Archive for the 'History' Category

THE AMERICAN EMPIRE

May 21, 2010

The American Empire
Through the years I have learned to suspect much of the American History that was taught in school. Even when I was studying it, it raised questions that remained unanswered. For example:
Why did we need the Constitution? What was wrong with the Articles of Confederation?

Just what was the war of 1812 about? Were we invaded?
Why did the Southern States secede from the Union immediately when Abe Lincoln and the new Republican Party were elected to govern? Slavery couldn’t explain it.

Why did we then proceed to conquer the confederacy and force it back into the Union?

When the English speaking settlers in Mexico rebelled, why did we go to war with Mexico and then strip Mexico of vast territories? (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California)

Why, upon dubious provocation, did we conquer Cuba and Hawaii and the Philippines?

Why, before we entered WW2, did we set up a naval blockade of Japan, a deliberate provocation to war?

All of these actions, of course, were to maintain and expand the boundaries of the USA. In recent years I have reading history from a different viewpoint than was given me in my public school education. Slowly, the answers filtered through.

The Constitutional Convention was convened by people dissatisfied with the Confederation, for various reasons. They were mostly merchants, financiers, and speculators. Many wanted a strong central government on the British Whig model, which was a close coupling of Government, business, and finance with a central bank to provide cheap credit in order to expand business and enrich them all. The government was to subsidize infrastructure (roads & canals) to expand commerce. The strongest advocate of this model was Alexander Hamilton. The strongest opponent was Thomas Jefferson. In the end, Hamilton got it his way, though it took 120 years to get a permanent central bank (The Federal Reserve). The nation grew, with the Louisiana Purchase and then the acquisition of Texas and the Western states in the war with Mexico. This wasn’t yet an empire, just the acquisition of a vast territory, to our “natural boundaries”.

The Federal Government, meanwhile, grew in power, pushing beyond the limits spelled out in the Constitution and its amendments. The Monroe Doctrine declared a National interest in all of North and South America, prepared to prevent any further colonization. That sounded to me like the beginnings of the American Empire. Indeed, many people in South & Central America feel that they have become colonies of the USA.

Unanticipated by the designers of the Constitution, Politics quickly divided US voters into two parties, the Democrats (Thomas Jefferson) and the Whigs (Alexander Hamilton) This division remained in place until Abe Lincoln came on the scene. The Whigs were losing favor, so Abe organized the Republican Party, with the same goals, and pretty much the same people as the former Whig party.

Lincoln ran for president on a platform of subsidized roads, canals, and railroads, and a steep protective tariff on machinery to protect the Northern manufacturers from British competition.

He declared himself indifferent to the question of slavery. The South was strictly agricultural and would be the ones bound to pay the tariff, or start buying machinery from Northern factories at much higher prices. When the election was won by Lincoln and his Republican party, the southern states seceded from the union. The issue was taxation, not slavery.

Lincoln then set about what was then the most vindictive war in history. He reduced the South to shambles, leaving Southerners starving in their bombed out cities. The Union was restored, at great cost, and then we went on to fill the West, exterminating the remaining Native American Indians as we went.

For the next 40 years, Americans and European immigrants spread out to fill the country “from sea to shining sea”.
Then we decided we didn’t like the government in Cuba, still a Spanish Colony. There was a mysterious explosion on a US Navy ship moored in Havana Harbor in Cuba. No Casualties, because there was nobody on board at the time. This was considered sufficient provocation in Washington DC; we declared war with Spain. We installed a friendly government in Cuba and then went on to conquer the Philippines and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. By 1900 we had a real empire spanning half the globe.

In WW1, starting in 1914 in Europe, we supported Britain and France with Cheap credit and munitions until we joined the war in 1919. When the war ended in 1920, Germany was burdened with heavy reparations to France & Britain, who were, in turn, heavily in debt to us. We had acquired some more empire of a different sort: a financial interest in Europe.

In WW2, starting in 1939 in Europe, President Franklin D Roosevelt tried desperately to get the Germans to sink an American Ship. This was the same ruse by which President Wilson got us into WW1, but this time it didn’t succeed. So Roosevelt turned his attention to Japan, an Ally of Germany.
Japan was building an empire in Asia.

Being an island nation with few natural resources, Japan depended on imports to supply the materials of war.

We set up a naval blockade to stop all goods shipped to Japan, using our Navy fleet based in Hawaii. Finally, December 7 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. We immediately declared war on Germany, Japan, and Italy. By 1946 we had defeated all three of them. Europe was deeply in debt to us, and Japan was our prisoner. We set up a new Constitution and government in Japan, and it became an American possession of a sort.

After WW2, our then President Truman declared the Cold War. We proposed to stop the spread of communism across the world. We fought in Greece, Korea, and Viet Nam, without success. You can’t fight an idea with bullets. We created NATO, a military alliance with several European countries plus Turkey.

Essentially all members of NATO were pledged to protect all other members from aggressors.

For me, the final proof that we are an empire is this one fact; we now have 700 military bases in 170 foreign countries. This has been the situation for so long that we take it for granted. Stop and think about that. How many foreign countries have military bases in the USA? NONE!

We wouldn’t tolerate such an infringement of our sovereignty.
So why do all those countries so undervalue their sovereignty? Answer; they are all members of the American Empire. Within that empire, many unpopular rulers are kept in power by support from the USA. Saddam Hussein was one of our clients until we decided to overthrow him.

George Washington, when he left the presidency, warned us to avoid foreign entanglements. He must be spinning in his grave!