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The Debate over Imperialism

By Shadow Knight in MLP
Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 01:21:43 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

Recently, articles have appeared suggesting the United States move from economic empire to a full-fledged political/economical/social Empire. There have long been cries for Pax Americana, but only in the light of recent events have these begun to filter into the mainstream view.

Until last month, only "whacked out" conservatives (not to offend anyone... "whacked out" as compared to your average soccer mom, not on some objective scale of sanity) would have seriously suggested occupying and directly ruling other countries. But now this thought is moving toward the center of American politics, even if our elected representatives don't realize it yet. As a nation, it seems we have two possible directions for the future: toward Fortress America (the Republican option, favored by Libertarians) or toward Pax Americana (the Empire, originally favored by only a few, now gaining popularity). This has been discussed in a number of places, but I felt it would be intriguing to have the discussion here. Some more articles are available.

To provide a little more detail here: What I call Fortress America means the United States withdraws from all contact with the outside world. For this option, we must become 100% self-sufficient. We close our borders and ignore the world. If they come for us, we defend ourselves, but we do not attack or visit other countries or deal with them in any way.

What I call Pax Americana is exactly the opposite: instead of pretending that America is the world, we make the world the United States. To my mind, this is different (perhaps easier?) than previous Empires, because it would, of necessity, be an American Empire. That means we would have to make people want to be part of it. So we have to invade their countries and build up their infrastructure. Make sure all the towns and villages have electricity and running water. Put Walmarts all over the place (this may happen no matter what...). As I envision it, this is something like a pre-emptive Marshall Plan: tear down the "backwards" places, and rebuild them as our friends. This worked spectacularly in Germany and Japan post-WWII, there is every reason to believe it would work elsewhere, too.

Now, I present these as merely the possible extreme endpoints of the possible directions. Clearly, the status quo (perhaps best expressed as "America -- Bumbling World Cop") has become unacceptable both to Americans and to the terrorists. The time has come to choose which direction to move in. What do you think? Are these the only directions? Is the status quo acceptable to you (whether you be American or not), or is change necessary? If change is necessary, which way should the US go?

To begin the discussion, I'll reveal my view: I am an American, and I think the US should move toward Pax Americana. This doesn't necessarily mean going all the way to the extreme (conquering the entire world... "Now class, you need to memorize all 5000 states and their capitols by Thursday"), but rather some lesser version, where we cooperate with like-minded countries. Some may see this attitude as racist... I do not think so. I am, perhaps, a tad bit "culturalist," in thinking that I would prefer to live in a Western society. It literally doesn't matter one iota to me if there are variations on that theme (look at Japanese culture... very special and unique, but Western at the same time).

Lastly, I wanted to address the theory that the current American economic domination of the world is enough to ensure American security. This is demonstrably false. If that were true, the World Trade Towers would still be standing. Economic pressure only applies to the places with economies, or people that are not willing to sacrifice themselves just to hurt us. An economic Empire might be enough if it were truly universally global, but it isn't right now, obviously.

Thanks to M0dUluS and Anatta for a couple of those links


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Which direction?
o Fortress America 9%
o Pax Americana 19%
o Status Quo 17%
o The Unnamed/Unknown Other 53%

Votes: 41
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
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o Also by Shadow Knight

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The Debate over Imperialism | 55 comments (37 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
These are not the only options... (2.80 / 5) (#3)
by symbiotic on Mon Oct 15, 2001 at 08:33:29 PM EST

First of all, I do not believe that these are the only two options. For the sake of full disclosure, I am an American from European descent. When you say "where we cooperate with like-minded countries"... This is impossible. All countries/cultures have different value systems. Even in Western cultures the differences are sometimes too big to act as a single community - look at Europe. BTW - even I do not agree with the two extremes, I wanted to vote +1 for the article and by accident voted -1 (yeah...that's stupid). I checked out the Help/FAQ and did not found how to correct that. Is that possible?

Colonialism for dummies (4.63 / 11) (#11)
by driptray on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 02:17:51 AM EST

Those damn foreigners would be grateful if we invaded their countries and set up WalMarts on every corner. It's what they want, even if they don't know that right now. Anyway, we know best, and the security of the USA is more important than the ability of a bunch of foreigners to determine their own future. And anyway, they can't determine their own future until we invade them and set up democratic government for them.

The bottom-line is that we'd be helping them.

I'm sorry I've had to resort to sarcasm, but I'm really left a little stunned by somebody seriously advocating colonialism. It sounds so similar to other great colonialist/expansionist endeavours, such as Japan's "Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere", and the anschluss and subsequent takeover of most of Europe by the Nazis.

And Godwin can go fuck himself this time, because comparison with the Nazis is sometimes justified, and a necessary eye-opener.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
What about practising what one preaches? (4.37 / 8) (#12)
by emc2 on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 04:53:19 AM EST

OK, so the US (according to Bush's encyclopedia) is the defender of freedom and democracy.

Question: Why then the US, when forced by the circumstances to dethrone a hostile goverment, always chooses murderers or dictators of some kind or another?

Question: if the US could have not known about the homicidal tendencies of a new friendly regime, why the US does not put some pressure for the respect of at least the most basic human rights once the tyranical nature of a friendly regime is evident (dear King Fahd, we may come to believe that stonning women to death is not exactly a civilized way o behaving).

Question: why the US torpedoes so many international agreements and institutions unless they are under their control or at least fully agree with US policy (where is the compromise that comes with democracy in the international scene?).

And so on and so forth.

There are solutions that don't demand extreme behaviour, just the realization that although the US is the strongest country, it is just one more amongst many that would like to receive the same respect the US constantly demands.

Both scenarios you propose would bring and end to the US as we know it (maybe not such a bad thing), for examples of isolationism the most glaring one is ancient China: China was the most technologicaly advanced culture in the world when all of the sudden they closed themselves to the outside world. That set them back until they became a feudal society that could barely feed itself.

An Ulltra Imperial entity would not work either: the US does not have the strenght to hold together such a monstruosity.


Can I Ask A Question? (4.11 / 9) (#14)
by Cloaked User on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 05:49:56 AM EST

Do you seriously believe this crap, or are you just trying to get a rise out of the large non-US contingent here?

You have 5000+ dead in terrorist attacks for actions that some people regard as amounting to what you suggest here, and your reaction is to do more of the same?

"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
Read the article, where he says (3.50 / 2) (#21)
by wiredog on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 03:07:19 PM EST

What do you think? Are these the only directions? Is the status quo acceptable to you (whether you be American or not), or is change necessary? If change is necessary, which way should the US go?

So, do you have any answers for his questions?

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]

Where has it been more justified? (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by wnight on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 12:06:47 PM EST

The Afghani people have been pretty adamant about hating the Taliban. How many people do they have to kill before someone steps in and stops it?

Or do you sit by and watch someone slaughter their population and enforce strict rules which starve the rest and do nothing? That wouldn't fly here, so why is it okay just because they've drawn a little line around a piece of land?

If this happened in the US, or Switzerland, or any country where people had some say in their government you might say that they had brought it on themselves by not being vigilant and in electing that person. But you can't show me a single Afghani who voted for the Taliban. Hell, I doubt you can show me many who liked them.

I can see the US taking flak here if they moved in, conquered, and used as slave labour. But what would be wrong with moving in at the request of the people and handing control to the UN in such a way that they'd work towards open elections in forty years time, or so. (Enough for a generation of educated people to be raised.)

If this (the Taliban) ever happens in my country (Canada), I'd like to go on record now as saying that I'd really want the US to come in, remove them, and hold us as a protectorate until we got back on our feet again. Hell, even if they promoted christianity, as long as it didn't mean my wife would get stoned for proper attire it wouldn't be quite so bad. (And that's a lot for an athiest to say!)

[ Parent ]
Funny thing (none / 0) (#44)
by emmanuel.charpentier on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 10:43:17 AM EST

Not long ago there was a story in k5h explaining how the US actually helped the taliban to take over afghanistan and beat the northern alliance. <br/> Well, you want imperial america to be even more imperial? And you expect to have less trouble? Good luck...

[ Parent ]
Funny thing (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by emmanuel.charpentier on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 10:44:25 AM EST

Not long ago there was a story in k5h explaining how the US actually helped the taliban to take over afghanistan and beat the northern alliance.
Well, you want imperial america to be even more imperial? And you expect to have less trouble? Good luck...

[ Parent ]
Close, but sometimes a cigar is just a hard place (4.00 / 2) (#47)
by wnight on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 01:11:05 PM EST

I was saying that the US should either not do the government toppling, dictator propping that it does, and (mostly) sit at home like other countries, OR it should make sure that when it topples a government it actually stays and puts in one that won't end up mudering its citizens in a drunken orgy or religious violence in a few years.

I doubt you'd get many terrorists from a country where they grew up moderately well off, educated, and lived with US culture.

Or rather, if you did, they'd be standard home-grown redneck terrorists, not the overseas ones who want to ignite a holy/racial war.

[ Parent ]
WTF? (3.44 / 9) (#15)
by kyrbe on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 06:40:13 AM EST

Have I completely missed something...? Was it not, in my opinion, the attitude of America as reflected in this article that got the WTC attacked?

In all seriousness where's the Poll Option "Nuke the US out of existence"? It'd certainly get my vote.

I'm going to have to stop following internation politics and news, otherwise I'm going to act on the urge to fly out to the US, pick up a large automatic weapon and start shooting.

If I make this a call to arms against the US am I going to have some US agency knocking on my door...? In my country...?

Equal Rights, Representation, Education and Welfare
Ludicrous. (4.44 / 9) (#17)
by Surial on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 08:20:51 AM EST

This is the kind of thinking that gets you in a lot of trouble. People, all over the world, are more or less the same on many basic issues. One of them is respect. People like to get it.

And this kind of bulloney makes me laugh and weep at the same time.

Let's see what's wrong with it all. First off, you can't ignore other countries. That's simply not possible. 'fortress america' won't survive because it couldn't possibly provide itself with enough energy (read: oil). Even if you manage total self-reliance, there is that simple thing called international trade. That would where you gain and the other party gains too, and you would be missing out on it. That's rather painful in the economic sense. I don't have the values here, but I'm sure the net international trade gain for the United States is astronomical. Then there's the multitrillion debt; shutting down international affairs while you still owe a lot of countries money, well, what do we have to do then? Call America the land of the criminal and arrogant, or invade to get it back?

Then there's also the issue of freedom: You want to see Paris someday? Tokyo? Bummer. You go introvert, you are bound to get some countries that simply won't accept passports from the USA. But it doesn't stop there, in order to effectively implement Fortress America, the USA can't allow it's own citizens to cross the border; they could be mentally influenced, killed, etcetera outside. You have to completely close your borders to everything. In fact, you'd have to include internet connections to the outside of the united states, because people can be mentally influenced that way.
You are willfully sticking a berlin wall around your country? You have family in europe? Aw, shucks, you can never see or speak to them again. ever. This is silly.

Then there's this pax americana. If fortress america is silly, this would be somewhere between insane and ludicrous. What exactly do you think will happen in such circumstances? The basic premise of empire america is that you go in, 'give aid to countries', forcibly take over government. You can be as nice as you like, you can give as much aid as you want, but you're taking too much respect. Forcibly taking over anything gets you hate, and lots of it. Imagine that the European Union jointly decide that The USA is being so braindead in their foreign policy that we'll come over and force the USA to set up a new government system. It'll never happen, but imagine. We wouldn't go and kill anything, wouldn't take any land, would in fact invest funding, and be generally nice. Some will fight for the right to have braindead foreign policy, and we'd kill them. Some others die (Acceptable Collateral Damage). I'd bet pretty much every american would feel attacked. Most would begin hating europeans (or at least strongly dislike) and then there are the minority nutcases that get silly ideas. Involving planes and big buildings or similar terrorist attacks. Not ratifyable by any means, but it sounds plausible, doesn't it?

If you are now thinking that it would be dead-wrong for europeans do that because america is your country and the responsibility of your countrymen, you'd be right. You can apply that to every country you'd want to include in your empire by the way.

If you are now thinking that such an invasion would be silly because the american way is freedom, democratic, blabla, the way countries are meant to be run, you've just put your finger on why a lot of foreign nationals dislike americans. Your system works for you. great. Excellent, in fact. A version which is a bit more exteme on the freedom works for us (that would be the Netherlands and most other european countries). That's nice too.

Helping somebody against his will under the oft heard excuse that 'it's for his own good' is directly opposed to personal freedom. There's a good quote from an american about this but I can't find it right now. Applying it to nations is just as bad. It doesn't work that way. let me quote a part of the article:
>..That means we would have to make people want to be part of it. So we have to
>invade their countries and build up their infrastructure...
Right. em? We want you to like us, which is why we are here. We kill a few, overthrow your government, and force our way on you. Our way is good, see. Now, adore us!


This kind of thinking is what people mean when they say The USA might want to look into their foreign policy and Well, they are partly responsible for provoking it.

Learn the lessons. There's no way you can safe up your country forcibly, either by draconian internal security (hello Police States of America), or by conquest. The easiest way to reach the goal of not letting this happen again is by becoming a bit less arrogant when dealing with other countries. Entering trigger-happy is one thing (sometimes called for, ie: WW2), but you have to respect the culture and the lives of the people that you are messing with.
"is a signature" is a signature.

Unbelievable... (3.50 / 10) (#18)
by HiQ on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 08:54:38 AM EST

This article says a lot about the American mentality, which is in many ways arrogant. How can you even think that for all people in the world being an American is or should be the ultimate goal? I still like my country and, although it's already Americanised, I like to keep it like it is. To make myself clear, I'm not anti-american, but there are a few things about America that I don't like; one of those things is the fact that all Americans seem to think that they live in the best country in the world, they don't seem to be able to comprehend that there are people on this planet who have a different opinion about this.

A few weeks ago I was on holiday in America. When talking to people almost all of them asked if we liked America, and if we wouldn't want to live there. Well, no, I'm happy the way I am and where I live, thank you. But it is as if Americans constantly seek confirmation that they are the greatest nation that ever was, is and will be.

I have to agree. (3.75 / 4) (#30)
by mindstrm on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 12:50:39 PM EST

You sound Canadian.

I am; I feel the same way. I *like* the US. I think they are a great nation, they have done a great many things. I believe most of their ideals are fantastic. I believe Canada wouldn't be what it is if the US wasn't there.

But I don't want to live there. I *love* my country. There's nowhere on earth I'd rather live. And that's what so many Americans seem to have trouble with.. they just can't understand that I like my own country more than America.

I don't expect THEM to like Canada more than the US... I completely respect them for loving their country, for being patriots. They should have the same respect back, that's all.

I've been all over the world. For the most part, the US *IS* one of the best countries in the world. I don't rank the top few.. but, to me anyway, there are only a few places on this earth I would live in.
The first is Canada, because it's my home, and I love it.
The second would be the US, but only if I couldn't stay in Canada.
The third would be The Netherlands, because they have a great outlook on life.

Seriously though. I like the US a great deal. I just don't worship it like most Americans seem to think I should.

[ Parent ]
I'm not canadian... (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by HiQ on Fri Oct 19, 2001 at 05:15:39 AM EST

I come from your third favorite country, the Netherlands. And although that country has it's peculiarities and flaws (as does every country), I still wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But you're absolutely right in the fact that Americans don't seem to understand that people don't have America as their no.1 favorite country.

BTW. I would probably like Canada too; I have never been there, but it is high on my list of countries to visit!

[ Parent ]
Haha. (none / 0) (#55)
by mindstrm on Fri Oct 19, 2001 at 10:08:05 PM EST


The Netherlands is by far the most well-balanced place I've ever been, my own country included.

[ Parent ]
People will never learn (4.42 / 7) (#22)
by Betcour on Tue Oct 16, 2001 at 04:41:00 PM EST

I thought that after what happened to the WTC some people in USA would get a clue and realize that it is about time their country stops considering foreign nations as vassals and foreign people as "acceptable collateral damages". If the USA embarks on creating a political an cultural empire it is not only half of the world who will hate USA but the other half too. That's quite a lot of countries to bully.

A democratic Empire?? (4.33 / 3) (#25)
by bil on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 07:57:23 AM EST

The idea of a Pax Americana is interesting but I dont think it would be sustainable. The US is a democratic nation (more or less ;) so you would have two choices for any conquered people, either

A)You allow them full US citizernship and so the democratic right to elect senators/ congressmen/ presidents, and to stand for such positions themselves

or B)You rule direct from Washington with a government elected only by US citizens (ie those living within the current US borders), maybe giving them some local democracy but giving them no say in the wider running of the US Empire

The second case is a loser, because you are not allowing any say in government for the peoples you've conquered. Throughout history people have fought against that either peacefully (e.g. Ghandi) or militarily (E.g George Washington) and I dont see why this would change now, no matter how wealthy people are they do like to run their own country. Add to this mix the large number of non-empire countries that would sponser nationalist groups within the empire (after all they might be next) and the scene is set for a very unstable empire with numerous small (or not so small) civil wars going on.

The first (A) is also a loser because as the empire expands more and more people will become voting citizens (remember many of the third world countrys have very high populations) and you find the balance of power slipping away from the US to the conquered nations untill eventually you have a US ruled by non-native USians. If there were 5000 states, 4950 of them would be made up of conquered peoples and the Pax Americana would be more like a Pax ThirdWorld. A global superpower perhaps, but not an American one.


Where you stand depends on where you sit...

Rome *did* this (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by aphrael on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 07:25:30 PM EST

Although it was very slow. It took centuries to extend the right to participate in the Senate to everyone in Italy, and citizenship wasn't extended to the rest of Europe until after the Empire --- but it was extended. And if you think about it, it makes sense; if US and western European culture are really getty blandly similar to one another, then in what sense would a US with wetern European states be run by non-natives?

[ Parent ]
What?? (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by Surial on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 04:46:56 AM EST

>then in what sense would a US with wetern
>European states be run by non-natives?

The first states to conquer for Pax Americana is Western Europe?

Hold on, I'm going out to buy myself some ammunition.

And no, I don't particularly care that you are going to give me voting rights. I like my country as it is. Lots of civil liberties. Well, owning guns is not one of them, perhaps I need to work on changing that when there are loonies who suggest they invade Western Europe for security reasons
"is a signature" is a signature.

[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#49)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 01:54:24 PM EST

I was certainly not advocating invasion, and i'm taking a long-term view; I think it is well within the realm of possibility that over the course of, say 200-300 years, the US and western Europe could fuse into a single political unit.

[ Parent ]
Cultural difference too big. (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by Surial on Fri Oct 19, 2001 at 03:05:54 AM EST

I don't think the USA and europe are going to become one entity. Europe by itself will have a lot of trouble forming a politically coherent whole. The current cultural difference between the USA and europe is pretty big. I've lived in both, so I speak with some authority.

... of course, in 200 to 300 years, as far as I know we'll all be living outside this solar system, that's an enormous number of years.
"is a signature" is a signature.

[ Parent ]

Rome collapsed. (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by bil on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 06:17:20 AM EST

then in what sense would a US with wetern European states be run by non-natives?

Well ignoring the fact that if you try and invade western Europe we will defend ourselves with every trick a thousand years of military tradition has taught us. Assuming you were succesfull you would end up with a US empire with a majority of non-english (at least as a first language) speakers. A majority European population (the population of the EU is substantially higher then that of the US iirc) and so a majority european outlook on life. Actually this might be the only way in which a US government could get approval for a national health service, gun controls, wealfare state, and a whole range of other moderate socialist ideas.

Europe and the US have similar cultures but they are by no means the same, hell we cant even agree on the correct way to spell colour! If you took control of the EU countries you would either rule us as a colonial power (which would be resisted) or as a democratic "empire" which would be dominated by the more populous europeans. It would be a US empire in which the US would be a minority player.

Of course if you conquered enough muslim countries then by the same logic you could see islamic law enacted in chicargo...


Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Population imbalance is not a problem. (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by ghjm on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:39:16 AM EST

The American system of governance, for all its faults, actually deals with this problem head-on. The U.S. does not adhere to the principle of "one man, one vote" - quite the opposite. For example, I live in North Carolina. North Carolina has a population of 7.6 million and 15 electoral college votes. Compare this to, say, New York, with a population of 18.2 million and 31 electoral college votes. Each vote in North Carolina is worth 15% more than each vote in New York. In other words, we have decided that in the context of electing a president, the opinions of each voter in North Carolina matter 15% more than the opinions of each voter in New York.

Conversely, Wyoming has a population of less than half a million, but still gets 3 electoral college votes. Wyoming voters are the most powerful in the nation; their votes for president count for more than three times what a North Carolina vote is worth. The Senate is even less balanced, since there are two senators for each state regardless of population. Each Wyoming voter is equivalent to fully 30 New York voters when electing a senator.

So you can see that it would be no trouble at all to annex Europe while still maintaining a strongly American-flavored empire. We must simply decide that a European is worth three-fifths of a man.


[ Parent ]
Huh? (5.00 / 3) (#48)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 01:53:28 PM EST

I don't think the US would ever try to invade Western Europe; there's no rationale behind doing that which would make sense. But I could see a situation where the US and western Europe fuse together over the course of, say, 200-300 years.

[ Parent ]
Fortress America? (4.80 / 5) (#26)
by pete on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 08:51:07 AM EST

If you really believe that American libertarians want to shut the borders and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist, you are brutally misinformed.


What are we solving here? (4.00 / 4) (#27)
by Skwirl on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 09:19:50 AM EST

How exactly is swapping or solidifying borders going to end terrorism? Terrorism is an idea, not a place. There are American-born terrorists like that McVeigh fellow, remember?

"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
rather disturbing concept (4.25 / 4) (#33)
by Chrisfs on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 04:49:39 PM EST

Up front I have to admit that , being at work, I don't have time to read much more than the summary of the piece. However, the concept of going over and directly controlling other countries and stamping them with our culture is rather disturbing. It's the worst fear of most of USA's critics (not just radical critics but social critics in France and England as well),this need to make everyplace a mini-US , complete with vague-moderate religious views and strong consumer values. Generally a really bad idea in that it decreases the diversity of cultures in the world and thereby decreases the way people can live. Currently, if you look about the world, you can see examples of Amsterdam, with a permissive environment and Saudi Arabia with a more strict society (I'm avoiding Afganistan to avoid arguments over whether the current laws have been imposed on the Afganis or not) There's more to culture than eating sushi instead of hamburger.

The US and Western Europe (4.33 / 3) (#36)
by aphrael on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 07:23:42 PM EST

will not be in the business of taking over countries that have strong stable governments --- it's too much work, and there's always a chance that the government will fight back.

But there are many areas in the world --- Bosnia, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Zaire/Congo, Sierra Leone --- which have barely functioning governments or no governments; which have become sources of instability effecting the entire region around them. I suspect that we will see an increasing number of takeovers of such countries by great powers in the next 20 years --- be it for good or for ill.

[ Parent ]

Very Good Point (4.50 / 2) (#38)
by Shadow Knight on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 09:00:50 PM EST

It's a very good point that I tried (and failed) to address: only the wingnut militia types want to take over Europe (and Australia, and New Zealand, and Japan... etc)! The kind of Pax Americana I'm talking about involves cooperating with those nations not conquering them. The only places that would be conquered are those where the government is all but nonexistent. The parent post listed several such places. It seems Afghanistan is merely the first...

Shadow Knight

Supreme Lord High Commander of the Interstellar Task Force for the Eradication of Stupidity
[ Parent ]
Self-Sufficiency (2.57 / 7) (#34)
by EinsteinsProdigy on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 05:03:40 PM EST

For this option, we must become 100% self-sufficient.

Can't happen


You think you pay high prices now for goods in the US, wait til we segregate ourselves from the rest of the world. Why do copmanies have a majority of their products produced over seas? Two words: Cheap labor. There are no unions for those workers there. They are lucky to get what little pay they receive for their labor. US businesses exploit that cheap source of labor. If we became self-sufficient prices would skyrocket because some whiny union worker would complain he doesn't make enough money and can't support himself on $24 an hour. He could if he would quit buying all that beer he guzzles everyday after work, but hey this is America, right? Is it not his God Given Right to guzzle beer by the gallons ? And the more he whines he needs more money, the more that Corporate America whines it needs to raise prices because the labor is taking money out of their pockets. Thus, a vicous, never-ending cycle. Aggravates the hell out of me everytime Congress raises the minimum wage. The wage I put in so much time at my job to achieve now becomes equivalent to what some shithead who just came in off the street gets hired at. Suddenly, I'm starting to fall behind in bills because Corporate America raises their prices to compensate for the amount of money they will start losing because Congress had the audacity to give it to the working stiffs. One step forward, three steps back.

Same if we take an Imperical stance and conquer other nations. If we are to uphold our ideals and our constitution(All men are created equal), we have to extend it to those peoples of those nations we take sovereignty over. Suddenly, that cheap labor force that was being exploited become unionised workforces, and now they're whining that they cannot survive on $24/hr, either. This, undoubtedly, will take a Buttload of money out of Corporate America's Phat Wallets and prices will skyrocket, as well.

Throw down your sticks and stones. Get rid of your desires to assert dominance. Extend your hand to your neighbor and pull each other up. Stand and rise together.

"Sure, it would be nice if Europeans agreed on a single language, but that's about as likely as Unix users agreeing on a single text editor." -Eloquence
Colonialism, again. (5.00 / 5) (#35)
by aphrael on Wed Oct 17, 2001 at 07:21:24 PM EST

This is a series of thoughts that has weighed heavily on my mind in the last month.

Consider that if the US is successful in taking down the Taliban, either it can go home and leave anarchy behind (more or less what happened in 1989, and known to have produced bad results then), or it (and presumably the UN) can stay and try and build a new government in Afghanistan. This is the much-derided nation-building, and it's a long, slow process that is unlikely to be completed in less than a decade.

So for a decade, western troops are in Afghanistan, and westerners flock to Afghanistan to make it better. This is the new colonialism: the establishment of foreign-backed governments in troubled regions of the world on the grounds that the people there are incapable of governing themselves.

The sad thing is, there don't seem to be any viable alternatives in the case of Afghanistan; it's a reluctant colonialism driven by the sense that there is nothing else to be done; it's a desperate colonialism.

OK, question for thought: to what extent does this justify nineteenth-century colonialism? To what extent were some of the people involved in the colonialism of that era, particularly in the middle east where the dominant empire was collapsing, motivated by similar concerns? What makes it different this time around?

Hard to tell, but... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by Surial on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 04:37:38 AM EST

I believe that the driving force behind colonialism in the past was money, power, and a sense of adventure. I see no suggestions anywhere in history that would lead to a conclusion that humanitarian aid was a factor.
"is a signature" is a signature.

[ Parent ]
Not so clear (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by wiesmann on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 08:02:12 AM EST

There were economical reasons for colonies, of course, but the reasons where IMHO very mixed. There were miltary reasons, but also religious reasons (converting those poor souls), and even humanitarian: to stop those savages from killing each others, to bring them into civilisation... Nobody likes to describe himself as thief.

Officially, nobody nevers does anything mean. Countries get invaded and people killed and it is always for a greater good. Armies officially always defend and liberate, states always enforce truth and justice, and politicians want power for the good of the country.

Good or bad motivations are only a question of propaganda. You can find egoist motivation in all events in history.

[ Parent ]

Talk is cheap (3.33 / 3) (#46)
by scorchio on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 11:53:41 AM EST

It's all very well to talk, but is it feasible? Could the US do it? The world knows that the USA can destroy it, but conquest is a stickier business.

Let's face it, the US military record isn't exactly stellar. Conquering/occupying territories requires exactly what the US military is bad at: sending in ground troops with guns.

The US isn't bad at that, just reluctant (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by Shadow Knight on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 04:29:28 PM EST

If you think the US is bad at sending in ground troops with guns, I think you need to study your history a little better. Think about WWII... we didn't beat the Japanese with just planes and bombers... all those little (and big) islands between here and there needed to be invaded and occupied. Then there's the invasion of North Africa and the invasion of Normandy (etc). For that matter, ground troops were extremely good at killing people in Vietnam, too... that wasn't the problem, the problem there (and evertime since) has been a lack of commitment.

Shadow Knight

Supreme Lord High Commander of the Interstellar Task Force for the Eradication of Stupidity
[ Parent ]
US troops on the ground (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by scorchio on Fri Oct 19, 2001 at 05:32:22 AM EST

If you think the US is bad at sending in ground troops with guns, I think you need to study your history a little better. Think about WWII... we didn't beat the Japanese with just planes and bombers... all those little (and big) islands between here and there needed to be invaded and occupied.

Yeah, yeah, Iwo Jima and all that. Your Marines may be able to fight, but if you're talking about global empire, it's going to take more than elite troops fighting starving Japanese. As for Europe... you were allied with the Brits and the French, the Russians did most of the fighting, and the US soldiers got cut to pieces on the Normandy beaches due to the utter incompetence of their commanders.

Since then, the US has messed up ground war. Beaten in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia (for chrissakes), Lebanon.

Also, statistics show that US soldiers in WWII never won an engagement unless they had 2 to 1 superiority in numbers.

For that matter, ground troops were extremely good at killing people in Vietnam, too...

Yep. Civilians. What you do best...

[ Parent ]

pax (3.33 / 3) (#50)
by slothman on Thu Oct 18, 2001 at 02:32:19 PM EST

I chose pax americania because it seems that eventually many of the countries will need to unite. It wouldn't involve force of any kind. Just hoping the the other nations will join the U.S. as states. Since there are only a few hundred countries then the 5000 states number you jokingly said would be closer to 1000 or less. But it would be the same as remembering all of the world's nations and their capitals. Anyways a better idea would be to strengthen the U.N.'s ability to have wars or to deny them, an improved international court system, and maybe eliminate other treaties like NATO. If the U.N. was helped then the other treaties would be redundent and mey hurt, eg. the boznia war was a NATO "peacekeeping" mission instead of a UN one. It would also be good idea to try to get "rogue" nations to like the U.S. From my knowlage, the reason, for example, Afganastan, that is the Taliban doesn't like us - yes I am USian - seems to be because of our laws and maybe our alliance with Isreal, not intrinsic things. Whatever the reason they and other countries don't like us, it seems easier to change and better than going to war with them. When the whole world likes us neither fortress nor pax would be needed.

The Debate over Imperialism | 55 comments (37 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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