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> American Empire, Dictionary Shortage? Bored Media?
turnea
post Jan 30 2004, 12:52 AM
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I like listening to the BBC World Service over the net regularly. Though it is a bit biased there are interesting stories and they differ in focus from the American media.

Usually this is good...

Behold, the new program "Age of Empire". I'll dash your last hope and reveal it's not a video game documentary. No, it is actually a six-week series on America's role in the world and well...

QUOTE
The United States is now the world’s only global super-power. This has led many commentators and pundits to talk about an “American Empire”.

The United States’ role in the world provokes strong and often conflicting emotions. Dealing with this new colossus is the central foreign policy problem for many governments.

In this new six-part series “Age of Empire” Jonathan Marcus sets out on a journey to examine America’s place in the modern world.

In part one he looks at the charges that America is a new imperial power and compares Washington’s contemporary role with the great empires of the past.

The Age of Empire
One can listen to the series (or just part one at this point) through the link above.

I thought this could be an accompaniment to an interesting debate.

Why do these "commentators and pundits" entertain the notion of an American Empire?

Why does the BBC give even wider play to such notions?

Are comparisons with ancient empires (Rome is a favorite) misleading a substantial segment of foreign opinion about america?

As so many of the commentators who subscribe to a notion of American empire like to say:
Is American dominance of world affairs failing?

Is there an American empire?

This post has been edited by turnea: Jan 30 2004, 12:57 AM
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CruisingRam
post Jan 30 2004, 01:50 AM
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I think the US has entered an age of empire, without a doubt, and we have no Carthage (the old soviet bloc), we are unrestrained in our imperialism, and like many Romans that hated Ceaser, we have the analogy of GW and the "new american century" group. As a patriot that loves my country, it pains me to see this, because, empires fail, and usually catastrophically. Our constant meddling in other countries affairs and now with outright unprovoked attack on Iraq, the analogy fits even more.

I think the only poeple that don't feel this way are the poeple that actually WANT an empire.

The worst part is this: for all our lofty ideals and philosophy, and our love of "democracy"- we have constantly subverted democratically elected goverments for our own evil/monetary means (the Guatamalen coup is one of the worst IMO- killing poeple so the fruit companies can keep thier profits is just horrific). We now don't want to have a popular election in Iraq because WE KNOW we won't like the results.

If we are going to have an empire, AT LEAST we should export the best part of our culture instead of the worst! crying.gif
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Robin_Scotland
post Jan 30 2004, 11:01 AM
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I think it's safe to say America is establishing itself as one of the great empires. It's not neccesarily a bad thing, or something that could have been avoided. There have always been and always will be empires here on Earth. If it wasn't the US it probably would have been someone else, the most likely alternative would have been the Soviet Union if it came out on top after the Cold War.

What would be nice to see is bringing the US back out of the cold. I know many may not think that America is the one that is being isolated, but if current trends continue then I'd bet within the next century the US could find itself seperated from the rest of the planet. There's also the fear of foreign 'threats'. The EU has been mentioned as a threat to the economic empire, as has China. Those who do see other economies as threats and want to see their nation prevail over all others are, in my mind, those who want to see a dominant American empire (or rather, do not want to see it go - the American empire already exists).

Remember, power corrupts. The more dominance a nation seeks, the less likely it is to remain in a position of dominance for any serious length of time. Look at Rome, or the faded British empire. The British empire is still in its decline, it has not totally evaporated yet, but nevertheless it is no longer the big cheese.

On the other hand, you can deny that there is such a thing as an American empire. I can't see how this can be done at all, it's as plain as the nose on your face - there is an American empire here today.

So really, you might say that people like myself who want America to work more closely with the UN, accept democratic decisions and not insult other nations are actually acting in the best interests of the US. I'd like to see America working closely with the UN, and pushing it to evolve rather than writing it off and running away.

There is a new space race approaching, everyone wants to put a man on Mars (except us Brits, look how bad we are at space. Where are you Beagle!?). I can say right now, that if whoever reaches Mars first puts down the flag of their nation, I'll lose all hope in mankind in this century. Nope. We're just as primitive as we were 100...200...300 years ago. The quest for Mars could be what will turn it all around. It will be the iconic image of the 21st century, and if it is an image of an international crew placing the flag of the UN, then maybe the day of the dominant empire will end.

This post has been edited by Robin_Scotland: Jan 30 2004, 11:01 AM
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TheCook
post Jan 30 2004, 12:54 PM
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For me, the first question is "what is an empire?" I started with the dictionary:

QUOTE
Main Entry: em·pire
Pronunciation: 'em-"pIr
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French empire, empirie, from Latin imperium absolute authority, empire, from imperare
1 a (1) : a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority; especially : one having an emperor as chief of state (2) : the territory of such a political unit b : something resembling a political empire; especially : an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control
2 : imperial sovereignty, rule, or dominion


Leaving aside the argument that each state constitutes territory, it appears that America is not an empire by the first definition of the term. While the country is pre-eminent in both military and economic power, the actual territory outside of its' borders is, at the moment, restricted to two countries (Iraq and Afghanistan). While US troops may also be involved in other peacekeeping missions (I don't know of any, but I'm prepare to be incorrect), I don't think multi-national actions with the sponsorship or approval of the United Nations or other extra-national group can count as territory acquisition.

It seems to me that America is not ruled by an emperor (defined as the sovereign or supreme male monarch of an empire). I know some (on the board and in the world) would say that the current President of the United States fits this definition but, at least until the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of Congress, and the cancelling of elections, it seems that the current President is neither sovereign nor supreme nor a monarch.

The final part of definition 1 (" something resembling a political empire; especially : an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control") may come the closest to a description of US influence throughout the world, although I personally feel that such terminology is an inappropriate description of the United States' influence in the world. Certainly, the United States' does not have direct political control or dominion over the world or even "significant territory". One could, however, argue that our voice in everything from the G7 to the World Bank constitute political control over key resources. This would seem to me, however, to be rather thin gruel. While the US is a major player in some of these organizations, the US cannot unilaterally dissolve them nor could it resign from them without consequence to itself. It may be 'first among equals' but it is not a supreme ruler of these bodies. Further, there are organizations like OPEC where the voice of the US is muted or non-existent (I know many would argue this is part of the motivation for war in Iraq, to me that question is both outside this discussion and irrelevant as the question of empire is one of what is, not what might be. Should the US become the prime-mover in OPEC, that may strengthen the case for America as Empire, but such a thing has not happened yet).

Definition 2 ("imperial sovereignty, rule, or dominion") again seems off the mark. It would seem to me that "imperial sovereignty" would imply the United States having direct and absolute control over territory, which it does not outside of the two aforementioned countries.

Where does this leave me? Clearly, the United States is the most powerful nation on the earth in both military and economic terms. Further, American culture is exported regularly throughout the world. This does suggest power. For the moment, however, US territorial claims are almost non-existent (the current government does not claim territorial rights to either Iraq or Afghanistan). Should the US maintain either physical or political control over these countries, then talk of Empire may be appropriate. For now, however, to me, it is not.
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amf
post Jan 30 2004, 03:41 PM
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Interesting commentary in Newsweekcaught my eye just before I read this topic. The closing paragraph was this:

QUOTE
While Washington worries about traditional problems of empire—disorder on the periphery—there is a new globalizing world slowly taking shape, in search of leadership.


The rest of the article talks about the recent meeting in Davos and how VP Cheney talked only about terrorism and security while most of the folks there talked about globalization and modernization and how we've become a "one-note superpower".

My take: we're an ECONOMIC empire, not a territorial one. Our economy dominates all other economies and we use that to try and push other countries around. I guess it's better than going to war over land.
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Bikerdad
post Jan 30 2004, 06:30 PM
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We are not an Economic empire. With none of the other G-8 nations do we have anything approaching an "imperial balance of trade." Very few of the countries, if any, that we trade with have an "imperial relationship", i.e. exclusive or near exclusive. If anything, American "free trade" efforts, imperfect though they may be, are one of the best example of non-imperial ambitions around. Remember, a free trade agreement means, for instance, that the US can't lean on a trading partner for more favorable terms compared to Canada if all three are party to the agreement.
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Artemise
post Jan 31 2004, 09:43 AM
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The US cannot be considered an empire, not even a 'superpower' IMO as long as it allows excuses to the likes of, 'we were ill prepared' , 'complacent' , words like 'neglect', 'failure to act' 'vunerable'. 'Apathy ' toward terrorist attacks despite so many warnings. 'Confusion' when it came to scrambling air-force planes in light of 5 hijacked planes. 'Confusion' when it came to the President in a schoolroom after the second tower was hit. The whole thing has been blamed on US intelliegence, FAA, Washington stupidity! That was good enough for this public, we were just dumb, an acceptable excuse! Unprepared...really. You know somehow this didnt sit right in my scope of the US..but.. Thats grand. Thats a superpower for you, eh Shaggy..how bout another Scooby burger.
Even bestselling authors were writing about attacks on the WTC before this nations leader decided to leave the Crawford ranch and deal with matters of national security. If the veritable 'we' are so freaking Stupid, as admitted by those who do not desire to blame anyone in power for allowing us to be so utterly violated, how could anyone take american 'empire' status seriously. Now Iraq intel was bad , oh so sorry we didnt know..we were kinda dumb, AGAIN. An Empire? a joke. A wanna be maybe. Im sure George would like to be emperor.

This post has been edited by Artemise: Jan 31 2004, 10:02 AM
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jan 31 2004, 10:38 AM
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I'm sure Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush II entertain fantasies about donning togas and wearing laurel wreaths on their brows. But as Artemise stated, with all of the "whoopses" going on in government during their watch, they don't have it down cold just yet.

When the British, arguably our closest allies right now, are writing about the American Empire, can the sentiments of inhabitants of the other nations be much different?

Even if the alleged intelligence snafus were merely that, snafus, I have noticed that the snafus were always committed in favor of what Bush II wanted to do at the time. That feeds into the international (as well as our) perception that it is a play for power and that our national leaders are playing fast and loose with the truth.

I don't know of any of the Founders who even fantasized that this new republic would become a dominant world power.

QUOTE
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.--Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887


This post has been edited by Paladin Elspeth: Jan 31 2004, 10:47 AM
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HeatherRob
post Jan 31 2004, 02:38 PM
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The classic definition of an empire, as in the Roman or 19th century British model, is not applicable to modern day America. Instead of enslaving people as the Romans did, or not allowing them to rule themselves and use native tongues like the British, America's style of policing the world involves promoting self-rule, democracy, human rights. The simple fact is, if America, her leaders like the President and less so the Congress, does not choose to police the world, who will, no that is the answer. So America is forced, due to lack of another moral, democratic superpower to put out all the fires. Where are the Chinese, where are the Europeans, they don't want to spend their money, lose their men and women in conflicts, how cowardly and weak.
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turnea
post Jan 31 2004, 03:54 PM
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QUOTE(Artemise)
A wanna be maybe. Im sure George would like to be emperor.

QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth)
I'm sure Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush II entertain fantasies about donning togas and wearing laurel wreaths on their brows. But as Artemise stated, with all of the "whoopses" going on in government during their watch, they don't have it down cold just yet. 

QUOTE(HeatherRob)
Where are the Chinese, where are the Europeans, they don't want to spend their money, lose their men and women in conflicts, how cowardly and weak.

I intended this discussion to deal with the idea of an modern American Empire, a concept considerably larger than the present administration. Because such comments are not clearly tied to the topic and have potential to be derailing I would greatly appreciate it if there like are not repeated or responded to.

QUOTE(CruisingRam)
I think the US has entered an age of empire, without a doubt, and we have no Carthage (the old soviet bloc), we are unrestrained in our imperialism, and like many Romans that hated Ceaser, we have the analogy of GW and the "new american century" group.

This one is a bit more on topic, though it would be interesting if the claim could be fleshed out with evidence....

As an addition, for those who claim the present administration yearns for empire, I would dearly love to participate in a debate where that is the topic. Perhaps there I could see where these claims could be substantiated. Undebatable side-swipes are boring. sleeping.gif

Now, down to business... laugh.gif

QUOTE(Robin_Scotland)
On the other hand, you can deny that there is such a thing as an American empire. I can't see how this can be done at all, it's as plain as the nose on your face - there is an American empire here today.

As other posters have demonstrated, according to the true meaning of the word, there quite likely is not an American Empire. Why then do you believe it is so obvious that there is?

QUOTE(Robin_Scotland)
Remember, power corrupts. The more dominance a nation seeks, the less likely it is to remain in a position of dominance for any serious length of time. Look at Rome, or the faded British empire. The British empire is still in its decline, it has not totally evaporated yet, but nevertheless it is no longer the big cheese.

This goes to my third and fourth questions, could you elaborate on such a parallel, surely the difference between Victorian Britain and modern America are enormous?
Why then the assumption of failure?
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jan 31 2004, 06:20 PM
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http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0304b.asp
QUOTE
An American Empire! If You Want It instead of Freedom, Part 1
by Richard M. Ebeling, April 2003

Fifty years ago, the classical liberal author and journalist Garet Garrett published a collection of essays called The People's Pottage (1953)...

...The specific danger was reflected in the title of one of the essays in the volume, "The Rise of Empire." Garrett summarized what he considered the requisite signs of the emerging American Empire. First, the executive power of the government becomes increasingly dominant. The traditional institutional restraints and balances on the three branches of government are weakened, with more and more discretionary power and authority shifting to the office of the president. Congress plays an increasingly subservient role, with lawmaking and regulatory decision-making transferred to bureaus and departments under the executive's control.

Second, domestic-policy issues become increasingly subordinate to foreig-policy matters. Out of the ashes of the Second World War, Garrett argued, the United States had taken on the status and position of a global policeman responsible for the "the peace of the world." To fulfill this task, all other matters become of secondary importance. Threats and military actions around the globe place the American people more and more in harm's way. And in the middle of the inevitable crises that come with global military commitments, "sacrifices" of freedom at home are required to ensure "national survival" in the face of unending dangers on every continent where U.S. forces stand at the ready.


This is not an article by Democrats or Greens. It is from a Libertarian website, The Future of Freedom Foundation.

As we continue to finance military operations abroad to the dereliction of domestic concerns, and the government is increasingly focused on bringing our American way of life to people on the globe who haven't asked for it, one can only surmise that indeed there is some merit to the belief that America has embarked upon empire-building.

This article from Harvard Magazine also supports the idea that there is an American Empire. http://www.harvard-magazine.com/on-line/1102193.html

QUOTE
A decade ago, certainly two decades ago, the concept aroused righteous indignation. How could the United States be compared to Rome—with its conquering legions, its subjugation of peoples, its universalist claims to law and order—or even to Britain, the former ruler of millions of subjects in India, the Middle East, and Africa? If an empire, post-World War II America was the empire that dared not speak its name. But these days, on the part of friends and critics alike, the bashfulness has ended. "The Roman and the British empires have had their day. Why should we begrudge the new American Empire the right to protect its citizens from a jealous and hostile world?" writes a former British European Union official to the Financial Times. The historian Paul Kennedy cites the overwhelming preponderance of military power the United States possesses. In full agreement, the Bush administration has vowed to preserve that decisive margin against any rivals.
<snip>
In fact, some historians of international relations, myself included, have resorted to the concept of a quasi-American empire for a long time. Still, we believed it was an empire with a difference—a coordination of economic exchange and security guarantees welcomed by its less powerful member states, who preserved their autonomy and played a role in collective policymaking. We used such terms as "empire by invitation" or "consensual" empire. What, after all, distinguishes an empire? It is a major actor in the international system based on the subordination of diverse national elites who—whether under compulsion or from shared convictions—accept the values of those who govern the dominant center or metropole. The inequality of power, resources, and influence is what distinguishes an empire from an alliance (although treaties of alliance often formalize or disguise an imperial structure). Distinct national groupings may be harshly controlled within an empire or they may enjoy autonomy. At least some of their political, economic, and cultural leaders hobnob with their imperial rulers and reject any idea of escaping imperial influence. Others may organize resistance, but they, too, have often assimilated their colonizers' culture and even values. Empires function by virtue of the prestige they radiate as well as by might, and indeed collapse if they rely on force alone. Artistic styles, the language of the rulers, and consumer preferences flow outward along with power and investment capital—sometimes diffused consciously by cultural diplomacy and student exchanges, sometimes just by popular taste for the intriguing products of the metropole, whether Coca Cola or Big Macs. As supporters of the imperial power rightly maintain, empires provide public goods that masses of people outside their borders really want to enjoy, including an end to endemic warfare and murderous ethnic or religious conflicts.


The British ought to know what constitutes an empire. And some Americans obviously concur.

Clearly, there is more meaning to "empire" than its simple denotation. "If it walks and quacks like a duck..." Enjoy.

This post has been edited by Paladin Elspeth: Jan 31 2004, 08:41 PM
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Julian
post Jan 31 2004, 06:57 PM
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First off, I think that arguments against the idea that "America is an Empire" interpret it a little too literally. The authors of this piece, and others like it, will be perfectly aware that America is not literally an Empire in the dictionary sense - she has no Emperor, has precious little conquered territory outside her own borders, and so on, as have been pointed out here.

But America does have military presences in many or most parts of the world. That these military presences are not directly engaged with the subjugation of native populations, or are present at the invitation of host governments, does not reduce the very long reach of American military power. Undoubtedly, if America did ever decide to become a full-on imperial power, it would be more than capable of doing so.

That in itself is a worry for non-Americans. We are reliant on the good graces of America not to conquer us (Edited to rephrase a British colloquialism - thanks Paladin Elspeth). However unlikely that may seem now, it must be considered a possibility, even by Americans themselves, and even if the possibility is a very small one.

It is also a relief - you could beat us up, but you don't. Though this relief is of limited comfort. For an individual, a very wealthy person armed to the teeth makes ordinary folk nervous, no matter how generous and friendly they are. As above, so below.

Cultural imperialism is a slightly different concept. Even for real out-and-out Empires like Rome or Britain, there is an attraction in the cultural capital of the dominant nation. In most of the Victorian world, those aspiring to be "civilised" read Dickens and Austen and Shakespeare, whether or not Engish was their first langage, and whether or not they lived under the direct control of the Empire itself. They mainly did this through their own choice, not because they were punished for not doing so.

And this is not restricted to actual Empires - some historians believe that the Celtic languages and cultures that pervaded north western Europe were voluntarily adopted by idiginous peoples, rather than through colonisation or conquest. The Anglo-Saxon dominance over England is suggested to have happened the same way - a few dominant nobles and their households gained control, and the people who were already here adopted their language and culture, rather than a hoard of Anglo-Saxons physically displacing the people who were there before.

This kind of cultural colonialism or imperialism, assisted by trade dominance, seems quite close to the effects of America on the rest of the world. How many kids in any affluent family anywhere choose to listen to Britney or Beyonce rather than the local folk music? How many people of all ages wear jeans, whether or not they have any view on America at all?

This kind of imperialism happens unconscously, and depends more on fashion and contemporary ideas of "cool" than anything under the direct control of the originating culture. There is very little America could do to stop African villagers listening to pop music or Bulgarian students wearing jeans, even if you wanted to.

This kind of all-pervasive influence is not in itself worrying, except to say that America seems to have very little awareness of just how influential it is on just about everything that happens everywhere. I think that outright hostility to such unconscious imperialism is rather rarer than doomsayers would have us believe, but I also think that much of the wider frustration with America stems from her apparent ignorance of her own importance in the lives of non-Americans. This is to a very great extent outside the powers of their own governments - especially in the free market small-state economies America wants to see become the norm.

This post has been edited by Julian: Jan 31 2004, 07:13 PM
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CruisingRam
post Jan 31 2004, 08:41 PM
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QUOTE(HeatherRob @ Jan 31 2004, 02:38 PM)
The classic definition of an empire, as in the Roman or 19th century British model, is not applicable to modern day America.  Instead of enslaving people as the Romans did, or not allowing them to rule themselves and use native tongues like the British, America's style of policing the world involves promoting self-rule, democracy, human rights.  The simple fact is, if America, her leaders like the President and less so the Congress, does not choose to police the world, who will, no that is the answer.  So America is forced, due to lack of another moral, democratic superpower to put out all the fires.  Where are the Chinese, where are the Europeans, they don't want to spend their money, lose their men and women in conflicts, how cowardly and weak.

No, I do not think the American empire fits exactly the western definition- but it is an empire, with nasty puppet goverments and very horrible practises on the level of the Roman empire. IMO- it all really got started post WW2 with the Guatemalen coup:

http://www.newspoetry.org/1999/991226.html

"So America is forced, due to lack of another moral, democratic superpower to put out all the fires. "- from the above quote-

What a laughably incorrect idea- the US acting MORALLY in these countries? How do you figure?


in order to show Turnea (and in a backhanded way- Bikerdad)his question- "This one is a bit more on topic, though it would be interesting if the claim could be fleshed out with evidence...."-- this evidence-

We overthrew a democratically elected goverment and replaced it with one of the most hideous criminal goverments in the western hemisphere simply to protect the Chiquita banana fruit companies consortium- so therefore, starting to establish a "economic empire"- that puts human rights and democracy BEHIND corporate profits- and by extension, Chile and the Allende' assasination, the installation of the Shah of Iran, the helping of Saddam against Iran, the arming of the Muhajdeen in Afghanistan, Noriega in Panama and on and on and on- all horrible, evil poeple we helped DESPITE our supposed need for "morality, democracy and the American way"- all these were simply to gain influence in world politics and gain power/control in those nations, nicely fitting into my personal definition of "empire". dry.gif

This post has been edited by CruisingRam: Jan 31 2004, 08:42 PM
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HeatherRob
post Feb 3 2004, 04:33 PM
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QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Jan 31 2004, 08:41 PM)



What a laughably incorrect idea- the US acting MORALLY in these countries? How do you figure?



We overthrew a democratically elected goverment and replaced it with one of the most hideous criminal goverments in the western hemisphere simply to protect the Chiquita banana fruit companies consortium- so therefore, starting to establish a "economic empire"- that puts human rights and democracy BEHIND corporate profits- and by extension, Chile and the Allende' assasination, the installation of the Shah of Iran, the helping of Saddam against Iran, the arming of the Muhajdeen in Afghanistan, Noriega in Panama and on and on and on- all horrible, evil poeple we helped DESPITE our supposed need for "morality, democracy and the American way"- all these were simply to gain influence in world politics and gain power/control in those nations, nicely fitting into my personal definition of "empire".  dry.gif

A laugh? I don't think the Americans who are dying in Iraq consider it a laughing matter. They are helping the Iraqi people rebuild. If our government is so evil as you want to believe, then we would have grabbed the oil and said screw the rest of the country. No, today Iraq is already on its way to self rule, in less than one year after the war, incredible! I say good job to Paul Bremer, Pres. Bush and the military who are working very hard to make Iraq stand on its own again. You bring up alot of instances of the US supporting not-so-nice regimes and of CIA interference in coups. True, many Presidents have fowled up and bungled foreign policies. But I would counter that the good we have done, from rebuilding Germany and Japan after WWII, to helping defeat marxism in nicaragua, to fighting and defeating communism in South Korea, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe far outweighs the mistakes and blunders.
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Shild
post Feb 4 2004, 05:30 AM
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QUOTE
Instead of enslaving people as the Romans did...


QUOTE
The more dominance a nation seeks, the less likely it is to remain in a position of dominance for any serious length of time.  Look at Rome...


This is not exactly on topic, but historical accuracy is important when it comes to political discussions.

Slavery was practiced in Roman times, but the Romans did not normally enslave the peoples they conquered because it was bad business. People under Roman rule normally enjoyed a much better life than those outside of it (roads and sanitation and whatnot); this is one huge reason the Roman empire was so successful. If they had enslaved everyone, they would have exhausted themselves from putting down rebellions long before reaching their peak in power and influence.

The Roman empire lasted officially from 750 BC to 1204 AD (isn't 1954 years a "serious length of time"?)

Now, back on topic:

This thread is pretty much about semantics ("I think an empire is this, so the US is one"/"I think an empire is that, so the US isn't one"). Basically, the word "empire" has been so abused that its lost a lot of it meaning. Furthermore, the word "empire" has somehow picked up a negative connotation, so the question, "Is the US an empire?" becomes "Do you particularly like the US?"

Personally, I have no animosity to the idea of an empire, but I'd have to say it isn't because it does not take over other peoples specifically to make them US citizens... this, in my opinion, is the defining characteristic of all empires in history, from the Babylonians to the present.
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GreenRiver
post Feb 4 2004, 11:47 AM
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I feel we (america and americans) are an empire, but a slightly different one.

We arent as black and white and clear cut as Rome or Greece so i try to not make comparisons with them.

America is almost the epicenter of culture right now, from where last century that was europe. I think the world itself is almost its own empire, or maybe it would be safer to see the western world itself. We share the same kind of culture, same music, clothes, etc.

America, simply dident build western culture by itself (like England built it's colonial culture) and I believe that maybe america is just an extention of the english empire along with the common wealth countrys. So maybe what im trying to say is, while england, busted her balls and maybe over did it, created a new society and world, that we throughly enjoy today. thumbsup.gif
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turnea
post Feb 4 2004, 05:36 PM
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QUOTE(Julian @ Jan 31 2004, 12:57 PM)
First off, I think that arguments against the idea that "America is an Empire" interpret it a little too literally. The authors of this piece, and others like it, will be perfectly aware that America is not literally an Empire in the dictionary sense - she has no Emperor, has precious little conquered territory outside her own borders, and so on, as have been pointed out here.

Good point, although I would venture to say that some of these people aren't as reasonable as you might think about considering empire by it's actual definition.

As for interpreting it "too narrowly" that's a judgement call. I believe that other are interpreting it too broadly distorting the word out of it's meaning and as a result making false assumption which of course lead to false conclusions (as Shild pointed out with comparisons to Rome).

QUOTE(Julian)
It is also a relief - you could beat us up, but you don't. Though this relief is of limited comfort. For an individual, a very wealthy person armed to the teeth makes ordinary folk nervous, no matter how generous and friendly they are. As above, so below.

I believe that might be the psychological reason people resort to referring to America as an empire. But this subconscious force is often confused with ration criticism of American policy. It start as faint fear, but shows it self as anger and mild (usually) hatred. (The Romans fell and so will you, bwa ha ha! devil.gif )

QUOTE(Julian)
This kind of imperialism happens unconscously, and depends more on fashion and contemporary ideas of "cool" than anything under the direct control of the originating culture. There is very little America could do to stop African villagers listening to pop music or Bulgarian students wearing jeans, even if you wanted to.

True, but that doesn't mean people won't blame us anyway. tongue.gif

QUOTE(Julian)
This kind of all-pervasive influence is not in itself worrying, except to say that America seems to have very little awareness of just how influential it is on just about everything that happens everywhere. I think that outright hostility to such unconscious imperialism is rather rarer than doomsayers would have us believe, but I also think that much of the wider frustration with America stems from her apparent ignorance of her own importance in the lives of non-Americans.

Now that's interesting. I always thought Americans were well aware that ours was the dominant culture. Could you elaborate?

QUOTE(CruisingRam)
We overthrew a democratically elected goverment and replaced it with one of the most hideous criminal goverments in the western hemisphere simply to protect the Chiquita banana fruit companies consortium- so therefore, starting to establish a "economic empire"- that puts human rights and democracy BEHIND corporate profits- and by extension, Chile and the Allende' assasination, the installation of the Shah of Iran, the helping of Saddam against Iran, the arming of the Muhajdeen in Afghanistan, Noriega in Panama and on and on and on- all horrible, evil poeple we helped DESPITE our supposed need for "morality, democracy and the American way"- all these were simply to gain influence in world politics and gain power/control in those nations, nicely fitting into my personal definition of "empire"

Yes, your personal definition. But not really the true meaning of the word. I see what your saying but believe that America has turned form this foreign policy path. I hope so...
unsure.gif

As for Paladin Elspeth's documents, I still reading and thinking. There are some interesting point, but not proof of a real empire.

Just sole superpowerness, there's a big difference.
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ConservPat
post Feb 4 2004, 10:38 PM
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We are, as said by others, a cultural and economic empire...Not a military one. We influence other countries through excellence, thereby expanding some of our culture...We don't take them over and keep adding stars to the flag.

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turnea
post Feb 5 2004, 12:12 AM
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QUOTE(ConservPat @ Feb 4 2004, 04:38 PM)
We are, as said by others, a cultural and economic empire...Not a military one.  We influence other countries through excellence, thereby expanding some of our culture...We don't take them over and keep adding stars to the flag.

CP  us.gif

and even there it's good to point out that superpower or dominant power is far more accurate that empire... thumbsup.gif

This post has been edited by turnea: Feb 5 2004, 12:13 AM
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CruisingRam
post Feb 5 2004, 03:23 AM
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QUOTE(ConservPat @ Feb 4 2004, 10:38 PM)
We are, as said by others, a cultural and economic empire...Not a military one.  We influence other countries through excellence, thereby expanding some of our culture...We don't take them over and keep adding stars to the flag.

CP  us.gif

I disagree- we subjigate them instead without allowing them representation- Guatamala is a perfect example- probably one of the best examples of "empire" building.

The definition of "empire" IS somewhat antiquated, simply because, even if a modern goverment has aspirations of empire, it doesn't really want to CALL itself that. The USSR certainly did not call itself an "Empire"- and in fact, claimed, as we do, with the interference in every country they were in, that they were being "liberated" (hmmm- overtones of Iraq?)

So- are we an empire by the old definition or do we call ourselves that? No- are we an empire by using our influence to bend others to our will- obviously.
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