The rulers of the United States rule over far more than you and me.
They control and strongly influence many foreign rulers of dependent satellite
countries. This extended rule makes our Presidents the powerful emperors of
a vast Empire.
Changes in the person and party who occupy the Oval Office certainly
affect the detailed course of the Empire, for history is made by individual
decisions and acts. However, the basic inclination of many Americans and their
rulers to sustain and expand the U.S. Empire, the disposition to international
Empire, has held steady for over100 years. While some leaders are reluctant
to extend American power, others are not. The net result, the major trend, is
unmistakably greater American control. And before America’s international
expansion began, the same tendency to expand appeared in the form of Manifest
Against this background, Bush’s bloody invasion of Iraq is the
latest of a lengthy list of conquests and invasions that have occurred over
a long period of time. For example, President McKinley ordered U.S.
soldiers to war against the people of the Philippines between 1899 and 1902.
Estimates of native civilian deaths in that conflict range from 200,000 upwards.
Or consider the Middle East in the context of American Empire. Many Americans
and certainly many American rulers have sided with the cause of Zionism and
with Israel for over 100 years. The CIA overthrew Iran’s prime minister
in 1953. American soldiers invaded Lebanon both in 1958 and in 1982-1984. Franklin
Roosevelt began the close relationship with the royal family of Saudi Arabia
in 1945. Saudi rulers have been top recipients of American military hardware
for many years. America played a complex role during the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-1988.
Extension of American power into the Middle East is nothing new.
Detailing America’s official political, military, financial and economic
linkages to numerous countries is easy. So is documenting American intrusions,
wars, operations, overt and covert. There is simply no question that our rulers
are presiding over an Empire.
In World War II, the U.S. Empire, benefiting from the primary role played by
the Soviet Union against Germany, defeated two other expansionist States, Japan
and Germany. Thereafter, the American Empire mainly butted up against the Soviet
Union until 1990.
The Cold War against communism provided a convenient ideological framework
for the extension of American Empire. The real work beneath this cover occurred
as our rulers built up a far reaching set of institutions to implement the Empire.
These include the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World
Bank, the U.S. military, NATO, SEATO, OAS, trade pacts, foreign aid, and so
The prime ideological enemy of the Empire in the 20th century was communism,
with a diversion to fascism. Passions were aroused by viewing communism as a
godless creed intent on world domination. Both ideology and religion are important
in mobilizing sentiment against an enemy, even though they are not the root
reasons for a conflict. Today Bush II compares the terrorist movement both to
communism and to fascism and paints it as 100% evil or as an errant extremist
religion. Every day some neoconservative column writes of Islamo-Fascism. These
are appeals meant to stir passion. They are not reasons for the battle in Iraq
and the coming conflicts in Syria and Iran. Those have to do with the expansion
Our rulers are neither infallible nor all-powerful. They make mistakes and
they must contend with competing powers. For example, they misread the nature
of the conflicts in both Korea and Vietnam. Their errors destroyed the lives
of many. These costly wars weakened the Empire. Even today, Korea remains a
trouble spot that no American ruler wants to see flare up.
Empires are extended States. Within them are still the non-producers and the
producers, the parasites and the hosts. Sometimes it is hard to tell one from
the other. The parasitical rulers do not want to see their current supply of
hosts shrink. They benefit from a bigger supply of hosts.
The key terms in understanding empires are (1) preservation (or security) and
(2) gain (of power and wealth). Rulers are like anyone else. They think in terms
of loss and gain. Self-preservation or security is prevention of loss. More
power and wealth are gains.
Rulers, being men of power, think and act in terms of force and taking. They
are alert to threats and inroads against their power. Conversely, they push
their power against the weak spots of others in order to gain more power or
Rival empires are like competing neighborhood gangs. Just as gang leaders worry
about their turf, emperors worry about, jostle and fight over border regions.
Although the members of a society and their rulers interact in complex ways,
pushing against each other, the rulers have the upper hand. They wield the power.
They lead. They control education, communication, and the military. They are
usually more united than their disunited subjects.
It is an oversimplification to identify the actions of the rulers with the
empire. The situation is far more complex. The established bureaucracy and apparatus
of government play a big role. The defining limits of this apparatus are vague
and may go outside the traditional ideas of government. They may include foundations,
educators, consultants, corporations, doctors, entertainers, and journalists.
There are always men who actually control or aim to control or compete to control
the rulers. The official government rulers are also divided. Furthermore, the
rulers have to control the population at large. Often they have to accede to
its passions or the passions of some powerful or influential groups in society.
Although the actual and detailed picture is complex and ever-shifting, like
the day-to-day fluctuations in weather, the overall climate of Empire remains
constant. The weather maps focus on preservation and gain. There is no noble
cause in all of this. Noble causes stem from the rhetoric of indoctrination,
influence, and control over the minds of the hosts.
In 1996, William Kristol
and Robert Kagan published "Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy."
Much else in this article is wrong, but it did clearly state the goal of Empire
or "America’s international role. What should that role be? Benevolent
global hegemony. Having defeated the ‘evil empire,’ the United States
enjoys strategic and ideological predominance. The first objective of U.S. foreign
policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance by strengthening
America’s security, supporting its friends, advancing its interests, and
standing up for its principles around the world."
Kristol and Kagan incorrectly thought that Clinton had not followed this objective,
and they incorrectly construed this objective as contingent upon America’s
recently acquired predominance. However, the fact is that America’s rulers
had been following this foreign policy in one way or another for a hundred years.
Kristol and Kagan wanted more Empire. With many like-minded functionaries in
the Bush administration and with the occurrence of 9/11, their wishes have come
The benevolent hegemony of an American Empire is impossible. Being an (extended)
State, an Empire uses force to rule, and imposed force acting upon innocent
subjects is malevolent, not benevolent. Attacking the Iraqi people was not an
act of American self-defense, anymore than attacking the Philippine people was.
"Standing up for its principles" is ideological cover for an act of
The rulers of the United States have meddled in the Middle East for decades
because they conceived such acts to maintain and extend the American Empire.
Who controls and profits from the oil resources has been a paramount factor.
There are always other reasons. There are those who support Israel for its own
sake. There are those who support democracy for its own sake. Yet these are
not fundamental. To our rulers, oil is a fundamental reason. If Israel did not
exist, the U.S. would still be in the Middle East. If there were no oil in the
Middle East, the region would still be of geopolitical concern.
The whole policy of controlling the Middle East for its oil is misconceived.
It is beneficial to those oil companies who wish to ensure their profits, but
it is of no benefit to consumers of oil. The Middle Eastern countries cannot
eat their oil. Selling it on the world market is their natural course.
By controlling the region for so many years and siding with Israel, the U.S.
has now succeeded in re-igniting an old Islamic force related to an older Islamic
Empire. At present, this force is not especially strong by U.S. standards, but
it is strong enough continually to cause a great deal of damage all over the
world. It is buttressed by its own persuasive ideology and religion. It has
plenty of potential recruits. It can over time develop or obtain highly destructive
weapons, if it has not already done so. The American Empire is colliding with
a nascent Islamic Empire that it catalyzed into being.
Emperors and rulers are prone to great blunders. Yet the power structures often
survive because the losses are made good by the subjects. Bush went into Iraq
on the theory that creating a pliant satellite would be easy and that the whole
region could then be brought under firmer U.S. control. However, he has tied
down American soldiers for years to come, exposed them to constant threat of
death and injury, exacerbated the terrorist problem, created an expensive liability,
raised the price of oil, impelled other countries like China to seek oil in
places like Venezuela, encouraged smaller countries to seek atomic weapons,
and set in motion political forces that involve every other country in the region.
So far, there is no perceptible gain.
Kristol and Kagan envision a world in which American military might intimidates
everyone else so much that "potential challengers are deterred before even
contemplating confrontation..." They want Americans to search and destroy
the world’s monsters, to wade into the international arena happily, cheerfully
and with relish, to be thankful for the opportunity to bring peace to the world
through military might. They want Americans to interfere anywhere and everywhere,
in this way living up to their moral responsibilities with courage and honor.
Kristol and Kagan write that "sitting atop a hill and leading by example
becomes in practice a policy of cowardice and dishonor."
It is amazing that such nonsense could ever be swallowed or taken seriously,
but this is the stuff of which Empires are made. This is the line of guff we
have been fed for 100 years. Kristol and Kagan know this because they laud Theodore
Roosevelt as an inspiration for Americans "to assume cheerfully the new
Courage and honor belong to the human race, to be found abundantly in every
part of the globe that human beings walk. Are Kristol and Kagan such immature
fools that they think these virtues need to be demonstrated by force of arms?
A woman’s devotion to her ailing husband is an act of courage and honor,
the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a bus is an act of courage,
firemen entering smoke-filled buildings in which it is impossible even to see
are acts of courage, scratching out a living against hard odds is an act of
courage for millions of people. Living peacefully frequently involves both courage
If Kristol and Kagan understood courage, honor, and the human animal, they
would realize that displays and exercise of might do not undermine the human
spirit. They energize them to resist and fight back, even to the death. Might
makes wrong. It has to because it oppresses and suppresses human rights.
States and Empires are not agents of morality and peace. They are instruments
of force, disruption, disorder, death, dismemberment, and war instigated by
those who rule them and command others. Peace is not brought by bombardment,
shock and awe, and M2 .50-caliber machine guns.
Morality is not brought by a sword. Is this how Jesus influenced mankind?