T Nation

Blood on your Caviar

US hegemony often makes American citizens richer. The oppertunities for finanicial growth provided by US imperial actions probably can’t even be added up, but no doubt they seriously enhance the ecomony. Now this can be argued, but whats good for the economy in some way will probably trickle down and effect most classes of society, some more than others obviously (I’m looking at you Cheney), overall though I have little doubt that each US citizen who reads this has (most likely) been positively effected by the way imperialism has increased free trade. But what about the human cost of ‘spreading democracy and free trade’. Its pretty much forgotten by most who simply reap the benefits and pay little attention to what went into them being able to have cheap petrol (gas), or a nice shirt, or a huge diamond on their wife’s finger. You may be handing over the VISA but in many ways thats only half of where the economic growth comes from. Its not really suprising people don’t see or hear the consequences of being the ‘worlds remaining superpower’. The media spews euphamisms such as ‘smart bombs’ and ‘collateral damage’ to ‘protect’ viewers from the reality of war and innocent deaths. Accounts which are not so sanitized are discounted as they ar often from Arab sources like Al Jazeera, hence in the West the dieing innocents have almost no voice. Go to Italy, Spain, Malta, France or any other Mediteranean country and you could speak, first hand, to the refugees displaced by US and Israeli ‘intervention’ in the Middle East. Of course none of us will do that. Instead here is a pretty emotive piece of writing from your side of the Atlantic. It comes from the Nicaraguan paper ‘Envio’, which in the face of US strong arming has a voice. The US state terrorism in Nicaragua was born out of politically designed fear as much as finance, but still it bore a cost proportionally greater than all the wars of the C20th put together, just so a US friendly government could be put in power:
“…it is a safe bet that those who took up arms at a time when US state terrorism was killing, torturing, forcing disappearances and closing all political spaces will now be reclassified as terrorists. The unimaginable and singular tragedy of September 11th surely felt like the end of the world in the targeted country, but Nicaragua experiences the end of the world nearly every day after the destruction the US government has repeatedly wreaked on this country and its people. Nicaragua has lived its own Armageddon in excrutiating slow motion under US assault and is now submerged in its dismal aftermath…” -Envio 2003

Dear God where do you come up with this crap. Seriously, we have already been over your bullshit imperialism stance and played it for the fallacy that it is, why bring it up again.

What is the point of this? To try and argue that the U.S citizen benefits from the U.S being a world superpower. HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! You think.

You think Americans like the fact that America is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Of course they do…as does every other citizen from every imaginable corner of the globe who comes to america in unparalleled numbers to try and get an opportunity at freedom, opportunity, wealth, etc etc which they wouldn’t have in their home country.

Your trite pseudo intellectual bullshit clearly knows no bounds and its time its shown for the charade it is. Lets have at it, point by point.

Topic: Whats wrong with America or alternatively, What is wrong with America when compared to any of her peers.

I’ll let you make the first point because I wouldnt want to be accused of putting words in your mouth.

I still can’t believe you get on this site with that bullshit. Do you think we as Americans give a shit what you think. Especially since you aren’t even American. Maybe that is why you’re mad. Is that why? Because you aren’t an American.

[quote]JohnGullick wrote:
US hegemony often makes American citizens richer.[/quote]

Isn’t that sort of the point?

I mean, honestly, I don’t understand the problem. Does England go out and do stuff to fuck up its citizens’ lives and make them unhappy, or something?

[quote]biltritewave wrote:
Dear God where do you come up with this crap. Seriously, we have already been over your bullshit imperialism stance and played it for the fallacy that it is, why bring it up again.

What is the point of this? To try and argue that the U.S citizen benefits from the U.S being a world superpower. HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! You think.

You think Americans like the fact that America is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Of course they do…as does every other citizen from every imaginable corner of the globe who comes to america in unparalleled numbers to try and get an opportunity at freedom, opportunity, wealth, etc etc which they wouldn’t have in their home country.

Your trite pseudo intellectual bullshit clearly knows no bounds and its time its shown for the charade it is. Lets have at it, point by point.

Topic: Whats wrong with America or alternatively, What is wrong with America when compared to any of her peers.

I’ll let you make the first point because I wouldnt want to be accused of putting words in your mouth. [/quote]

You again, I thought you’d gone when you didn’t reply to my ‘American Foreign Policy’ post. Hell, it did have long words. Ok, lets do it all once more. So first my idea that America is imperial is a fallacy, but you admit it benefits America? What? Now why am I pseudo-intellectual? I post my sources when neccessary. I don’t just make things up. You think I want America to put money before human life accross the globe? You think me, Chomsky, Ferguson, Johnson, Bardach and 1001 other scholars enjoy researching deaths at the hands of the CIA or the Army or whoever the US government pays? You think the most emminant psycho-linguist in the world, somebody who has achieved more in his life than you and I put together and multiplied by 6, would stick his neck out if there was nothing to his arguments? You’ve exposed nothing and have simply resorted to name calling. You have never provided a counter argument, except one agaisnt me using the term ‘imperial’ which I then replied to. Biltritewave, the world is fucked, America is not the greatest nation on earth, such a thing doesn’t exist. Yes immigrants go in droves, because, yes, there is crap in the world which America hasn’t caused, but look around, actually open your eyes. Listen to the weight of evidence. The Bay of Pigs Fiasco was not invented for my thesis. The oil under Iraq was not invented for my thesis. The people of Chile did not lie about US marines causing a coup for my thesis. The people of Hawaii did not make up their history for my thesis. Thousands in Nicaragua did not fake their deaths at CIA hands for my thesis. 12 year old girls did not pretend to get raped in Okinawa for my damn thesis. I could have chosen to write on Southern Folk music. I could have written on Libertine England, or Scottish military recruitment, but I chose American foreign policy. Why? Because there are huge humanitarian issues with America’s actions and something needs to be said because too many people accept the right wing propaganda that all is well and the US government is comitted purely to doing good.

Yes dvldog, I’m mad because I’m not American.

CDarlock- Yeah, pick a sentence, any sentence. Did you read the others, because I said the same thing over and over and over and over and over, wait, no I didn’t. I said huge amounts of American money come at the expense of human life accross the globe.

Sure there are benefits. And sure there are costs. Both can be and are external, as well as internal.

In the end, I think, you have to look at the net, and I think that’s been positive more than negative - especially with free trade, but also w/r/t the stability provided under hegemony (I’m still not buying in to the expanded definition of imperialism - I find it too hard to digest the concept of imperialism without an actual empire or direct control). Not to mention the material benefits enjoyed by citizens of countries who basically have not had to pay for their own defense for generations (we’ll see how that changes with the troop redeployment, but I’m guessing it won’t change much).

BB- So many people take issue with the ‘expanded imperialism’ thing, I mean it basically comes from the fact that if a hegemony is not a form of imperialism then most if not all empires of the past were not pure empires and some were not empires at all. For instance British informal control of Argentina when London’s banks controlled that much investment there, meant Argentina was effectively ruled. I would also suggest installing a leader, such as in Panama gives another version of informal control, almost a delagated control. I admit, with dictionary definitions, America doesn’t have an empire, but then neither did Britain as so much was informally controlled then too. Because systems of control and influence fall along a continuum it is difficult to give hard and fast definitions, I’m simply willing to use ‘empire’ as an umbrella word under which hegemony falls. I don’t mean it in the direct governance sense. I can’t agree that the costs of American hegemony outweigh the benefits for a few reasons: too many people have died, not enough people in America have seen the benefits to a great enough extent, the disregard for other cultures has led to a climate in which Sept 11 can happen, world peace has been too greatly disrupted, the States does not (undertsandably) practice a purely humanitarian foreign policy. That’s a crude summary but pretty much it.

JohnGuillick,

I am going to tread a fine line here. I respect the English immensely. They have honored our alliance. They have acted as our true friends. I sincerely thank Tony Blair, his government, the English soldiers, the soldiers’ families, and the English people who have supported the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the War on Terror.

That being said, John, how IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CAN YOU SIT THERE AND CALL OTHER PEOPLE IMPERIALISTS?!? The English invented the BLOODY WORD!!! Want a list off the top of my head of places the English are guilty of causing violence during their imperialist days? Ok, here goes:

North America, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, about 25 countries in Africa, Australia, China, France, Palestine, Barbados, St. Kitts, Belize, the Falklands, various Middle Eastern countries, etc… Remember the “Sun doesn’t set on the British Empire?”

Please spare us your invective. Many of us read history and absorb it’s lessons.

If we were trully imperialists along the lines of the 19th century English or French, events would have transpired very differently after September 11th, 2001.

JeffR

[quote]JohnGullick wrote:
BB- So many people take issue with the ‘expanded imperialism’ thing, I mean it basically comes from the fact that if a hegemony is not a form of imperialism then most if not all empires of the past were not pure empires and some were not empires at all. For instance British informal control of Argentina when London’s banks controlled that much investment there, meant Argentina was effectively ruled. I would also suggest installing a leader, such as in Panama gives another version of informal control, almost a delagated control. I admit, with dictionary definitions, America doesn’t have an empire, but then neither did Britain as so much was informally controlled then too. Because systems of control and influence fall along a continuum it is difficult to give hard and fast definitions, I’m simply willing to use ‘empire’ as an umbrella word under which hegemony falls. I don’t mean it in the direct governance sense. I can’t agree that the costs of American hegemony outweigh the benefits for a few reasons: too many people have died, not enough people in America have seen the benefits to a great enough extent, the disregard for other cultures has led to a climate in which Sept 11 can happen, world peace has been too greatly disrupted, the States does not (undertsandably) practice a purely humanitarian foreign policy. That’s a crude summary but pretty much it.[/quote]

OK –

Setting aside vocabulary quibbles, I agree with the idea that the U.S. foreign policy isn’t purely humanitarian. U.S. foreign policy is primarily to protect U.S. interests, then those of our allies – and humanitarian concerns are there but are definitely secondary. I think most people would agree that the primary function of a goverment is to protect and advance its own citizens’ interests. And even if you don’t, if you’re a realist you have to presume that other governments will look out either for the interests of themselves (the other governments that is) or their own citizens before they will look out for yours. All that is not controversial in the least.

Where I will differ with you, as I think you suspected, was in the net cost/benefit calculation. As a devotee of free trade, I believe the economics come down on the side of both countries coming out ahead due to both Riccardian efficiencies and reduced costs from governmental interference. While there will be losing and winning industries, in the aggregate each country comes out ahead because of cheaper goods, more variety within each country’s market, and more efficient allocation of resources than it would have without the free trade.

As for the costs vs. benefits, I believe winning the Cold War on a world-wide level produced massive benefits. There is no denying the costs, but one needs to consider a few things: 1) We weren’t fighting in a vaccuum, and the aggressors, from the very ideology to the actual actions in a lot of cases, were the communists; 2) Wars, even cold ones, are messy by nature - I doubt there has been one war in history without human rights violations - the metric for judging such things cannot be perfection; 3) certain countries were definitely more “winners” and certain were more “losers” during the struggle against communism, but that must be seen in reference to the above, and the net measure would be the world; 4) When one judges the costs of actual actions, a good analysis must also take in to account the likely costs of inaction (the idea of “opportunity cost” from economics) in the face of an expansionist communist enemy.

Combine the net benefits of winning the Cold War with the post-Cold War stability, and the benefit I mentioned above that so many countries enjoyed from not having to spend money on militaries, either at all or compared to what they would have needed to spend without the U.S. providing its military, money which was then applied to infrastructure, welfare, etc. (or wasted by their governments, but that is not the fault of U.S. hegemony), and even against costs that are not inconsiderable I believe it has provided a net benefit.

The bottom line, I think, is that while U.S. foreign policy is realistic and does weigh U.S. interests ahead of others, it does consider others’ interests – and much more so than any other historical hegemon or in comparison to what you would have seen had the Cold War had a different outcome.

Since you didnt take me up on my offer, I’ll keep this as broad reaching as you have Your whole premise rests on two very faulty assumptions. I have dealt with one previously, I will deal with the second now

The first is that the U.S. is an imperial power, see our last little brewhaha for a refutation of that.

Your second basis is that there have been better options to U.S. Foreign policy. This is unequivally false, as I will show. To keep this argument somewhat confined I wont get into American benevolent involvment in World War 1 and World War II. Let’s talk about somoza, marcos, pinochet, shah of iran etc…all of which you and your quasi-communists partners in revisionist history will no doubt bring up as examples of policy gone awry.

You fail to understand 2 main things about foreign policy. The first is that the foreign policy of any country is instituted not for the greater good of the world as a whole, but for the protection of that country and the betterment of that countries citizens. This is how it should be. If a government is not representing and protecting the interests of its own people than its not doing its job. You accept these facts with any other country, but you dont accept it when its America. She is held to a different standard in your mind, and is not allowed to act in her own best interest but must, you say act in the interest of others.

The second thing you fail to understand about foreign policy is that all foreign policy is undertaken with situational logic in mind. This is important to understand and is particularly relevant for Post World War II foreign policy. The situation is very clear cut. Western Civilization, the greatest civilization, the world has yet seen, is being undermined by the ‘evil empire,’ The U.S.S.R. Now, I hope you wont go and try and tell me that the U.S.S.R is somehow unevil. If thats the case this argument is over, because we are operating on such differnt plains of reality, that there is literally no other point going on. Anyway, when faced with something such as the Soviet Union, sometimes strategic choices must be made. In essence this boils down to the lesser of two evils…yes, america has supported some corrupt/autocratic regimes, but these regimes must be looked at in terms of the the overarching picture. Support for the Soviets, or supporting a regime that is anti soviet, but somewhat autocratic. The answer is quite simple.

American foreign policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union overall did benefit the World as a whole. We won, the soviet union collapsed, communism around the world largely disintegrated, and the robust economies of the 1990’s, the internet and revolution all were made possible by the collapse of the soviet union. Now you go ask any Czech, Pole, etc if it was a good policy…if America, acting in her own interest, benefitted the rest of the world. Now we know the answer is undoubtedly YES!!

Finally, lets look at how America acts as a victor. For the most part, America is an an abstaining super power. We get in, We get the job done, and We get out, many times using our own rescourcs to rebuild as we did in Japan and Germany, bosnia, haiti, grenada, Afghanistan and Iraq. Ask anyone from North Korea if it is better to be a loser to America rather than a nominal winner. Do you tihnk the Soviet Union would have rebuilt those places? Do you think the Soviet Union, or any other power for that matter, would go out of its way to minimize civilian casulties as is U.S. policy. Do you think any other country would sent parachutes full of Humanitarian Aid in support of their bombing as they did in Afghanistan…

You and I know the Answer to this. You will probably remark that this is something that is the decent thing to do. No doubt it is, but there it is also true that most nations would not do this. But you say America should be held to a higher standard…Yes she should, for she is the beacon of freedom and liberty the shines the brightest above all other, and she is held to a higher standard, but it is largely self imposed, and you cannot claim that that standard should be so high that it should undermine the number one determining principle of Foreign Policy…that Foreign policy is enacted by a government for the protection of its citizens.

People that espouse the beliefs and ill thought rationale that you do, make Americans afraid to be proud of her country, her stances, and her policies. Its time for americans to face the truth about themselves no matter how good it is.