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The un-American Empire

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Justin Raimondo made the observation that empire is part of "the framework of an international economic system in which the division of labor is roughly as follows: while Asia is the factory of the world, South America the farmland, and Europe increasingly a theme park/museum, the U.S. role is that of world gendarme" (Our Chief Industry: War). Just how being "world gendarme" can sustain a nation of 300 million has never been explained by the supporters of empire. In fact, as the economy tanks, in large part due to taxes to feed the empire, and with fewer and fewer jobs available, more young people will find themselves with no other choice but to become "world gendarmes" in our much-touted "all-volunteer" military. The interests of empire and the economy are clearly at odds.

Is empire good for our democracy?

Finally, to answer Mr. Zeese's last question (leaving aside the point that our country was founded as a republic), it may be best to turn to the warnings from great Americans of the past. "The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion [sic] as possible," said the Father of Our Country (George Washington's Farewell Address). He continued, "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." We have had bases in some countries for sixty-five years, that is, for almost one-third of the years that have passed since our first president issued his warning!

Our third president advised us to pursue "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none" (Jefferson's First Inaugural Address). The wisest of our founders, the Anti-Federalists, took their anti-militarism even further. "I abominate and detest the idea of government, where there is a standing army," said George Mason (Standing Armies And Armed Citizens: An Historical Analysis of The Second Amendment). "Let us then enquire, whether standing armies in time of peace, would be ever beneficial to our country or if in some extraordinary cases, they might be necessary; whether it is not true, that they have generally proved a scourge to a country, and destructive of their liberty," said another pseudonymous anti-federalist (Brutus on the Evils of Standing Armies). He continued, "The idea that there is no danger of the establishment of a standing army, under the new constitution, is without foundation."

Less than eight score years later, a president whose very name brings to mind the pragmatic conservatism of the country during the years of his service starkly warned us, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" (Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation). Say the words "military-industrial complex" (M.I.C.) today and one is marginalized as a radical and exiled from the political conversation. Ike continued:

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The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

What is it good for?

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Empire, like Edwin Starr's War, is "good for... absolutely nothing... Say it again, y'all!"

We can answer a resounding "No! No! No! No!" to Mr. Zeese's question: "Is empire good for us, for our national security, for our economy, for our democracy?" Empire may be good for the Military Industrial Complex (M.I.C.) that Ike warned us about, but it's no good for the U.S.A., or, if you prefer, as I do, America. Empire is un-American! If empire were good for America, Americans would embrace it. But, as Jeff Taylor suggested in his report on the "Across the Political Spectrum Against War and Militarism" conference (Everybody Against Empire), they do not:

"Muscular American imperialism is not a winning issue for any political party. Politicians usually cloak their imperial designs while campaigning because the idea of expending American blood and money in obscure places halfway around the world does not appeal to average Americans. They care far more about practical domestic issues. The U.S. government acting as policeman of the world has never been a popular idea among Americans. It is costly and implies that our own society has reached such a state of perfection that we can easily afford to look elsewhere for problems to solve. Meddling in other people's affairs creates enemies and can actually make our own people less safe. There is a difference between being a helpful big brother and being an arrogant empire. Even if we concede the existence of good intentions on the part of our government, perception becomes reality for people in the rest of the world."

Is America an imperialist country?

To return to the question that began this essay, we must ask, Cui bono? For America to be considered an imperialist country, it stands to reason that the country would benefit from empire. But it does not. The M.I.C. is not our country.

That patriot of "Little England" G.K. Chesterton said more than a century ago: "The British Empire may annex what it likes, it will never annex England. It has not even discovered the island, let alone conquered it" (Tremendous Trifles).

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Can patriots of "Little America" be so optimistic? It often seems that we are, by and large, a conquered people. We are not imperialists, but rather victims of imperialism. It is the blood and treasure of the American people that is being drained to sustain this very un-American Empire.

But rather than succumb to despair in facing off against a seemingly unstoppable enemy, let us remember Justin Raimondo's reminder that all we are up against amounts to nothing more than "a conditioned reflex, a couple of catch-phrases, and Fox News" (The War Party: A Paper Tiger). We have it in our power to save our country and bring this un-American Empire down.

End the un-American Empire!

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An American Catholic son-in-law of Korea, Joshua Snyder lives with his wife and two children in self-imposed exile in Pohang, where he serves as an assistant visiting professor of English at a science and technology university. Religiously orthodox and politically heterodox, he might be (more...)

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