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Is the American Empire a Benevolent force for the World?

What force does the American Empire have on the world?

  • Wholly Benevolent

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • Rather Benevolent

    Votes: 12 32.4%
  • Hardly Benevolent

    Votes: 4 10.8%
  • Not one way or the other

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • Slightly Malevolent

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • Malevolent

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • Very Malevolent

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • America is not an Empire

    Votes: 11 29.7%

  • Total voters
    37

Tubub

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The other day I was talking about the decline of the American Empire(ie trillions dollar deficit, weakened global military apparatus, narcissistic home populace) and the implications, as well as consequences, its collapse would have on the world. I was talking about what a horrible effect that could plausibly have on the world when my friend responded that it would likely be good, highlighting the end of British Imperialism as a triumph for humanity. Really? Has humanity really benefited through the ages from the demise of Western empires like ancient Greece, Rome, and Imperial Britain? I mean, many nations may have achieved their autonomy from Empire's ending, but historically have in turn begotten horrible poverty because of their immature and weak economic institutions... not to mention the often volatile and anarchic political situations. It seems like academia has waged a war against Imperialism for over a century, but when we look at nations like India and China, what is the bright beacon of light in otherwise dark circumstances? To me, it is quite clearly the liberal, secular influence of the West(which has much more influence in India than in terms of China.)

Now, I don't mean to be beating the drums too much, and I understand as well as recognize the cost both in lives and treasure Imperialism has on the home nation, not to mention the often negative cultural and social affects it brings on the victim country. I also don't want to come off as arrogant, nor do I want to disregard the fruits of free trade and the fact that some influence is natural so exerting by way of arms is unnecessary.

I foresee responses that highlight the usual points of Imperialism=Bad in general, but I'm more curious about people's ACTUAL perception of America's global military apparatus, instead of some philosophical discussion of Imperialism's moral implications(Whether good or bad). What is concrete evidence that America is a malevolent force in the world? Has the Democratic peace theory not largely succeeded, thanks largely to Western nations? Do countless nations not live off American aid and/or under the shadow of her tree of liberty(heh), allowing the US military to fight wars that their militaries would otherwise be forced to partake in?

(Note: Keep in mind when I talk of America as an Empire I mean in a distinctly American sense of the term, as used by Thomas Jefferson when he wrote about the "Empire of Liberty" that would be America.)
 
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Z3n

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I put slightly malevolent because of alot of foreign policy blunders, but its a "necessary" evil in my opinion. Just representing our interests-- every country does that.
 

ecofarm

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I wish we had an empire. Check the dictionary.
 

Tubub

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I wish we had an empire. Check the dictionary.
Check out the end note man. We don't necessarily befit the traditional definition of empire, but our global military appratus does reflect the nature of an Empire, as well as the language of our statesmen... It is empire in a distinctly American sense, an "Empire of Liberty." Historically, we were anti-Imperialists Imperialists, but recently American foreign policy has been overtly aggressive.
 

ecofarm

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An empire specifically denotes possessions. Liberation does not create possessions. Stop using the language of the enemy.
 

Tubub

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"...we shall divert through our own Country a branch of commerce which the European States have thought worthy of the most important struggles and sacrifices, and in the event of peace on terms which have been contemplated by some powers we shall form to the American union a barrier against the dangerous extension of the British Province of Canada and add to the Empire of liberty an extensive and fertile Country thereby converting dangerous Enemies into valuable friends." - Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, 25 December 1780

"we should then have only to include the North in our confederacy, which would be of course in the first war, and we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation: & I am persuaded no constitution was ever before so well calculated as ours for extensive empire & self government." - Jefferson to James Madison, 27 April 1809

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -
-- Thomas Jefferson

"If America wants concessions, she must fight for them. We must purchase our power with our blood."
James Monroe

"The American continents ... are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers." (From the Monroe Doctrine)


"In the Western hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power."
—Theodore Roosevelt, Annual Message to Congress, December 6, 1904

America's neutrality is ineffectual . . . at best . . . The world must be made safe for democracy."
—Woodrow Wilson, Address to Congress, April 2, 1917

We're an Empire in a distinctly American sense, an "Empire of Liberty." There is nothing wrong with that in my opinion, but don't pretend that we don't have a global military apparataus that POSSESSES 100s of thousands of troops in different nations around the world. Period.
 

Agent Ferris

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Check out the end note man. We don't necessarily befit the traditional definition of empire, but our global military appratus does reflect the nature of an Empire, as well as the language of our statesmen... It is empire in a distinctly American sense, an "Empire of Liberty." Historically, we were anti-Imperialists Imperialists, but recently American foreign policy has been overtly aggressive.
Tell me what empire has ever stationed troops on foreign soil only with permission from the host nation?
 

Tubub

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Man, seriously, read my whole comment. I know you have some political plugs and scores to settle but I have ad nausem said IN A DISTINCTLY AMERICAN SENSE of Empire, as reflected by Thomas Jefferson's landmark words the "Empire of Liberty".



Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. ... It is [not] the wish of [our] government to impose upon you alien institutions. ... [It is our wish] that you should prosper even as in the past, when your lands were fertile, when your ancestors gave to the world literature, science, and art, and when Baghdad city was one of the wonders of the world. ... It is [our] hope that the aspirations of your philosophers and writers shall be realized and that once again the people of Baghdad shall flourish, enjoying their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws and their racial ideals.

-- General F. S. Maude to the people of Mesopotamia, March 19, 1917

The government of Iraq, and the future of your country, will soon belong to you. ... We will end a brutal regime ... so that Iraqis can live in security. We will respect your great religious traditions, whose principles of equality and compassion are essential to Iraq's future. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens. And then our military forces will leave. Iraq will go forward as a unified, independent, and sovereign nation that has regained a respected place in the world. You are a good and gifted people -- the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity.

-- President George W. Bush to the people of Iraq, April 4, 2003
 

spud_meister

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it only benevolent as long as you don't have a conflicting ideology.
 

Agent Ferris

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Man, seriously, read my whole comment. I know you have some political plugs and scores to settle but I have ad nausem said IN A DISTINCTLY AMERICAN SENSE of Empire, as reflected by Thomas Jefferson's landmark words the "Empire of Liberty".



Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. ... It is [not] the wish of [our] government to impose upon you alien institutions. ... [It is our wish] that you should prosper even as in the past, when your lands were fertile, when your ancestors gave to the world literature, science, and art, and when Baghdad city was one of the wonders of the world. ... It is [our] hope that the aspirations of your philosophers and writers shall be realized and that once again the people of Baghdad shall flourish, enjoying their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws and their racial ideals.

-- General F. S. Maude to the people of Mesopotamia, March 19, 1917

The government of Iraq, and the future of your country, will soon belong to you. ... We will end a brutal regime ... so that Iraqis can live in security. We will respect your great religious traditions, whose principles of equality and compassion are essential to Iraq's future. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens. And then our military forces will leave. Iraq will go forward as a unified, independent, and sovereign nation that has regained a respected place in the world. You are a good and gifted people -- the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity.

-- President George W. Bush to the people of Iraq, April 4, 2003
The difference is that the British set up a puppet king while the U.S. allowed the people of Iraq to choose their own leadership.
 

Tubub

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Britain established a home state in Iraq just as the United States did. Regardless, Paul Bremer ruled Iraq for more than a year before any kind of Iraqi government was put into power, and even then it was not by appointement from US leaders themselves and not free Iraqi election. You're fighting a semantic battle really, and I could care less for semantics. I support the American Empire, as well as America's Republic, as I presume you do. Fighting with me is fruitless since I'm sure we can agree on many issues.
 

Agent Ferris

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Britain established a home state in Iraq just as the United States did. Regardless, Paul Bremer ruled Iraq for more than a year before any kind of Iraqi government was put into power, and even then it was not by appointement from US leaders themselves and not free Iraqi election. You're fighting a semantic battle really, and I could care less for semantics. I support the American Empire, as well as America's Republic, as I presume you do. Fighting with me is fruitless since I'm sure we can agree on many issues.
The current government of Iraq was elected, setting up a temporary transitional government is not the same thing as setting up a permanent puppet monarchy.
 

Tubub

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Except the permanent puppet monarchy was not at all "permanent". The British always stated their intent to leave eventually, they simply were more clear about their control for a number of years. Iraq was an Imperialist mission as was the Philipinnes: we invaded countries and established governments to our liking. The Athenians did the essentially the same thing on the Greek peninsula against city-states, they just didn't have any reservations about the old word "Empire."

Let me reiterate that our Empire is DISTINCTLY AMERICAN, as Romans were distinctly Romans and Greeks were distinctly Greeks, though America's Empire does contain elements of all of the former, as well as things borrowed from the British. That doesn't mean our Empire is going to be a mirror of one or the other for the simple reason THAT WE ARE A DIFFERENT NATION. Cherry picking facts is intellectually dishonest, especially since you're just subtracting the argument to a semantics game.
 

mac

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Except the permanent puppet monarchy was not at all "permanent". The British always stated their intent to leave eventually, they simply were more clear about their control for a number of years. Iraq was an Imperialist mission as was the Philipinnes: we invaded countries and established governments to our liking. The Athenians did the essentially the same thing on the Greek peninsula against city-states, they just didn't have any reservations about the old word "Empire."

Let me reiterate that our Empire is DISTINCTLY AMERICAN, as Romans were distinctly Romans and Greeks were distinctly Greeks, though America's Empire does contain elements of all of the former, as well as things borrowed from the British. That doesn't mean our Empire is going to be a mirror of one or the other for the simple reason THAT WE ARE A DIFFERENT NATION. Cherry picking facts is intellectually dishonest, especially since you're just subtracting the argument to a semantics game.
America is not an empire in any sense. Our troops stationed overseas are not occupiers, they are there in every case with the consent of the host government. America's foreign policy is in place to protect Americas interest and has made great strides in stabilizing areas of the world that have been inherently unstable. World stability is obviously in America's best interest. During the cold war, our attempt to stop the spread of communism led to supporting some less than ideal governments. Since the end of the cold war, we've been focused on spreading democracy. America should continue this course of action. The time of monarchies and dictatorships has ended. Pursuing the spread of democracy is the only path to world peace.
 

zimmer

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1. It is not an Empire.

2. It is the most benevolent Super Power the world has ever seen.

Had we not been:

Germany would be speaking English.
Italians would be speaking English.
France would be speaking English.

As first languages.

We would never have helped rebuild Japan and Europe.
We would have taken over the Middle East totally. What would have stopped us? Camel dung?

We would have bombed the hell our of the USSR post WWII before they had nukes and were still sharing weapons.

The world is very, very lucky America is benevolent.

.
 
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Gardener

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hegemony.


Just in case people wanted to refer to a term that is not so wildly misleading.
 

Aunt Spiker

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narcissistic home populace
Can you explain this please? I'm not sure how you mean this in regard to citizens.
 

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There is, of course, NO American empire....these are a thing of the past, and we do not have the taste for this, at least most of us.
Usually we try to be benevolent, strange how these attempts are not always appreciated...Many people simply are not ready for this..
 

deltabtry

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The other day I was talking about the decline of the American Empire(ie trillions dollar deficit, weakened global military apparatus, narcissistic home populace) and the implications, as well as consequences, its collapse would have on the world. I was talking about what a horrible effect that could plausibly have on the world when my friend responded that it would likely be good, highlighting the end of British Imperialism as a triumph for humanity. Really? Has humanity really benefited through the ages from the demise of Western empires like ancient Greece, Rome, and Imperial Britain? I mean, many nations may have achieved their autonomy from Empire's ending, but historically have in turn begotten horrible poverty because of their immature and weak economic institutions... not to mention the often volatile and anarchic political situations. It seems like academia has waged a war against Imperialism for over a century, but when we look at nations like India and China, what is the bright beacon of light in otherwise dark circumstances? To me, it is quite clearly the liberal, secular influence of the West(which has much more influence in India than in terms of China.)

Now, I don't mean to be beating the drums too much, and I understand as well as recognize the cost both in lives and treasure Imperialism has on the home nation, not to mention the often negative cultural and social affects it brings on the victim country. I also don't want to come off as arrogant, nor do I want to disregard the fruits of free trade and the fact that some influence is natural so exerting by way of arms is unnecessary.

I foresee responses that highlight the usual points of Imperialism=Bad in general, but I'm more curious about people's ACTUAL perception of America's global military apparatus, instead of some philosophical discussion of Imperialism's moral implications(Whether good or bad). What is concrete evidence that America is a malevolent force in the world? Has the Democratic peace theory not largely succeeded, thanks largely to Western nations? Do countless nations not live off American aid and/or under the shadow of her tree of liberty(heh), allowing the US military to fight wars that their militaries would otherwise be forced to partake in?

(Note: Keep in mind when I talk of America as an Empire I mean in a distinctly American sense of the term, as used by Thomas Jefferson when he wrote about the "Empire of Liberty" that would be America.)
Leads to a repeat of 1939-1945 but on a much larger scale.
 

Demon of Light

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Unfortunately the more conservative members here apparently haven't actually read the dictionary definition of imperialism and when given the one that fits deny that it applies because they do not know the history of their own country. Empires have been built up by a variety of methods and in the case of the British Empire it was often built through corporations and independent groups only later to be replaced by direct governance and in many cases colonies were given considerable independence in their actions.

Look into some of the U.S. treaties with these countries and consider U.S.-organized coups during the Cold War. Hell, the term banana republic was coined in the U.S. to describe the sort of system that defines American imperialism. I would say empires are never a benevolent force anymore than government is a benevolent force. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The difference is that the British set up a puppet king while the U.S. allowed the people of Iraq to choose their own leadership.
Of course, it would seem we have very little intention of allowing that choice to be a real one:

Manning had been tasked with evaluating the arrest of 15 Iraqis rounded up by the Iraqi Federal Police for printing “anti Iraq” literature. “The Iraqi federal police wouldn’t cooperate with U.S. forces, so I was instructed to investigate the matter, find out who the ‘bad guys’ were, and how significant this was for the FPs,” he wrote.

But when Manning had the literature translated, he discovered it was a scholarly critique of Iraq Prime Minister Al-Maliki titled Where Did the Money Go?, he wrote. The document was nothing more than a “benign political critique … following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet.

“I immediately took that information and ran to the [U.S. Army] officer to explain what was going on. He didn’t want to hear any of it. He told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding MORE detainees.”
Source: Wired

Let's not even talk about Karzai.
 

rathi

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In general, the U.S. backed freedom of the seas has benefited most nations. The general consensus of world powers to end wars of conquest and promote stability has also been rather helpful. On the other hand, the U.S. has screwed over a bunch of countries in the last 70 years through invasion and coups. Our moronic cold war policy was responsible for most of it, although sometimes it was just about resources. Iraq is particularly unique, as the motives are still unknown. We didn't get any oil out of Iraq, so it wasn't about resources. Saddam was secular nationalist, so it wasn't about the ideological struggle with Muslim extremists. It wasn't even about strategic position, as we already had bases right next door in Saudi Arabia.
 

zimmer

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In general, the U.S. backed freedom of the seas has benefited most nations. The general consensus of world powers to end wars of conquest and promote stability has also been rather helpful. On the other hand, the U.S. has screwed over a bunch of countries in the last 70 years through invasion and coups. Our moronic cold war policy was responsible for most of it, although sometimes it was just about resources. Iraq is particularly unique, as the motives are still unknown. We didn't get any oil out of Iraq, so it wasn't about resources. Saddam was secular nationalist, so it wasn't about the ideological struggle with Muslim extremists. It wasn't even about strategic position, as we already had bases right next door in Saudi Arabia.
Rathi, Have you lived in a Communist or post-Communist country?

.
 

Tubub

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I agree. I'm just not so scared of saying "Empire" and associating it with the American Republic. The fact of that matter remains that ancient Athens was a democracy yet still maintained an empire, without any emperor or tyrant. The Roman Republic had an empire before Julius Caesar came around, so why is it so hard for people to accept contemporary America as an empire? I suppose it comes from peoples' perception that empires were always out for self-profit and were completely un-idealistic, which couldn't be farther from the truth. We are an empire in a distinctly American sense. I have not seen any substantial level of evidence to refute that claim, but instead people that agree with the tenets of America's foreign policy but fear associating it with the one key word: empire.
 
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