Saturday, February 26, 2011

America is Not Perfect, but America is Not an Empire

I thought this article by Zbigniew Mazaruk at American Thinker entitled "America is Not an Empire" was worth quoting extensively:
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.
Read it all here.

Sure, America has its flaws and it has done unjust things, particularly in the 18-19th century to native Americans. But one cannot compare the American presence in the world to, say the Soviet Empire of the mid-20th century. That really was an empire and the difference is not pedantic or one of semantics only, it is a moral and substantial difference. If all Great Powers were were as benign as America, even granting America's imperfections, the world would be a much better place.

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