Sunday, February 26, 2012

The United States is an empire?

So says the left and more and more on the center right.

This is news to me. As far as I know, the United States has not forcefully annexed any new territory since the Spanish American War over 100 years ago, and even some of those territories were later granted independence.

In fact, if you take a look at history, you'll find that the "American empire" is one of the most unique stories in thousands of years of human history.

We are the first empire to invade foreign territory and not conscript the native population or force them into servitude. 

We are the first empire to invade a foreign territory and facilitate the rebuilding of that territory after the conflict.

We are the first empire to invade a foreign territory, and actually help that territory form a new sovereign government. 

We are the first empire to invade a foreign territory and not seize the natural resources that territory has to offer. On the flip side, we are the first empire who refuses to seize natural resources on our own territory.

We are also the first empire to invade a foreign territory with military force while putting an emphasis on the sensitivities and culture of the native population. 

We are the first empire to apologize to the conquered population when our soldiers are killed. 

No other superpower in world history has acted in such restraint as the American "empire". As it stands today, if American leaders had truly wanted an empire throughout history, we might very well have way more than fifty states. South Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, the Philippines, Cuba, Kuwait, the Pacific islands, and virtually any other land mass we desired would be under American control, along with accompanying populations and resources. But they aren't.

Iraq was all about oil some say. Perhaps that was some of it. But why are the Iraqis in sole possession of those oil fields now? What kind of empire are we? We invade Iraq and don't even seize the oil fields for our own benefit. I didn't see gas prices drop and I still haven't. Such an argument was made during a somewhat heated political debate I had with a short, fat, bald French Canadian man and his wife while I was on vacation last month in Costa Rica. In short, they believed 9/11 was an inside job, Bush was the devil, America is becoming an evil "empire", Jews are controlling the world, the Iraq War was all for oil, and Ron Paul is the new savior of America who is "speaking out against the Zionists." (somehow that didn't surprise me.) I asked them how they could explain Islamic terrorist attacks in Brazil, Russia, China, Sweden, Thailand, Spain, and other nations. Of course, no coherent argument was given and most of their "facts" were fabricated conspiracy theory Jew-hate. I also made the above point. If we are an empire, we are doing a pretty awful job of it.

In the early 1800's, The Napoleonic Empire claimed the lives of an estimated 6.5 million people, accounting to 15% of the conquered peoples, including unspeakable atrocities in French Haiti against slaves using sulfur gas.

The Nazi Empire (1933-1945) conquered vast amounts of territory, subjugated them under Nazi rule, and used every available indigenous resource to their advantage. Millions of conquered people were systematically eliminated.

The Ottoman Empire (1299-1923) owned numerous vassal states in the Balkans, imposing strict tribute fees upon the conquered people. Genocide was carried out against Armenians. Bulgarians were raped, beheaded, and burned alive by Ottoman troops. Greek boys were forcibly converted to Islam and made to serve in the armed forces, and Greek girls were forced into prostitution.

The Roman Empire lasted from 27 BC to AD 476. Roman armies invaded territories all across Europe by force and native people were forced into slavery. Some notable actions by Romans included instituting gladiators as entertainment, butchering native Spaniards under flag of truce, reducing the population of Carthage from 500,000 to 50,000 and selling the remaining survivors into slavery, 100,000 Christians tortured and executed, thousands of refugees massacred at Seleucia, among others.

The Mongol Empire, established by Ghenis Khan (1206-1368) was perhaps one of the most vast, far reaching, and brutal empires to ever exist.

In fact, every empire in human history has shown the same thing over thousands of years of recorded history. Military conquest. Subjugation and murder of native people. Seizure of territory, resources and economy. 

Is the United States really an empire? If we are, someone ought to teach our leaders some world history.


Gorges Smythe said...

We might have been better off if we HAD behaved as an empire! We certainly haven't gained any appreciation for our gentility.

Proof said...

I grew tired of Ron Paul continually (and erroneously) referring to the US as an empire. I jotted down a few of the reasons here:

But isn't it odd how the Left and Paulian libertarians share so many of the same arguments?

Eric Dondero said...

I've noticed the left and the left-libertarians have backed away a bit on this argument. They know they're on shaky ground.

Finally, we right-libertarians are calling them on it. But we're the only ones out there to call them out on their hypocrisy.