The tides of history are moving fast, these days. It’s hard for the average human being – who, after all, has a life to live, filled with troubles that are small in scale but no less earthshaking to the individuals experiencing them – to make sense of it all. Indeed, even the so-called “experts” are baffled, at this point – with US policymakers among the most clueless, and the most resistant to the great sea change enveloping much of the world.
As Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad unleashes his security forces on youthful protesters, across the way the Israelis are doing the same as youthful Palestinians mark the “Nakba” by demonstrating – and being fired on for their trouble, with 20 killed as of this writing. In Yemen, the “President” declares he’s not going anywhere, as protesters demand his exit, and in Bahrain King Hamad – a key US ally – is defiantly holding on to his throne in spite of demands that he step down.
In short, all the old regimes are besieged by the same storm, clinging desperately to power like barnacles on a rock – but with none of the staying power of those indefatigable mollusks. Without falling into some determinist eschatology, it’s safe to say, I think, that all of these regimes are doomed: the Israelis by demography, the Arab monarchies by the very forces of modernity that ended the reign of kings in Europe (and America) long ago.
The cultural and economic trends driving this liberating tsunami through a formerly somnolent region are complex and I don’t pretend to have an overarching analysis of its causes and trajectory. What I do know, however, is that this rising tide in the Arab world can be charted to match skyrocketing commodity prices that have condemned many to slow starvation, and the rest to a much lowered standard of living. The Arab middle class is being killed in its cradle – but not before it fights to survive.
When you’re hungry, and out of a job, familiar humiliations become intolerable. Israel’s propagandists are telling us the Syrian government is behind the protests at the formerly quiet border between Syria and the Golan Heights: the Syrians are supposedly trying to divert attention from the Ba’athists’ domestic atrocities. On the other hand, Damascus sounds a similar note, ascribing anti-government protests in its own streets to the work of the Mossad. These two may fight it out on the field of public diplomacy, and denounce each other as evil incarnate, yet both Tel Aviv and Damascus are basically on the same side – fighting against a human tide that threatens their carefully-constructed prison societies, once thought to be escape-proof and now revealed as rather rickety.
It could end in a new Arab Enlightenment, the restoration of a high civilization that fell into Ottomanized decay and eventual ruin, or it could climax in a orgy of self-immolation and a regional war that will plunge the Middle East back into the darkness. Yet it is possible to draw at least one conclusion from the current chaos, and it is this: the US must get out of the way.
This is true for all kinds of reasons, starting with our own economic troubles. The same worldwide economic downturn roiling the Arab “street” is awakening the American “street,” and the peasants are beginning to mutter and reach for their pitchforks. Their homes, their livelihoods, their basic assumptions about life are threatened, and – like their Arab cousins thousands of miles away – they are angry, puzzled, and in a rebellious mood. Who can blame them? When they go food shopping, the price of a cucumber has doubled since last week: the price of a scrawny chicken, whose breasts resemble those of an anorexic fashion model, has tripled – while the cost of driving to market continues to rise with ominous speed. We’re angry, and who can blame us?
Anger seems to be the defining emotion of our era, the one thing that binds an American housewife shopping for dinner with her equivalent across the ocean – a blind, often misdirected fury at the way things are. Instead of fulfilling the vision of the flower children, who hailed the Age of Aquarius as a time when all would join hands and sing “Kumbaya,” it turns out the future is a world where all join hands and sing “Off with their heads!” “We’ve had enough!” “Down with the regime!”
All very encouraging, for a libertarian like myself, you might think: but not so fast. Demagogues are good at manipulating people’s emotions, and emotions are what many if not most use for brains, and so the danger that the new regime will rival the old in its cruelty and violence looms just as large as the prospect of freedom.
For most people – most Americans, at any rate – foreign policy is a realm best left to the “experts,” i.e. those in the pay of war profiteers, professional do-gooders (who are wont to do more harm than good), and eccentric billionaires with delusions of grandeur. That’s who funds most of the think-tanks that infest Washington and disfigure the foreign policy landscape, like tacky shopping malls plonked down in the middle of a cow pasture: they are paid to repeat the same bromides about America’s “global leadership” and the divine mandate of NATO to persist for all eternity.
It’s their job to construct and defend the complex “architecture” of the American empire, and provide “competing” visions of American hegemony that are merely variations on a single theme: the permanence and absolute benevolence of American power. One faction may prefer intervening in, say, Iraq, to diddling about in Libya, but these public quarrels mask an underlying unanimity. All agree that our fate is always to be directing traffic at the crossroads of the world – they just differ about what rules to enforce. With some few and heroic exceptions, in the rarefied realm of international affairs and analysis none question our role as global cops.
Understanding the reasons for this radical lopsidedness in the foreign policy “debate” has led me to a greater understanding of how interventionism works: that is, of the underlying principles that govern the making of American foreign policy. It has led me to develop my own theory of foreign policy “realism,” a view that takes into account the central motivation of any and all governments, which is to maintain and extend their own power – at home as well as abroad.
All governments are inherently aggressive. They embody the principle of coercion, however masked and prettified by “law.” This is why I chuckle (softly, to myself) whenever I hear peace advocates babble on – good-heartedly, and with the best of intentions – about how this and that war is a violation of “international law.” One cannot speak of “law” in regard to these entities, since, by their very nature, each – in its own mind – is a law unto itself.
This is not to say antiwar activists shouldn’t constantly agitate for the peaceful resolution of inter-state conflicts: that, after all, is our job. Yet we cannot fight armed with delusions. The pipe dream that we will somehow transform these engines of aggression – these modern States – into instruments of mercy can only lead to confusion, inevitable disappointment – and the backdoor to eventually supporting some superficially praiseworthy project that serves the War Party’s purposes, depending on which wing of it (the “left” or the “right”) is in power. We see this at the present moment in widespread “liberal” support for the Libyan intervention, and whatever future wars President Obama may have up his sleeve.
The “international law” delusion is closely related to another widespread shibboleth, this one endemic among conservatives: the idea that liberal democracies are somehow less aggressive than their authoritarian and totalitarian competitors. This untrue truism is undone by simply looking at the history of the past decade, a time when the greatest and most liberal democracy of them all has invaded two and a half countries, exhausting itself in the process and killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq alone. On the other hand, we don’t see China – the authoritarian/totalitarian model at this moment in history – going around trying to effect “regime change” and projecting its military to the four corners of the earth. Instead, they’re buying up our debt, and collecting interest in the form of sweat off the unlined brows of the next generation.
Part of the reason for this relatively pacific authoritarianism is structural: a tyrannical regime must spend a good deal of its resources repressing and otherwise “convincing” its own people that they live in a utopia – or that no other life is possible to them. The rulers of these States live in a constant state of paranoia, and so their energy is invariably directed inwards, at the Enemy lurking under the bed. Like their democratic counterparts, their primary goal and motive is maintaining their own power, pelf, and privileges, although the means utilized are quite different. In analyzing state action, therefore – and the most characteristic action of all States is war – this prime motivation must be our starting point.
War is a good way to convince a people the regime must be endured, but democracies are similarly prone to this enforced “unity.” If the last ten years haven’t taught us that, then we’ve collapsed into collective senility, and lost the capacity to learn anything – the penultimate symptom of imperial decline.
I would argue that the “democracies-are-more-
We are in the business, here at Antiwar.com, of reminding Americans of Adams’ sage advice, and it isn’t always easy. As I said above, the foreign policy realm is almost completely dominated by the big Washington think-tanks and the “mainstream” media is their very effective conduit, the means by which they inject war propaganda into everyday life and induce recurrent waves of war hysteria.
Fear, resentment, racism, and just unfocused all-embracing anger – the spirit of the age – are unleashed in these periodic bursts of collective rage directed at a foreign enemy. The job of the national security “intellectuals” is to rationalize this inchoate emotion and direct it at a specific target – the target of the moment, whether that be Moammar Gaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or whomever.
It’s always important, in the art of war propganda, to personalize the Enemy, to fixate on a particularly unattractive and easily hated face. This is a vital part of generating the war “narrative,” as it’s constructed by the media. All stories need characters, and it’s much easier on the War Party if our wars are depicted as a showdown between the Forces of Evil, represented by whomever is being held up as the New Hitler, and the Forces of Good, symbolized by whatever angel in human form occupies the Oval Office at the time.
In the context of American democracy, this works out well for the War Party, because the President’s partisans – at least half the electorate – will invariably back the intervention out of party loyalty, at least initially. Meanwhile, the other half – cowed by the “rally ‘round the flag” emotionalism that follows any US military action – is invariably divided, with some for and others more inclined to be critical. In any case, this gives the President wide latitude in choosing his targets.
While authoritarian regimes, such as in China, have other means to persuade and otherwise “unify” their subjects – the Gulag, the torture rack, the secret police – war is often the first recourse of a democratic government to marginalize the opposition as disloyal malcontents. War hysteria as a political tool kept George W. Bush in office for two long horrific terms, in the course of which he and his bankster friends looted the country and left us in a state of advanced destitution. His successor is selling himself for a second term as having succeeded in brilliantly fighting the wars started by his predecessor – and is daily threatening to start fresh conflicts, from the shores of Tripoli to the sands of Central Asia.
The “realist” school of foreign policy analysis asks us to look at State actions without illusions. In applying this principle to the internal dynamics of the policymaking process, it is impossible to see it in terms other than competing interest groups – lobbyists – seeking to direct State action in a way that advances their own agenda. Principles of abstract justice, moral considerations, and even the much-evoked concept of US “national interests” have little or nothing to do with it: in a Darwinian competition between rival economic and political interests, the winner comes out on top on Election Day.
In our age of Empire, what this means is that the foreign policy of the United States is directed by and embodied in one person, and that is the President. In wartime, his role as Commander-in-chief is magnified, and outweighs his civilian persona. Because the Constitution has been abandoned, and Congress has ceded its war-making powers to the executive branch, the way is paved for an American Napoleon – the very figure whose rise the Founders so dreaded. Luckily for us, no modern Caesar has arisen to play that role – at least not yet.
That dark possibility is not ruled out, however, even by impending bankruptcy. Financial disaster may inhibit America’s ability to successfully maintain its overseas empire, but that hardly means our rulers will stop trying. The signs of change are all around us, with the Middle East ablaze and the anarchic contagion threatening to unravel the “world order” so jealously defended by our elites. Yet the rulers of empires are slow to recognize change, especially as it is happening: their bureaucracies are too self-interested to absorb and analyze information that threatens their social position and economic interests. Their court “intellectuals” are handsomely paid for working full-time to ensure official Washington never has to face the harsh reality – until, of course, it’s too late to avoid a head on collision with the world as it really is.
Our job here at Antiwar.com is to lift the veil of illusion from the eyes of our fellow Americans so that they can see the world as it really is, not as our rulers would like it to be. This is a job we used to expect the “maintream” media to perform – but no longer. The run-up to the invasion of Iraq proved their inability beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Yes, democracies can be and often are more aggressive on the international stage than autocracies, and yet once an authoritarian state goes to war, there is no discussion, no debate, only unanimity enforced at gunpoint. So while peace advocates in democratic societies face certain disadvantages built into the very structure of the polity, they also enjoy one inestimably important advantage: they are free to speak out (in varying degrees) and publically oppose the course their government is taking. They can educate the public and provide a counterweight to official propaganda – and that, in short, is what we’re all about.
The formulation and execution of American foreign policy is the outcome of competing interests – both domestic and foreign – and these interests are focused, powerful, and, most of all, well-funded. The think-tanks promoting the idea that the US military must be used to ensure and protect corporate interests – say the interests of Big Oil – abroad, are generously funded by those companies. The Washington policy wonks who push for ever-larger “defense” budgets – even in the face of the federal government’s imminent financial meltdown – can only pay their overpriced mortgages and bloated college tuition bills on account of the “charitable” contributions of the weapons-makers. Do you think they go begging to their rank-and-file supporters, like we do?
Speaking of which: No doubt you’re aware, by now, that this is the first week – the first day! – of our seasonal fundraising drive. If all of the above hasn’t convinced you that Antiwar.com is worth having around, then – for once – I am at a loss for words, albeit only temporarily.
For what seems like forever we’ve been exposing the lies of the War Party, tirelessly unraveling the webs of deceit woven to shroud the war crimes of our rulers. Starting from the very first day of the Kosovo war, and coming full circle to the Libyan intervention – another war of conquest undertaken in the name of “humanity”! – we’re still around, still standing, and not only that but our audience has grown way beyond what we ever imagined at the beginning.
When once we were almost a lone voice, crying out in the wilderness, warning of the disasters our foreign policy of global intervention would bring on our heads, today we are joined by a variety of other voices, on the right as well as the left. Arguments once only heard on this web site, and a few others, are now being echoed in the general discourse – and are even being heard on the floor of Congress.
They are being heard on the campaign trail, too. With a presidential election coming up, a lot of the resources that usually go to independent institutions such as Antiwar.com are being eaten up by political contributions, and yet – now more than ever – it is vitally important that foreign policy issues are raised and actually debated.
That’s why we exist: but we can’t continue to exist without your support. It’s as brutally simple as that. Unlike the pro-war think-tanks, and the in-house pundits of the corporate media, we depend on the kindness of strangers – people we’ve never met, but who have met us, in the sense that they’ve come to depend on this web site for their window on the world. We try to keep that window as clear and transparent as freshly-cleaned glass, all the while giving our readers not only the news unvarnished by partisan loyalty but also the means to analyze and understand what is happening in the world.
Yes, we’re libertarians, and we make no bones about it: and yet, while ideology gives us a framework for understanding world events, one that differentiates us from both progressives and conservatives, it also gives us the means to build bridges to both. For libertarianism is an ideology that disdains the left/right paradigm, and proposes an alternative way of looking at the political landscape and classifying its various inhabitants, one that defines all these forces in their relation to State power. In America, as in the rest of the world, the great battle pits the Powerful against the Powerless. On this battlefield, we’ll take our allies where we can find them.
That’s how I, a libertarian of some notoriety, can make my appeal to both liberals and conservatives, and even hope to succeed in doing so. That’s why, if you’re not a libertarian, or even vaguely a sympathizer, ensuring the existence of this web site is a good investment. Because, after all, who else is doing what we have been doing for all these years? And the need for what we’re doing has never been greater. Now that Obama is in office, much of the former antiwar crowd has turned tail and run off to join the presidential cult. Who is left to do the job that must be done?
We aren’t doing it alone because we can’t do it alone. We need your help – and, yes, your tax-deductible donation. It takes money to run this little outfit – not a lot, by the standards of Washington’s think-tanks. In comparison to them, we’re spending less than a pittance. It’s David versus a financial Goliath: we don’t have any billionaires sending us checks. That’s why we have to turn to you, our loyal readers – and the burgeoning crowd of newcomers who have been converging on this site of late – for the support we need to get us through a rough patch. And, believe you me, every fundraising campaign qualifies as a rough patch. It’s a long, excruciating process, what with the fundraising thermometer rising with ominous slowness – and, sometimes, not moving at all.
Yes, yes, I know – these are hard times for everyone. A rough patch is our lot, it seems, for quite some time. It’s precisely because of that, however, that the urgency of our mission is increased – due to the temptation, inherent in our democracy, of our rulers to divert us with foreign wars. The harsher our internal economic and political conditions become, the more prone the powers that be are to relieve the pressure in some senseless military expedition – and achieve that magical “national unity” we keep hearing so much about.
Please, give as much as you can as soon as you can – so we can get this fundraising campaign over as soon as possible and get back to focusing on what is, after all, our assigned task: fighting the War Party on every front. Fundraising, of course, is a vital part of that fight, but, for me, it is by far the least enjoyable aspect of a job otherwise perfectly suited to my talents, such as they are. It’s kind of like going to the dentist: you know it has to be done, and you approach it dutifully, but nevertheless dread the prospect of having to actually do it. Yet here I am, gritting my teeth, holding out my empty cup. Please, let’s fill it as soon as we can – so I can get back to doing what I do best, and that is …. Well, I’ll let my readers fill in the rest.
22 thoughts on “Riders of the Storm”
"All governments are inherently aggressive."
Government HAS become inherently immoral and psychopathic. American government. My only disagreement with another excellent article. Well stated Mr. Raimondo.
All HUMANS are inherently aggressive! Sheesh!
A tiny government can exist only if they are serving some sort of function (think: Switzerland) for competing empires that surround them, for example. Many tiny island 'nations' are actually pirate coves for various imperialist bankers, for example.
There never existed any nation with any level of power that didn't have some sort of imperialism and above all, some form of socialism. That is, when countries try to run themselves as free open markets and are large, they collapse pretty rapidly.
Countries that provide no protection, no services, poor infrastructure and lousy education usually end up being conquered by others or exploited (think, Mexico, for example) by aliens.
The trick with all empires is not to get bogged down patrolling the perimeter at the cost of the center. Rome managed this for an astonishing 250 years and then collapsed at the core.
The US hasn't been able to manage this for even 60 years. After WWII, we decided to patrol the 'free world'. When the communist dictators fell, going bankrupt trying to patrol half of the earth, the US decided to patrol even the communist half, too!
This is bankrupting our nation. Using troops to hold down 100% of the planet meant spending more money than all other countries, combined. Naturally, this is impossible. But why are we doing this?
Well, foreigners control Congress. And our media is owned by people who don't give a hoot about America, they want to control the Holy Land. So there it is: AIPAC meets this week and where is the headline story at Antiwar.com announcing anti-AIPAC demonstrations? I see none.
Please, Justin, do a real service. Organize demonstrations. Don't just fundraise to keep your own self happy. You have to do some actions!
Sooo, just to clarify, your problem with empire is that it is not being efficiently operated?
Is someone stopping you from demonstrating against AIPAC? Sounds like an utter waste of time to me, but knock your self out
You're not looking for a clarification, methinks…
Great article Justin.
I have been reading this site for years. I am not a Libertarian, and I dislike your generic tribal 'they're all the same' treatment of the left. The political Left (aka Democrats) and the political Right (aka Republicans) are two faces of the same entity – power. They exploit the stupid tribalism of 'its wrong when they do it but right when we do it' and even worse 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. I guess you won't want to dirty your hands with my tainted leftist money.
After a lot of wind, we get Justin saying:
"Yes, we’re libertarians, and we make no bones about it: and yet, while ideology gives us a framework for understanding world events, one that differentiates us from both progressives and conservatives, it also gives us the means to build bridges to both. For libertarianism is an ideology that disdains the left/right paradigm, and proposes an alternative way of looking at the political landscape and classifying its various inhabitants, one that defines all these forces in their relation to State power. In America, as in the rest of the world, the great battle pits the Powerful against the Powerless. On this battlefield, we’ll take our allies where we can find them."
Translation: We will politically concentrate on the state while ignoring its origins and ongoing purpose, the need for capitalism to regulate itself. We will ignore the purpose of capitalist war, which is to satisfy the constant need of capitalism to expand into new markets, and we will, of course, lie about history and claim that the Left = liberals.
You worry about demagogues, Justin. Well, guess what: they are critters of the Right, whether its McCarthy, MacArthur, Lindberg, Long, Coughlin or Glenn Beck, they are of the Right, your kind of guy.
You are building no bridges to the Left by supporting the capitalism that causes war and lying about us.
USA's Presidents–Dragan Slayers–but one problem –never were dragons to slay–all Bullsh!t
The only surecure for the world's main problem is the exposure that USrael did the dirty deed on Sept 11 2001 and blamed it on Arabs
You have to see this flick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dYFGqMK2mI
Interesting column by Justin but I do not think his estimate of China takes into account some unique aspects of Chinese history and civilization.
China has never been an imperial power, even when it had the opportunity to do so sending huge fleets of ships that dwarfed those of Columbus to the coast of Africa at least – 50 years before Chris set sail. They traded and explored but never colonized or enslaved. Why? I think it is due to millenia of experience with invaders who wanted the resources of China, not the least of which was the rich agricultural land. So the Chinese spent time keeping the invaders out, the purpose of the Great Wall.
Second, China never had a religion even from ancient times – no Guy in the Sky and no Creation myth. So there was no need to have a missionary spirit – and in contrast to the US as even Henry the K recently acknowledged, China does not have one. Anti-interventionism is built into its culture in this way.
Third, China's culture emphasizes balance, not Good versus Evil, as in the West and even in the Middle East in pre-Xtian times. In fact Mao felt that this feature was bad and that the Chinese needed to bestir themselves to get rid of Japanese and other colonialists. Mao did not like this passive spirit but he too fell prey to it, because unlike the Russians, Europeans, he was never very interested in exporting Revolution. In fact he only took up the cause of Revolution again after he saw Sun Yat Sen's revolution fail.
The doctrinaire Marxists tell us that once China accumulates sufficient capital, it will necessarily become an imperial power. But in a subtle way I think others buy into the same idea. We should be very careful of that. The Chinese idea of placing primary emphasis on trade and economic development may be just what the doctor ordered for a 21st Century world where WMDs of new types may outstrip even nuclear weapons. China in fact has an anti-interventionist policy because of millenia of experience. In fact it pursues wittingly or not the policy that if trade crosses borders, armies will not.
John V. Walsh
GREAT comment John… Now how to separate the fighting children and get back to PRODUCTIVE endeavors…..
Well said John. China is for a win-win deal ( for example building infrastructures not destroying them), therefore most african countries are welcoming them.
Sounds like the way the NYT used to talk about Uncle Joe.
Excellent insight and and analysis of China today and historically but you claim that "The doctrinaire Marxists tell us that once China accumulates sufficient capital, it will necessarily become an imperial power"
Who are these "doctrinaire Marxists" making this claim? They certainly hold no political power. Isn't it the capitalists who see China as an imperial adversary?
The Chinese have never colonized or enslaved anyone, or at least attempted to do so? The people of Japan and Korea would certainly beg to differ. Japan would have fallen to the Mongol hordes in the 13th century if not for a couple of typhoons that wrecked the invasion fleets. The Japanese called those typhoons the kamikaze ("divine wind") and for centuries believed their islands were immune from outside attack. And Genghis Khan advanced well into Europe before being turned back.
Possibly your best essay ever. You are right — the engine of war is the engine of empire.
It shouldn't be necessary for Mr. Raimondo to "build bridges to the Left" (which, by the way, does NOT equate to the "Democratic" Party), for the simple reason that those of us who really are opposed to the American empire recognize the substantial concern we hold in common. It is fascinating to watch and hear "democrats" who cannot, will not, ally with others *with whom they have disagreements*. Oh, the horror! No, we must have yet another factional fritter-fest, where we see how many steps lead to the top of Mount Vanguard…because only from there, can we survey the One, the Correct, and the True.
Does this seem familiar? If so, then please, for the sake of all of us, get off that crazy and self-defeating way of thinking, and unite where and when we can. There is plenty to disagree about and we'll have time for that…if we can first stop the thing that is dragging us *all* down: massive, routine, and increasingly tyrannical militarism.
Whenever Democrats on the far left put up petitions in Congress, there are precious few Repubs who sign on, one of the very few being Ron Paul in the past.
But when it comes to internal civil/human/women's rights in the US, suddenly our antiwar rightist allies go on full attack. This is unacceptable.
The liberationists on the left have virtually nothing in common with libertarian isolationists on the right. We do ask the right to join in our various antiwar demonstrations but it is nearly impossible for us leftists to join the right in antiwar demonstrations since….there are not any at all! Ahem.
This is why we keep hammering Justin about this! He happily attacks all of us, left, liberal, centralist Democrats are relentlessly attacked here at Antiwar.com but to this day, I have yet to see Antiwar.com organize and sponsor and get permits for big antiwar demonstrations! Where are they?????
While it is true that all states are inherently aggressive and violent, some are more aggressive than others. The states of the Euro-American enterprise have easily taken the prize for upping the level of savagery used in the waging of aggressive war. Especially the United States. I mean the military dominance of the current government is what it is. There has never been anything like it in world history. So the U.S. is most definitely "exceptional" in this sense of the use of the term.
Yes, it's true that calling on "international law" to stop imperialism is a waste of time, especially when dealing with the U.S. state. Nothing wrong with it in principle, but justice is never achieved waiting for the law to do the right thing. If the Egyptian people had hoped that the law would save them from Mubarak, then he would still be in office. The only way to stop power is to fight back against it the way they did in Egypt.
Japan during WWII: about as savage and vicious as it gets. The history of humanity on earth is all about the rise and fall of many, many empires. So I would suggest, empires are very much a natural human process. Why is this?
And interesting topic indeed! Civilization runs right alongside the concept of 'empires'. The fantasy of the gentleman farmers (using slaves!) of our Founding Fathers was a fiction since kidnapping Africans and then forcing them into many generations of slave labor in a foreign land is all about America from nearly day one!
The Dutch lowlands are a very small area yet they ran up until WWII, colonies and countries far afield, for example, in Asia, the Americas and Africa. The small British Isles which has a culture much admired by the US right wing, ran a massive global empire. It amuses me no end, watching libertarians attack the idea of 'empire' while they support global corporations which are parasites using our imperial power to accumulate wealth from various colonies we control with our military might…while attacking us leftists for being anti-internatioinal corporationists!
We, not you guys, know who the REAL EMPIRE is. Ask the Bilderberg guys about that!
Let's get rid of the empire that is obvious and exists all around us, before we get too preoccupied about which one is 'real', 'true', or 'correct'. If we get rid of the obvious one, we'll have done enough.
I did refer to Europe and the U.S. as the Euro-American Enterprise. One could argue that Japan was simply follow the European model of imperial aggression. It doesn't exonerate Imperial Japan for its crimes. The rise of Euro-American global hegemony came first, so we might want to view the rise of imperial Japan as a logical response to it. The global trading system was relatively egalitarian until the rise of European, and eventually American, hegemony over the past five centuries. Of course, that is not to say the pre modern non-European civilizations were anything to write home about.
What the people of the imperial nations refuse to recognize is that they might be doing something to provoke the violent responses of the people of the nations they invade. Americans wouldn't react any different if armed Chinese soldiers were landing in their communities and building military bases. They wouldn't be having them over for diner.
Since you mention the Netherlands, I should add that Cambodia fought a small war with the Netherlands in 1643-44. The Cambodian ruler at the time King Ramadhipati I executed the entire Dutch embassy and arrested all the remaining Dutch citizens in the country after the Netherlands via the Dutch East India company declared war on Cambodia. Cambodia would subsequently chase the invading Dutch out of the country at the Battle of Phnom Penh in 1644, albeit at great cost. It's doubtful Cambodia could have won another battle against a larger force deployed by the Dutch. They would have needed as much help from their Malay and Portuguese allies as possible if another battle had taken place. Another punitive expedition by the Dutch into Cambodia never happened. Cambodia had good trade relations with many other foreign countries up until this point, including Portugal, but it was clear from the words and deeds of the Dutch that they wanted to come into the country and take over. The Dutch embassy got what was coming to them. You can't go to a foreign land, behave the way they did and not expect a violent response from the locals to your imperial ambitions.
This is all documented from Dutch East India Company archives, published in a monograph in 2009 by Alfons Van Der Kraan, titled, "Murder And Mayhem In Seventeenth-Century Cambodia" (Of course, I hate the title).
For America it would be not intelligent to awake the yellow tiger.
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