action.
So how does the call for changing course
translate to something politically viable, and how do we
consider the problem of power?
The power to make significant changes in
policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists to the
potential influence of the general public. In some
circumstances, it becomes possible — as well as necessary — to
make significant changes in the power structure itself.
Greece comes to mind. Greek left organizations
came together to form Syriza, the political party that was
successfully elected to power on a platform of ending
austerity. Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos Party — now the
number-two party in the country — came out of massive
demonstrations in 2011 and was organized from the grassroots up.
We do not argue one approach over the over, but the experiences
in both countries demonstrate that there are multiple paths to
Certainly progressives and leftists grapple
with the problems of power. But progress on issues, particularly
in matters like war and peace and climate change, shouldn’t be
conceived of as dependent on first achieving general solutions
to the problems of society, however desirable.
(Photo: Alex Abian / Flickr)
We also feel it is essential to focus on a few
key questions lest we become “The United Front Against Bad
Things.” There are lots of bad things, but some are worse than
others. Thrashing those out, of course, is part of the process
of engaging in politics.
We know this will not be easy. Yet we are
convinced that unless we take up this task, the world will
continue to careen toward major disaster. Can we find common
programmatic initiatives on which to unite?
Some worthwhile approaches are presented in
A Foreign Policy for All, published after a discussion
and workshop that took place in Massachusetts in November 2014.
We think everyone should take the time to study that document.
We want to offer a few ideas of our own.
1) We must stop the flood of corporate money
into the electoral process, as well as the systematic
disenfranchisement of voters through the manipulation of voting
It may seem odd that we begin with a domestic
issue, but we cannot begin to change anything about American
foreign policy without confronting political institutions that
are increasingly in the thrall of wealthy donors. Growing
oligarchic control and economic inequality is not just an
American problem, but also a worldwide one. According to Oxfam,
by 2016 the world’s richest
1 percent will control over 50 percent of the globe’s total
wealth. Poll after poll shows this growing economic disparity
does not sit well with people.
2) It’s essential to begin reining in the vast
military-industrial-intelligence complex that burns up more than
a trillion dollars a year and whose interests are served by
heightened international tension and war.
3) President Barack Obama came into office
pledging to abolish nuclear weapons. He should.
Instead, the White House has authorized
spending $352 billion to modernize our nuclear arsenal, a bill
that might eventually go as high as
$1 trillion when the cost of the supporting infrastructure
is figured in. The possibility of nuclear war is not an
abstraction. In Europe, a nuclear-armed NATO has locked horns
with a nuclear-armed Russia. Tensions between China and the
United States, coupled with current U.S. military strategy in
the region — the so-called
“AirSea Battle” plan — could touch off a nuclear exchange.
Leaders in Pakistan and India are troublingly casual about the
possibility of a nuclear war between the two South Asian
countries. And one can never discount the possibility of an
Israeli nuclear attack on Iran. In short, nuclear war is a
serious possibility in today’s world.
One idea is the campaign for nuclear-free
zones, which there are scores of — ranging from initiatives
written by individual cities to the Treaty of Tlatelolco
covering Latin America, the Treaty of Raratonga for the South
Pacific, and the Pelindaba Treaty for Africa. Imagine how a
nuclear-free zone in the Middle East would change the
politics of the region.
We should also support the Marshall Islands in
its campaign demanding the implementation of Article VI of
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty eliminating nuclear weapons
and moving toward general disarmament. If the great powers took
serious steps toward full nuclear disarmament, it would make it
difficult for nuclear-armed non-treaty members that have nuclear
weapons — North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, and India — not to
follow suit. The key to this, however, is “general disarmament”
and a pledge to remove war as an instrument of foreign policy.
4) Any effort to change foreign policy must
eventually confront the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which
in the words of former U.S. Central Command leader James
Mattis, is a “preeminent flame that keeps the pot boiling in the
Middle East.” While the U.S. and its NATO allies are quick to
apply sanctions on Russia for its annexation of the Crimea, they
have done virtually nothing about the continued Israeli
occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands.
5) Ending and renouncing military blockades
that starve populations as an instrument of foreign policy —
Cuba, Gaza, and Iran come to mind — would surely change the
international political climate for the better.
6) Let’s dispense our predilection for
“humanitarian intervention,” which is too often an excuse for
the great powers to overthrow governments with which they
As Walden Bello, former Philippine Congressman
for the Citizens’ Action Party and author of Dilemmas of
Domination: The Unmasking of the American Empire,
writes: “Humanitarian intervention sets a very dangerous
precedent that is used to justify future violation of the
principle of national sovereignty. One cannot but conclude from
the historical record that NATO’s intervention in the Kosovo
conflict helped provide the justification for the invasion of
Afghanistan, and the justifications for both interventions in
turn were employed to legitimize the invasion of Iraq and the
NATO war in Libya.”
7) Climate change is an existential issue, and
as much a foreign policy question as war and peace. It can no
longer be neglected.
Thus far, the U.S. has taken only baby steps
toward controlling greenhouse gas emissions, but polls
overwhelmingly show that the majority of Americans want action
on this front. It’s also an issue that reveals the predatory
nature of corporate capitalism and its supporters in the halls
of Congress. As we have noted, control of energy supplies and
guaranteeing the profits of oil and gas conglomerates is a
centerpiece of American foreign policy.
As Naomi Klein notes in
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,
the climate movement must “articulate not just an alternative
set of policy proposals, but an alternative worldview to rival
the one at the heart of the ecological crisis. A worldview
embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism,
reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than
(350.org / Flickr)
International and Regional
Finally, international and regional
organizations must be strengthened. For years, mainstream media
propaganda has bemoaned the ineffectiveness of the United
Nations, while Washington — especially Congress — has
systematically weakened the organization and tried to consign it
to irrelevance in the public’s estimation.
The current structure of the United Nations is
undemocratic. The five “big powers” that emerged from World War
II — the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia —
dominate the Security Council with their use of the veto. Two of
the earth’s continents, Africa and Latin America, have no
permanent members on the Council.
A truly democratic organization would use the
General Assembly as the decision-making body, with adjustments
for size and population. Important decisions, like the use of
force, could require a super majority.
At the same time, regional organizations like
the African Union, the Union of South American Nations, the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization, the Arab League, and others, have to be
strengthened as well. Had the UN Security Council listened to
the African Union, which was prepared to start negotiations with
the Gaddafi regime, the current Libyan debacle might have been
avoided. In turn that might have prevented the spread of war to
central Africa and the countries of Mali and Niger.
Working for a dramatic shift in U.S. policy,
away from the hubris of “American exceptionalism,” is not to
downgrade the enormous importance of the United States.
Alongside and in contradiction to the tragic consequences of our
misuse of military power, the contributions of the American
people to the world are vast and many-faceted. None of the great
challenges of our time can be met successfully without America
acting in collaboration with the majority of the world’s
governments and people.
There certainly are common interests that join
people of all nations regardless of differences in government,
politics, culture, and beliefs. Will those interests become
strong enough to override the systemic pressures that fuel
greed, conflict, war, and ultimate catastrophe? There is a lot
of history, and no dearth of dogma, that would seem to sustain a
negative answer. But dire necessity and changing reality may
produce more positive outcomes in a better, if far from perfect,
It is time for change, time for the very best
efforts of all who nurture hopes for a saner world.
Conn Hallinan is a journalist and a
columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. His writings appear
Dispatches From the Edge. Leon Wofsy is a retired biology
professor and long-time political activist. His comments on
current affairs appear online at