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The Myth of American Empire

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Again and again I run into people on the right and left sides of the political fringe who hold to the bizarre idea that the United States has some sort of international empire because we have troops deployed overseas. While I agree that we have far too many troops in other countries and could save a lot of money in these hard times by bringing some of them home, these deployments certainly don’t seem to fit the characteristics you would expect of troops who are part of an international empire.

The common claim is that we have “700 bases in 130 countries”. That’s almost as many countries as there are member states in the United Nations. Now, the definition of an empire is one nation exercising economic, political and military control over another. If these troops were deployed for that purpose, their role would presumably be to control the governments of those 130 countries, keep the civilian population under control, and protect the vast administrative network of our empire.

Yet if you look at what our troops are doing overseas you see something very different. Conveniently, the Heritage Foundation has compiled historical data on our overseas troop deployments. Foreign Policy in Focus also provides some useful information in a recent report.

The first problem is that to get to this popular figure of “700 bases in 130 countries,” you have to cumulatively add up all of the deployments of the last 50 years and count extremely small deployments and minor facilities which are considered bases even when they have no actual military personnel stationed at them. You have to count as “bases” the the contingents of marine guards at 165 US embassies and smaller consular offices and such things as the hundreds of military golf courses, movie theaters, post exchanges and other recreational facilities. In fact, if you count all the facilities considered “bases” and all the embassies, you get about 860 bases in 165 countries, so the popular figures are a bit out of date.

The truth is that most of these deployments are not really military in character and at any given time the number of significant deployments is much smaller. 20 men guarding an embassy are not building an empire. When you look at deployments of 1000 men or more, you find that there are currently fewer than 20 countries hosting deployments of that size. When you look at deployments of 100-1000 men you find that there are fewer than 30. So rather than 130 countries with significant numbers of US troops in them there are actually only about 40, mostly in Europe and parts of Asia. What’s more, rather than building an empire, these numbers have been steadily declining, and are about half what they were in the 1950s.

In addition, all of these large deployments are the result of mutual defense arrangements which date back for decades where our troops are there at the invitation of and with the cooperation of the local government. The overwhelming majority of our troops are deployed in coordination with the United Nations or NATO or by arrangement with a few major allies like Germany, England and Japan. In many cases, rather than representing some sort of mythical US empire, they are often deployed on behalf of extra-national groups or programs or working in coordination with local forces.

In fact, a great many of these American troops deployed overseas are not even involved in normal military activities, but are engaged in various humanitarian aid programs. In 2006, the US military took part in 556 relief efforts in 99 countries. These efforts on behalf of various international organizations are a major deployment, but they are hardly empire building. They’re things like aiding victims of natural disasters and distributing food aid and medicine in troubled places like Haiti, Georgia and Somalia. Rather than oppressing these nations with our imperial rule, these missions are enormously popular and poll results in disaster-ravaged countries like Indonesia show a substantial increase in pro-American sentiment as a result of our humanitarian activities there.

Yes, we almost certainly have far too many overseas facilities, too many men deployed outside our own borders and are spending way too much money on these efforts. Right now we have about 400,000 troops deployed outside of the US and only about half of them are involved in peacekeeping in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. Some of the remainder provide support services, but the truth is that we really don’t need 200,000 or more men in Europe and Japan and other friendly countries. In times of economic hardship we could save a lot of money by closing some of those bases. In fact, substantial closures of overseas bases were carried out by the Bush administration and the total number of bases overseas has been reduced over the last 20 years from over 1000 to under 800.

Our overseas military installations and deployments are generally not engaged in anything imperial in character. An empire is not defined by a bunch of troops engaged in humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and security work. It is defined by economic, political and military control of other countries. To have an empire we would need to be controlling and administering foreign territories, running their governments and profiting from their economies, resources and industrial production. While the United States has a nominal presence in hundreds of countries and troops spread far and wide, with facilities to support them, with the exception of the occasional wartime deployment, the overwhelming role of American forces overseas is to provide aid and support and to fulfill treaty obligations and help our allies. Embassy guards, hospital ships, food distribution centers and golf courses are not conquering or plundering or oppressing anyone.

So by all means, let’s close as many overseas bases and bring back as many troops as we can, but let’s do it for the right reasons, not because of the delusion that the United States is an empire.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Ma rk

    So, you don’t like the use of the term ‘empire’ to describe the US economic, cultural and military sphere of influence around the world. Give it a name.

  • Mark Schannon

    Rats. I wrote a really insightful, thoughtful response to this & then lost it. I hate computers.

    Oh well, in a nutshell, I agree, Dave. Americans are too confused to be empirialists–even old Busher wanted to spread peace, love & democratic values. Compared to the 15th-19th century Europeans, we’re children in the sandbox when it comes to Empire building.

    I think Americans have this bizarre noblesse oblige complex. It’s arrogant & annoying to others, but we tend to believe we’ve got something special and we want to share…it’s just that we’re so ham handed about the way we go about it.

    But I agree with your basic premise, as well as bringing a lot of our troops home.

    But, then again, what do I know…I’m no expert.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    We used to call it “superpower,” Mark, until recently.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dave, you’re right that having troops stationed overseas doesn’t constitute such, but the United States is an empire. It occupies a sizeable chunk of its continent – territory acquired through a variety of empire-building strategies – and is considerably larger than most historical empires.

    It also does have an overseas empire – a small one, granted, consisting of such once-mighty territories as Guam, Samoa and Hawaii (should I not mention the Philippines…?) – but an empire nonetheless.

    More significantly, the American cultural empire stretches across the globe, with very few pockets of resistance left.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The question is – why would Dave care to deny it. What’s at stake (for him)?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I think he just enjoys debunking stuff. Have you checked out his Idiot Wars site?

  • mArk

    (Oh yeah…just to be consistent I have to note that yet another basically trivial Nalle piece has been placed above the fold. The pattern continues.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Mark. You just have to come up with something provocative – hair-raising? – to earn that distinction.

  • mArk

    (Rog, I thought for a moment a while back that I could produce worthwhile articles for BC. But I found that my attempts weren’t and that I became too ego involved and shrill in defending them in the comments. The most that I can do here is participate as a commenter…pretty lame, but oh well.)

  • Clavos

    You could even have a series, mArk:

    “The View From Under The Bridge” :>)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    (most of these deployments are not really military in character and at any given time the number of significant deployments is much smaller. 20 men guarding an embassy are not building an empire. When you look at deployments of 1000 men or more, you find that there are currently fewer than 20 countries hosting deployments of that size. When you look at deployments of 100-1000 men you find that there are fewer than 30. So rather than 130 countries with significant numbers of US troops in them there are actually only about 40, mostly in Europe and parts of Asia. What’s more, rather than building an empire, these numbers have been steadily declining, and are about half what they were in the 1950s.)

    Dave, Pardon me for saying “You could pepper your language with a few women and maybe cut down on the whirlwind of facts and figures that distract and confuse the reader” ME!

    one more question here “Did you serve in the armed forces?” because when I was stationed at Ramstein AB, Germany in 1980 there were some weekends when we were not even allowed in the night clubs in Kaiserslautern because the of an “anti-American” sentiment that prevails in the world today.
    America acts like an Empire…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark,

    “too ego involved,” Mark, may be just another term for striving for perfection. Nothing wrong with that in any area of life – especially in arts and letters.

    And I wouldn’t worry too much about facing criticism on BC. Most of it, anyway, is ideological in basis rather than substantive.

    To deal with the first, I admit, is rather difficult. But it does train you to develop the patience of a saint and call for all love you can possibly muster. I’ve never shirked from the second, though, and I’m certain neither would you. Intellectual honesty demands that.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Mark, I echo the sentiment of others. Write something decent and I’ll put it “above the fold.” In the meantime, I’m putting just about everything we get in a featured position as soon as we get it. Yes, there are a very few exceptions. As an editor I am obliged not to say why they aren’t given a featured position, but it’s not based on politics.

    And notice that I have consistently restricted myself to no more than one article in the featured section and when I write a new one I bump the old one off. Given that I’m probably the most prolific writer here that means I actually get LESS top billing per article than ahyone else.

    Does that help?

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    So, you don’t like the use of the term ‘empire’ to describe the US economic, cultural and military sphere of influence around the world. Give it a name.

    Based on Dr. D’s comment I wouldnt’ have a problem with using the term ‘empire’ but he is using it in a reasonable way and not in the same way that it is being used by the people I mention in my first paragraph.

    It is really the kind of empire which these peopel suggest that we are which I object to. They use the term because they believe that the US is engaged in a process of conquest, domination and oppression of people around the world. I wrote this article to clearly call bullshit on that idea and the specific basis on which they make that argument.

    Dave

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    mArK,
    where are your writings? I would love to read them.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Dave, I just submitted a little political satire of my own…are you in charge of all the political writing here? Because if this is going to be a problem for you I’ll publish it in Culture as always.

  • mAr k

    Jeannie, they’re under BC writer name Mark Eden.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Thanks, you know I just discovered the fresh comment feature this morning!
    I’ll go read :)

  • Mark Schannon

    Roger, #3: Some superpower we were. Two clumsy giants, us & Russia. But I think there’s a difference between superpower…or let’s call it the dominant military & economic world power…and empiralism.

    The former happened by default; the latter is something that requires considerable effort & manipulation.

  • Mark Schannon

    mArK–just read your article on BC needing an ombudsman or some way to moderate the vitriol here.

    While I may not agree completely, it’s an excellent article. Write more!

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark Schannon/Mark Eden

    Or working at it. Russia did try and failed, although don’t count Moscow out; it’s still a major player. And neither has the US given up. It’s foreign policy is the proof, and I don’t see what Dave’s point is in denying the obvious – unless, as he said, is to put a gloss on things.

    Personally, I don’t have any problem with the concept of “benevolent empire.” It’s a matter of Realpolitik that there is such a thing as a power vacuum; and that if not one political entity than the other will try to fill it. And that’s true of international as well as personal relations. We may disagree whether the values that are being transmitted worldwide are desirable or not, but not about the fact that if not those, then some other set of values would be sponsored and propagated.

    Mark Eden: Remember, we haven’t resolved the differences with respect to our ideologies: I still happen to believe that “benevolent capitalism,” properly controled so as to prevent widespread injustices and abuses, is within the realm of possibility – when it’s made to be responsive to, and to benefit, the (local) communities. You deny the feasibility of any such scenario.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, I just submitted a little political satire of my own…are you in charge of all the political writing here?

    I’m the head politics editor, but no the only one. Someone else may end up editing it.

    Because if this is going to be a problem for you I’ll publish it in Culture as always.

    Not a problem for me. Plus Culture steals too many articles from us already.

    Dave

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Mark Schannon,
    I had you mixed up with mArK this morning but I enjoyed your article immensely. I can be “vitriol” in my writing style also but it was all good fun towards Dave…at least on my part.

    mArK, I agree with you on the need for an ombudsman in the comment line! I haven’t been here that long but have ended the day feeling really bad for something either I said to someone or for something they have said to me…:(

    Maybe my next article should be titled

    “I’m Sorry That I’m Such An Ass: But So are You….” :)

  • mar k

    Remember, we haven’t resolved the differences with respect to our ideologies

    Not to worry, Rog. I haven’t forgotten. If I come up with an argument that I think would have a chance of convincing you or others that the problems with capitalism are systemic and only secondarily related to abuses then I’ll certainly present it. imo we could each behave ethically and the economy would still crash.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I well foresee the objections; perhaps I even agree with them – which isn’t to say I don’t want to hear your argument.

    My problem, however, concerns the adequate replacement. It’s in this respect that I draw a blank. My position has always been (well, not always, only since I became a thinking person) that it’s a necessary evil.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A question: What has “the economy crashing” got to do with it?

  • Cindy

    “I’m Sorry That I’m Such An Ass: But So are You….” :)

    That’s great Jeannie. lol

  • Cindy

    Write more.

    Yes, Mark, please do.

  • mar k

    What has “the economy crashing” got to do with it?

    Economic crashes manifest in human misery.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    I never get anything done around my house anymore …..I have to leave now :(

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, yes. But if you can limit them to cycles, they’re bearable.

    Besides, if you’re a humanist you present yourself to be, you’d go along with the proposition that we don’t live by bread alone.

  • Cindy

    Not sure how one is going to benevolize Capitalism’s requirement for treating people like objects to take advantage of. That’s the real biggie. Sorta would be like trying to become a Buddhist by reading Wayne Dyer…or Somik.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    One’s perception of “being an object” – regardless of the inclinations or tendencies of “a system” to make them believe they’re so – are solely up to the individual.

    Which isn’t to say the system is good or bad, only that a human being has the power as regards his own self-conception and sense of self-worth.

  • ma r k

    But if you can limit them to cycles, they’re bearable.

    I disagree. I had a hearty bowl of soup last night. Who am I to claim that my brother’s growling empty stomach is bearable? The cycles are unacceptable.

  • Cindy

    Roger,

    I am afraid you aren’t familiar enough with my ideas to understand them. Maybe when I develop the ability to write I’ll explain them in more detail to you.

    Not that you wouldn’t find fault with them. But at least then it would be fault based on actually understanding what I mean.

    It is not about perception Roger. You’re not really getting the point. Partly my fault for not writing–at least then you’d have a chance at getting it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I should like to believe that under the best case scenario, we can eliminate poverty and hunger – in fact, most abominable conditions of life, such as in parts of the Philippines, for instance. We certainly don’t have a hunger problem in the US, I don’t think. It’s just a matter of spreading the condition of relative well being worldwide. And I don’t see why it couldn’t be done.

    Perhaps it’s too early to talk about the future, especially since the world hasn’t taken personal responsibility yet for the human condition. I’d like to believe that these problems are solvable.

  • Cindy

    10,000 children go to bed hungry every night in the US. Almost a shame, really to be developing ‘ideas’ about what exists, when we have the option of looking up facts.

    The children in the Philippines still existed and were hungry even when you failed to know about it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The reality is what we make it. We’re the masters of it all. No one can make a person a slave unless they consent to it. It’s more a matter of mind than the body – even if you have to die for what you believe.

    And people have. And such is our history.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Jeannie,

    Mark Eden’s article had nothing to do with the comment section. He called for fact checking and an ombudsman to turn to when the politics editor didn’t do his job.

    Oh, the comments section got mentioned enough all right. But we have two reasonably capable comments editors as volunteers here. Considering how bigoted comments editors can be (and are) elsewhere, they are almost tolerable.

    Lately, though, they seem to need a little prodding to do the job of eliminating personal attacks here. Maybe, it’s the new format we have here….

  • Cindy

    Dave has ideas, for example, that people ‘deserve’ what they get under Capitalism. Some people are just lazy. 1 in 4 homeless are crack moms.

    Whoops…sorry I meant 1 in 4 homeless are veterans.

  • zingzing

    “Lately, though, they seem to need a little prodding to do the job of eliminating personal attacks here. Maybe, it’s the new format we have here….”

    well, they caught you recently, then wen terribly overboard in deleting comments left and right. it was strange to watch. they even deleted the one where i’m complaining about their… enthusiasm, i guess. i wonder if this one will survive.

  • Baronius

    Can you even talk about an American “cultural empire” anymore? No one listens to our music. Our TV shows are imports. Most of our movies are written for overseas markets, so they’re not particularly American, and 1/3 of the stars are Australian.

    We’re important in literature and video games (which is a pretty big industry).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That statistic is bullshit. We have sufficient safety net in US to the effect that no one can suffer from hunger.

    It’s a typical attitude of a well-to-do American who has no conception how privileged they are when compared to the rest of the world. To speak of hunger in US and then to go on to speak of hunger in other parts of the world is the epitome of hypocrisy, or at least of being deluded.

    There are no relevant comparisons!

  • Cindy

    Roger,

    I am very happy you are so brave on behalf of people who were subjected to slavery, Jews who were murdered. Palestinians who are being murdered as we write. Children who are starving to death, literally.

    How very kind of you to consider that all they have to do is just say no to starvation. Or just submit to death–kill themselves for the cause. How noble of you to volunteer them It’s all their own doing that way. Almost sounds like some Western Buddhist philosophy you’ve got going on there.

  • Cindy

    Roger,

    We have enough food to feed the entire world. So, I guess all statistics are bullshit. No one needs to starve–so I guess there actually is no hunger.

  • Baronius

    Hey, you know what might be interesting? If Cindy and Roger don’t turn this thread into another discussion of the evils of capitalism.

  • Cindy

    Guess I am still a warrior. Better go involve myself elsewhere.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You can’t eliminate human brutality. It’s a fact of life. Do I condone it? Definitely not.

    But you’re escalating my remarks beyond the what is intended. I was speaking of Americans by and large – by all means the most privileged of the crop. And I was speaking of OUR ability to rise above the exploitation system, not anybody else’s.

    So go ahead and keep in misinterpreting what I say. Whatever you heart desires.

  • Cindy

    And I was speaking of OUR ability to rise above the exploitation system, not anybody else’s.

    Okay. I am with you on that goal.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    If you do pay attention, I do regard capitalism as evil, but as necessary evil.

    The other party is vehemently opposed to any rendition or version thereof.

    So that’s just for starters.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The main disagreement is – you think it’s doable by changing political/social relations. I happen to think that apart from whatever social/political conditions we find ourselves in, it’s in the mind. Especially in the US, where our freedoms and liberties haven’t been abrogated yet.

  • Cindy

    #9 – Mark

    Oh, I see. But our nature can be changed, don’t you think? :-)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    As for the article, Dave, raised in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria as a child, ever insists that America is not an empire. I find this assertion astounding, considering that the reason he was raised in my neighborhood at all (Israel is just a grenade’s throw away from Jordan and Lebanon) is that the kinds of agencies the American government keeps overseas are those of an empire, even though there is no imperial purple in the American government. Dave’s parents, American government employees there (I don’t remember the name of the agency Dave mentioned in an article or comment thread) may well have viewed their role in the Middle East in an idealistic light, and may well have passed on that view to Dave, a view we see reflected in the article here (and Dave, I’m not attempting to cast aspersions or insult your parents at all. Let that be clear. Please do not regard my words that way. This is not meant to be personal or nasty).

    What Dave continually misses is that imperial control need not involve legates controlling the internal affairs of foreign countries directly. Indirect control and coups d’état, real or threatened, are often enough to do the job. Jeannie’s comment on how Germans regarded America as an empire are most telling, in this respect. West Germany, in 1980, was not an American dependency.

    Not to worry though, folks!

    Empires that are broke either implode – or find a way to fill up the kitty…. There is only so much shit and shinola that creditors will tolerate, and the Blessed of Hussein, running out of shinola, will have to resort to shit shortly.

    Meow!

  • Baronius

    Roger, it’s not a matter of me paying attention; the running debate between you and Cindy is simply unavoidable on BC Politics. I’m questioning whether it belongs on this thread. You paid lip service to the original article. Cindy didn’t. Then you both headed down the most-travelled section of road this side of the New Jersey Turnpike. I just don’t understand why it has to be re-argued here.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, Jeannie didn’t say that 1980’s Germans regarded America as an empire, just that Americans were unpopular. Just because something is unpopular doesn’t mean it’s an empire. That accusation is tossed around so casually. And since when do you care what Germans think, anyway?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    well, they caught you recently,

    Had they gotten rid of the vicious personal attack that prompted my verbal disemboweling of the person who made it, that disemboweling would never have occurred. They didn’t and I did what I felt was necessary. I wasn’t going to take that shit lying down. And I still won’t.

    The best defense is a good offense…..

  • Cindy

    The whole evil Capitalist thing is just not Bar’s cup of tea Roger.

  • Mark Schannon

    Jeannie–hey, you mixed up Mark & Mark. Big deal, LOL. But glad you liked article.

    There’s a certain quality of violent agreement going on here. Roger, except for his comment about no hunger in America (oy), is basically echoing what some wise founding guy said, “Democracy’s the worst form of gov’t…except for all the rest.”

    It seems that capitalism is the worst economic system…except for all the rest.

    Everyone agrees about its faults, but I’d rather work to fix them, increase sane, rational, honest government oversight (oh, he’s so naive), minimize the obscene misdistribution of wealth, and try to make some form of capitalism work.

    Anybody got another system we can try?

    As to Dave’s original article, it might help if we step back and try to define how we’re using words like “empire,” “imperialism,” “sphere of influence,” and even Baronius’ question about “American culture.”

    I’m guessing that a lot of the argument stems for having different definitions for those concepts.

    But what do I know. I’m no longer an expert.

    And that’s the truth.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    And since when do you care what Germans think, anyway?

    I don’t. But they do think, and what they thought 29 years ago affected Jeannie’s ability to go out and have a good time when posted there.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I truly believe it cannot. It’s not our “nature” that is the problem, I think. That’s a given. It’s more a matter of elevating a human to the best they’re capable of. We’re both angels and devils, take your pick, capable of both Auschwitz and the finest in beauty and the sublime: Rembrandt, Beethoven, Keats and Shelley, Pindar – all these are monuments to human greatness. We’re not monkeys, as your recent video tried to represent us. We’re more like gods, aspiring gods perhaps, but still way closer to the divine than the animal, the mundane, the pedestrian. It’s our makeup, our destiny perhaps.

    It’s only a matter of having Everyman believe that. And when that happens, only the sky is the limit.

    That’s why I shy from stressing our differences, It’s the commonality we all share which should be the rallying point, the point of human convergence.

  • Cindy

    Well, I have all the faith in the world that Mark E. can change his nature. Maybe he will even write an article and not defend it (too much). :-)

    (wow! you watched my video Roger!–thanks)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    the running debate between you and Cindy is simply unavoidable on BC Politics. I’m questioning whether it belongs on this thread.

    Baronius, while I agree with you, if Roger and Cindy want to spend the next 170 comments arguing over what color eggs Mother Goose laid, or argue over the standard bullshit they continually lock horns over, that is well within the limits of the comments policy here. Having seen an alternative style of comment editing on Desicritics, and its disastrous results, I much prefer what I see here.

  • Cindy

    It seems that capitalism is the worst economic system…except for all the rest. Everyone agrees about its faults, but I’d rather work to fix them…

    For me, that is like saying, this glue is fun to sniff, we have to fix it though so it doesn’t cause brain damage.

    “Except for all the rest”…all the rest contain the exact same problem, plus some extra ones…Capitalism just creates a group who benefit from it and like hypnotized sleepwalkers they are able to follow along like it is the pied piper of Hamlin, without ever developing the empathy they need to see what is going on around them–unless the economic ceiling falls down close by where they can’t fail to hear the crash.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, I’ll grant you that the US military wasn’t popular in Europe in 1980. That doesn’t make us an empire. That’s such a non sequitur that it’s weird to even write it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t believe the comment cited in #63 are attributable to me, except by the faintest stretch of the imagination.

    As to the sleepwalker comment, all I’m gonna say is that we’re in charge of our own destiny – or at least in charge of whether we want to subscribe to anyone’s definition of who we are or who we ought to be.

    Exploitation, or attempts at exploitation, will be with us always. Fact of life. The point of difference has got to do with how we relate. It’s beyond my powers to bring every human up to snuff. Only a god can embark on such a project. I can only hope that more and more will listen. Beyond that, it’s out of my hands, as is the rest of my short life. I can only implore.

  • Mark Schannon

    #63 is me…and I was simply saying that you don’t appear to be a blind, flag waving, capitalist is good for all and any type of person. You’ve already acknowledged its problems. But if I’ve mischaracterized your position, Roger, my apologies.

    But Cindy, you’re describing the worst, the excesses & you seem to refuse to see any of the good. And–if you don’t like Reformed Capitalism (kind of like Reformed Judaism, Ruvy, LOL), then what do you suggest.

    Provide an option…please.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks, Mark. Apparently, we’re are on the same page – hoping for the best in humankind. And I’m just as certain that Cindy is too – otherwise I couldn’t see her straight in the face.

    And yes, that’s exactly what I would like to see – a replacement. Because for all the talk on BC – never mind the theorists such as Marx or whomever – none have yet been able to come up with an alternative.

    Which isn’t to say I condone “the system.” Only issue a challenge: Come up with something better, something that would preserve our individual freedoms and liberties as well.

    I dare you.

  • m a rk

    Oh course capitalism has positives…without it we would not be in a position to move beyond it and ‘feed the world’ without worrying about getting a fucking percentage. We need the high level of productivity and technological innovation that capitalism has produced.

    I agree with Rog about individual responsibility for the shape we’re in. Things will change when the rich man realizes that he is worth no more than the beggar and that there is nothing necessary in the way things are.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    PS: “the (only) issue is the challenge . .. “

  • m a rk

    Mark, you call for an alternative. How about the ol’ time idea of community and giving labor away. Why do we produce? To feed our comrades. Unrealistic on a mass scale, you say? How do you know?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Exactemudo, my friend. I haven’tt been exactly handicapped for lack of money, though I’ll be the first admit that lack of it has been the most debilitating influence in my own stinking life – more importantly, however, in the lives of others, too.

    Which brings us to the next question, I suppose. Where do we go from here?

  • m a Rk

    Where do we go from here?

    …try to come up with how if we eliminate price we can figure out what and how much to produce.

  • Cindy

    But Cindy, you’re describing the worst, the excesses & you seem to refuse to see any of the good.

    But Mark, actually I’m not merely describing the worst. Although I could see why you would guess that. I really have quite carefully and very thoroughly thought this through. Had I enough time and space to explain all the details…but it is much like your experience. How does one explain the details of a lifetime of work on a problem in the comments section?

    The ‘good’ part is only ‘good’ for a few (if such unfairness to the rest can even be called ‘good’ in any meaningful way) and is only even of partial benefit to them (exclusively materially) whilst being the cause of much detriment to them in other ways.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, I don’t think that this site needs more external oversight. I think that those who keep repeating the same conversation should show personal restraint as well as respect for the authors.

  • Mark Schannon

    maRk–I fear you speak of a world that never existed and cannot exist. We live in a globally interconnected economic system. It’s not as simple as a community coming together and working towards their common good. The “community” must now include raw materials from Africa, labor from Asia, drugs from South America (to keep the workers happy), and technology and knowledge workers from the U.S.

    And because the economic standards of the various world regions are so different, price becomes an essential way to either screw them over OR reverse decades/centuries of mistreatment.

    Cindy, capitalism has created more good than harm for more people in the West. By any standard–life expectancy, health, free time, standard of living, quality of life, we’re a lot better off than our grandparents. True, over the past ten-twenty years or so, we’ve managed to mangle the middle class and create a uber-class of absurdly wealthy, but that can be fixed. Capitalism also gave rise to unions, environmental groups, consumer groups, and regulation. And now, one hopes, we have a Prez who’ll use all those tools wisely.

    Of course, one has to admit that we may have destroyed our own environment & ability to survive, which is a bad thing.

    But hey, you don’t break eggs, you don’t get shells.

    And that’s the truth.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Marm (not Schannon). When you feed the world someone is going to get a percentage. I’d rather it be businesses and their stockholders than NGOs, governments and third-world dictators.

    I’m just funny that way.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “Had they gotten rid of the vicious personal attack that prompted my verbal disemboweling of the person who made it, that disemboweling would never have occurred. They didn’t and I did what I felt was necessary. I wasn’t going to take that shit lying down. And I still won’t.”

    if you really felt that was necessary, i feel sorry for you.

    “verbal disemboweling?” more like self-reflexive nonsense. i’ve probably had 10 or 12 relatively serious girlfriends, and i don’t believe that my lack of ever having been married has anything to say about the quality of my personality or soul or anything. when a relationship doesn’t work, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than that the combination of the two people involved didn’t work out.

    to say otherwise, especially coming from a position of complete ignorance (as you are/were doing), only suggests that it is you who has some work to do on your personality or soul or whatever. you came off as judgmental, cruel, petty, ignorant, slimy and childish.

    seriously, we’ve clashed many, many times before, and it has gotten relatively personal and insulting at times, but in general, what we clash on has nothing to do with personal issues. what you said about roger was deeply personal and highly insulting. even if i don’t agree with your politics, your take on religion, your love of violence, or with your general tone, i’ve rarely been so shocked at your lack of humanity.

    shameful, ruvy.

  • m aRk

    Mark, you’re probably right. The sound barrier can’t be broken…at least not while the sun revolves around the earth.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Agreed, zing. I haven’t seen such an egregious personal attack since Pablo’s ugliness towards Clavos and his wife. While the comment said more about Ruvy then it did about Roger, I don’t see why anyone would further engage Ruvy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    hey zing, el bicho,

    I thank you both but let’s forget it. I don’t even remember what was said exactly since the comment was promptly removed – but mind you, only after I and some others have posted a response. I wish I’d made a screen-shot, but no matter.

    The point really is, it didn’t mean a damn. If I remember correctly, Ruvy tried to attack me on a/c of my many relationships. Well, he was proceeding from a false premise – the one and only true love.

    Well, such hasn’t been my experience. Many relationships don’t work out, for any number of reasons. Shit happens and people are people. So I didn’t feel in any way diminished, though Ruvy tried to make it appear so. So let it rest.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Mark S.

    You are asking, how can we keep everything exactly the same way it is now–down to the last musical greeting card and plastic, light-up Guinness shamrock ring on St Patrick’s day.

    Here are a few ideas:

    1) We live in a consumer driven society. Everything works together to promote and support this. This is not necessary where profit-driven competition is not the paradigm.

    2) Labor hours in our society are excessive. We don’t need the bulk of society to work 8+ hours a day.

    3) Cooperation leads to a reduction in materials necessary to perform work. We don’t need a shovel and a lawnmower and a washer and a dryer and etc…for every household. We don’t need two cars, we don’t need…

    4) Businesses producing redundant materials and junk compete with each other for market share in a market they have created. We don’t need 400 versions of the Ipod most of which will probably break in a year.

    5) Without a consumer driven society forcing young people into image and role we won’t need to have as many items designed to correct our imaginary flaws.

    6) Competition and profit requires taking advantage of supply chains over great distances. There is no reason local artisans cannot make furniture for communities. No reason food cannot be grown locally.

    May I remind you Capitalism, as we know it has existed for about 200 years. It never existed as it does before that. Therefore ‘it never existed’ (certainly it has existed for thousands of years, but not yet on such a mass scale) is not a very compelling argument. Particularly, when said with such certainty from someone who has given the problems less thought than it took to type out the sentence that it can’t work. It’s not convincing.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Mark S.

    I will reply to the part of your comment addressed to me, right after I go outside on the deck and yell a few times.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    “I’d rather it be businesses and their stockholders [so I can keep sitting at the king’s table licking my greasy fingers] than NGOs, governments and third-world dictators. [Unless, of course, you mean where my government installs the dictatorships itself and they affect other people who aren’t ready for democracy. You know, like in Greece where they invented it.] I’m just funny that way. –Dave”

  • M a rk

    When you feed the world someone is going to get a percentage.

    Why do you believe that this is necessarily the case, Dave?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Mark,

    Did BC erase your articles? Or did you write under a different name?

    (I know, I know…I am a pain. But I really, really would be so much better off to read your ideas.)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    You could even right them and just let me defend them! :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org Lisa McKay

    We don’t erase articles, Cindy. You can find Mark’s at his writer’s page.

  • M a rk

    Cindy, I’ve written a total of 3 pieces.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Thanks Lisa,

    But of course I read all those. I want to find the ones that required him to stop writing. The ones he alluded to, but I can’t seem to find. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Yeah, I sort of knew that. I was just being ironic.

  • Ma rk

    yup

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    what you said about roger was deeply personal and highly insulting…. i’ve rarely been so shocked at your lack of humanity. shameful, ruvy.

    That’s too fuckin’ bad, zing. I didn’t see anyone come to my defense – not you nor anyone else – even the damned comment editors whose job it is to monitor personal attacks and remove them. So can the self righteousness and finger-wagging [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor].

    I grew up in Williamsburg, zing. Amongst the Puerto Rican gangs and thugs, the Satmar Hassids and their hateful attitudes. I learned how to fight from Rav Meir Kahane, may his memory be for a blessing, and may his blood be avenged – “he who raises his hand to bless you, bless him first – he to kill you, kill him first.”

    Don’t ever lecture a Brooklyn boy on survival zing. You don’t know shit about us.

    Now, if Roger has gotten my point, that’s all that interests me. What you think, doesn’t. If you want that consideration, back me up when I’m attacked.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Dave, are you kidding me?

    I’ll make a very simple comparison: The British Empire was essentially an empire built for trade.

    Back in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, they planted the Union Jack all over the world, established a strong military prescence and commenced … trading.

    In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the US (mostly) leaves the stars and stripes at home, but establishes a military prescence and puts up corporate HQs everywhere and commences … trading.

    The British projected their power at sea.

    So does the US.

    And find me a city in any major country that doesn’t have a McDonald’s or at least three service-station brands of petrol originating in the US. Most airlines operate US-built aircraft, most western nations buy US military hardware, and Ford and GM are the world’s biggest car companies with separate, independent HQs in North America, Europe and Australia (that pretty much covers the globe).

    The US economy sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

    There are US military bases all over the world. Last year in Manila, a Filipino historian told me in regard to the US: “They colonised us, pure and simple, and when they realised it was cheaper to keep a naval base than a whole country, they did that … but they still called the shots.”

    The US has exactly the same kind of political influence today in The Philippines today as the British have in their former colonies in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. Perhaps more, as the standard of living there isn’t as good and they depend on US aid to a certain extent.

    The US military bases all over the world are a key pointer.

    I would even go far as to say that while my own country is an independent soverign nation, it’s almost a satellite of the US in some ways down here on the edge of the Pacific. It has strong American cultural input for a start, and its 70-year alliance with the US dictates our foreign policy to a certain extent.

    An American getting off the plane in Sydney would hardly notice the difference, except that Australians drive on the proper side of the road and unlike Americans, speak English with an accent that doesn’t sound like two cats fighting in a sack.

    We don’t depend on US aid, but our economy and culture have heavy American influence. I see it this way:

    We were a British colony, and half-way through WWII, we switched our allegiance to the US. I noticed once when I wrote in a story of mine on BC that you edited about Australia being Little America, and one colonial master (Britain) handing the baton of Australian allegience to the new colonial master (the US), you took the reference out on US colonialism. I meant it, though.

    Since WWII, the US has asked Australia to participate in every conflict it has been involved in. The fact we have done your bidding must tell you something.

    Living in Texas possibly doesn’t equip you to see things with 20/20 vision on this stuff. I would even go so far as to say that like us, Canada too is part of the US empire – but an uppity part, just like us.

    Americans have told me they don’t enjoy going to Canada much – not because it’s so different to the US but because it’s near identical.

    I say the “US empire” is a genuine empire at best, and at the very least it’s neo-colonialism.

    Whatever it is, it’s still a form of imperialism.

    Now, I don’t necessarily think that is that bad, especially if the pay-off is good for those countries who have been “neo-colonised”, if you like.

    But to say it’s none of those things is more Dave Nalle nonsense.

    It’s certainly semantics and most definitely hair-splitting.

  • Baronius

    STM – Your individual claims don’t really hold up, and they certainly don’t gel into an argument.

    With regard to autos and airplanes, the US dominated those industries by catching them at the beginning, and basically created mass-production. If you want to buy an Airbus or a Trabant, you could, but no one wanted to. We’re hardly the top dogs in auto manufacturing any more, anyway.

    The places you say are our satellites aren’t under our military control (like Australia and Canada), and the places that have been under our military control (like the Philippines) aren’t our satellites. Yes, we threw our weight around sometimes, and it earned us perennial sidekicks like…Cuba.

    Compare the US in Germany with the Brits in India, and you’ll see which one was a colonizer.

    And why do non-Americans get so upset by McDonald’s? Consider the arts which I listed earlier, and tell me where the US is dictating world culture.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Baron: “The US in Germany and the Brits in India.”

    First up, mate, let’s get one thing straight. I like American culture having been exported around the world. On balance, the good far, far outweighs the bad. I have no sense in this country that America has really thrown its weight around since Macarthur controlled our military during WWII. But we are what we are … Little America.

    And with respect, Baron, on the India/Germany thing, that’s just ridiculous: if you think anyone thinks the US colonised Germany, you don’t really know your post-war history. I don’t see it that way and know something about it as my father was in the BAOR (The British Army of The Rhine), which controlled a similar-sized chunk of Germany to the US military in the two decades after WWII and still maintains a big presence there.

    More useful would be to compare the American experience in The Philippines. The US colonised the place, pure and simple, and then maintained their influence.

    They even had a military-governor who ran the joint. If you don’t know that, mate, or understand the situation in The Phippines, you shouldn’t be commenting on that one aspect.

    What the US did in the The Philippines is identical to what the British did in India, except the Indians got conned better by getting less corruption and a better system of public transport. Ask any Filipino what they think about this. They are very vocal in that regard.

    Baron, suggesting my claims don’t stack up is also a nonsense. You don’t live here, so you you don’t see how our culture (which is very similar anyway, thankfully) has slowly been usurped by American cultural mores. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also what it is: an export of a dominant culture.

    Making the Airbus/Trabant comparison is nonsense too. The Europeans generally don’t buy US-designed cars (even the Fords and GM models are locally designed, as they are in Australia) and have been making their own great cars (Trabant isn’t one of them) and aircraft since WWI, so that’s not it either – I don’t think you quite see I was headed in that previous post. Even given the above, US corporations have still dominated in this regard. They might not get the Euro or Aussie/Asian market, but they are in there in joint ventures or as parent companies.

    It is that America exerts world domination through trade and its cultural influence (I have grown up watching all the same TV shows as you, Baron) which is what empires do.

    You also seem to assume that foreigners don’t like McDonald’s. You’d be wrong. I for one love their sausage McMuffins for breakfast. If they aren’t liked in this country, then they should tell the rest of the world how to make a huge profit from not being liked.

    Maybe the French don’t like Maccas … but then they don’t like anything that doesn’t come from France. Everyone else seems to be pumping up McDonald’s bottom line very nicely.

    I digress, though. I just don’t understand how Americans don’t see that they are at the hub of an empire. It’s beyond me. Americans shouldn’t see the extent of their domination on a military level. The US, IMO, isn’t a bully unless it’s getting punched in the nose.

    On the other hand, tt’s almost like, “the British were rotten imperialists but we (the US) are different because we’re exporting free trade and democratic ideals”.

    It’s actually another example of Americans buying in to the myth of American exceptionsalism.

    The bottom line, of course, when it comes to empire is that money talks.

    But as a believer in the anglosphere, I don’t see either the British or American empires as a bad thing.

    They have made mistakes, but what they have given to the world has been mostly beneficial.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Forget the “old” Cuba. Perennial sidekicks to the US: Britain (although the British might have seen it the other way around in 1917), Australia, Canada, and to a lesser extent in recent decades, New Zealand.

    Wonder why that is?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    You also seem to assume that foreigners don’t like McDonald’s. You’d be wrong. I for one love their sausage McMuffins for breakfast.

    Seriously, mate? Have you really concentrated while eating one? What do they taste of?

    I haven’t eaten McDonald’s for years. Their shit has the nutritional value of papier mache and the flavour of… well, you tell me. :-)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Baronius,

    I understand Stan’s attitude on this issue, as I do yours. Your attitude reflects the fact that no dog smells his own shit. What you can’t comprehend is that America is like Clifford the Big Red Dog. When Clifford takes a shit, the whole island he lives on stinks something awful. And America, its military influence, its bullying other nations and its ubiquitous and disgusting porno-culture, all stink up the planet. And with a Burger King or McDonald’s on every block, there is no way to escape the stench. America is a giant red white and blue dog, taking a giant shit on the planet. I only comprehended this when I moved overseas from the States. When I still lived in there, my attitude was much as yours is.

    What astounds me is Dave’s attitude. He, having grown up around here, should know better.

    And now the Blessed of Hussein is going to the Thugdom the Bush family helped stablish, the Wahhabi fake Moslem state in Arabia, where he can bow and do obeisance to the holder of so many American bonds and controllers of so many American companies.

    Who knows? Maybe Obama will circle the Ka’aba 7 times and get get an honorary “hajj” title.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    In my opinion, empires DO use strongarm tactics (covert and overt) to coerce – or replace – the ruling individual or party in other countries with regimes that are more amenable.

    I’ve watched us DO this in Guatemala, Dave…and we could certainly add a host of third-world countries to the list, not to mention dragging along the ‘coalition of the (un)willing’ into Iraq.

    Looking at it this way, we are certainly an empire…but normally – when we’re not conducting illegal invasions – we’re a fairly benevolent empire.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Doc: “Seriously, mate? Have you really concentrated while eating one? What do they taste of?”

    They taste of sausage, Doc. Now, I don’t know if Maccas are different here than in the US, as it’s so long since I’ve been there I can’t really remember, but down here, the PLAIN sausage mcmuffin is a mighty good thing once in a while.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    This thread has started on its inevitable downhill slide, with the discussion of the shit sold at McDonald’s Pig Troughs already starting.

    Feh!

    Fortunately, they don’t sell this kind of garbage at the Mac and Dons infesting Israel.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Come on Ruvy, I just like a sausage mcmuffin every now and then after a surf.

    I don’t care what’s in it.

    Why do you think everything about America is bad, mate??

    Israel wouldn’t exist as a soverign entity if it weren’t for America’s influence over that process initially.

    Perhaps it’s best we don’t get drawn into that one, but it’s true nevertheless.

    What America needs now is a Flashman!

  • Ruvy

    Why do you think everything about America is bad, mate??

    Because I remember how good it once was, Stan. America was the greatest nation on earth, the richest, the most powerful and everything else. I loved living there. And I watched it slide into the trash heap even as I lived there. But, it was only after leaving the country, that I realized that what I had been watching was a great nation imploding and destroying itself.

    I just instinctively knew in the States that I didn’t want our kids sucked up into American culture. I thought it was merely a matter of religious assimilation – intermarriage and the like. I was wrong. It was more than that – far more. At least here, our boys have both imbibed deeply on a culture of survival and improvisation.

    In joint naval exercises out here, Israeli sailors far outstrip American sailors in performance. Israelis, always lacking this, that or the other thing, improvise naturally. Americans don’t. They have to learn each time out.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    When you feed the world someone is going to get a percentage.

    Why do you believe that this is necessarily the case, Dave?

    When has it not been that way, Mark. We can change a lot of things, but we can’t change human nature.

    Stan, as you should be able to tell from the article, I’m responding to a very specific characterization of the US. I’m not disputing the idea of a US economic and cultural empire or sphere of influence. I’m not even disputing Glenn’s point about our efforts to build a better world for our interests. I’m specifically refuting the claim that we’re using our military to dominate and subjugate foreign nations as part of a traditional Roman/Napoleonic style empire. THAT claim doesn’t hold up, and that’s the point of the article.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    I’ve watched us DO this in Guatemala, Dave.

    Oh please. Compared to how they govern themselves, our involvement has been positively benign.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I’m specifically refuting the claim that we’re using our military to dominate and subjugate foreign nations as part of a traditional Roman/Napoleonic style empire.

    Nobody makes that claim, Dave – not even me! This is merely a straw man. In its seizure and emasculation of half of Mexico, and its treatment of the Phillipine Islands and Cuba in the early 20th (Christian) century, America was most certainly a colonial empire on the British or French model. But it never attempted to become an empire on the Napoleonic model.

    I’m not disputing the idea of a US economic and cultural empire or sphere of influence. I’m not even disputing Glenn’s point about our efforts to build a better world for our interests.

    Boy, Dave. After being banged on the head for 100 comments, you are finally admitting your were wrong. A first?

    By the way, is the fake “Moslem” thugdom in Arabia part of “a better world for our interests”? Just curious….

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    #104

    We have been changing our ‘human nature’ for millennia.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Mark S.

    certainly it has existed for thousands of years, but not yet on such a mass scale I wasn’t talking about Capitalism there. I think that’s not very clear the way I wrote it. It was societies organized cooperatively.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    When has it not been that way…

    It actually still isn’t that way in some places Dave.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    They taste of sausage, Doc.

    You sure that’s not just your brain filling in the blanks, Stan? ‘Cuz I could never taste much more than just salt.

    (Sorry, Ruvy, but conversations meander. We can’t always be talking about how America is going down the tubes and how we’re all going to die from an uncontrollable global outbreak of homicidal ingrown toenails.)

  • Baronius

    STM, I think we’re talking past each other (and Ruvy too) because we’re talking about too many things. G.K. Chesterton talked about the power of the list, that people tend to accept things in list form, even if one or more – or all – of the items aren’t correct.

    America’s porn culture: I remember French TV in the 1970’s. From what I understand, Italy was worse. Even the Brits crossed lines that American TV wouldn’t. I’m ashamed of much of the content of America’s mainstream culture, but don’t try to blame little old puritan America for pornography. It seems to me that the really nasty magazines always came from Scandanavia, anyway.

    America and Germany: I’m sorry if I wasn’t clearer on this. I didn’t mean that the US was imperialistic in Germany; quite the opposite. I’m saying that the “average” US occupation has followed the German scenario, quick in, quick out, or at least as quickly as possible. If you compare it to, for example, Britain in India, you’ll see that the duration and intentions of most American occupations were far different.

    Don’t make me defend Manifest Destiny, because I can’t. Particularly the confiscation of Texas.

  • Baronius

    To comment #106: The word “empire” implies, well, imperialism. I don’t think you can fairly say that America is an empire, but nothing like any historic empire. Maybe it’s better to say that America is really prominent.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I’m specifically refuting the claim that we’re using our military to dominate and subjugate foreign nations as part of a traditional Roman/Napoleonic style empire. THAT claim doesn’t hold up, and that’s the point of the article.

    I would agree…but (there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) there are those whose
    ‘benevolent’ reasons for waging an aggressive war run thin when it becomes blatantly obvious that the ‘reasons’ were nothing more than false pretenses built on assumptions.

    And yes, you know who I’m talking about.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No, Glenn, tell me! It couldn’t be the Neocons perchance?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I’m specifically refuting the claim that we’re using our military to dominate and subjugate foreign nations as part of a traditional Roman/Napoleonic style empire.

    Nobody makes that claim, Dave – not even me!

    Sorry, Ruvy. This particular argument is widespread on the extreme right and extreme left in the US, particularly among hardcore socialist internationalists and members of the JBS. I run up against it literally every day. They did a big push on the claim of military empire for memorial day, in fact.

    This is merely a straw man. In its seizure and emasculation of half of Mexico, and its treatment of the Phillipine Islands and Cuba in the early 20th (Christian) century, America was most certainly a colonial empire on the British or French model. But it never attempted to become an empire on the Napoleonic model.

    The key thing is that unlike the British or French we made no attempt to hold on to most of that territory. We liberated, cleaned the area up, put in puppet regimes and moved on, hopefully leaving people more free as a result.

    Boy, Dave. After being banged on the head for 100 comments, you are finally admitting your were wrong. A first?

    Again, I’m not admitting to being wrong, just pointing out that I’m writing about a specific type of empire, not any of the newer, broader concepts.

    By the way, is the fake “Moslem” thugdom in Arabia part of “a better world for our interests”? Just curious….

    I believe I’ve pointed out before that I favor the formation of a Hashemite Caliphate and the return of the holy cities to their control.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    For reasons that I don’t understand, Mozilla Firefox kept crashing on me, so I got off in disgust. After doing holiday shopping for Shavuot (Thursday night through Friday night – Pentecost to you Christians), I just got home now….

    It’s about 23:00 now here.

    Sorry, Ruvy, but conversations meander. We can’t always be talking about how America is going down the tubes and how we’re all going to die from an uncontrollable global outbreak of homicidal ingrown toenails.

    Not all of you think America is going down the tubes. This is a point of view i read on the Jewish lists I’m on. It’s tiring for me to read after a while – especially from Jews who complain and complain – but make no move to leave the country.

    Now what was this about dying from homicidal ingrown toenails? What are the symptoms? Is there a vaccine that works? Is it a sexual disease that somehow got misplaced to the toes? You know, you learn something new every day!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I believe I’ve pointed out before that I favor the formation of a Hashemite Caliphate and the return of the holy cities to their control.

    We agree on this completely. In my own opinion, the crushing of the Wahhabi Thugdom is one of the prime elements needed for peace here, so that Islam actually can be a religion of peace, following the Sufi line of thought. Jihad needn’t be an attempt to hack everybody into pieces who doesn’t accept Allah and Mohammed as his prophet. That’s the Wahhabi bullshit line of intolerance.

    So, any ideas on how to bring this about?

    By the way Stan and DD, speaking of pig, when the bus home to Ma’ale Levona entered the road up to Sh’vut RaHel and Shilo from the main highway leading to Sh’khem, we saw two wild pigs crossing the road, one following the other…. I thought of you two as they progressed into the grass on the side of the road.

    Sorry, Ruvy. This particular argument is widespread on the extreme right and extreme left in the US, particularly among hardcore socialist internationalists and members of the JBS. I run up against it literally every day. They did a big push on the claim of military empire for memorial day, in fact.

    Just curious…. Aside from Cindy, I cannot think of any “extreme leftists” commenting here these days (haven’t seen our favorite Menshevik, Les Slater, around for a while). And I think the closest we had to a Bircher here was banned a couple of years ago.

    Now that you explain yourself as to what you really meant, something that was not clear in your article, it seems you are only aiming at the extremes – small extremes at that.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “Don’t ever lecture a Brooklyn boy on survival zing. You don’t know shit about us.”

    dude, i live like half a mile from where you grew up…

    and for the record, i didn’t see the attack on you, as it was deleted. it would greatly surprise me if roger’s attack was anywhere near the level of yours. if it had been that personal, i’m sure there would have been some outcry.

    two wrongs don’t make a right, ruvy. i think that old chestnut is something you could actually learn from. “an eye for an eye” is bad. golden rule, good. etc, etc.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    zing,

    they’ve erased a whole bunch of comments – even those that didn’t directly pertain to the subject. Anyways, here’s the context:

    Dave, I believe, talked about being amused by some view (Ruvy’s included). I kind of jumped in saying something to the effect that it should come as no surprise anymore (and used the “f …l” word in that connection. So it was a personal attack sort of, because I didn’t characterize the views represented, only the person.

    Anyway, the rest is history.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But then again, the reason I’ve done that is because he had starting using sarcastic epithets on all other threads – like “the sage from Christian County, KY” (which is where I happen to live right now). So my use of the “f …l” word was a payback.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ll tell you something even stranger. One of the editors in another section made a totally out-of-whack unjustified personal attack (I shan’t go into details) – presumably because I put some questions to one of the authors there. And it’s only by chance that I happened to see that; I was just curious as the whether there were some more comments on that thread. Then, lo and behold – it’s staring me in the face.

    Naturally, I responded – not so much in kind but more along the line of asking pointed questions – e.g., asking to provide a justification.

    It was only following my response that both comments (the editor’s and mine) were promptly removed. Which makes me wonder whether the original comment would have stood all along had I not noticed it and posted a rebuttal.

    Something to thing about.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Errata:

    “Something to think about,” like in “you have another think coming . . .”

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger, if you have to stir up old fights – since zing can’t let a subject drop – I don’t give a shit about being called a fool. It’s what you said before that that pissed me off. You know what it was, and that is all that counts.

    If the comments editor had eliminated your remarks immediately, I would have said nothing. But it was only after I defended myself that the comments editor struck – and he will probably will strike this comment out too, because apparently he will be damned if my side gets heard here.

    I will let the subject drop. [Edited by Comments Editor]

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Same here. He wanted a context and I obliged. It’s over and done with.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You should have jumped on Dave in the first place (for his #39 on the other thread). And that still stands.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I have a much worse episode (see my #122). The only thing is – it’s still a new format and they can’t jump on it as quickly as before.

    Even H&C manages to squeak in now and then and post, under another name of course.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You can’t mean “f & m ..d,” can you? That was meant as a metaphor.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Let it go, Roger. It is not wise to suggest that a different commenter be ignored. Let it stand at that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Anyways, your response didn’t really hit me. We just have different philosophies about life and women. All my relationships were great (considering the stage we were in) – each better than the next People grow out of those stages and move on. Better than stick with one another and be miserable.

    So I am quite accomplished by now (like Frank Harris and all his loves). Besides, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear on the net – not even from me.

    Only three legal marriages (one of ‘em shot-gun); but plenty of relationships (some lasting eight years or longer; others twice as long). I’ve always had women in my life, it was a full life, and I don’t regret it one bit. (And I ain’t talking of one night stands.) Those I can’t even count.

    So peace!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OK. Case closed.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Here’s a link to Frank Harris.

  • Bliffle

    Of course the USA is an Empire, and has been for over 60 years. And that’s not altogether a bad thing. Of course, we have excesses, just like any previous empire. The control-freaks go nuts because not everyone wants to fall in line behind their leadership, but that’s the way it is with people.

    They’re only human.

    But empires shake things up, they expose hidden cultures to the world, they create new values in commerce, they negotiate cultural difference by giving some good things and taking some good things. Of course, there are some bad things exchanged too, but hopefully they fall into disuse.

    The Brits introduced cricket to south asia and improved cricket at the same time indians and pakistanis could learn how to play the games that built that empire.

    The USA has done some good things, and some really malevolent stupid bad things, too.

    After all, we’re only human.

  • Baronius

    Whoa, this is odd. It seems that the commenters have failed to solve the problems of capitalism and human nature. I’m a little surprised at that; after all, there was such a flurry of conversation that you felt was necessary. You determined that working for pay is somehow beneath human dignity, and that the proper price for a good is something other than what the buyer and seller agree upon, but then it just fizzled out. And I’ve got to say, even though these are word-for-word the same conversations we’ve seen before, I thought that this time was going to see a breakthrough. I mean, once you’ve abolished human nature, the answers should just flow. But I’m sure that next week, after another article that isn’t about capitalism and human nature, the exact same tangent will yield the answers we’ve been waiting for. Here’s hoping!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    If you wish, I can resume.

  • zingzing

    alright.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Dave: “The key thing is that unlike the British or French we made no attempt to hold on to most of that territory. We liberated, cleaned the area up, put in puppet regimes and moved on, hopefully leaving people more free as a result.”

    Looks like more buying into that myth of American exceptionalism.

    So what was the 50 years in The Philippines, under military government, then and the 100,000 Filipons killed fighting the US … and they have issues with the notion that they’ve been left “more free”.

    I was there last year. A couple of astute academics told me that if they absolutely had to be colonised, they wished the British had stayed after capturing Luzon from the Spanish in the late 1700s.

    That, largely, is because they look at the former colonies like HK, Malaysia and Singapore, which have the highest standards of living in the region in that south-east asia region. The Philippines is struggling on that score and depends on a lot of US aid to get by.

    I think in general they are way better disposed to the US than they are to the Spanish and have some genuine affection for Americans but they do get annoyed with US terms like the The Philippine Insurrection, which actually led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Filpinos they say were fighting a war of independence against America.

    That certainly looks like colonisation in my book. You can even see it in the mixture of buildings in downtown Manila. There is a definite American flavour to some of the old government buildings.

    To their credit, they are very reverent towards the US war dead at the big US cemetery/memorial in Manila.

    Having visited some of the Commonwealth gravesites in Europe, I found myself entranced there too. We were there for some hours (looking for people with our surnames, of which there were many even though we’re not Yanks).

  • Bliffle

    Interesting comment, STM.

    On memorial Day PBS ran a documentary about the many American cemeteries in foreign lands, especially Europe. After WW1 the US government commissioned 8 cemeteries for doughboys who died on European soil, employing the best artisans, stone cutters, etc., for the effort. Black Jack Pershing himself was in charge.

    After WW2 I think 14 more were established.

    Each dead soldier has his own plot, with a stone marker such as a cross or star.

    These cemeteries are regularly visited by Americans and by local people.

  • M a rk

    Dave: We can change a lot of things, but we can’t change human nature.

    It seems that all arguments concerning ethics and economy trace back to this ‘golden milestone’. What kind of evidence can you think of that would convince you that it is a false premiss?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s one reason, Mark, I’d rather cast my arguments without resorting to this elusive term. I can be talked about, and intelligently, in certain context – e.g., the educational framework – you get my meaning – but not in any general kind of sense like that. So used, it’s only a cop-out or a buzz word.

    BTW, read your article on BC (editorial policies) and totally concur. Nice writing style, focused, and penetrative. (Left a comment there.)

    Do some more!

  • Ma rk

    (Hi Rog. To the extent that that article is readable, all kudos to Clavos and his editorial skills.)

  • Baronius

    STM, Britain did keep an interest in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. That’s because Britain is an empire. They only relinquished Hong Kong in 1997.

    The difference between an empire and the US is the difference between a meaningful relationship and a one night stand. Britain gets to know their new colony and they eventually settle down together. The US wakes up next to a stranger, takes a quick shower, and leaves.

    A rough analogy, I know. You can certainly argue that an empire does more good.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Quite readable, Mark. And poignant.
    I haven’t read the long thread. Just wonder what the management response was. It’d be a nice policy to implement.

  • m ark

    They found the idea unnecessary. And readers generally feared that a heavy hand would result stifling rather than protecting free expression.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, I’m all for responsible journalism whether in fact or opinion. Just hate to be subjected to OBVIOUS ideological biases (unsupported by sound and reasoned arguments). It’s just a waste of time before you can even start getting down to cases. And more often than not, because of it you never do.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Baron: “The US wakes up next to a stranger, takes a quick shower, and leaves.”

    50 years of a US military government in The Philippines was more than a quick shower Baron, as was the occupation of Hawaii.

    There are still some genuine American colonies dotted around the Pacific.

    American Samoa is one obvious one but there are a couple more.

    And what about Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands over the other side of the big pond.

    Puerto Rico is nominally independent, but is still actually run as a commonwealth (like the old British dominions) from Washington.

    Then there’s the very strong American influence over much of central America.

    True, they don’t stack up to the number of former British colonies but my theory on that is that when the US was at the point of rivalling Britain in its ability to become a colonial power in the late 19th century, the rest of the world was starting to look askance at the practice and subsequently the colonial nations began to divest themselves of these colonies. It might have been a slow process, but it was starting to happen.

    Of course, Americans themselves have been largely opposed to coloialism, but their government took them there nevertheless.

    I just think they didn’t tell you guys that you have been genuine colonisers.