Tuesday, September 09, 2008

American "Empire"

We Americans hear a lot about our soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan, somewhat less about our soldiers in Korea, and from time to time we hear news of someplace else where our troops are involved in something. And, we know that the U.S. has a bunch of large aircraft carriers that go here or there based on some threat or need. But we really haven't a clue about how ubiquitous American military power is, across most of the world.

Take a look at the following url; it's worth a few minutes of your time. http://aep.typepad.com/american_empire_project/2008/09/going-on-an-imp.html
Thanks to a friend for finding it!

As a veteran, I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what our military was into, but I had no idea that we have so many forces and bases overseas. Is this level of commitment beyond our shores necessary to defend our country, or is it what you get if your country is ruled by a military/industrial complex? Something to think about, something to vote about.


Dave K said...

Thanks for posting this.

I know this is a sensitive issue for many people, with the term "empire" being particularly frustrating to those who support American military policies (home and abroad).

I've found Eric Hobsbawm's characterization of American imperial practices helpful in the conversation -

"The characteristic form of US power outside its territory is not colonial, or indirect rule within a colonial framework of direct control, but a system of satellite or compliant states."

Still, a common reaction seems to be, "we are there because those other nations want us there, and if they want to complain about it, we'll pack our bags and let the world fall to pieces without us." Unfortunately, the kind of antagonistic exchanges that often ensue don't really help us talk about what kind of world we want to create and whether our military sites policies help or hinder that vision....

I would be interested in hearing more from you about how this connects to the election, particularly Obama's juggling act on defense issues and commitment to strengthening "the backbone of our ability to extend global power." Tough job ahead if he wins, I think...

Anonymous said...

I had a friend who was career-Army who spent several years stationed in Columbia.

It turns out that Ronald Reagan signed a document when he was president that called illegal drugs a "threat to national security." That document gives the military the authority to go anywere that there are drugs.

Anonymous said...

*Colombia. (I don't know why I only catch typos *after* I hit the "publish" button.)

Lifehiker said...

I'm giving Obama the benefit of the doubt regarding the many instances where he has tilted to the right - FISA, drilling, Iraq pullout, "American power", etc. He's just trying to get elected.

Unfortunately, Obama's opponents rely on simplistic, catch-phrase, arguments that seem to speak to average Americans who fear outsiders, want to believe in the myth of American supremacy,and regularly fall for silly solutions to major problems.

Obama is trying to find a middle ground in those policy areas where his more sophisticated arguments will get lost in the shouting.

Take "drilling", for example. We all know that drilling for U.S. oil is no solution to our energy problems, but many voices tell voters that it is a solution but Obama's against it. So, Obama says he's willing to increase drilling as part of an overall energy plan. He's not against it!
But the devil is in the details, isn't it?

As we know very well from our current "Compassionate Conservative" president, what you say to get elected and what you do after being elected may be slightly different.

In my view, we need a united government: president, senate, and house with large enough majorities to pass good legislation in many areas. Whatever the democrats need to do to achieve that end is fine with me, and I'm a republican. The gridlock has got to end!