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[Source: pinterest.com]

The Country Has Sadly Evolved Into a Tax Haven for U.S. Corporations While Aligning Itself More and More with a Failing Empire

“‘I’m at home,’ [Biden] told the Irish Parliament to thunderous applause. ‘I only wish I could stay longer.’”[1]

The U.S. President, Joe Biden, visited Ireland at the start of April. In the midst of great power competition, why did he visit such a powerless place? When existential questions are being asked of the U.S. empire, why waste time in Ireland? In the context of war in Europe and possible war in Asia, what’s the purpose of Ireland for U.S. hegemony?

Joe Biden in Ireland
Joe Biden in Ireland. [Source: shropshirestar.com]

Ireland is an ambiguous place, a contradiction, maybe even schizophrenic. Its a divided country; the north is an old fashioned British colony, whereas the south is nominally independent. Its home to about 7 million people.

Ireland is a European island but its traumatic history cuts it off from Europe. Historically it has more in common with west Africa than with west Europe. The Irish experience matches the Native American experience rather than the European experience. In short, Britain depopulated the place and gutted its culture. So much so that it is surprising that Ireland still exists.

However in a time of proxy wars Ireland’s ambiguity can be useful to a global hegemon; it has a place on the grand chessboard. Being partly a colony and partly a sovereign state means that Ireland, in the hands of a world power, is ripe for manipulation and subterfuge. It is ready made for cover stories, fig leaves, coalitions of the willing, canon fodder and corporate shells. Ireland is ready made for America’s global system.

A map of the united kingdom with a flag

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[Source: thepaper.cn]

Ireland as Tax Haven 

Joe Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, pinpointed Ireland’s place within the American system when, in 2013, he openly called it a tax haven.[2] If making money for corporate America is the raison d’etre of the U.S. Empire, then the Irish ruling class is a bespoke part of this global racket. 

The proof is in the words that have been used to describe Irish economics in recent years: “Leprechaun economics,” “double Irish,” “wild west” and “green jersey.” The fantastical and sinister sides of the Irish economy are well known to economic commentators. 

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman came up with the phrase “leprechaun economics” in 2016, after noting the unbelievable quality of Ireland’s statistics: In that year Ireland’s economy apparently grew by 26%, thanks to the financial shenanigans of corporate America in Dublin.[3]

In 2005, in a report on fraud in the global insurance industry, The New York Times labeled Dublin “the Wild West of European finance.”[4] Little regulation and little tax, to suit the needs of corporate America and its allies, summed up the meaning of Irish independence. And the infamous collapse of the Irish banking system in 2008 did not alter the crass nature of this economic structure.[5]

Dublin—the Wild West of European finance. [Source: pinterest.com]

The pro-American purpose of this “independent” Irish structure was captured by The Guardian in 2015:

Ireland has benefited from $277bn (£182bn) of U.S. direct foreign investment in the past two decades—gaining more from American firms than Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.

In 2023, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, there are 950 U.S. companies in “independent” Ireland—employing, directly and indirectly, 376,000 of the workforce (well over 10% of the local labor force).

However, the real power of American business in Dublin is reflected in the names of the U.S. companies that have substantial interests there: Apple, Intel, Google, Meta, Amazon, Boston Scientific, Pfizer, Dell, Johnson and Johnson—in short, the cutting edge of corporate America has cut deep into Irish “independence.”[6] 

Dublin’s dependence on these U.S. giants is at the point where “In 2022, just ten [American companies] accounted for three fifths of all corporation tax receipts.”[7]

This concentration of U.S. wealth and power in Dublin is the hidden hand ruling the Irish elite. This relationship is not just the familiar story of comprador capitalism; it is the familiar story of Ireland itself: For centuries, it has been a land cursed by middlemen acting on behalf of a foreign power.[8]

Dublin’s 12.5% corporate tax rate (by far the lowest within the European Union) is the latest manifestation of “middleman economics” or “gombeen man economics”—that uniquely crude Irish way of doing business—a byproduct of the colonized Irish mind.

With zero regard for national and international justice, the Irish elite stubbornly serve their own grubby interests and the interests of foreign capital, in particular U.S. capital.[9]

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[Source: danzigercartoons.com]

The best example of this shamelessly immoral way of doing things in “independent Ireland” is the deal Dublin made with Apple, America’s technology leader and one of the biggest companies in the world. As Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek economist, explains:

“In 1980, a young Steve Jobs visited an Ireland eager to escape underdevelopment. Apple eventually created 6,000 jobs in the country, in exchange for a sweetheart tax deal allowing it to shield its European revenues from taxation by recording them there. To this day, the proceeds of every iPhone sold in Paris or in Stockholm (net of its Chinese assemblers’ production costs) go to Apple’s Irish subsidiary Apple Sales International. As a result of the original Apple-Ireland deal, ASI pays a miniscule tax on these earnings, effectively exempt from the ultra-low 12.5% corporate-tax rate.”[10]

Steve Jobs [Source: irishcentral.com]

Dublin’s obsequiousness toward Apple was exposed, for all to see, in 2016, after the European Commission (the executive branch of the European Union) judged that the Apple-Ireland deal was an illegal form of “state aid.” And in an attempt to reverse this gigantic tax dodge, the Commission ordered Apple to give €13 billion to the Irish government. 

In response, Dublin brazenly defied Europe and defended Apple. It openly mocked the idea of taxing Corporate America. It rejected the €13 billion and by doing so rejected the public services and public property €13 billion could buy. In Irish eyes, it was a case of Corporate America über alles.[11]

Ireland as Emotional Touchstone 

The U.S. President’s visit to Ireland wasn’t just an endorsement of Apple’s favorite tax haven and a plug for an imperialist peace process. It was also pressing emotional buttons back in Washington DC. When American hegemony is declining rapidly around the world – Ireland is a safe bet for “America worship.”

The familial links between America and Ireland are legendary. Tens of millions of Americans claim Irish ancestry and so “the Irish” are a fundamental part of the American body politic. Indeed, Irish Americans have penetrated every part of the U.S. establishment; they embrace not just the police but the Pentagon, not just the White House but white supremacy.[12]

The exemplary Irish American zealot today is Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, a devious part of the U.S. Empire, which has traditionally functioned as a cover for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

Power became famous for writing a book that argued that America needed to intervene more militarily in Third World countries to stop genocide; and she was a central figure promoting the war in Libya in the Obama administration which devastated Libya and was based on lies just like the Iraq War.

For Power, Ireland is an emotional homeland, a safe haven, especially in a time of existential crisis.[13]

Samantha Power—a war-mongering Irish dandy. [Source: britannica.com]

When a U.S. president visits Dublin, he is not just looking for votes in America, he is also in search of imperial solace. On the global stage Ireland is a refuge for America’s hard-core imperialists; for these, Irish blood is different to the blood of Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. 

It is no coincidence then that U.S. presidents have clung to Ireland, as if it were a lifebelt, since the 1960s: the decade that witnessed the beginning of the end of the U.S. Empire. When Cuba and Vietnam started to drain the credibility and vitality of America, U.S. presidents started to run to Ireland for emotional cover. 

JFK initiated the trend. His iconic trip to Ireland in 1963 set the stage for subsequent presidential visits. He returned “home” in between the Cuban Missile Crisis and his own assassination.

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JFK greeted like a hero in Dublin. [Source: irishcentral.com]

After Kennedy, Richard Nixon came “home” to Ireland in 1970, then Ronald Reagan in 1984 (Vice President Bush visited in 1983), then Bill Clinton in 1995, 1998 and 2000, then George W. Bush in 2003 and 2004, then Barack Obama in 2011, then Donald Trump in 2019 and now Joe Biden in 2023. These are the leaders of an imperialism the world has never witnessed before.[14]

Since the 1960s, for the sake of empire, these U.S. presidents have initiated bloodbaths throughout the world.

A list of the countries these “Irish Americans” have mercilessly destroyed include: Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. Another list of countries that have been systematically starved by “Irish America” include: Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iran.

And yet another list of countries that have suffered the genocidal free-market economic policies of “Irish America” (the Washington Consensus) would have to include all of the Third World or Global South.[15]

Such is the international mayhem caused by the above mentioned U.S. presidents. However, Ireland has unreservedly embraced each one of them on Irish soil. It has supplied invaluable solace to these “emperors.” Indeed Ireland’s hero worship of U.S. presidents is on show every year in Washington, D.C., itself during the Saint Patrick’s Day festival when, without fail, Irish leaders flock to the U.S. capital in order to kowtow to the U.S. leader.  

[Source: leftarchive.ie]

Supporting the U.S. Empire and Even Glorifying Nazis

The paradox is that independent Ireland is officially neutral – Dublin is not a member of America’s favorite battering ram: the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). But like everything else about Ireland this neutrality is a sham – a trick the US Empire has up its sleeve.

The Irish Times explained the trick in a 2010 article titled “Nice and neutral: why Irish passports are a spook’s best friend.” The author of the article wrote:

“It is widely acknowledged in intelligence and security circles that fake Irish passports have been used by both CIA and Mossad agents traveling throughout the Middle East and Africa.

Exploiting Ireland’s reputation as a neutral state with little or no colonial baggage, it is believed that [NATO has] on numerous occasions employed false Irish passports as cover for spies and agents transiting through territories otherwise hostile to powerful nations such as the United States or Britain.”[16]

For U.S. covert action, Irish “neutrality” is a geopolitical tool. Ireland’s exceptional story, the fact that it was and still is a victim of British imperialism, gives Ireland credibility on the world stage. It is the only Western nation to have experienced what Africa and Asia experienced in modern times. And this matters in the Global South. 

Indeed, Ireland’s strongest political party (Sinn Féin), before it was Americanized, had more in common with South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) than with any other European political party. But this is exactly the ambiguity America’s spooks, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), are looking for: Dublin punches above its weight diplomatically. Not just the passports but the opinion of “neutral” Ireland is an asset. 

Clinton and Blair made peace in Ireland and war everywhere else. [Source: belfasttelegraph.co.uk]

And in the existential crisis currently facing the U.S. Empire in Ukraine, every asset America has is being mobilized. So Ireland has been called up to support the American side in this war. And Ireland’s comprador capitalists play the game of Empire without a second thought. 

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Ireland has strongly supported Ukraine in the war [Source: beingukrainian.blogspot.com]

This time around, however, the American game is nakedly nefarious and all-consuming. And Dublin must embrace it; otherwise, Corporate America and Irish America will exit the city.

After decades of worshiping America, Dublin now finds itself worshiping Nazis. For a fistful of U.S. dollars and a mouthful of U.S. emotions, “independent Ireland” is now openly supporting the politics of hatred in Europe. And it does not blink an eye.

On November 4, 2022, in the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York – Dublin defended the “glorification of Nazism.”[17]

As the US Empire comes to an end in a sea of barbarism – Joe Biden’s visit to “the homeland” was the kiss of death for Ireland. There’s nothing ambiguous about the place anymore. Its cover story has been blown – it’s not independent, peaceful nor neutral. Ireland is now a shameless American pawn on the grand chessboard.

  1. Michael D. Shear and Katie Rogers, “Biden, Blending the Personal and the Diplomatic, Thanks Ireland for Backing Ukraine,” The New York Times, April 13, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com

  2. Colm Keena, “Obama site lists State as tax haven,” The Irish Times, July 5, 2012, https://www.irishtimes.com

  3. Paul Krugman, “Leprechaun Economics, With Numbers,” The New York Times, November 9, 2017, https://www.archive.nytimes.com

  4. Brian Lavery and Timothy L. O’Brien, “For Insurance Regulators, Trail Leads to Dublin,” The New York Times, April 1, 2005, https://www.nytimes.com

  5. See Colin Coulter and Angela Nagle, eds., Ireland Under Austerity, Neoliberal Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015).

  6. Henry McDonald, “700 US companies now located in Ireland as direct investment soars,” The Guardian, March 5, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com; U.S.-Ireland Business 2023, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, https://www.amchambusinessreport.com

  7. Will Goodbody, “Same three firms paid a third of corporation tax from 2017-2021, IFAC research finds,” RTÉ, https://www.ret.ie

  8. See Conor McCabe, Sins of the Father Tracing the Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy (Cheltenham: History Press, 2011).

  9. See, for example, Nick Shaxson, “How Ireland became an offshore financial centre,” Tax Justice Network, November 11, 2015, https://www.taxjustice.net

  10. Yanis Varoufakis, “Apple, Brussels, and Ireland’s Bruised Sovereignty,” PS, September 28, 2016, https://www.project-syndicate.org

  11. Michael Green, “Ireland Refuses 13 Billion Euro from Apple in Bizarre EU Standoff,” https://www.Ireland-information.com; Rana Foroohar, “Apple vs. the E.U. Is the Biggest Tax Battle in History,” August 30, 2016, Time, https://www.time.com

  12. Chris Spillane, “Ireland’s love affair with Apple triggers hate at home,” Politico, December 23, 2016, https://www.politico.eu

  13. Sorcha Pollak, “Samantha Power: the world’s most powerful Irish person?” The Irish Times, March 14, 2015, https://www.irishtimes.com. On Power’s war-mongering nature and intellectual dishonesty, see Jeremy Kuzmarov, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals Redux: Humanitarian Intervention and the Liberal Embrace of War in the Age of Clinton, Bush and Obama,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, June 16, 2013, https://apjjf.org/2014/11/24/Jeremy-Kuzmarov/4132/article.html

  14. “Why do American presidents play up their Irishness?” The Economist, April 13, 2023, https://www.economist.com; David Blevins and Aoife Moore, “Why do so many US presidents like to say ‘I’m Irish’?” Sky News, April 11, 2023, https://www.news.sky.com

  15. See William Blum, Killing Hope (London: Zed Books, 2003); Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, “The World Must End the US’ Illegal Economic War. Sanctions Imposed on 39 Countries,” January 14, 2020, Global Researchhttps://www.globalresearch.ca; Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Montreal: Global Research, 2003.

  16. Tom Clonan, “Nice and neutral: why Irish passports are a spook’s best friend,” The Irish Times, February 20, 2010, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/nice-and-neutral-why-irish-passports-are-a-spook-s-best-friend-1.624631.

  17. Eric Zuesse, “U.S. and Allies Vote For Nazism at U.N.,” Countercurrents, November 7, 2022, https://countercurrents.org/2021/12/u-s-and-ukraine-only-two-countries-vote-against-un-resolution-condemning-nazism/; Les Décodeurs, “Why France and 51 other countries voted against UN resolution condemning Nazism,” Le Monde, November 9, 2022, https://www.lemonde.fr.  

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About the Author


  1. Fascinating article! What a thoroughly unique yet well-founded and researched narrative. I am curious about the southern area on the Irish map titled Land League Province. This is because of the land reform movement of a century ago and Henry George’s role in it I suppose? Ireland’s “pawn” status in the great game has the potential to be a trim-tab key for the end of US imperialism.

  2. Overall, a good assessment, but some points need to be addressed.
    The author ignores the Irish invaded Scotland and essentially genocided the Picts, before the Angles and Saxons invaded “the big island”. Also ignored is the viking raids, and that Dublin was a viking settlement. Yes, there have been “English” invasions, including by James VI/I, and there is no question harm was done. The famine, irrespective of its harm, caused masses of Irish, overwhelmingly Catholic, to take refuge in England and Scotland. That impact is still felt today in some areas. As for Ulster, my friends grandfather a non-political Protestant, was told by a Fenian neighbour, months before the Easter uprising, that if he didn’t leave, he would be killed. He emigrated to Canada with is wife and young family. That hasn’t stopped my friend, his children and grandchildren from being proud of their Irish heritage. An Ulster Protestant, pro-unification, friend, I met at university over 50 years ago (who traced his ancestry in County Derry back to the 800s) noted that there was support among Protestants, but not for the IRA version of an Irish Cuba, and that many Catholics either apolitical or “remainers”, were afraid to speak out because of the IRA knee-capping.
    Ireland glorifying Nazism? Well, there was a lot of sympathy and good relations during WWII for Germany, but if you are referring to the psychopaths in Ukraine, they aren’t “Nazis”. These psychopaths have existed since the 19th century and came to the fore during the Russian Revolution after post WWI Treaties partitioned Austria and Hungary, and handed areas to the USSR. That was before the NSDAP even existed. These psychos are more like the Fenian mindset who think people who have been living in the country for 2-300 years aren’t “Irish”.
    When it comes to conflict, it is always the elite leading the charge.

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