Sunday, April 23, 2006

Another Study of American Empire

For those who are interested in America’s rise to status of Imperial Global Hegemon, this should be an interesting book: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer. It is a study of the last 110 years of American foreign policy, and our role in various coups – “regime change”, if you will.

Here, the author is interviewed about his book. During the interview, he is asked about primary motives for U.S. intervention in foreign politics. He answers:


A lot of these coups have been studied individually, but what I'm trying to do in my book is see them not as a series of isolated incidents, but rather as one long continuum. And by looking at them that way, I am able to tease out certain patterns that recur over and over again. They don't all fit the same pattern, but it's amazing how many of them do.

You ask about the motivations, and that is one of the patterns that comes through when you look at these things all together. There’s really a three-stage motivation that I can see when I watch so many of the developments of these coups. The first thing that happens is that the regime in question starts bothering some American company. They start demanding that the company pay taxes or that it observe labor laws or environmental laws. Sometimes that company is nationalized or is somehow required to sell some of its land or its assets. So the first thing that happens is that an American or a foreign corporation is active in another country, and the government of that country starts to restrict it in some way or give it some trouble, restrict its ability to operate freely.

Then, the leaders of that company come to the political leadership of the United States to complain about the regime in that country. In the political process, in the White House, the motivation morphs a little bit. The U.S. government does not intervene directly to defend the rights of a company, but they transform the motivation from an economic one into a political or
geo-strategic one. They make the assumption that any regime that would bother an American company or harass an American company must be anti-American, repressive, dictatorial, and probably the tool of some foreign power or interest that wants to undermine the United States. So the motivation transforms from an economic to a political one, although the actual basis for it never changes.

Then, it morphs one more time when the U.S. leaders have to explain the motivation for this operation to the American people. Then they do not use either the economic or the political motivation usually, but they portray these interventions as liberation operations, just a chance to free a poor oppressed nation from the brutality of a regime that we assume is a dictatorship, because what other kind of a regime would be bothering an American company?


Whenever you hear politicians throw around the term “protecting American interests”, be sure to ask “which particular American’s interest?” It should come as no surprise that our foreign policy is just one big corporate-welfare boondoggle, where the blood of young men and women is spilled in order to enrich those fatcat CEOs.

(And for those of you on the “left”, this is not a slam on capitalism. Government intervention is an abandonment of capitalistic principles.)

However, if you are a supporter of American Empire, ask yourself: would you tolerate another government engineering "regime change" in America if they didn't like our trade policies? Or do you think the U.S. is the only country entitled to the benefits of sovereignty?

Reading this, reminds me that I have to get going on reading a couple of books on my shelf that have been sitting there collecting dust – like Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback and Pat Buchanan’s Republic, Not An Empire .

(I should also pick up Johnson’s The Sorrows of Empire , too. I’ve heard it was good.)

As I have not read any of these books, but have only read various reviews, I’d be interested in hearing from anyone regarding their quality. Also, if anyone has any other reading recommendations, I’d be glad to hear them as well.

2 Comments:

Blogger Brian Duffy said...

I am glad its my empire and not theirs! LOL!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Well, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The average lifespan of an empire is 200 years, and Empire usually spells the end of that civilization as a major player.

I oppose Empire because I want to preserve America. Pursuing Empire is the surest way to destruction.

9:00 PM  

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