Bailey83221 (bailey83221) wrote,


The American Empire

American Imperialism: Aberration or Historical Continuity?

For those who absurdly believe that America is not an empire, the below photos give a stark comparison between America's empire and the greatest empires of the past.

"The assumption that the colonial power is benevolent and has the interests of the natives at heart is as old as imperialism itself. Thus the liberal Herman Merivale, lecturing at Oxford in 1840, lauded the British policy of colonial enlightenment which stands in contrast to our (the British) ancestors, who cared little about the internal government of their colonies, and kept them in subjection in order to derive certain supposed commercial advantages from them, whereas we (the British) give them commercial advantages, and tax ourselves for their benefit, in order to give them an interest in remaining under our supremacy, that we may have the pleasure of governing them."
--American Power and the New Mandarins(1969)Noam Chomsky p. 58

Articles on this topic:
Monthly Review: U.S. Military Bases and Empire

Reuters: With expenditure of $455 billion, the United States accounted for almost half of global [World military spending], more than the combined total of the 32 next most powerful nations

Associated Press: U.S. Sells the Most Weapons to Developing Nations

Independent Media:
Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base. By following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever larger imperial stance and the militarism that grows with it.
--America's Empire of Bases

Mar 18th 2004 Economist

WHEN the second world war and the Korean war had ended, America found itself in possession of what turned out to be some pretty useful territory. The bases used in the Japanese, European and Korean campaigns proved vital in the prosecution of the cold war. During it, the disposition of America's forces petrified, and large concentrations are still in Germany, South Korea and Japan.

America's active-duty force shrunk by around a third during the 1990s—it now numbers around 1.4m altogether—even as the eruption of small, hot wars made it busier.

... America also develops smaller, dispersed bases in previously unconsidered regions, as it did in central Asia at the time of the Afghan war. Some of these could be lightly manned or even manless when not in use, and rapidly reinforced by air and sea in times of crisis. Andrew Krepinevich, of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, compares the frontier posts of the Roman empire, which could be (relatively) speedily reinforced by road (see Roman empire map below) . Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, also talked recently about the importance, in the disparate “war on terror”, of working with indigenous forces—as America did in Afghanistan, and as Britain regularly did when its own empire sprawled across the globe.

...Mr Rumsfeld has said there will be changes to the American presence in Japan—home to around 40,000 servicemen—and in South Korea and Germany (though the status of Ramstein air base there seems assured). Although he has also said that he doesn't plan many new bases, there are likely to be new facilities in the countries of his “new Europe”, which are closer to the Balkans and to central Asia than is “old Europe”.

American Bases

The excel file: Global U.S. Troop Deployment, 1950-2003 from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.

America's Empire of Bases

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations.

The Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories.

46 countries with no U.S. military presence

156 countries with U.S. troops

63 countries with U.S. military bases and troops

7 countries with 13 new U.S. military bases since 9/11


845,441 Number of structures (covering 30 million acres) controlled by the Dept. of Defense, the world’s largest landlord.

$396 billion Bush’s 2003 military budget

$289 billion 2000 military budget (before Bush)

$60 billion Military budget of Russia, 2nd in the world after U.S.

25 Number of top military spending countries whose combined military budgets equals that of the U.S.

$45 billion Budget for education, 2nd largest discretionary budget item after military in 2002

50.5% Proportion of the total 2002 U.S. discretionary budget devoted to military

Sources: Dept. of Defense, "Base Structure Report, FY 2001" and Defense Almanac; Center for
Defense Information Almanac, 2001–2002;

From: archived website

Portions of “Benevolent Assimilation” The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903
Author: Stuart Creighton Miller

Click here for more on the Philippines

Chapter 1:

American Imperialism: Aberration or Historical Continuity?


The question of American imperialism has been subject to agonizing debate ever since the United States acquired formal empire at the end of the nineteenth century. In part, the agony stems from America’s exaggerated sense of innocence, produced by a kind of “immaculate conception” view of this country’s origins. The first settlers sought to escape the political and social sins of Europe, as did subsequent waves of immigrants over the next three centuries; they were not likely to reproduce a system from which they had fled in protest. In some mysterious manner, therefore, they left behind their old ways, or shed them upon arrival in the New World, as one might discard old clothing, and fashioned new cultural garments based solely on experiences in a new and vastly different environment. At least it is possible to infer as much from the school text and patriotic speeches on which many Americans have been reared. America’s cultural antecedents (past history in Europe) in western civilization are not stressed in these sources, and it is difficult to learn from them that the American Revolution was largely an English Affair; that the United states Constitution owes its structure as much to the ideas of John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes as to the experiences of the Founding Fathers; that Jeffersonian thought to a great extent paraphrases the ideas of earlier Scottish philosophers; and that even the allegedly unique frontier egalitarian has deep roots in seventeenth century English radical traditions.

The notion of such a cultural metamorphosis is entirely romantic, but the concept of a totally unique social system fashioned solely by the experiences of colonial Americans is in harmony with the prevailing pragmatic (practical) style of America. It also makes it difficult for many Americans to come to grips with social flaws associated with the “Old World,” such as militarism, imperialism, inequality, and the misuse of power. The tendency of highly patriotic Americans is to deny such abuses and even assert that they could never exist in their country. At the other end of the scale, overly self-critical Americans tend to exaggerate the nation’s flaws, failing to place then in historical or worldwide contexts.


One patriotic school of writers has generally denied that American imperialism ever existed. As albert Beveridge, historian and senator from Indiana, once explained, “To have an empire one must have monarchy.” Americans altruistically went to war with Spain to liberate Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Filipinos from their tyrannical yoke. If they lingered on too long in the Philippines, it was to protect the Filipinos from European predators waiting in the wings for American withdrawal and to tutor them in American-style democracy: The task was complicated by ethnic and class divisions and the alleged need to protect [the minority] and others against dominant [majority]. If the Yankee presence was bloody initially, it was, in the end, ephemeral (short-lived) and supposedly most beneficial to the Filipinos, leaving behind better transpiration, mosquito control, the work ethic, the seed of Protestantism…and the school house…These writers accept the official version of the American conquest of the Philippines, one that its not totally without supportive evidence…Needless to say, this patriotic interpretation is no longer heard very often...

THE EVIL capitalist VIEW

In the highly self-critical mood of the post--World War II era, the tendency has been to exaggerate American imperialism and the injustices created by it. Marxist historians and writers of the New Left find it difficult, if not impossible to perceive any benefits flowing from American imperialism: it was…an unmitigated evil. Moreover, American imperialism, tin their view, did not begin with the Philippines but with Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory and continues to this day. American history is one of continuous expansion that left behind a long string of nonwhite victims. The driving force behind the expansion across the continent and out into the Pacific was, and still is, capitalist greed…

Imperialism was an ABBERATION VIEW

Between these two positions, another point of view recognizes American expansion overseas as imperialistic but perceives it as a corruption of the traditional American sense of mission to serve as an example to others, a beacon on the hill that would eventually light up a world in political darkness. At the end of the nineteenth century, this noble tradition became a more aggressive missionary impulse to carry the American way of life to others whether they liked it or not. But the corruption was short lived and by the Wilsonian era America had rejected formal empire. In the words of Samuel Flagg Bemis, intellectual mentor to a generation of diplomatic historians, this [short lived] imperialistic impulse was “a great aberration in American history”.

The term “imperialism”...overuse and...abuse is making it nearly meaningless as an analytical concept. Thorton concluded that “imperialism” is “more often the name of the emotion that reacts to a series of events than a definition of the events themselves….Colonization finds analysts and analogies, imperialism must contend with crusaders for and against.”

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