PDA

View Full Version : America Is Not an Empire



Odysseus
02-26-2011, 04:03 PM
February 26, 2011
http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/america_is_not_an_empire.html at February 26, 2011 - 02:55:21 PM CST

By Zbigniew Mazurak
A number of liberal and libertarian politicians and columnists, led by Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, have been falsely claiming for years that America is (or possesses) an empire. This propaganda is actually worrisome, because its spreaders are using it to justify isolationism and dramatic defense cuts.

What proof of an American empire has been offered?

We often hear, for example, the claim that the U.S. has 700 or 1,000 "military bases" in foreign countries. The truth is that the vast majority of these "bases" are tiny military installations. Only a few dozen are sizable military bases such as Ramstein, Spangdahlem, Mildenhall, Misawa, Yokota, and Kadena.

Similarly, Paulites point to the thousands of American soldiers stationed abroad, allegedly in 130 different foreign countries around the world.

But the majority of these servicemembers are based in just a few countries deemed important enough, including Germany (home to over 30,000 American troopers), Britain, Japan, and South Korea (where about 28,000 American troopers are stationed) -- four of America's most important allies and trade partners. In the vast majority of the rest of those 130 countries, there are usually no more than a few dozen soldiers. There are just a few thousand American soldiers in Kosovo and Bosnia. There are still a few thousand on the Arabian Peninsula, plus various warships stationed there and in the Mediterranean Sea.

In many of these 130 countries, the "troops" stationed are Marine Embassy Guards, peacekeepers, or trainers. In several key countries, American troops are stationed to defend crucial areas or monitor some of the world's trouble-spots -- or to make it possible to project military might in crisis zones in a few days rather than weeks or months.

Some people add American troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan to the total number of servicemembers "stationed" abroad. However, the forces in Iraq and the Hindukush are deployed there only temporarily, and their permanent bases are elsewhere (in Europe, South Korea, Japan, or the U.S.). The DOD does not have, and is forbidden by law to maintain, any permanent bases in those countries, so it sends troops permanently garrisoned in other places (the U.S., Europe, or East Asia) for tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, critics ignore the fact that Barack Obama plans to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by December 2011 (already, there are only about 50,000 Americans there) and begin withdrawing American GIs from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Isolationists and empire myth propagators also ignore the fact that the Bush administration reduced the number of America's bases abroad by 35% and brought back 70,000 American troopers (including 40,000 military servicemembers stationed in Europe) plus 100,000 civilians from foreign countries to the CONUS.

Well, what about all those land that the US has supposedly conquered during the last several decades? The answer is that, as General Powell has correctly said, during its history, America has conquered just enough land to bury its war dead. The only "provinces" of the "American empire" are large war cemeteries in countries like France, bases where American troops protecting endangered countries are stationed, and a number of small islands acquired by the U.S. during the 1890s (Hawaii, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, etc.), which have since then become territories of the U.S. (Hawaii is now a state.)

General Powell once told a former Archbishop of Canterbury the following:


I mean, it was not soft power that freed Europe. It was hard power. And what followed immediately after hard power? Did the United States ask for dominion over a single nation in Europe? No. Soft power came in the Marshall Plan. Soft power came with American GIs who put their weapons down once the was over and helped all those nations rebuild. We did the same thing in Japan.

We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in.

During the 20th century, Americans came to liberate Europe twice, during world wars started by Europeans. Half a million Americans died during those wars. During and after WW2, the U.S. provided huge aid programs to Europe (the Lend-Lease program and the Marshall Plan), with the U.K. being the only country to repay anything.

After WW2, a new threat to Europe emerged: a totalitarian, aggressive, imperialist Soviet Union. The U.S. shielded Western Europe, as well as many other countries, from the Soviet military. It saved South Korea from Kim Il-sung and continues to protect the ROK from the genocidal Pyongyang regime.

The U.S. has liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban and Iraq from Saddam Hussein, a dictator who murdered a million of his own people. It has also helped dozens of nations stricken by economic crises or natural disasters, including the Indonesians, the Pakistanis, the Russians, the Mexicans, and the South Koreans.

The U.S. is the country which ended the genocide in the Balkans -- genocide about which Europe was utterly unable to do anything.

Clearly, the world has never had a more benign hegemon than the U.S.

And where is the American empire? In those bases in countries whose governments have asked (and continue to ask) the U.S. to dispatch troops to their soil to defend them from their enemies? (Admittedly, this reduces the burden on these countries and allows some of them to evade their responsibilities, but nonetheless, American troops are defending, not occupying, these countries.)

As for Iraq and Afghanistan -- Obama has announced timetables for withdrawal of American troops from these countries, so they are hardly provinces of an American empire.

The U.S. has not conquered any part of Iraqi, Afghan, German, or Japanese territory. It has never imposed its political system on any other country. It is the only military hegemon which has never used its military might to impose its own political system nor its diktats on other countries, nor to conquer foreign countries and subjugate foreign nations (although the early 19th-century War Hawks dreamed of conquering Canada).

The "American empire" is a myth. It doesn't exist, and it never did. The only people spreading the myth are implacable ideological opponents of a strong defense like Ron Paul and his cohorts of fans. For them, every American military installation abroad and every war against a foreign country is proof of an empire.

It is important to reevaluate America's entire global military posture, military deployments, and defense commitments, and of course, it is important to avoid imperial ventures. But it is equally important to reject false claims of an American empire and calls for defense spending reductions.

Zbigniew Mazurak blogs at zbigniewmazurak.wordpress.com.

djones520
02-26-2011, 04:26 PM
It is the only military hegemon which has never used its military might to impose its own political system nor its diktats on other countries

Not quite so. Haiti and the Dominican Republic stand out.

Now we did not install an exact copy of our political system there, but we did invade those countries, and told them how they were going to run themselves. Granted, in the Dominican Republic it worked, and they ended up becoming a stable productive country. Haiti, not so much.

And let us not forget that WE wrote the current Japanese Constitution.

But those items should not draw away from the main theme of this article. We are NOT an Empire. Far from it.

NJCardFan
02-26-2011, 08:17 PM
We are not an empire. Even though we guided those countries, we set them up and left. Not like England, France, and other countries who stated and actually ruled. Hell, we even left Cuba an the Philippines to their own devices after freeing them from Spain.

Novaheart
02-26-2011, 08:22 PM
I think a lot of our troubles stem from our not taking the role of an empire, or not doing it very well.

I have no problem dividing the world up into four empires.

Odysseus
02-27-2011, 05:33 PM
Not quite so. Haiti and the Dominican Republic stand out.

Now we did not install an exact copy of our political system there, but we did invade those countries, and told them how they were going to run themselves. Granted, in the Dominican Republic it worked, and they ended up becoming a stable productive country. Haiti, not so much.

And let us not forget that WE wrote the current Japanese Constitution.

But those items should not draw away from the main theme of this article. We are NOT an Empire. Far from it.
Even in the case of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, were were very much acting against imperial ambitions. The Dominicans had lost control of the island, and were at risk of defaulting on their debts, which would have meant European control. Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were trying to keep the European powers from taking over the DR, and it was only the failure to elect a government for several consecutive years that forced the US to impose one, but that government maintained Dominican laws and eventually set the stage for free elections and a transition of power back to the Dominicans. Haiti's government changed hands violently six times in four years, from 1911 through 1915, and Americans were in danger from anti-US riots which had been instigated by, among others, Germans living in Haiti who sought to align it with the Kaiser in WWI.

We are not an empire. Even though we guided those countries, we set them up and left. Not like England, France, and other countries who stated and actually ruled. Hell, we even left Cuba an the Philippines to their own devices after freeing them from Spain.
Exactly. The only overseas possessions that we have kept are Puerto Rico, which has been offered independence and statehood, but keeps voting for the status quo, Hawaii, which is a state, Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. Not exactly the most grand imperium in history.

I think a lot of our troubles stem from our not taking the role of an empire, or not doing it very well.

I have no problem dividing the world up into four empires.

Since you won't be the one fighting the various wars to keep the restive imperial provinces in line, I'll take your not having a problem with dividing the world with a salt lick.

Novaheart
02-27-2011, 09:12 PM
Since you won't be the one fighting the various wars to keep the restive imperial provinces in line, I'll take your not having a problem with dividing the world with a salt lick.

How suitably bovine.

NJCardFan
02-27-2011, 11:00 PM
How suitably bovine.
If you were half the man the Major is, you'd be 10 times the man you are now.

Novaheart
02-27-2011, 11:17 PM
If you were half the man the Major is, you'd be 10 times the man you are now.

Yeah, you're both super special.

noonwitch
02-28-2011, 01:22 PM
The US is not an empire the way that England/European nations once were. We have places that are considered "possessions" but that are not colonies or states (like American Samoa or the Marianna Islands), but they are few and far between. We are not ruling over entire subcontinents with an iron fist, like England did to India. We have military bases flung all over the world, but we lease the land from those countries for those bases, and there are other financial benefits that those countries receive from the US military presence.


One can make a case for the US being a business empire, especially at the mid point of the previous century, with american companies spreading all over the globe. That's not the same as a political empire, though.

Wei Wu Wei
02-28-2011, 02:17 PM
The US is not an empire the way that England/European nations once were. We have places that are considered "possessions" but that are not colonies or states (like American Samoa or the Marianna Islands), but they are few and far between. We are not ruling over entire subcontinents with an iron fist, like England did to India. We have military bases flung all over the world, but we lease the land from those countries for those bases, and there are other financial benefits that those countries receive from the US military presence.


One can make a case for the US being a business empire, especially at the mid point of the previous century, with american companies spreading all over the globe. That's not the same as a political empire, though.

When the political sphere and the business sphere overlap so much the two can't be so cleanly distinguished.

Business and Politics form a terrible incestuous relationship where domestic and foreign policy are influenced by the profit margins of major corporations, and where there's a persistent revolving door between the two worlds where former business executives become cabinet appointees and retired politicians become corporate 'consultants'.

Centuries ago military political force was the most effective means of establishing an Empire, but in today's post-industrial age of global capitalism, economic domination is a far more effective means of maintaining the same sort of parasitic colonial relationship, just without the formalities of boldly naming it as such.

For those spilling their bud lights to quote a dictionary, this is more appropriately called a "hegemonic empire" rather than an Empire in the classic sense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegemony

Arroyo_Doble
02-28-2011, 04:54 PM
Everyone should love the American "empire." If it did not exist, the seas would be more like the Horn of Africa than the calm trading routes we take for granted today.

Bases are OK, I guess. But real power, the kind of power we have, is a navy.

Odysseus
02-28-2011, 05:35 PM
How suitably bovine.
Bovine refers to cattle. Salt licks are for deer. Don't get out past the mall much, do you?

If you were half the man the Major is, you'd be 10 times the man you are now.
I'm all ferklempt! :o

When the political sphere and the business sphere overlap so much the two can't be so cleanly distinguished.

Business and Politics form a terrible incestuous relationship where domestic and foreign policy are influenced by the profit margins of major corporations, and where there's a persistent revolving door between the two worlds where former business executives become cabinet appointees and retired politicians become corporate 'consultants'.

Centuries ago military political force was the most effective means of establishing an Empire, but in today's post-industrial age of global capitalism, economic domination is a far more effective means of maintaining the same sort of parasitic colonial relationship, just without the formalities of boldly naming it as such.

For those spilling their bud lights to quote a dictionary, this is more appropriately called a "hegemonic empire" rather than an Empire in the classic sense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegemony
Nobody forces Zimbabweans to buy Coca Cola.

Funny, but in domestic politics, you're in favor of business being controlled by politics, but overseas, you're opposed to it. Business relationships are, without government coercion, voluntary. A voluntary empire is a contradiction in terms. It is only when government and business are the same thing that business relationships become coercive.


Everyone should love the American "empire." If it did not exist, the seas would be more like the Horn of Africa than the calm trading routes we take for granted today.

Bases are OK, I guess. But real power, the kind of power we have, is a navy.

And a navy requires bases. It's a long way from San Diego to the South China Sea.