Renouncing Empire

The peoples of the world once looked up to America and Americans. They held them in high respect and esteem. They respected their ideals. They respected their know-how and products.
Now, by its foreign policies of empire and their domestic counterparts, the U.S. government is destroying the dignity of America and Americans. Our morality is falling along with our productivity. Today, there is less and less of which Americans can be proud and there is more and more of which to be ashamed.
America can go in one of two ways. It can continue on the path of empire, in which case it continues downhill and impedes the world’s progress; or it can renounce empire, in which case it restores the dignity of Americans and imparts new opportunities to the peoples of the world.
America can lead the world down, in which case it becomes a backwater; or it can lead the world up, in which case Americans establish a moral center for freedom that radiates light to the world and opens up new paths for freedom everywhere.

To move America and the world into a more hopeful future in both word and deed, American leadership should make a 180 degree turn. It should renounce empire.
The only major politician who is leading America in this direction is Congressman Ron Paul. His is a lonely but courageous voice in Washington. The commendable directions he is proposing add up to renouncing empire.
What does renouncing empire involve? In his speeches, Congressman Paul has mentioned many of the specific steps as he condemns the American empire. The reader may search for Ron Paul + American empire to find a good many of his thoughts on this subject.
What do Americans generally believe concerning their empire? What changes in beliefs does the renunciation of empire entail?
Like all social structures, the American empire makes heavy use of falsity, lies, illusions, deceptions, and myths that come to be taken as truths by those who are immersed in a structure. There is no social structure, be it family, society, state, business, association, church or religious establishment, that does not hide truths about itself and whose members do not act according to various falsehoods that pass for truths. The state and empire are not exceptions.

In order to pursue the new direction of renouncing empire, Americans are going to have to face up to their false beliefs concerning the empire. They then have to adopt new beliefs. Hopefully, these will contain a greater measure of truth.
Perhaps about half of Americans do not believe that they have an empire. A very small voluntary poll of 37 people finds opinion almost evenly split. Another small poll finds about half the respondents saying that the U.S. is not really an empire or they do not know. A Fox News poll finds 68 percent approval for an American empire. These polls may have serious biases.
It is safe to say that Americans tend to support America’s foreign involvements, for these have grown over the years and people keep electing candidates who fund the empire. Americans tend to believe that these involvements are for the good, especially when they are first begun. For example, in October of 2001, 90 percent of Americans approved of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan. By September of 2009, this had fallen to 47 percent approval of the war, 42 percent disapproval, and 11 percent not knowing. At the outset of the Iraq War in 2003, 74 percent of Americans viewed it as the right decision. By 2006-2007, something like 50-60 percent of Americans thought that the war was a mistake and that the situation in Iraq was not worth a war.
There is a good chance that Americans do not fully appreciate either the extent of empire or its costs, especially the long-term aggregate costs, simply because these are not routinely reported.
Whatever the extent of American support for empire is, these supportive beliefs have to change if empire is to be renounced in the hearts and minds of Americans in any kind of permanent fashion. Americans have to understand that they have an empire and that its effects are a net negative for them and for the rest of the world’s peoples.
Americans attribute each of our numerous foreign involvements to specific causes and aims, like securing oil, securing America’s borders, protecting Israel, anti-terrorism, saving Europe from the Kaiser, spreading democracy, spreading freedom, humanitarianism, anti-Communism, creating stability, national security, and so on. The government provides these rationales, the press parrots them, and people believe them. These particularistic explanations are like finding different excuses every time one’s alcoholic uncle gets drunk. If the government makes a case for some sort of war, Americans tend to approve it in large numbers, at least at the outset.
Americans need to understand that only a broader underlying factor can explain America’s foreign policy history over the last 100-150 years. That factor or policy is empire. The U.S. is running an empire. American leaders have again and again made this perfectly clear. They have said in honeyed words that they wanted American domination, but they have avoided using that term much less referring to their worldwide construction as an empire. American involvements are always couched in terms of doing good deeds, like bringing peace to the world. In the Fox News Poll, “68% of Americans said they support the establishment of an American empire, ‘if it brings peace to the world.’”

Americans believe that all these specific causes are in the service of achieving good, or that they are undertaken with good intentions. This unthinking belief leads Americans astray in several fundamental respects of which most Americans are unaware.
In the first place, Americans are unconcerned with the violent methods that are being used to achieve these supposed ends. These are rarely questioned or even mentioned. In the Fox News poll, 58% favored cuts in domestic spending “in order to support military occupations around the world.” Americans avoid thinking about the evils employed and produced in the pursuit of what they think are good ends. They do not seem to realize that in this world the over-zealous pursuit of supposedly good or moral ends, especially when it becomes a very strong and broad pursuit that aims at coercively eliminating evils, itself is evil and creates evils. Besides, the supposedly good ends are usually not all that good anyway. The Crusades are an example. One historian specialist on this era writes that “High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed…the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God.”
It is often said that America cannot alleviate or eliminate all the evils in the world, or, more narrowly, cannot deal with all the foreign political evils of which we become aware. This is surely true. This is not simply a matter of a lack of will power, a lack of efficient governmental execution, and a lack of resources. If we had those, we still could not eliminate all the evils. The reason is that we, as a state and society, or as a collective, are not committed to peaceful means. We are committed to using money, manipulation, subterfuge, threats, pressures, coercions, covert CIA operations, and far more violent means and methods than those. We do not act collectively like loving exponents of Jesus Christ any more than most of us act that way individually. Our crusades are no better than those 700-1,000 years ago.

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