As President Obama prepares to launch a military intervention against Syria, anti-war folks will go ballistic about American imperialism. But America is not so much an imperialist as it is a bumbling uncle trying to save his wayward nieces and nephews from their own ruinous tendencies, argues Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in her morning Washington Examiner column. She notes:
Genuine imperialism involves exploiting others for one's own material interests. That's what British colonialists did when they took raw material—minerals, fabrics, cash crops—from Indians at confiscatory rates for their factories back home.
Or when the Soviet Union transported Eastern European assets—coal, industrial equipment, technology, even personnel—to reconstruct the motherland after World War II.
The Soviets received a net transfer of resources from the rest of the Eastern Bloc roughly comparable to what "imperialist" America pumped into Western Europe under the Marshall Plan.
By contrast, America's post-Cold War efforts, with some notable exceptions such as Afghanistan, have been less about promoting its own vital interests and more about protecting others.
None of this means that American foreign policy is good or sensible, however.
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