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New American Empire?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Advocat, Jan 11, 2003.

  1. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    It seems many people -- politicians, scholars and academics -- in many countries are viewing the military/political policies of the US as creating an American Empire; they differ on whether this is an accidental side effect of said policies or an intentional goal.

    What do you think? Have a read on some of the links below and speak your mind.

    Is the economic, military, political and technological influence of the US creating a defacto empire? Note that the modern geo-political scientists agree that the old-fashioned idea of geographic empires does not apply today; now they speak of "diffused empire":

    An American Empire:
    Charles Maier
    "Except for a minority of tough-minded realists, Americans have tended to reject the idea that our own high-minded republic might be imperial (much less imperialist). Empire has traditionally been identified with conscious military expansion. Washington may have organized an alliance, but it did not seek to conquer territory nor, supposedly, to dominate other societies. President Kennedy, certainly an activist in foreign policy, declared explicitly that the United States did not aim at any Pax Americana. <i>But British imperial historians also long denied that there was anything intentional about the creation of the Victorian domains in Asia and Africa. </i>Modern liberal internationalists prefer to think of empire as the reluctant acceptance of responsibility for peoples and lands who must be rescued from the primitive violence that threatens to engulf them if left on their own.

    In fact, some historians of international relations, myself included, have resorted to the concept of a quasi-American empire for a long time. Still, we believed it was an empire with a differencea coordination of economic exchange and security guarantees welcomed by its less powerful member states, who preserved their autonomy and played a role in collective policymaking. We used such terms as "empire by invitation" or "consensual" empire. What, after all, distinguishes an empire? It is a major actor in the international system based on the subordination of diverse national elites whowhether under compulsion or from shared convictionsaccept the values of those who govern the dominant center or metropole. The inequality of power, resources, and influence is what distinguishes an empire from an alliance (although treaties of alliance often formalize or disguise an imperial structure). Distinct national groupings may be harshly controlled within an empire or they may enjoy autonomy. At least some of their political, economic, and cultural leaders hobnob with their imperial rulers and reject any idea of escaping imperial influence. Others may organize resistance, but they, too, have often assimilated their colonizers' culture and even values. Empires function by virtue of the prestige they radiate as well as by might, and indeed collapse if they rely on force alone. Artistic styles, the language of the rulers, and consumer preferences flow outward along with power and investment capitalsometimes diffused consciously by cultural diplomacy and student exchanges, sometimes just by popular taste for the intriguing products of the metropole, whether Coca Cola or Big Macs. As supporters of the imperial power rightly maintain, empires provide public goods that masses of people outside their borders really want to enjoy, including an end to endemic warfare and murderous ethnic or religious conflicts."

    Other interesting articles on the concept of American Empire:

    Terror war and oil expand US sphere of influence:

    Hail Bush: A new Roman empire

    The New National Security Strategy Is American Empire

    New chapter for the American empire

    American Empire

    The New American Empire: US News Schoolroom

    Observe the new Great Imperium
  2. jamming

    jamming Banned

    Our goal is not Imperial, but in safety for the citizens of our country. We do not target countries that leave us alone or do not threaten our safety. The axis of evil are three countries that have targeted the safety of this country, we are dealing with what at the time is the most grevious first, which is why North Korea is acting out now. We know that it is a longer situation to deal with the terrorists, which we will continue to fight over years but to reconfigure our military to that fight we must end those things that take up our military requirements now. We need changes in Iraq and Iran (which we have put last on the list) to make this only a war against terrorism. We need to free up our troops and commitments in Korean area which we think is our last major consideration for most of Asia in a tactical air-ground combat scenario. Then the US can go to a more defensive standard air-ground setting and move the concentration of resources to an anti-terrorism war. Then we can become more responsive and interdict terror operations better.
  3. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    The US has been the world's superpower since WWII. Although not technically an Empire as we have not attempted to imperialize and take people's land, we have gone in, Liberated (or in some cases not so liberated) people, rebuilt their nation, and for that our influence has often remained. There has been a lot of cultural diffusion around the world due to our faster better methods of communication. However I will defer to jamming as to the axis of evil. Generally, we have not tried to influence countries that aren't threatening us. I believe however the Cold War was a huge exception to this rule, where either you were a democrat who wanted democracy around the world, a commie who wanted communist values to spread, or someone paid not to change to communism or democracy/capitalism by one of the previous two...
  4. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Great topic and thread, thus far.

    Is US an empire?

    Check out the definition for one:

    1. a group of nations or peoples ruled over by an emperor, empress, or other powerful sovereign or government: usually a territory of greater extent than a kingdom, as the former British Empire, French Empire, Russian Empire, Byzantine Empire, or Roman Empire.

    2. a government under an emperor or empress.

    3. (often cap.) the historical period during which a nation is under such a government: a history of the second French empire.

    4. supreme power in governing; imperial power; sovereignty: Austria's failure of empire in central Europe.

    5. supreme control; absolute sway: passion's empire over the mind.

    6. a powerful and important enterprise or holding of large scope that is controlled by a single person, family, or group of associates: The family's shipping empire was founded 50 years ago.

    7. (cap.) a variety of apple somewhat resembling the McIntosh.

    Not one is applicable to the US.
  5. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Note that the sources listed in the original post state that:

    1) achieving "empires" can be accidental, so not having imperial ambitions as policy doesn't mean you can't end up an empire by default.

    2) The dictionary definition of empire reflects the old geographic and/or conquest model, not the one appearing in the articles.

    Perhaps the definition of "hegemony" as defined below is more fitting... if less commonly used... than "empire"

    It's pretty heavy going, though. ;)
    I've supplied a summary:

    In today's world, a dominant ideological power within a group of states, by overwhelmingly exporting it's culture/ideology, commercial and military power, can achieve the effects of empire without having to forcibly invade. This is defined as "hegemony"

    The effects of cultural/ideological influence (Drink Coke, capitalism, democracy), economic force (you want favourable trade, don't you?) and coertion (If you're not with us, you're against us), lead less powerful countries to act in the same fashion as colonial countries of past geographic empires... and for much the same reasons.

    The carrot and the stick.

    Living with the Hegemon: European Dilemmas
    Antonio Gramsci's concept of 'hegemony', now widely accepted in conventional political discourse, emphasized the combination of coercion and consent which maintains structures of dominance, both within states and within systems of states. Stable structures of power depend on both material resources and ideology - dominant systems of belief. States can secure temporary supremacy over their neighbours through the use of overwhelming force and the utilization of superior technology, underpinned by the expenditure of the necessary economic resources; longer-term supremacy however depends upon at least a degree of acceptance of the legitimacy of the dominant power from those dominated. All formal or informal empires have proclaimed legitimising ideologies, with greater or lesser degrees of success. "

    <small>edit: more detail</small>
  6. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    I don't think the above is 100% accurate as it presupposes that there is no choice. There is always choice, the choice may just be not one of your liking. Don't want to be our trading partner, then don't and shift the trade somewhere else. Don't want to do have American cultural influence? Try to stop it. There are always choices.

    What is lacking is the will to implement those choices.
  7. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    It is both shortsighted and naive to conclude that the new hegemony has, at its center, the U.S. as a leader rather than a tool. What is actually developing as the real seats of power are transglobal corporations whose needs dictate the agenda of the WTO and the IMF.
  8. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Excellent, Coot!

    Make sure you take a laptop and wireless NIC with you to NM.

  9. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    You have to consider that US companies go out of their way to get access to the markets of other countries; heck, the State Dept makes forcing markets open part of their purview.

    And countries that do have the will to do as you say? Well, most Americans point at them and list them as "enemies of the American way"... which puts them under the "if you're not with us you're against us" category.

    So, cooperate, let us in (join us)and share the benefits (culture, commerce, democracy); hegemony . Don't cooperate and you're obviously an enemy of our life all we hold dear.... meanwhile, we'll make things tough on you and we'll do what we can to get your markets open or to get you to align your policies to ours.

    Carrot and stick.
  10. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Interesting point! Multinationals would certainly would be more successful under democratic/capitalistic governments than under more restrictive or totalitarian states. But if this is the case, I would have the think the US government is aware of their actions; the only reason I can think of for the government to allow themselves to be used is that the US expects to receive the lions share of benefits from these actions.

    Either that, or the government is clueless they are being used (frightening thought), or has been bought out. There just don't seem to be too many other options for this particular scenerio.
  11. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Bought out works. One only has to look to the truthfulness of Shiny's posting sig. We elect the wealthy to office and they protect their own interests...we elect the middle class to office and they become wealthy and protect the interests of those who made them so.

    To presuppose that a sense of altruism, morality or honor is the prime mover of modern governments would be devoid of reason. It is the multi-nationals dictating the course of government, by dictating the individual fortunes of elected officials.
  12. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Just a quick thought, taken from Living with the Hegemon:
    "There are, however, dilemmas for the USA as well. Hegemony rests on consent as well as on coercion, as has been argued above; and consent has to be generated and maintained, through the provision of persuasive leadership and through reference to a universal set of values. Liberal hegemony requires dominant powers to present the pursuit of their enlightened self-interest as being in the common interests of civilization as a whole. Explicit references to direct and immediate national interests, a rationale for foreign policy which stresses the exceptional and exclusive interests of the United States compared to those of its partners, resistance to multilateral regimes which diffuse American leadership within frameworks of shared rules and obligations, all weaken the 'soft power' of American prestige and reputation on which the informal empire of this hegemonic world order depends."

    Again, heavy going, so he's my synopsis:
    This suggests that the US has had a diffuse hegemony for some time, but so long as the US political language was couched in terms of cooperation, coaltion and negotiation, it was considered a benign "empire", convincing countries to adopt polices instead of coercing them.

    Once the US (post 9/11) started using terms of sole self interest, unilateralism, America first, "You're either with us or against us", the countries in the US "sphere" began to feel they were being coerced... which made their reluctant to go along with policies which were already stated to be more for the US than other countries. This feeling reached citizens through the media; thus stirring feeling against the US.

    If the US had done everything they've done in the war on terrorism, but couched all policies solely in the language of cooperation and concilation (for those in it's sphere), would there still be the resistance to US policies and general anti-Americanism exhibited by so many countries today?
  13. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Quite probably, yes; anti-Americanism was brewing before 9/11. And it reached a head with Bush gaining the presidency.

  14. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Wallace tiptoes up to the issue and still sees things on a global/regional political/economic landscape.
    This, in my estimation, is where Wallace's myopia is most evident. No government or union, neither North American, European, Asian or Middle Eastern escapes the grasp of the multinationals. What they pitch and how they influence international politics, is structured around and insinuated into the very fabric of the arguments Wallace makes.

    Companies like Dow and G.E. care not a wit about societies and governments, save how they can create new markets and achieve the lowest cost of production possible...to these ends, they gladly manipulate and influence governments and societies and even buy legislation in whatever currency it takes to achieve those ends.

    Wallace further states that:
    Governments are set in place according to various laws and customs, and each works within the confines of its own strengths and weaknesses. I would submit that the exact imbalance of power markers that Wallace describes is exactly what the transglobal corporations tacitly insist on...a lopsided triangle if you will between military might, economic power and diplomatic influence between the major global governments.

    This isn't a global conspiracy between powerful international companies so much as it is how the game has evolved. In democracies and parliamentary governments, the representatives are elected and sent to represent and govern. In the process, they are swallowed up and their first duty suborned by lobbies and influence peddlars.

    In the 21st century, governments negotiate and contrive pacts and treaties...sometimes due to their strengths and the perceived weaknesses of the other party...sometimes through influence exerted by NGO's with 'strengths' of their own. In all instances, the power of conglomerates is dictating more and more just what those strengths and weaknesses are.

    Daily, votes and boons and exemptions are bought. Real wealth and power is being traded, determined, gained and lost to a lesser and lesser extent on Wall Street and to a greater extent in the various governmental assemblies around the world.

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