Foreign Policy

The Government Will Do Anything to Keep Us Safe–Except End the Empire

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Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman, writing at the Future of Freedom Foundation:

The handwringing about the would-be Christmas Day airplane bomber and the politicians' tiresome declarations that it will never happen again miss the point: As long as the U.S. government pursues its imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world, Americans will be targets for avengers….It's either foreign intervention and retaliatory terrorism or nonintervention and security. There's no third way….Every empire has reaped a terrorist whirlwind. "Terror" is the tactic that the weak use against the strong. The U.S. government unleashes the most powerful "conventional" weapons known to man, including pilotless killer drones operated like videogames thousands of miles away. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab sewed an explosive into his underwear and ended up burning himself.

It is disgraceful that the choice between terrorism and security is rarely publicly discussed in terms of the choice between American imperialism and nonintervention. The empire is treated as a given — even by most so-called progressives — as though it were ordained by history. The American people are expected to believe that the very existence of their society depends on the U.S. government's policing the globe and using whatever violence it deems appropriate….

But this picture is precisely upside down. It is the imperial program and the inevitable "war on terror" that threatens Americans' way of life…

What we call terrorism will always be cheap, flexible, and at least one step ahead of the plodding, clueless authorities. Al-Qaeda is not an organization. It's an idea and an open-ended set of tactics. Clear it out of Afghanistan — and it appears in Pakistan or Yemen or New Jersey.

Ron Bailey wrote for Reason Online back in August 2006 on the real (very, very low) risks of being injured by terrorism.

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  1. Perhaps watching Team America: World Police should be a requirement to run for office.

  2. Oh Jesus tap dancing Christ what a bunch of horseshit. Where were our “imperial endeavors” prior to 9-11? The only one I can think of is Kosovo and that was done for the purpose of saving Muslims. Oh and then there was Kuwait where we banded together with the UN and saved a small Arab state from a rampaging neighbor and were generally applauded in the Muslim world. And all of that bought us 9-11 and the smaller acts of terror that lead up to it.

    And of course the rampaging imperialist Spanish were subjected to Madrid and several foiled bomb plots EVEN AFTER THEY PULLED OUT OF IRAQ. Then of course there are the evil imperialistic Australians and Balinese who were killed by the hundreds by Al Quada. And the imperialistic Canadians who have been the target of any number of bombing plots any one of which would have killed hundreds.

    Objecting to Iraq and Afghanistan is a legitimate position. What is not a legitimate position and in fact marks you as a crank is the idea that Iraq and Afghanistan in any way represent an “empire” in the ordinary meaning of the term or that ending our involvement there will do anything to stop radical Islamists from trying to kill us.

    Yes, we are being attacked because we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. That clearly explains why a Nigerian tried to blow himself up over Detroit.

    1. John,

      Where were our “imperial endeavors” prior to 9-11? The only one I can think of is Kosovo and that was done for the purpose of saving Muslims.

      I am pretty sure that the action in Somalia 1992-1995 that killed scores of Somalies was also meant to save them.

      And of course the rampaging imperialist Spanish were subjected to Madrid and several foiled bomb plots EVEN AFTER THEY PULLED OUT OF IRAQ.

      They have not pulled out of Afghanistan. Last I saw, Afghanistan was ALSO a Muslim nation.

      What is not a legitimate position and in fact marks you as a crank is the idea that Iraq and Afghanistan in any way represent an “empire” in the ordinary meaning of the term[…]

      Notwithstanding the fact that those two countries are still being garrison by Americans (with an army purported to protect the US); notwithstanding the fact that the US has attacked territories within nations that have NOT attacked the US, like Pakistan and yemen; notwithstanding the fact the US has proped up tyrannical regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq (when Saddam was a friend of the US), Pakistan and Jordan?

      Sheldon is totally correct in saying that instead of addressing these issues, the American intelligentsia simply considers the Empire as a given, and argue on totally tangential matters.

      Yes, we are being attacked because we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. That clearly explains why a Nigerian tried to blow himself up over Detroit.

      His reasons were clear, John: He’s a Muslim reacting to the invasion of Muslim countries by a secular (i.e. godless) nation (at least in the eyes of devout Muslims.)

      1. Muslims are attacking and committing acts of terrorism in countries all over the world. Countries that are peaceful and have done nothing to any Muslim. If you think that they are doing this because of the evil United States, your views are more the result of your own self loathing than anything else.

        You are a classic example of the self centered American. Everyone in the world’s actions are strictly the result of the US’s actions. You are no different than the worst jingoist. The Jingoist thinks America is perfect and the force of all good in the world. You are sort of the anti-that in that you think America is always wrong and all evil in the world is the result of its actions.

        Radical Islam was around long before America. And it had problems with the modern world that pre-date and will continue long after America is gone. Are you honestly so stupid to think that someone twisted enough to blow themselves up on a plane full of innocent people will stop and become a peaceful person if only his geopolitical demands are met? That is beyond laughable.

        1. Muslims are attacking and committing acts of terrorism in countries all over the world. Countries that are peaceful and have done nothing to any Muslim.

          OK, John, show me a muslim attack in South America. One whole effing continent without a single attack. Also, Australia…

          Thanks for using spell-check (finally) though.

          1. OK, John, show me a muslim attack in South America. One whole effing continent without a single attack.

            1992 Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires. Followed by the 1994 bombing of Argentine Jewish Mutual Association. Of course, they’re Israelis and Jews, so they were asking for it, right?

            Also, Australia…

            Bali not close enough? Especially since the bombers there claimed it was for Western (and Australian) support of East Timor?

          2. 100s of Australian tourists were targeted and killed in the Bali bombing. Bali is Australia’s Hawaii. And Australian police have broken up several bomb plots over the last few years.

            And there are few if any Muslims in South America. So, it is unsurprising that there have been no Islamic terror there. Show me a place where large numbers of Muslims live where there hasn’t been terror?

            And I don’t use spell check. I just don’t allow people like you to annoy me as much as you once did. So my typing is better.

            1. So, it is unsurprising that there have been no Islamic terror there.

              But there has been, in Argentina, as I noted. Two famous bombings. Doesn’t count since they’re Jews, of course…

              1. I stand corrected. Most of the people screaming “Empire” and “it is all our fault” would gladly throw the Jews overboard. Funny that.

            2. John, I was wrong. I concede your point about the 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. I won’t even pick nits about how the embassies are legally not the territory of the host country. Also concede on the AMIA attack.

              Indonesia is not by any stretch of the imagination part of Australia either geographically or politically. I think the fact that Indonesia is a muslim country is relevant since most of these attacks take place in the muslim world.

              And the spelling was annoying because it had got to the point where it was hard to discern your meaning. Glad I could do a service to the greater H&R community.

              No, the embassy and the AMIA were not “asking for it,” but it’s naive to fail to realize that radical islam hates Israel, and to a lesser extent jews, even more than they hate USA.

              1. “radical islam hates Israel”

                Because Islam hates itself. That’s why the overwhelming majority of it’s victims have been Muslims.

                In fact, that is the very reason why the use suicide bombing. Did the Vietnamese? Of course not. They blew up American soldiers and lived to do it again another day. And another. And another. Unlike Muslims, the Vietnamese don’t hate themselves.

          3. “”Muslims are attacking and committing acts of terrorism in countries all over the world. Countries that are peaceful and have done nothing to any Muslim.”””

            They also attack countries that are Muslim.

        2. Re: John,

          Muslims are attacking and committing acts of terrorism in countries all over the world.

          Why is that a concern? Unless what you want to say is that Muslims have this habit of immolating themselves against others for fun, then the fact that they are “attacking” all over the world is of no concern. Americans should concern only witn why certain Muslims attack the US, and not a place like (for instance) the Phillippines, or Madras.

          Countries that are peaceful and have done nothing to any Muslim.

          C’mon, you can’t be serious. As an example, Mexico has had a very strict non-intervention foreign policy and has not been attacked by a single OUTSIDE group, ever. Those countries where radical Muslims have attacked have had a long history of civil war and infighting between rebel forces and the government, India and Pakistan being the most obvious examples, the Phillippines being another.

          If you think that they are doing this because of the evil United States, your views are more the result of your own self loathing than anything else.

          John, you’re making a Falalcy of Composition here. Just becase Muslims in the Phillippines fight THEIR regime, and the Muslims in Kashmir fight the Hindu government, does not mean you can coalesce these with the terrorists attacks on US servicemen and territory. They are DIFFERENT things, for DIFFERENT reasons.

          You are a classic example of the self centered American.

          Oh, so now I am selfish.

          You’re right – I AM selfish. I don’t want MY money to be used to trample over the rights of Americans who have done nothing wrong except DARE to travel by air.

          Radical Islam was around long before America. And it had problems with the modern world that pre-date and will continue long after America is gone.

          That’s their problem. America’s problem is minding her own business.

          Are you honestly so stupid to think that someone twisted enough to blow themselves up on a plane full of innocent people will stop and become a peaceful person if only his geopolitical demands are met?

          I do not answer loaded questions. I will say that another very virulent and aggresive terrorist group, the Haganah, the Irgun and Lehi, stopped killing British soldiers after these left. So a case CAN be made that terrorists can stop once their demands are met.

          1. Yeah, if we just go home they will leave us alone. They won’t be emboldened or anything. You are fucking rock Mexican. And to give Mexico as an example of lack of terrorism. They don’t have an Islamic population. That is such a stupid statement as to be beneath response. And I would also note Thacker’s point about the bombings in South America. But those are Jews, they don’t count right?

            1. Re: John,

              Yeah, if we just go home they will leave us alone.

              That’s EXACTLY what they did when Reagan pulled the Marines out of Lebanon – there were no more attacks until 1993.

              And to give Mexico as an example of lack of terrorism. They don’t have an Islamic population.

              Yes, Mexico DOES have a Muslim population. Many Lebanese migrated from Palestine during the 1880s to 1930s: Sephardic Jews, Lebanese Christians and Muslims.

              That is such a stupid statement as to be beneath response. And I would also note Thacker’s point about the bombings in South America. But those are Jews, they don’t count right?

              Regarding the attacks on Buenos Aires: W H O C A R E S?

              Who cares! The attack had NOTHING to do with the US nor should the US ever have taken it as an excuse to attack other countries.

              The attacks on the embassy have to d more with Isreali policy regarding the Palestinians than with the US. Why didn’t the bombers attack the US Embassy?

              1. The attacks on the embassy have to d more with Isreali policy regarding the Palestinians than with the US. Why didn’t the bombers attack the US Embassy?

                Partially because we’d go to war if they did, and we’d be a lot less restrained than the Israelis.

              2. That’s EXACTLY what they did when Reagan pulled the Marines out of Lebanon – there were no more attacks until 1993.

                No more attacks where? There certainly were attacks in Lebanon on others.

                There certainly were attacks on the US elsewhere. The Achille Lauro hijacking occurred immediately afterwards. Then there was the Libyan bombing of the West Berlin disco that led to the US bombing of Libya. And all of these cases involve both long chains of retaliation on both sides.

                Incidentally, does everyone love us for GWB signing an agreement with Libya to get over all the bombings there? Or does the hate for being an entangling warmonger suddenly transform into hate for propping up a dictator?

            2. We should “go home” because that’s where anyone belongs.

              Try imagining yourself wearing someone else’s shoes once and a while.

              Do you deny U.S. strategic interventions around the world over the past century?

              Are Muslims supposed to react different than we would react to some foreign power occupying our country?

              1. Do you deny U.S. strategic interventions around the world over the past century?

                Do you deny U.S. strategic interventions around the world over the century before that, too?

                Are Muslims supposed to react different than we would react to some foreign power occupying our country?

                When we’re not occupying their country, yes. They’re supposed to react like we did when we conquered the Indians. Of course, I’d expect the Indians to fight back, just as I’d expect us to.

                1. Do you deny U.S. strategic interventions around the world over the century before that, too?

                  Wasn’t intending to do that.

          2. I don’t want MY money to be used to trample over the rights of Americans who have done nothing wrong except DARE to travel by air.

            I agree. I just find that a non sequitur. It seems to me that increased security measures and policing of both Americans and people who come in this country goes hand-in-hand with attempting to avoid “entanglements” and war.

    2. Supporting Saddam as a counter to the Iranian revolution, which came about because the US helped remove their elected leader and replaced him with the Shah. Supplying regimes like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt with weapons. Imposing sanctions on various countries.

    3. Where were our “imperial endeavors” prior to 9-11?

      You never read bin Laden’s fatwa, did you? Number one objection was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Others included the sanctions on Iraq, US support for Israel, and US support for (non-Osama-approved) dictatorships in the Muslim world.

      1. Number one objection was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Others included the sanctions on Iraq, US support for Israel, and US support for (non-Osama-approved) dictatorships in the Muslim world.

        How in the world do you translate this in to the building of “Empire”?

        And if you read the rest of Obama’s spolied rich kid whining, you’ll realize that it isn’t just America he condemns. The whole purpose of the Islamic fundamentalist hardliners is to convert the world to Islam BY FORCE if necessary. THAT is what “Empire” means.

        Nothing is more retarded than saying that our non-existent “Empire” is the cause of Islamic terrorism.

        1. Empire isn’t “the” cause of Islamic terrorism. There are others. Obviously.

          But Richman didn’t make a monocausal claim about all Islamic terrorism everywhere. He wrote, “As long as the U.S. government pursues its imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world, Americans will be targets for avengers.” So the question is: Do invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world make Americans more or less vulnerable to terrorist attacks?

          1. So the question is: Do invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world make Americans more or less vulnerable to terrorist attacks?

            The other question is: “Is it possible for the U.S. government to do anything, or nothing at all, and not be accused of an ‘imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world?'”

            If the US had a pure libertarian foreign policy, it would still be accused of secretly being the Jews and bankers being the oppressors of the Muslim world, because of engaging in trade with them and having money. We would be an empire of bankers and parasites.

            Unless the US decided not to trade with the dictatorships, in which case it would be an imperial program of sanctions, which you also noted were one of his complaints.

            1. “Is it possible for the U.S. government to do anything, or nothing at all, and not be accused of an ‘imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world?'”

              Who cares? Someone will always have a grievance. Sometimes those grievances will involve things that shouldn’t be stopped, such as cultural exports or acts of genuine self-defense.

              The issue isn’t whether you can stop everyone on the planet from hating America. It’s whether a foreign policy of entanglement increases or decreases the number of people eager to kill Americans.

              1. “The issue isn’t whether you can stop everyone on the planet from hating America. It’s whether a foreign policy of entanglement increases or decreases the number of people eager to kill Americans.”

                If we allow the threat of terrorism to dictate our foreign policy, wouldn’t that make terrorism more not less attractive as a means of political expression? There are lots of people we step on or offend in the world. Muslims are the only ones who seem to blow themselves up over it. You seem to be advocating a Muslim driven foreign policy where by all allies and involvement is dictated by what will placate Muslims the most. We will abandon allies, walk away from commitments and so forth all based on what will make radical Muslims happy. That would seem to both embolden radical Muslims to make more demands and encourage other groups to engage in terrorism to get our attention. In your world view, what is the downside of terrorizing the US?

                1. The threat of terrorism shouldn’t dictate foreign policy, but neither should paranoia or dreams of “strategic dominance”.

              2. Who cares? Someone will always have a grievance. Sometimes those grievances will involve things that shouldn’t be stopped, such as cultural exports or acts of genuine self-defense.

                Of course you realize that our commenter whose cognomen matches my first name could state this same paragraph and agree with it. It depends on what “shouldn’t be stopped.”

                It’s whether a foreign policy of entanglement increases or decreases the number of people eager to kill Americans.

                But that’s not the whole issue to you. Unless I’m mistaken, and I apologize if I am, if we could decrease “the number of people eager to kill Americans” by restricting cultural exports, you’d still be against it.

                America, including in the 19th century, has long had a long tradition of responding with overwhelming force to slights and terrorism. The problem is defining “acts of genuine self-defense,” which you note as permissible. Human history is long. If you’re willing to go back far enough in history, really anything can be considered an “act of genuine self-defense.”

              3. It’s whether a foreign policy of entanglement increases or decreases the number of people eager to kill Americans.

                Take Israel and Jews for example. Does their foreign policy increase or decrease the number of people eager to kill them? It’s not entirely clear; certainly concentrating on banking and commerce didn’t entirely reduce that risk. Would being the bankers and shopkeepers of the world reduce the number of people eager to kill Americans? Could we even be the nation of shopkeepers without entanglements? We had entanglements and active foreign policy in the 19th century.

                Ah well. These are old, old arguments in US foreign policy. Each of the many schools have a long tradition.

            2. How many people accused the United States of being an interfering empire in 1859, John?

              The Mexicans? The Native Americans, sure. But how many Muslims blew themselves up attacking Americans in 1859?

              Before TR started massacring and torturing Filipinos, just about no one anywhere had any grievance with the United States. That period was as close to a “libertarian foreign policy” as we’re ever likely to have. And not only where there NO non-native-American groups anywhere in the world baying for American blood, most of the people worldwide who were engaging in acts of anti-imperial violence looked to the United States as an example to be emulated and as a beacon of hope. The Arab world LOVED the United States in 1938, John.

              1. Sorry, although TR certainly killed his share of Filipinos, it was actually McKinley that “started” doing so. Got to give him some credit too.

              2. The Mexicans? The Native Americans, sure.

                The Nicaraguans, the Uruguayans, the Argentinians, the Panamanians, the Fijians, and others.

                But how many Muslims blew themselves up attacking Americans in 1859?

                So your argument is that Muslims are different from others? Yes, we didn’t involve ourselves much with Muslims, because we had a different sphere of influence.

                Before TR started massacring and torturing Filipinos, just about no one anywhere had any grievance with the United States.

                You don’t know that many South Americans or Central Americans, then. We unilaterally invaded pretty much every country there long before TR, each time they had a attempted revolution (to defend American interests). They just don’t blow themselves up the same way.

                The Arab world LOVED the United States in 1938, John.

                Thanks to that part of the world being in the British sphere of influence. They also HATED the British.

                Did they love us in 1956, after the Suez crisis?

                1. So they hated the power that was dominating them imperially and/or interfering in their politics routinely, and did not hate the power that was not.

                  And this undermines the argument in the original post how, exactly?

          2. How is that supposed to work Jesse? Again, do you think that someone who plans to blow themselves up on a plane can just be reasoned with? As pointed out above, they seem to attack lots of other countries who do nothing of the sort you are complaining about. Why would they stop attacking us?

            Further, isn’t it possible if we let terrorist dictate our foreign policy and actions that we would embolden them? Really, if they can get us to pull out of countries and abandon allies, why stop there? Why wouldn’t they feel stronger and more inclined to terrorize us. Terrorism would pay. I would also point you Bin Ladin’s rhetoric after Somalia. We did what you wanted. We left. And Bin Ladin said we were the weak horse and would run after a few casualties. Our weakness emboldened Bin Ladin. It didn’t placate him.

            In the end, I honestly don’t see what you are advocating beyond just letting them do their worst and ignoring it. Is there any terrorist act you would support retaliation for?

          3. “Do invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world make Americans more or less vulnerable to terrorist attacks?”

            It depends on the nation. Removing Saddam Hussein from power took away one of the biggest state sponsors of Islamic terrorism out there, with the added benefit of removing one of the most murderous tyrants of the last 50 years. I agree that our support of certain regimes leaves a lot to be desired, such as Saudi Arabia, but none of this need be confused with the building of an “Empire”.

            Islamic fundamentalists have made their goals very clear, and destroying America is but one of their goals. The ultimate goal is to make a global caliphate. The idea that this will somehow be tempered if the US stopped supporting certain regimes flies in the face of the evidence.

            1. The ultimate goal is to make a global caliphate.

              A goal they will never achieve. If we leave them alone, they will fight each other. That is their history.

              1. If we leave them alone, they will fight each other. That is their history.

                We don’t have the option of “leaving them alone” when they bring the fight to our shores. If al-qaeda somehow got a hold of Pakistans nuclear arsenal, would you still say “leave them alone”?

                Or what about Europe’s struggle with assimilating Muslims peacefully? Not exactly working out very well.

                This isn’t a fight we can walk away from, the idea that they are just harmless cave-dwelling psychopaths is naive and dangerous.

              2. The problem with all of this naive Rothbardian silliness is that it implicitly assumes that everyone distinguishes between government and non-government entities the way that libertarians do, or even the way people in relatively-free democracies do. In the same way that the Islamists consider all Americans to be legitimate targets, they will (and do) view the actions of American companies or prominent American individuals as legitimate grievances and justification for attacks on Americans generally. To an Islamist, a movie studio producing an “offensive” film, or Boeing selling helicopters to Israel, are just as much “things done by America” as an airstrike, nevermind that we libertarians would think of those as unconnected free speech or free trade. What happens if they manage to, say, carry out a sarin attack on Manhattan, demanding a halt to investment in Israeli companies? Grin and bear it? Give in and make such investments illegal?

                This is why my libertarianism stops at the water’s edge.

        2. And if you read the rest of Obama’s spolied rich kid whining…

          Paging R C. Paging Mr. R C’z Law.

      2. Actually, US support for Israel was not a rational before 9/11. The only reason was that the U.S. had soldiers in Saudi Arabia.

        This despite the evil Empire liberating Kuwait from Saddam Hussein and saving Muslims by killing Chrisians in Bosnia and Serbia.

      3. He also had the reconquista high on his list of grievances.

      4. Number one objection was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Others included the sanctions on Iraq, US support for Israel, and US support for (non-Osama-approved) dictatorships in the Muslim world.

        And GWB solved the “number one objection,” so they’re all happy now, right?

        Other objections included “Spain having conquered Andalusia” and “the West supporting East Timor’s right to independence.”

        The US not having an empire would still be translated into “support for (non-Osama-approved) dictatorships in the Muslim world.” One thing that’s always clear is that if you’re not actively fighting a dictatorship (and being accused of empire that way), you’ll be accused of supporting it.

      5. I read it. Got a copy of it on my harddrive. Which is why I know that in Bin Laden’s mind, we’ll never be free from his ire. Never.

        and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world,

        Ie, any friendly relations with Israel… PERIOD. You do know that the charge of ‘imperialism’ is really largely impossible for us to correct in their minds, right?

        1. Paul,

          That doesn’t really mean Israel. Israel is a part of the Muslim world, since it’s not Muslim.

      6. You never read bin Laden’s fatwa, did you? Number one objection was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Others included the sanctions on Iraq, US support for Israel, and US support for (non-Osama-approved) dictatorships in the Muslim world.

        And another thing. Since when do we change the entire course of U.S. foreign policy based on what a guy who ran a construction company who now lives(d) in a cave muses about by the slowly fading coleman lantern?

        I’ve got a list of grievances about the U.S. government… where are we with those? Oh yeah, I’ve never blown anyone up so I guess that doesn’t get me on the guest list.

      7. Funny you should bring up Bin Laden’s fatwa because the only cogent argument I ever heard for invading Iraq (still not one I subuscribe to) is that by deposing Saddam we would eliminate the need to have forces stationed in Saudi Arabia in order to protect oil-trading partners like Kuwait.

    4. John,

      The American military currently owns or leases military bases in 130 different countries. How can anyone really think America isn’t a imperialistic country?

      1. And out of those 130 bases, how many are used to control the population to do our bidding?

        1. If they aren’t there to control foreign politics, why is the military there?

          1. We control Germany’s politics? Japan’s? South Korea’s?

            No, no we don’t.

            1. Actually we do effect their politics by being there. All three of those countries are perfectly capable of funding & defending themselves. Having massive military bases in those countries allows them to spend very little on defense.

              1. Having massive military bases in those countries allows them to spend very little on defense.

                I agree with that. But the reality is that the last time we let Germany and Japan have full standing armies things didn’t work out so well. Ther is actually a pretty good justification for preventing the re-militarization of these two countries, as expensive as it may be.

                South Korea doesn’t fit with the other two. The DPRK would turn Seoul in to a parking lot over night if the US wasn’t straddling the DMZ. Even with that we couldn’t possibly defend an armed invasion of the South from the DPRK, the hundreds of tunnels and military installations across the border built by the DPRK are on call 24/7 for when to strike. It would be like trying to stop a bullet with a wet paper bag.

                But again, none of these examples prove that America is “Imperialistic”.

                1. South Korea doesn’t fit with the other two. The DPRK would turn Seoul in to a parking lot over night if the US wasn’t straddling the DMZ.

                  Paranoid hysteria.

                  South Korea is how many times wealthier than NK?

                  1. Paranoid hysteria? Really?

                    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/army.htm

                    North Korea continues to position forces into the area just north of the DMZ? in a position to threaten Combined Forces Command and all of Seoul with little warning. Seventy percent of their active force, including approximately 700,000 troops, over 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks, is postured within 90 miles of the Demilitarized Zone. This percentage continues to rise despite the June 2000 summit. Most of this force in the forward area is protected in over 4,000 underground facilities, out of over 11,000 nationwide. From their current locations, these forces can attack with minimal preparations or warning. The protracted southward deployment follows a tactic of “creeping normalcy”?a significant movement over a period of many years that would attract too much international attention if accomplished over weeks or months.

                2. South Korea’s GDP is$1.338 trillion (2008 est.) & spend 2.7% of GDP (2006)on their military.
                  North Korea’s GDP is $40 billion (2008 est.). Military expenditure not available, but probably a large percentage.
                  South Korea’s Population 48,508,972 (July 2009 est.)

                  North Korea’s population 22,665,345 (July 2009 est.)

                  South Korea has a much larger population than North Korea does & can outspend the North on Military hardware. I highly doubt the North Korea could conquer South Korea if America left.

                  1. It’s not a matter of “conquering” South Korea, it’s a matter of there being over 10 million people in the city of Seoul, which is within immediate striking distance of 70% of the DPRK’s forces. Go talk to someone from the US Military who’s served on the DMZ and ask them if anyone could stop the first wave of attacks from the North against Seoul.

                    We are talking about millions of people being exterminated through conventional bombing in a matter of hours. I agree that the DPRK would never successfully “conquer” the south, but they wouldn’t need to to cause irreparable damage to Seoul.

                    And at the present time the “Imperialist” US military is a big reason why this won’t happen.

                    1. Or perhaps that is the reason NK concentrates so much force at the DMZ. And maybe the presence of the U.S. there is why SK doesn’t mount similar opposing force.

                      Come on, NK has a communist economy.

                      We were also told what a big threat the USSR was and it turns out that they were always tottering at the brink of collapse.

              2. affect

          2. In many cases it’s a stealth form of Foreign Aid. The Germans scream bloody murder every time we propose leaving.

      2. Because being an imperialistic society means more than having a base. It means taking over the country and making it a colony. If you want to see imperialism go to Tibet. Or take a look at what Bin Ladin would like to do to the Arab world. And further, everyone of those bases are at the invitation of the local governments. Imperialists don’t come with permission.

        If you think the US has an empire, it is only because you are too ignorant to know what an actual empire looks like.

        1. John,

          So a government speaks for entire populations? Does Obama represent your world view? Just because a dictactor might welcome foreign troops to prop up his corrupt regime doesn’t mean everyone in that country likes American intervention.

          1. Or everyone in the US wants their tax dollars spent on policing the globe.

            1. Then call it bad policy and object to it. But don’t scream Empire. It just makes you look like a dumb ass.

              1. Not more so then claiming every terrorist act is the act of a lunatic. Lunatics typically don’t have ends, the terrorsts do.

                IOW, the terrorists are making rational choices to achieve a goal. Hardly the hallmark of insane people.

                1. You think it is perfectly sane to strap a bomb onto yourself and blow up an entire airplane full of innocent people?

                  1. If you are convinced there are 72 virgins waiting for you. Or if a group promised to pay all your families expenses.

                    Past that, you are avoiding the main point, do the terrorists not have an end? Considering their military disadvantage, can’t their means be considered rational?

                    1. “If you are convinced there are 72 virgins waiting for you”, you are insane.

                      As far as the political ends goes, if you read Bin Ladin and take him at his word, he wants to establish a caliphate throughout the entire middle east including Israel and Spain. Further, radical Muslims in Europe want such a caliphate to include all of Europe. What is your plane to placate them?

                    2. Logic. They cannot even convince a pluraility of their own to follow them, how the hell are they gonna establish a global caliphate with underwear bombs?

                      Let’s be real here, Russia at possibly the height of their power, couldn’t contain Afghanistan. I’m not too worried about living under Sharia law.

                    3. In the US I am not. I would be in Europe. Any number of people are under police protection because they have criticized Islam. That sucks. And I am tired of “libertarians” making excuses for the people who murder and demand to take away our freedoms.

                    4. They have no ability to take away our freedoms. And if you aren’t worried about their ability to impose their views on the US, then why do you support military action against them?

                      No one is making excuses for their actions, but rather criticizing the government’s (over)reaction to their actions.

                    5. “If you are convinced there are 72 virgins waiting for you.”

                      I would classify that as insane. And see above for why that is.

                      https://reason.com/blog/2010/01…..nt_1523889

                2. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

                  Have they gotten anything different by making these rational choices? Except more bombs, of course.

                  1. Yes, they are adding to our near bankruptcy and forcing us to be groped by government agents. I would say that is progress on their end.

                    1. Damn, you got me, BKA.

          2. What countries do we have a base in that are ruled corrupt dictators? Germany? Iraq? Italy? Korea?

              1. That is not at their invitation.

                1. Egypt?

                  Here is a few more for you John.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…..tary_bases

                  1. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, etc…

        2. The cannot be ALL lunatics – that defies logic.

          1. There are leaders who get rich and influential by getting other people to kill themselves. They aren’t going to stop because their demands are met, whatever they are. And the people who blow themselves up are by definition lunatics.

            1. “And the people who blow themselves up are by definition lunatics.”

              Oh come on now John. It does not automatically make you a loon, most of the time, yes it does, but there has to be legitimate situations where blowing youself up is rational and noble. I cite movie plots of action films from the 80s and 90s.

        3. Empire is generic, colonial Empire mor specific. The U.S. is not a colonial” empire, but an empire nonetheless.

    5. Where were our “imperial endeavors” prior to 9-11?
      HA!!!!! Milk just shot out my nose!!

      You realize we’ve been at war (formally, then loosely defined) in Iraq since 1990? TWENTY FUCKING YEARS.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G…..ostilities

    6. Wait a minute, the US has been meddling in the affairs of Muslim nations for DECADES – instigating coups, installing puppet regimes, doing the bidding of Exon and on and on. The argument is that our continued involvement/occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan only exacerbates Muslim hatred, not that pulling out will make them love us. When it stops being in their interest (in their view)to threaten us with terrorism (which on its face is absurd when one weighs the number of innocent Muslims killed versus the number of innocent westerners – which I would guess is on the order of 100 to 1). To suppose that our continued military involvement in Muslim countries and our continued support of tyrannical regimes is not a significant contributing factor in fomenting Muslim terrorism is absurd.

    7. Prior to 1945, the British and French were subject to terror attacks. The US was subject to none. Zero. Zip.

      What changed aftre 1945, John?

  3. The empire is treated as a given ? even by most so-called progressives ? as though it were ordained by history.

    Sheldon, the Empire is a Progressive prerrogative. I am not surprised the Progressives do not regard the Empire as something that has to be dismantled.

    1. It’s Obama the Progressive’s Empire now.

  4. “Yes, we are being attacked because we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. That clearly explains why a Nigerian tried to blow himself up over Detroit.”

    Have you ever done any research on this issue? Do you know why Al-Qaeda originally attacked us?

    1. One of Osama Bin Laden’s main gripes was that the U.S. had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia in connection with Gulf War I… at Saudi Arabia’s request. I guess that means Bin Laden gets veto power over all treaties between the U.S. and Muslim nations.

      1. BP,

        One of Osama Bin Laden’s main gripes was that the U.S. had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia in connection with Gulf War I… at Saudi Arabia’s request. I guess that means Bin Laden gets veto power over all treaties between the U.S. and Muslim nations.

        Apart from the fact that the US Constitution does not allow for American troops to be garrisoned in foreign soil, the Saudi govenrment is not the representative of the Muslims. Saudi Arabia has great religious significance to Muslims. Imagine the US placing a garrison in the Vatican – Catholics would be pretty upset as well, especially since the US is seen as a Protestant country, not a Catholic country.

        1. Maybe you should join Al Quada Old Mexican. You seem to agree with them a lot. I mean if the US is really that bad, why shouldn’t you be doing something about it?

          1. Re: John,

            That’s a cop-out, I don’t agree with Al Qaeda at all. Just because people criticise the Empire does not mean ipso facto they agree with the enemy.

            I contend the Empire agrees with Al Qaeda. So far, the US has done EVERYTHING the group sought to achieve: Drag the US into a quagmire that helps Al Qaeda’s recruiting efforts; bankrupt this nation; make more Muslims angry with the US, and establish a tyrannical, police state in the US, with the Department of Vaterland Security.

            I can say that Al Queda has played the US Gov like a fiddle, and yet you keep supporting the very same policies.

            1. You’ve run into the Bush/Cheney/Rove tactic of the imperialists: when you have no argument, accuse your detractors of sympathizing with the enemy.

            2. Yes, Al Quada would be no where without the US. But you are not a self centered American. Yeah, it is all about us. If we would just given them what they want they would go away.

              1. Re: John,

                Yes, Al Quada would be no where without the US.

                Indeed – the US helped create it, feed it and see it grow. You just want to stick your head in the sand and pretend “evil people” are hellbent on attacking the US just because they hate us for our iPods or something.

                But you are not a self centered American. Yeah, it is all about us. If we would just given them what they want they would go away.

                “What they want” is actually pretty cheap – get the garrisons OUT OF MUSLIM COUNTRIES.

                You can give me all sorts of non sequiturs to justify not complying with this: We need the oil; we had agreements with the nice, tyrannical people that run those countries; we cannot “allow” that region to run into chaos, et cetera, et cetera. None of these things justify having troops there – the troops are supposed to exist to protect the US borders and territories from attack, not to extend the power of the US Government towards the exterior.

                1. None of these things justify having troops there – the troops are supposed to exist to protect the US borders and territories from attack, not to extend the power of the US Government towards the exterior.

                  It’s off the “best defense is a good offense” strategy. That’s how the US has always operated. I guess we don’t need the land bases, as we could go back to the carrier battle groups and then just occasionally go ashore and capture a fort or two like in the “good old days.”

                2. “What they want” is actually pretty cheap – get the garrisons OUT OF MUSLIM COUNTRIES.

                  That part is done. So they’re happy now, right? Hezbollah has loved us ever since we left Lebanon, and the Saudis love us too.

                  1. Re: John Tacker,

                    That part is done. So they’re happy now, right? Hezbollah has loved us ever since we left Lebanon, and the Saudis love us too.

                    The US remains in Saudi Arabia, JT, a place or religious sgnificance for Muslims. And the US garrisoned Iraq and Afghanistan – last I saw, there were no plants to leave those two places. So don’t try to be cute.

              2. Didn’t we fund them in Afghanistan agaisnt the Russians?

                1. Didn’t we fund them in Afghanistan agaisnt the Russians?

                  We funded everyone in Afghanistan fighting against the Russians. Then we left and “went home.” In the vacuum that followed, Iran continued to support its proxies, and Pakistan supported its proxies, and other groups were supported by neither. The Taliban were largely a Pakistan proxy, and used Pakistani funds to succeed. (It’s ambiguous how much control the ISI of Pakistan maintained.)

                  Some people even take Afghanistan as an example of what happens when the US tries to disengage and go home.

                  1. JT, the Taliban did NOT attack the US. You are forgetting that rather inconvenient fact.

                    1. True they did not, and if they would have met Bush jr. demands to kick out AQ, surrender OBL, and show us where the AQ training bases were, they would still be the legit government of Afghanistan.

                    2. Re: TrickyVic,

                      True they did not, and if they would have met Bush jr. demands to kick out AQ, surrender OBL, and show us where the AQ training bases were, they would still be the legit government of Afghanistan.

                      Indeed, people react well when threatened with unwarranted invasion.

                  2. “We funded everyone in Afghanistan fighting against the Russians.”

                    Would it be better to have a Communist Afghanistan or a Islamist Afghanistan?

                    1. “Would it be better to have a Communist Afghanistan or a Islamist Afghanistan?”

                      Hmmmm. Who would treat the women better?

  5. Paul,

    Something to do with our freedoms. I choose to read “freedoms” as “our overwhelming awesomness”.

    America. Fuck yeah!

    1. Maybe it has something to do with them being lunatics. If only we could have spoken to this Nigerian and met his demands, he would have ceased being a homicidal lunatic bent on killing himself and hundreds of others.

      It is not about our freedoms or anything else. It is because they are fucking nuts. You are just as bad as you claim your opponents to be. Both you and the people who claim it is about our freedom claim to give rational reasons behind irrational acts. The people claim it is about our freedom are wrong because even if we gave up all our freedom, these people would still hate us. In the same way, you are wrong because even if we killed all the Jews and pulled out of the middle east and gave them everything they wanted, they still wouldn’t be satisfied. They hate us because they are nuts.

      1. They hate us because we are not Muslims – even worse, we are not fundamentalist Muslims.

      2. “It is not about our freedoms or anything else. It is because they are fucking nuts.”

        Well, yes, that’s part of it. That provides a lot of the motivation to attack. But it doesn’t explain why they have expended most of their energy towards attacking us. Why do they target us?

        1. They actually target Muslim countries more than us. More Muslims die from terrorism than Americans. And don’t forge the Israelis and the Indians. The US is actually pretty far down the list in terms of number of terrorist attacks.

          1. John, why did Al-Qaeda target us in particular?

        2. Why do they target us?

          Because we’re the big man on campus, that’s why.

          1. Good point, RC Dean. You don’t show you’re powerful by attacking the weak guy on the court. You embarrass LeBron James and you look stronger. (NBA Live 2010 is in the background)

  6. Theo van Gogh, victim of American imperialism! Kurt Westergaard too! Haha.

  7. How about this – we get most of our troops and bases out of other countries because we can’t fucking afford it anymore? Can we agree on that?

    1. +1

    2. Sounds like a good start to me.

    3. I’ll add to that: “and let’s see how it goes.”

      If we pull everything back and Islamic terrorism maintains or increases in the first 10 years, then I’ll admit we were wrong.

      1. Note that I said “most” and not “all”. While I hate to admit it, John does have a point in that there are some f*ckheads out there who will attack us no matter what we do.

        Still, hundreds of thousands of troops, in hundreds of bases, in dozens of countries, is/are way too much/many.

        1. No question on both counts.

    4. I’ll agree easily to that, and I also agree with John in that these people are not attacking us because we’re an evil imperialist country, which is bullshit spouted because no one nowadays even knows what imperialism or fascism are as governmental systems, just that the former involves land possessions in other countries and the later is (in practice) associated with nationalism. They’re attacking us because we’re not fundamentalist Muslim, and we’re powerful. Freedoms, our religions, none of that shit matters to them. They’d probably do the same thing to the Chinese if (when?) the Chinese become more powerful. The two positions are not mutually exclusive.

      1. The Chinese have been on the receiving end of Muslim terrorist strikes.

      2. And they’ve really been after Switzerland.

  8. It’s either foreign intervention and retaliatory terrorism or nonintervention and security. There’s no third way.
    Reducing the chances on retaliatory terrorism does not equal security. There will always be people willing to resort to terrorism to get their point across.

    “Terror” is the tactic that the weak use against the strong.
    Actually “terror” is a tactic that is used by both the weak and the strong. The difference is that people tend to “romanticize” it when it done by the weak, “well they had no choice”, as this author has done.

    1. The difference is that the strong, (the U.S) uses expensive cruise missiles, robot drones, etc., and the weak have to indoctrinate surplus youth into acting as cruise missile surrogates because that’s all they can afford.

  9. American empire, let’s see, at one time the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, Guam, Saipan, Samoa?

    You know, John, you just want to believe that all the terrorists are just crazy. There just happen to be all these crazy people who are motivated by the voices in their head or whatever to attack the US. You seem to be arguing that nothing the US does could possibly offend anyone anywhere, or if it does they should just write a stern letter of disapproval to Hillary Clinton or something. Obviously the US does offend some people enough to kill and die. One lone nut, say OBL, I can understand, but unless there was something there he would be no more persuasive than some guy wearing a tin foil hat. Until we get beyond saying They hate Us for our freedoms or saying They are just nuts we’re not going to get anywhere.

    1. American empire, let’s see, at one time the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, Guam, Saipan, Samoa?

      Correct, 19th century US history had a far more active foreign policy than people like to pretend, regardless of what side they take today.

      19th century US policy also had a tradition of overwhelming force in response to foreign terrorism or piracy against US citizens, as the US Navy makes clear.

      You know, things like:
      “1854 — Nicaragua — July 9 to 15. Naval forces bombarded and burned San Juan del Norte (Greytown) to avenge an insult to the American Minister to Nicaragua.”

      “1851 — Johanns Island (east of Africa) — August. Forces from the U.S. sloop of war Dale exacted redress for the unlawful imprisonment of the captain of an American whaling brig.”

      “1856 — China — October 22 to December 6. U.S. forces landed to protect American interests at Canton during hostilities between the British and the Chinese, and to avenge an assault upon an unarmed boat displaying the United States flag.”

      “1871 — Korea — June 10 to 12. A U.S. naval force attacked and captured five forts to punish natives for depredations on Americans, particularly for murdering the crew of the General Sherman and burning the schooner, and for later firing on other American small boats taking soundings up the Salee River.”

      “1904 — Tangier, Morocco. “We want either Perdicaris alive or Raisula dead.” A squadron demonstrated to force release of a kidnapped American. Marine guard was landed to protect the consul general.”

      Etc., etc.

      The myth of US 19th century isolationism is spread by all sides, for some reason.

      1. +1. And don’t forget we told the Europeans to stay out of the entire hemisphere in the Monroe Doctrine. And we conquered the entire continent from sovereign Indian Nations.

      2. Show me where this purported “myth” has been propagated and by whom. So far, I have not seen a SINGLE historian that alleges the US had an non-interventionist foreign policy in the 1800s.

        1. Show me where this purported “myth” has been propagated and by whom.

          The entire “Come Home America” slogan relies on this myth of a time when America ever did stay home, and the myth that it’s even possible to do so.

          You can’t do so without locking people out and spending money heavily policing people entering.

          1. Right, because sending in the Navy to free a whaling ship taken by pirates, and then leaving, naturally would anger as many people as supporting the Shah in a decades-long campaign of torture and murder would.

            Because both are “interventionist”.

            Thanks. That was helpful.

            1. Right, because sending in the Navy to free a whaling ship taken by pirates, and then leaving, naturally would anger as many people as supporting the Shah in a decades-long campaign of torture and murder would.

              Are you saying that selling weapons to a leader is as worse or worse than using our own military?

              To what degree are we then responsible for any dictatorship with which we dare to have diplomatic relations?

              I feel like you end up defining it so that if a foreign dictatorship exists, anything the US does, or nothing at all, can still be turned around as being complicit in their crimes. Perhaps not you directly, but sanctions, trade, support, opposition, anything is criticized, even ignoring them.

        2. By Fluffy, above. Claiming that aggressive US foreign policy and interfering with other countries started with McKinley.

          1. No, I specified that we interfered with Mexico and the Native American states. And you know what? Mexicans and Native Americans tried to kill us.

            Are you seriously trying to compare the piss-ante list of “interventions” on your list with our international conduct since TR’s time. Especially relative to the contemporaneous conduct of Britain, France, Belgium, etc.?

            Do you really think that in 1875 when someone sat down and said to themselves, “Hmmm…who is intervening in the affairs of other countries a lot?” the answer they would reflexively reach was “the United States”? Really? REALLY?

            1. Do you really think that in 1875 when someone sat down and said to themselves, “Hmmm…who is intervening in the affairs of other countries a lot?” the answer they would reflexively reach was “the United States”? Really? REALLY?

              People in South and Central America, or people in other parts of the world?

              Are you seriously trying to compare the piss-ante list of “interventions” on your list with our international conduct since TR’s time. Especially relative to the contemporaneous conduct of Britain, France, Belgium, etc.?

              Ah, but I thought that more subtle control and interventions were just as bad as overt war and colonization, right? Or how else are our dealings with the Shah so bad? They were no different from the pissant things we did in Central and South America.

            2. Do you really think that in 1875 when someone sat down and said to themselves, “Hmmm…who is intervening in the affairs of other countries a lot?” the answer they would reflexively reach was “the United States”? Really? REALLY?

              Sure, we were a weaker power then than now, but the sorts of things we did in Central and South America were the same. We interfered a lot. Not direct colonization, no, but we didn’t directly colonize Iran under the Shah, did we?

              1. And in the places where we did intervene in our small way, we engendered hatred. Right? Yanqui go home?

      3. Commodore Perry forcifully opening feudalist Japan to foreign trade & development. Starting a process of Japanese industrialization that lead to Pearl Harbor.

      4. There is pre-Israel, and post Israel.

        The problem they have is we support the Jewish state. We will continue to support that which they hate. The friends of your enemy is your enemy, right? So no, it not US imperialism.

        1. There is a difference to libertarians between financial and vocal support of Israel. There is no such difference to the radical Islamists.

    2. You misunderstand. It is not that the US hasn’t offended people. They have. It is not that the US hasn’t done evil in the world. It has. It is that even if it had done none of that, these people would still be trying to kill us.

      If you want to debate about whether this or that involvement is good or bad policy fine. Some or all of it may be bad policy. That is not what I object to. I object to the idea that ending our involvement will someone end or minimize our problems with radical Islam. It won’t. And you are kidding yourself if you think it will.

      1. It is that even if it had done none of that, these people would still be
        trying to kill us.

        And you KNOW this how?

      2. Who had the most attacks directed at their personnel, interests, or installations by Arabs prior to 1945, John?

        Britain, France or the United States?

        There has been a consistent drumbeat of violence from Arab sources against perceived western “interlopers” for a century. But at some point along the way, the nationality of the perceived interlopers changed. Americans, who had not been perceived as interlopers, started to be perceived as interlopers. Now, was this just due to random insanity of the part of Muslims, or did we do some actual interloping at any time in the period in question, John?

        1. Now, was this just due to random insanity of the part of Muslims, or did we do some actual interloping at any time in the period in question, John?

          Yes, after World War II, the US expanded its sphere of influence from the Western Hemisphere to include the Middle East as well, as the Pax Britannica ended. We started doing exactly the same things that we’d been doing for 150 years to the Western Hemisphere, only now in the Middle East as well. The Muslims reacted a little bit differently.

        2. Of course, we were free-riding on the British before World War II.

          1. Didn’t the British build the King David Hotel?

  10. This turned out pretty much as I expected.

    1. Except you expected Chad to show up and tell us that if we just gave Al Quaeda free health care they wouldn’t be so pissy, and for Lonewacko to show up and exclaim we need to prevent Mexicans from converting to Islam, because if we do we’re doomed.

  11. The handwringing about the would-be Christmas Day airplane bomber and the politicians’ tiresome declarations that it will never happen again miss the point: As long as the U.S. government pursues its imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world, Americans will be targets for avengers….It’s either foreign intervention and retaliatory terrorism or nonintervention and security.

    Bullshit. Sorry. But bullshit. How about this: non-interventionism AND the continued threat (albeit possibly lower?!!?!!) of terrorism.

    It’s amazing how quickly we forget. America will be under some terrorist threat as long as we have the capability of beaming My Two Dads into the livingrooms of people living in nations where Islamic fundamentalism and Wahaabiism are major forces.

    Ooooh, wait, unless this is the old classic liberal canard that the act of broadcasting our culture is and act of imperialism itself; that we are engaging in cultral imperalism.

    And then there’s stuff like our “support” of Israel. Which can come in the form of money, weapons sales, political pressure or, let’s be real, the mere state of having good relations.

    Until we declare that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist, we are probably always going to be the target of some terrorism by that fact alone.

    Let alone some Imam catching his neighbor watching an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on his satellite dish.

    Don’t ever believe that by mere disengagemnt, we’ll be free of the hate.

    1. You also forgot that, due to our CO2 production, we are destroying the world and every imaginable natural phenomena is now our fault. With a world population of billions, it that far fetched to believe that somewhere there isn’t a group planning to avenge the world.

      1. Exactly.

        Most H&R regulars can agree that the United States could be less involved. Hell, I wish the United States would get less involved with me, let alone the rest of the world. But once you’re a decadent superpower with nudity, homosexuality, angst-ridden yuppies and MICHAEL BAY SPLOSIONS being beamed around the world via satellite, you’re gonna piss off some religious nuts somewhere.

        I’m all for less intervention, but that won’t stop the crazy neighbor with the twitching eye who believes God is talking to him from getting agitated about something.

        1. You may not be interested in war. But it is sometimes interested in you.

          1. All the more reason to incinerate all those who support the nation state and its plundreings. I’m all for making war on them.

            1. Without the nation state, someone will form their own nation state and come over and kick your ass. Have fun making war alone. It is a lonely deadly job.

        2. SILENCE! I keel you!

          1. Ugh, puppet guy is not funny.

  12. Where is the Terrorist Whisperer when you need him/her/it?

  13. You never read bin Laden’s fatwa, did you? […]

    Several.

    There are three texts in any OBL jihad justification: a “blowback”/Westy-go-home text, some (somewhat overlapping) Moore/Gore/Chomsky cribbings to appeal to Whitey, and a (somewhat again overlapping) destroy-the-Jews/establish-the-Caliphate gung ho.

    I understand why you’d favor the part you like the sound of?it is, after all, for you?but why take up the cause of any of it?

    Political pronouncements, especially calls to revolution, are perlocutionary. They’re not face-value messages; there’s nothing inside the text. There are only things it wants you to do.

    “Hear only what you already believe” is one of those things. It creates in you, to whatever degree you’re susceptible to it, a siding with the speaker, at least negatively, against whomever he says he’s against, no matter how else, aside from what you carried into the message yourself, he justifies it. And that other shit gets in you, if you’re a sucker.

    Then pretty soon you’re calling outright for the invasion and imperial occupation of Israel. Because you’re against imperial-occupational war.

    Take care, I mean.

    1. Then pretty soon you’re calling outright for the invasion and imperial occupation of Israel. Because you’re against imperial-occupational war.

      If “you” are Andrew Sullivan, yeah.

      1. I don’t recall Sullivan saying that, but I’m willing to risk being proved wrong again on this thread.

        BTW, calling for the US to completely disengage from Israel is not the same as advocating invasion.

        Threaded comments blow chunks.

        1. I don’t recall Sullivan saying that, but I’m willing to risk being proved wrong again on this thread.

          Well, what he (or his doppleganger) said was

          My own view is moving toward supporting a direct American military imposition of a two-state solution, with NATO troops on the borders of the new states of Palestine and Israel. I’m sick of having a great power like the US being dictated to in the conduct of its own foreign policy.

          So somehow “disengagement” becomes being “sick of a great power” being dictated to and wanting us to impose borders and police them militarily.

          But it’s definitely unfair to claim that everyone is Andrew Sullivan.

          1. I was wrong again. Sigh.

            Sullivan’s proposal is indeed not what I’d call disengagement.

  14. I would like to be a noninterventionist. Really. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that if the US doesn’t police critical regions of the world (ie, the Middle East), someone else will.

    The choice isn’t between American empire and an international system of freedom. It’s between American empire and Chinese empire (or Russian empire or worse). I don’t want to live to see the day that Chinese warships control access to the Gulf.

    1. Give the Middle East to Europe to worry about. It’s mostly their oil, anyway.

      1. and Japan’s.

      2. …until they start going after the Mexican and Venezuelan oil that we are currently the main buyers of, and the price goes through the roof.

        1. None of you make any sense here. Oil is fungible. It’s not “mostly their oil,” nor does it matter if they go after Mexican and Venezuelan oil. Sure, there’s a small part about how you need to build the right refineries to take care of high sulfur oil, but essentially any effect on oil in one part of the world affects the rest equally.

          That’s why high gas taxes in other countries get reflected in lower prices and more consumption here, and why they’d like us to raise our gas taxes.

          1. If both the EU and US are stuck buying non-middle-eastern oil because China or Russia or whoever has cut off that supply, then oil prices for both the EU and US are going to skyrocket. It’s only as fungible as those in control of the oil-producing regions allow it to be.

          2. Fungible but not exactly free to transport.

        2. You know what, though? As bad as it would be if such a thing happened (price bidding between Europe and Asia for oil), which country would be in the best position to quickly develop technology that would counter such a development? I’m not saying it would be easy or painless, just saying.

    2. Sounds like the rationalizations of totalitarians and their toadies. The framers warned us of such bloviations from would be bolzheviks.

      You have claimed that you like law and order. By definition, that state of affiars cannot be obtained where, as here, you have a state that seeks to maintain military installations all over the world and finances the same by bankrupting its citizens and by forcibly confiscating the cash to do so from those who actually make and produce something.

      1. I’m not defending every overseas involvement of the US — far from it. The invasion of Iraq and the continued presence in Afghanistan are two examples of stupid overseas involvement that doesn’t even advance our interests one bit. But the other extreme, pulling back all our military power and leaving critical regions there for the taking of some less scrupulous power — of which there are many waiting in the wings — is going to cost us way more in the long run.

        None of those who mock or question me on this thread have answered the central question — do you want the PRC in control of the Persian Gulf and its oil supply? You seem to be under the same illusions as liberals when it comes to international affairs — that any problem in the world is the fault of the US, and if the US just stops misbehaving everything will work out well.

        1. No, Tulpa, you should realize that you can’t play strawman against me. Do you really think that I have anything much good to say about foreign statists, their rule, their murder, their torture, their own plundering, rent seeking and all the rest?

          Are you arguing that control of and access to the Persian Gulf is a prequisite to the peace and prosperity of the average american bear? If so, why? If you claim oil, I call bullshit and point to the oil and natural gas bonanzas we have right here.

    3. I seem to remember the U.S. not policing Rwanda and liberals went apeshit over our lack of protection, erh, empire, erh policing, erh…

      1. *palm to forehead*

        Holy fuckshait! I remember our lack of intervention in Darfur and every Hollywood crackpot nearly called himself home to the mothership over that lack of imperialism.

        You think a muslim mighta been killed by a stray bullet thus raising our terrorismt profile had we “intervened” in that one?

        Always remember folks. It ain’t about “Empire”, it’s about the right cause.

        1. It would be worse than that, it would have been the put-upon muslim-dominated Sudanese regime we would have been intervening against. If it came down to a firefight, it would not have been stray bullets hitting muslims, but ones fired with malice.

      2. And Sudan.

    4. Really, Tulpa?
      Really?
      Jesus.

    5. Now that they can better afford it that we can.

  15. BTW: The Paul posting above with the yahoo address is not the Paul you all know (and love).

    1. I live for your kisses!

      1. Mary Stack is on to you.

  16. I usually believe in the libertarian big tent, but in no way do I believe that apologists for empire can be defined, in any way, as libertarians.

    1. What about apologists for terrorism based on a very fluid definition of empire?

        1. Sorry, there’s no room Timothy McVeigh in my libertarian pup tent.

            1. Sorry, no room for theocracy either.

              1. Ok. Let’s try Tom the Tinker.
                How ’bout him?

              2. The people John Brown wanted to kill deserved to die.

                1. Agreed, but he was still a thoecrat.

            2. John Brown wasn’t complaining about empire. He was complaining about slavery.

              Would you support pro-slavery types who complained about the British Empire and British Navy violently stopping the slave trade and eradicating slavery?

        2. Even if the fluid definition of empire includes “exporting foreign cultural values” or “expropriation via free trade?”

            1. So you’re cool with terrorism in order to prevent free trade or prevent the spread of “decadent Western values?” Or did our wires get crossed?

              1. The latter.
                “Exactly” was dismissive sarcasm having something to do with straw men, the slippery slope fallacy, Battlestar Galactica’s final episodes and Rand Paul’s current poll numbers. I explained the same to MNG yesterday. I hate having to explain my own inside jokes. But I do crack myself up.

                1. Oh, and not getting that “I’m cool with that” is just a cheap way to pull the chain of someone who’s just said something idiotic.

                  1. Good points, Citizen Nothing.

                    1. You’re “exactly.”

                2. The latter.
                  “Exactly” was dismissive sarcasm having something to do with straw men, the slippery slope fallacy, Battlestar Galactica’s final episodes and Rand Paul’s current poll numbers. I explained the same to MNG yesterday. I hate having to explain my own inside jokes. But I do crack myself up.

                  Dude, I am exactly like you. I live to make myself laugh without anyone else knowing it, usually.

    2. Libertarianism ends at the waters edge.

      One of the assumptions of minarchist libertarianism is that there is an overarching rights protector in the background that is able and willing to defend against and punish violations of individuals’ rights by other individuals. That assumption does not hold in the international arena.

    3. but in no way do I believe that apologists for empire can be defined, in any way, as libertarians.

      So I’m not able to support the British Empire’s attempts to end slavery?

      1. The British Empire didn’t end slavery.

        1. Pretty much, it did. The Brits outlawed it for themselves and in their possessions, and went after the international slave trade. If that doesn’t count, what would?

          1. They brought slavery home to their own native citizenry. They no longer needed slaves from elsewhere.

    4. So you’d be hunky-dory with Chinese hegemony replacing American hegemony in the world? I seriously doubt libertarian philosophy would be practiced by the “empire” that would exist then.

      1. Empires cost money and end up with the demise of the imperial power.

        Witness the greatest empire in history.

        Empires are based on mercantilism which leads to bankruptcy.

      2. Could I still get war su gai? ‘Cause that would be a deal-breakier.

  17. I think Paul’s eye is twitching.

  18. Libertarianism ends at the waters edge. A phrase not to be forgotten (even if one should try).

    1. Apparently not one to be understood, either.

        1. I’m cool with that.

        2. Fucking riot.

        3. Seriously, I feel like Alice talking to the Cheshire Cat right now. None of you address my points but all of you are sure I’m dangerous and wrong.

  19. If we had an actual empire now, we probably wouldn’t be functionally bankrupt now, and gasoline would be good and cheap.

    We’re the biggest dopes of all. We spend all that blood and treasure in foreign lands–and get absolutely nothing in return but a false sense of self-righteousness. At least the British got cheap cotton for their troubles back in the day.

    1. What are you talking about? Gasoline is cheap. Too many people are using $1 a gallon as the baseline price of gasoline, which is insane.

  20. I think the right answer here is that the two sides arguing are right to an extent. Does the US imperialistic presence put a larger target on our backs? Yes, emphatically. We make it easier to recruit, we give reasons to perceive (in cases both justified and unjustified) greivance. However, do I think if we just stuck to our own territory that we would be all hunky-dory without any need to worry about radical Islamist terrorism? No, emphatically no. No matter how we emaciate our global military presence, we still have a cultural imperialism (largely because the people across the globe actually like our cultural products like cutting-edge fetish specific pornography and shitty music). That cultural imperialism cannot be restrained and it doesn’t jive so well certain elements of the PBUH sect.

    So I guess the short answer is that we’re fucked either way and that these things are going to continue ad infinitum until porn and godlessness and reason finally trample over the militaristic ravings of a 7th Century madman.

    1. I should add an epilogue to my point here:

      Eventhough we’re fucked either way (empire vs. no empire), we might as well abandon the whole empire scam if only to save some coin.

      1. Well said, Sudden. Lots of libertarian reasons to eschew foreign entanglements, terrorism being only one small art.

        1. *part

          terrorism as a ‘small art’ could also work in certain contexts.

  21. Here’s one thing I will say that’s on the empire apologist’s side: You don’t just turn it off.

    John thinks it’s very significant that Spain was subject to attack even after they withdrew from Iraq. Well, there is such a thing as revenge, isn’t there?

    If the United States withdrew immediately from its overseas commitments, John is probably correct that attacks would probably not instantly stop. If the Japanese had on December 31st, 1941, said, “Sorry, our bad, we’ll stop now. We’ll just keep the places we already took and call it square, OK?” I don’t think we would have let them.

    There are, in fact, people with grievances against the US. Some of them are imaginary, and some of them are legitimate. And the problem with pulling back from empire is the ones with legitimate grievances. Some of them will say, “Yay, the US is gone! Let’s go play canasta.” But some of them will say, “Let’s get some payback before we call it even.”

    I honestly don’t know what the answer to that problem is.

    1. We know what the answer isn’t… a big Republican dick contest. Bin Laden made it pretty clear that the chest-pounding response to 9/11 was pretty much exactly what he hoped would happen. I think a good start would be not to freak out over everything, that is, be terrified, and make our intelligence gathering as strong as possible. You can’t expect to prevent everything, though. Hopefully we can prevent the really big things.

      1. Right, the worst terrorist attack on American soil was perpetrated on 9/11. Not because of 9/11. They’ll find something to hate us for. Believe you me.

        1. In a way the attack continued long after 9/11 to this day. Bin Laden specifically said he wanted America to spend its treasury on pointless invasions. He took credit for bleeding the soviets dry in Afghanistan and hoped we’d do something similar. The fact that we also invaded Iraq, a completely unrelated country, was probably just gravy.

          1. I wasn’t actually disagreeing with you, Tony, even though it came off that way. I agree wholeheartedly that we’ve only increased the ire of the would-be terrorists with Republican big-dickism. I just wanted to remind everyone that when we talk about post-9/11 terrorism, there was this teensy little act of terrorism that happened before all the post-9/11 underpants and attempted shoe-bombings. So our post-9/11 actions can’t be solely responsible for terrorism.

            Bombing aspirin factories with cruise missiles? Maybe so.

            1. Of course. It’s annoying when 9/11 is treated as some kind of ahistorical event, by both sides.

      2. Right, as if Obama is not engaging in dick measuring with Bush.

    2. Terrorist attacks would not only fail to instantly stop, but they wouldn’t stop, period. They might slow down- not be so prevalent from certain sectors, but the idea that attacks would “stop” is a naive fallacy.

      The idea that people want to blow you up over something other than religious complaints over your troop presence in a given Muslim nation isn’t exactly a novel idea.

      Basically, if I feel your influence, that’s an act of imperialism thus justifying a bomb being planted up your rectum.

  22. Wow, when I read that Americans will be targets for the Avengers, I realized that between Thor and the Scarlet Witch, we’d be toast!

  23. News flash: America was an “empire” from the moment the first indigenous American tribe went to the European settlers and said “we’d kind of like you guys to go home now” and the Europeans said “sorry, but we’re not leaving”.

    It’s odd though: you pretty much never see the surviving indigenous Americans planting bombs or trying to fly airplanes into the Pentagon, and I would argue that they would be far more justified in doing so than these maladjusted Islamic psychopaths.

    1. So we just need to give the a-rabs casinos and firewater?

      1. Only if their genetically inclined to be addicted to such things.

    2. Ah, but we gave them socialism in the form of reservations and the BIA. If you want to really destroy a people, just take care of all their needs.

  24. America is not an “empire”.

    Look at the history of how the Roman empire operated – or the Mongol empire to see what real empires do.

    1. That’s the problem, though. There are now those who believe that by beaming repeated showings of Ishtar is an act of imperialism. I mean, take France, for instance. French cultural elites felt that EuroDisney was a cultural “occupation”.

    2. The Romans spread their empire with spears. The U.S. spreads their empire with money.

      1. Yet we have American spears in over 100 countries.

        The problem is today we rebuild a country after we destroy it. If you want a newly built country on someone elses dime, piss us off so we will invade, smash it up, and rebuild it. Maybe Yemen wants new hospitals, new schools, new bridges, paid by the US taxpayer.

        I keed, I keed.

      2. I’d be okay with the spread of empire by money–if such money involved the exchange of goods via free trade. When the US spreads their empire via money as in more weapons, more troops, more bases–no thank you.

  25. Al-Qaeda is not an organization. It’s an idea and an open-ended set of tactics. Clear it out of Afghanistan ? and it appears in Pakistan or Yemen or New Jersey.

    the author of the original article has finally convinced me:

    U.S. OUT OF NEW JERSEY NOW!!!111!!

  26. FREE THE SHORE!!1!!!

  27. Wow, Reason is inhabited by lots of jingoistic, statist, imperialist trolls isn’t it?

    Once upon a time the USA was a beacon of freedom and liberty amidst the empires and client states of the British, Spanish and other European powers. Unfortunately the US decided to occupy other countries and create its own client states becoming to all intents and purposes an imperial power and has totally undone that.

    Not all Empire is directly run – the British Empire consisted of large areas of supposedly self governing regions with their own rulers (most of India was run like this). This is closer to the US model of imperialism.

    The American government’s actions abroad do not aid the safety of Americans at home or abroad. It makes them a target – that is indisputable.

    Undoubtedly a few radicals would find excuses to commit atrocities whatever, we cannot live in a risk free world, but handing them excuses on a plate and recruiting tools is just plain stupid.

    1. Agreed, Tristan, but international terrorism, being nothing new– screw 9/11– is something that will always be with us. But at some point you have to take sides. What I mean by this is, the U.S. either totaly disengages from the world or we don’t. The moment we don’t, we arguably become a magnet for terrorism. Especially if our engagement of the world carries any weight whatsoever. And if it doesn’t, why then, engage with the world?

    2. Yes, back in those days the British Navy — a (mostly) benevolent force in the world — patrolled the oceans and kept less scrupulous powers from gaining an upper hand in critical regions of the world. So the US was free to be at least rhetorically idealistic without having to worry about rampant piracy on the high seas threatening international trade. Unfortunately, we have to be the bad guys now — the silent protectors, the dark knights.

  28. If we’re running an empire how come we are not taxing europe and south american and asian countries for protecting their trade routes with our Navy? we do it for free, because we benefit indirectly.

    this is just silly. The neighborhood bully picked on us no matter what we did. Not fighting him never stopped him. there are plenty of countries in the world with leaders like that. Becoming isolationist and not pissing them off won’t stop them.

    Clinton tried to force Israel to capitulate to Palestinian demands, it ended in more bloodshed not less.

    Obama has snubbed the Dalai Lama, Poland, and many former allies in order to appease countries that don’t like us. It has not done anything but make us a bigger target.

    we’re a target because we are rich and the biggest, and that will always be so. You cannot help but influence the world no matter what choice you make. Someone will always be pissed off with something you do.

    Really most of you were supposed to learn this sort of human interaction in grade school.

    1. The neighborhood bully?

      Who is the bully if not the most physically powerful guy around?

      1. In my experience, the bully is usually not the most physically powerful guy around — just the one most comfortable with taking what he wants by force, or more often the threat of force.

        Don’t doubt that China or Russia would gladly take the true global bully role on the international stage if we exit left. Both governments have demonstrated more than enough willingness to bully their own people.

    2. we’re a target because we are rich and the biggest, and that will always be so

      No, it won’t. Or do you have insight into a future history that the rest of us don’t?

      1. Past performance is the best predictor of future results.

  29. Is John a talking-point windup toy?

  30. These Islamists are chock full of free-floating hate. Its going to find somewhere to land, and a pretext of some kind will surely follow.

    Lots of them find a place for their hate close to home. Others, for whatever reason, like to go abroad. The ones who like to export hate are naturally going to focus on the countries with the highest profile. That is, us, for now at least.

    If we completely withdrew from the Mideast, would they thank us and quit bothering us? Of course not.

    1. would they thank us and quit bothering us?

      They don’t have to thank us. We can buy their oil and they can buy our operating systems.

      1. You think the terrorists were pissed about the invasion of Iraq? Just wait till we foist Vista on an unsuspecting populace.

        1. “An error has occurred”

    2. You don’t think it would help? They may be brainwashed extremists but not producing, editing, and marketing their propaganda for them might slow the recruiting effort.

  31. The US has invaded more countries, and overthrown more governments, than any other in history and the dolts here can’t even see why the US is considered imperialistic. And, of course, it NEVER does these things out of self-interest–it’s American Exceptionalism, dammit!

    This country is so fucking stupid it deserves its fate.

    1. The British overthrew more governments in Nigeria alone, over a period of 20 years, than the US has overthrown in its entire history. So, no.

  32. “It’s either foreign intervention and retaliatory terrorism or nonintervention and security.”-Richman

    “Someone will always have a grievance. Sometimes those grievances will involve things that shouldn’t be stopped, such as cultural exports or acts of genuine self-defense.

    The issue isn’t whether you can stop everyone on the planet from hating America. It’s whether a foreign policy of entanglement increases or decreases the number of people eager to kill Americans.” – Walker

    Which Richman is arguing that the primary cuase of terrorism is the USA’s foreign policies, without making any judgement about whether those policies made any larger strategic or moral sense outside of offending the sensibilities of certain groups of muslims.

    If our actions will always give someone somewhere cause to have a greivance then we should not let our foreign and trade policies to be determined by trying to eliminate all causes for anyone, anywhere to be offended, but rather by what our moral and strategic goals are leavened by pragmatic realities.

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