There was a period, from 1776, when "the shot heard 'round the world" was fired, to 1846, when America invaded Mexico, a span of 70 years, that the new nation "conceived in liberty" was, at the least, an imperfect democracy, without tyranny on its mind. By the time Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois rose to the floor of the House of Representatives to assail President Polk's invasion of Mexico, the predominant spirit of liberty had succumbed to the spirit of greed.
Yes, the Colonists having failed at securing representation in return for paying their taxes, demanded, fought for, and got by force of arms, freedom from the Mother Country. But it did not take long for them to adopt the imperial ways of the Crown. As the sun set on the British Empire in the 20th Century, it rose on the American Empire that replaced it, an Empire that dominates the world today.
The War of Independence needs to be seen for what it truly was: a sort of internal adjustment where predominantly English-speaking Colonists won the same rights to govern and plunder as their cousins who stayed home in London and York. Americans proudly assert their Founders came to the New World in search of religious freedom --- true as far as it goes. But many of America's settlers' consisted of the restless, ambitious, greedy, opportunistic, and criminal type out to grab what did not belong to them.
Indeed, about the same time Britannia was dispatching Redcoats to shoot Africans who refused to pay them tribute, Americans were dispatching blue coats to push back, rob, and annihilate Native Americans unlucky enough to occupy territory in their path. Just as the Crown took over India by force and violence, Americans stole half of their good neighbor Mexico employing like tactics. And where the Crown supported the East India Company's mercantile plunder, American troops would back up its corporate kingpins in Latin America and elsewhere.
After about a century of estrangement following the Revolution, America and Great Britain drew ever closer, joining together in World War One to reign in Germany's colonial ambitions. Again, in World War II, they repeated the performance against Hitler. Even before WWII erupted, the two countries were sharing intelligence and military secrets and continued their common quest to wrest for themselves the riches of Asia. Significantly, the U.S. pressed Great Britain after World War One not to renew its treaty of friendship with Japan even though Tokyo had allied itself with the victors. The Japanese were baffled at this turn of events but America was not going to tolerate a Pacific rival that might come between it and the Crown. A common history, a common language, a common culture, and, most of all, a common venality by then had united Anglo-America too closely to permit any sharing of empire with an outside Asian upstart.
America and Great Britain were of one mind by the advent of World War Two, inextricably linked. President Roosevelt dispatched a flotilla of destroyers to England to combat the Nazi U-boat menace, and American tanks were rushed to help Britain's Eighth Army stop Hitler's Panzers in North Africa. As the war continued, USA, "by then the arsenal of democracy," could churn out so many warships it could send 30 new aircraft carriers to UK gratis. In return, the British shared valuable intelligence with USA to help it break the Axis military codes.
The world ascribes to the United States the development of the nuclear weapons dropped on Japan to end that struggle. But British scientists were also deeply involved in the venture, executed in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and against the solemn pledges of both partners at the outbreak of World War Two not to bombard civilian populations. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated by the Anglo-Americans, just as British aircraft carriers were then flying sorties against targets on the Japanese home islands. The atom bomb was only one of many joint ventures. Earlier, U.S./UK bomber fleets united to exterminate 800,000 German civilians after the failure of their efforts to subdue the Third Reich's war machine by bombing its war production plants.
And when the Soviet bear extended its paws over Europe and Asia, Anglo-America responded by providing Cold War warriors in Korea and elsewhere. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed a joint session of the American Congress and was perhaps even more of a hero in the United States than he was at home. Significantly, his 1946 anti-Soviet Iron Curtain speech was delivered at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., in the geographical heartland of America where he expressed his admiration for his host as a nation "at the pinnacle of world power". USA had become the dominant power in the relationship but nothing else much had changed, including their common aims. The capital has been moved from London to Washington, that's all. After WWII, the U.S. and Great Britain, joined by Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, organized an intelligence-gathering commune that provided them both military and economic information to advance their vital interests, an arrangement that exists to this day. Currently, Prime Minister Tony Blair is backing American aggression in Iraq with more troops than any other nation. This, in spite of the fact information likely was available to him before the start of the war President Bush was cooking the books to portray Iraq a nuclear menace.
Writing in 2005 of the "special relationship" between Britain and America, John O'Sullivan, editor-at-large of "National Review" recalled the partnerships between presidents and prime ministers: "These political partnerships have been both warm and productive while often cutting across the usual divisions of left and right: the Tory Churchill and the Democrat FDR; the Tory Macmillan and the Democrat Kennedy; the Labour Wilson and the Democrat LBJ; the Tory Thatcher and the Republican Reagan; and now, famously, the New Labor Blair and the Republican George W. Among the achievements of the special relationship are the victories in the Second World War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Falklands War, the Gulf War, and the Cold War."
In his book, "Web of Deceit: Britain's Real
Role in the World" (Vintage, 2003), author Mark Curtis writes that, with UK's support for terrorism, "violating international alw has become as British as afternoon tea." According to a review of his work in Guardian Unlimited of July 5, 2003:
"Drawing on formerly secret government files, he analyses not only Britain's role in recent events in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, but also British complicity in the slaughter of a million people in Indonesia in 1965; the depopulation of the island of Diego Garcia; the overthrow of governments in Iran and British Guiana; and repressive colonial policies in Kenya, Malaya and Oman. He relentlessly peels away layers of deception until, with the aid of painstaking research and analysis of declassified files, he (Curtis) lays bare in graphic detail a shocking exposÚ of British aggression and double-standards."
Just as those England historically suppressed regarded it as "perfidious Albion", Uncle Sam today is reviled by much of the world for its heavy-handed military and clandestine assaults upon weaker states, such as Nicaragua, Viet Nam, Panama, Chile, and Haiti, to cite a few. Just as Queen Victoria, upon being telegraphed of the latest British victory, expressed her condolences to the families of the Redcoats who made the supreme sacrifice, so President George Bush today expresses his sorrow for the lives of killed and wounded American troops in Iraq.
Whatever the aspirations of its Founders to break from England and establish an egalitarian society that would steer clear of what President George Washington termed "foreign entanglements," USA has essentially replaced Great Britain as the world's foremost colonial power, incorporating UK as its primary partner. So why not call it the United States of England?