Foreign Policy

We Were Warned About the Rise of Empire

The warning is all the more relevant today with Iraq being consumed by sectarian violence and calls for renewed U.S. intervention growing louder.


Michael Tapp/Flickr

American critics of U.S. foreign policy (as well as some neoconservative supporters) often refer to the United States as an empire. This is not an emotional outburst but a substantive description of the national government's role in the world. But what exactly is an empire? This question is all the more relevant today with Iraq being consumed by sectarian violence and calls for renewed U.S. intervention there growing increasingly louder.

In 1952 the journalist and novelist Garet Garrett (1878–1954) took up this question in contemplating post-World War II America. The resulting essay, "The Rise of Empire," is included in his anthology, The People's Pottage (PDF). It bears close study today.

Garrett was an important figure in what has come to be known as the "Old Right," an eclectic group of writers and politicians (mostly Republican) who emerged in the 1930s to oppose militarism and the centralization of power under the New Deal. (For a history of the Old Right, see my "New Deal Nemesis: The 'Old Right' Jeffersonians" [PDF].)

Garrett began with this somber message:

We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night; the precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say: "You now are entering Imperium." Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: "Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible." And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: "No U-turns."

If you say there were no frightening omens, that is true. The political foundations did not quake, the graves of the fathers did not fly open, the Constitution did not tear itself up. If you say people did not will it, that also is true. But if you say therefore it has not happened, then you have been so long bemused by words that your mind does not believe what the eye can see, even as in the jungle the terrified primitive, on meeting the lion, importunes magic by saying to himself, "He is not there."

(For evidence that the American empire is older than Garrett thought, see my "Empire on Their Minds.")

The country's institutions may look the same, Garrett wrote, but a "revolution within the form" has occurred:

There is no comfort in history for those who put their faith in forms; who think there is safeguard in words inscribed on parchment, preserved in a glass case, reproduced in facsimile and hauled to and fro on a Freedom Train.

Garrett next proceeded to carefully isolate the characteristics of empire. After examining Rome's transition from republic to empire, he wondered,

If you may have Empire with or without a constitution, even within the form of a republican constitution, and if also you may have Empire with or without an emperor, then how may the true marks of Empire be distinguished with certainty? What are they?

Republics, he said, can make war, conquer territory, and even acquire colonies, depending on how one defines the term, so "let us regard the things that belong only to empire, and set them down. Then we shall see."

He came up with five traits:

(1) Rise of the executive principle of government to a position of dominant power,

(2) Accommodation of domestic policy to foreign policy,

(3) Ascendancy of the military mind,

(4) A system of satellite nations for a purpose called collective security, and,

(5) An emotional complex of vaunting and fear.

It's easy to see how closely this fits the United States today. For a long time, the executive branch has been the dominant branch of government. For example, as Garrett noted, the war power has moved entirely into the hands of the president, despite the Constitution's language and Congress's half-hearted attempt to hold on to some power with the War Powers Resolution. Since the Korean War, it's the president who decides when the country goes to war. (Even when Barack Obama tossed the question of bombing Syria to Congress last year, he and others maintained that he had the unilateral power to act if he wanted to.) During the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, lawyers inside and outside the government spun broad theories of autocratic executive authority over national security based entirely on the apparently thin Article II of the Constitution.

Garrett wrote that the "aggrandizement of the executive principle of government" occurred by congressional delegation, reinterpretation of the language of the Constitution, innovation, the appearance of administrative agencies, usurpation, and increasing involvement in foreign affairs. This last is especially relevant, because the executive can always assert that foreign policy cannot be made by 535 members of Congress.

The subordination of domestic policy to foreign policy is accomplished by claiming that without national security, nothing else matters. So domestic concerns must take a back seat to foreign affairs. The national-security establishment's sheer demand for goods and services—which produces the military-industrial complex—diverts the economy from serving consumers to serving the state. As long as the president can keep the people in fear of foreign enemies, he can justify the transfer of resources from the private sector to the government sector. It is too easy for the executive to answer any challenge by playing the "I know things that you don't know" card. As Garrett wrote,

It needs hardly to be argued that as we convert the nation into a garrison state to build the most terrible war machine that has ever been imagined on earth, every domestic policy is bound to be conditioned by our foreign policy.

One need only look around to see evidence of the "ascendancy of the military mind." Not even a looming fiscal crisis prompts a serious reconsideration of America's far-flung military presence or its putative "interests" everywhere. Reverence for the military intrudes on everyday life; one cannot watch a ballgame or even a televised cooking competition without being subjected to sappy expressions of gratitude for supposed "service to our country." Americans did not always have a worshipful disposition toward the military.

As in Garrett's time, satellite nations are today called "allies." Americans are not only obliged to cough up billions of dollars each year in armaments and cash to support those alliances, they also must be prepared to go to war to defend countries throughout the world. In his recent speech at West Point, Obama included the defense of allies in his definition of America's "core interests." Thus the American people are on call should most of Europe up to the Russian border, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and other nations find themselves threatened—even if  their own conduct provoked the alleged threat.

Garrett's phrase "an emotional complex of vaunting and fear" couldn't better apply to today's America. Government officials beat their chests in describing how powerful, exceptional, and indispensable America is for the world. No one, they say, can challenge America's dominance and leadership in the world. Yet at the same time they advise Americans to fear Islamic terrorism, China, Russia, Latin American drug lords, and sundry other threats. That's vaunting and fear.

Finally, Garrett made a point that is entirely relevant today: "a time comes when Empire finds itself—a prisoner of history." A republic, Garrett wrote, can determine its own history. "But the history of Empire is world history and belongs to many people."

We've all heard presidents say that America's responsibilities to the world have been thrust upon it and cannot be avoided. It is not a matter of choice. That's the doctrine which Garrett had in mind:

What is it that now obliges the American people to act upon the world?

As you ask that question the fear theme plays itself down and the one that takes its place is magnifical. It is not only our security we are thinking of — our security in a frame of collective security. Beyond that lies a greater thought.

It is our turn.

Our turn to do what? Garrett nails the political establishment's reply, which is calculated to awe Americans into blind compliance:

Our turn to assume the responsibilities or moral leadership in the world.

Our turn to maintain a balance of power against the forces of evil everywhere — in Europe and Asia and Africa, in the Atlantic and in the Pacific, by air and by sea — evil in this case being the Russian barbarian. [This is especially pertinent now.]

Our turn to keep the peace of the world.

Our turn to save civilization.

Our turn to serve mankind.

But this is the language of Empire.

We're told, however, that American empire is unique because it is dedicated to freedom and peace. This claim cannot withstand scrutiny: look at the regimes American administrations have supported and support today. But Garrett said that even if this claim were granted, the case for empire would be self-defeating because its price is bankruptcy.

So even if "this is Imperialism of the Good Intent," he wrote, it would also have to be the "Empire of the Bottomless Purse."

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

NEXT: Iraq: Pentagon Sends Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf

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  1. Tone down the scare quotes.

      1. I’ve had it up to here with your “rules”

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    1. Sarcastic quotes need better representation in modern media.

  2. I presume H&R automatically goes to a second page afer 15 paragraphs?

    1. Looks to be the case at the breaks between 1&2 as well as 2&3. Well noticed.

    2. Bring back the single page button!

      You can almost always add “/singlepage” (with apologies to Acosmist) to a URL to convert multipage to single page, but the button was handy.

      1. Mostly OT: Anybody know what CMS Reason uses? Is it a homebrew, or is it like EE or Drupal or something?

      2. I’m a fan of right-clicking ‘print’ and reading the actual article in a second pane.

        Call me crazy

        1. That’s what I usually do, too.

  3. Trigger warning failure: It is too soon after 9/11/01 to show any tall building with an airliner in the same frame.

  4. Is Richman an actual retard or does he just play one on the internet? The country may go bankrupt but it won’t be because of empire. It will be because of socialism.

    1. It’s not either/or, bankruptcy could come from both.

      Empire has traditionally been a great drain on a country’s resources.

      1. No colonialism was. The problem with half worts like Richman is that he distorts the meanings of words to such a degree they are meaningless. His problem is that he is too stupid to make a reasoned case against military intervention So avoids the argument by inventing meaningless terms like empire and makes emotional appeals that have no relation to the actual situation.

        These questions are hard. Do we do nothing and risk oil going to $200 a barrel and the creation of a terrorist state inIraq or do we prevent that but at what cost and for what long term end? Sheldon doesn’t know and he is too stupid and dishonest to even try to figure it out.

        It is not that I think the answer is always intervention. I don’t. It is just that people like Richman insult my intelligence by pretending there is some fantasy option available.

        Richman is actually worse than Chapman. I never read a single interesting or relevant point in his writing.

        1. Their country, their oil; what makes you think you get any say in how they handle it?

          And what makes you think oil prices will rise? Saddam invading Kuwait was replacing one dictator with another, both with the same goal: sell oil. Same with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and all countries with oil: any rebellions or invasions will all maintain the same policy: sell oil.

          1. Actually Saddam had even more reason to sell oil then Kuwait, Iraq was deep in debt and had a large population to support.

            1. That sounds familiar…

              1. That was part of Noam Chomsky’s calculus that Saddam was not a threat to anybody in the West. Not tagging anybody here with being a Chomskyite, of course.

                1. Saddam was trying to sell Iraq’s oil for something other than dollars and that was a threat that the US could not tolerate.

                  1. Saddam was trying to sell Iraq’s oil for something other than dollars and that was a threat that the US could not tolerate.

                    Which period are you talking about? When he was under sanctions after the first intervention he was limited in trading oil for dollars as part of his surrender agreement. The whole “food for oil” jazz. What was found intolerable was trading oil for dollars.

                    1. In 2002 he was trying to trade oil for euros.

                    2. Extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.

                    3. That does not demonstrate that the US invaded Iraq over currency. Try again. Or just give up and cut your losses.

          2. Looks like quite a quibble over who’s the “they” in “their”.

          3. No it is not ‘their’ oil they just happen to live with it. Remember, a free nation has absolute right to invade, annex, or otherwise induce regime change in an unfree nation so long as the changed nation is freer afterwards. Not that America should do this, but it has every right. Granted, Iraq is not a tyranny (thanks to Merica) but ISIS is.

            1. If all government is inherently aggressive, and all people have natural rights to be free from aggression, then they can ask for support if they are unfree, but nobody has the inherent right to invade their country, kill them, and destroy their property, and then subject them to a different kind of tyranny.

              Since no government is without their tyrannies, only the people can decide whether they tolerate it or not. We can’t decide for others whether our tyranny is more free than theirs.

              1. Since no government is without their tyrannies, only the people can decide whether they tolerate it or not.

                What? False equivalence aside, this is a non-sequitor.

            2. Define “free nation” and “absolute right”. Denmark is a lot freer than us when it comes to drug laws. Do they have an absolute right to come free our drug prisoners from our tyranny?

              I do not believe nations have “rights” in the first place; they have powers and authority. Only people have rights. If I don’t like the way my neighbor runs his house, that doesn’t give me the right to go take it over. It’s up to the other people who live there to decide how they will be “governed”. Carving out exemptions to the non-aggression principle when it is convenient is a bit of a slippery slope.

            3. Sure they do, and I’m sure you were almost first in line to volunteer to deploy over there to help exercise this nation’s “rights”.

              What’s that? You weren’t? Then shut the fuck up, pussy.

              Not only are you a coward, you’re also an idiot for claiming that a government has rights.

        2. Do we do nothing and risk oil going to $200 a barrel and the creation of a terrorist state inIraq

          You should put your keen ability to predict the future to some productive use like making money on the stock market instead of justifying pointless military adventures that only cause destruction.

        3. We can avoid the term “imperialism” and speak instead of “massive expensive intervention.” Just because we’re not conquering the places which we’re protecting at our own expense, sparing them the trouble, doesn’t mean it isn’t expensive. And committing to defend particular countries (or regimes) can result in highly expensive wars.

          1. By all means, then, go to the question of “it’s bankrupting us,” versus “no, this is too important, let’s cut domestic spending instead.”

            But let’s acknowledge that foreign commitments (avoiding the term “empire”) can help put us in the red, and threatens the economy. So it’s a balance of the internal threat to economic health versus the supposedly urgent need to protect other countries.

            1. I’m not saying have a rhetorical battle between “cut foreign spending” and “cut domestic spending,” where nobody actually cuts anything, and the references to spending cuts are simply excuses to defend one’s own preferred spending (“why pick on our essential programs?”).

              But it’s not either/or…it’s why people talk about a welfare/warfare state. Bread and circuses at home, adventurism abroad.

              1. And there’s the other problems mentioned not only by Richman, but by Garrett’s prophetic analysis, such as unconstitutional Presidential exercises of power.

                1. This is the root of the problem.

            2. Screw protecting other countries. That is straight up altruism and the cause of wars and statism.

              The citizens of America pay big dollars for a military to protect US–you and me. The other countries need to take care of themselves unless they are helping us fight our enemies–like, arguably, Israel today.

          2. We can avoid the term “imperialism” and speak instead of “massive expensive intervention.”

            That’s not an accurate description of the current situation, however.

            One feature of empires, which was not mentioned in the article, is that the imperial power is an exogenous source of law imposed on ruled nations.

            Which the US is doing today. We’ve recently seen this with the US compelling ‘sovereign’ nations to comport with our banking laws. This has also been a feature of the drug wars and environmental regulations

            1. I hadn’t thought about that.

              And come to think of it, there’s the pressure to adopt certain laws in the name of “human rights,” including, since it came up, laws to legalize abortion.

            2. Has the US invaded Uruguay for legalizing MJ? No it hasn’t so this is bullshit.

        4. A $200 per bbl price makes domestic US production profitable almost anywhere that oil has ever been discovered here, or will ever be discovered anywhere.

          1. Assuming that the jackasses in government will let people take it out of the ground.

        5. Well, I agree with John in principle. Empire does not automatically mean that the empirial power will go bankrupt. In fact, old school empires used the resources of the ruled to pay the costs of maintaining the empire. The Roman empire, for example, lasted 600 years in the west and 800 more in the east.

          However, America’s governing class is singularly retarded by historical standards. They are squandering the benefits of empire on religious obsessions – fairness, equality, absolute safety, environmental puritanism etc.; which have negative utility in that they make the country poorer and less capable.

          So it’s fair to say that America’s empire will lead to it’s ‘bankruptcy’.

          1. Those things will bankrupt us regardless the issue is not empire it is our political class retardation about the things you mention.

            1. Yes I agree, however, empire gives the political class a lot more rope so to speak. Absent the world wide demand for dollars, which is an integral part of America’s imperialism, our economy would already have collapsed from their insanity. And that’s before even considering the level of deficit spending that has become the norm over the last six years.

        6. Do we do nothing and risk oil going to $200 a barrel…

          With the petro dollar arrangement, $200 a barrel oil would just create more demand for dollars and work to strengthen the America’s financial position vis a vis the rest of the world.

          It would cause great damage to the domestic economy, but it should be obvious to anyone paying attention that our rulers don’t give a shit about the US domestic economy anymore.

    2. Ridiculous! You must have not calculated the true cost of war, security, etc…plus the debt and interest required to finance it.

      When you have finished that (this figure would total well higher than 15 TRILLION since 2000) – you can add the cost of lost civilian productivity based on sending our young people all over the world to hold ground.

      Cost of Socialism? Do you mean public schools?

      1. Cost of Socialism? Do you mean public schools?

        A huge portion of national expenditures goes toward social programs, and you know it. This country has become increasingly socialist since FDR (a progressive who used “liberal” as a euphemism to hide his progressivism). Social needs is the main excuse given for the national government’s intervention into state and local areas of governance–like public schools.

        Socialism (along with military adventurism) is the main reason that our national government is bankrupt. It has produced similar effects across Europe (both East and West), China and Japan. You may run from the word but it is here and very prominent. You can keep your faux surprise to yourself.

        1. “You can keep your faux surprise to yourself”

          False equivalency, a basic construct of the far right.

          There is a vast difference between Ike building the Interstate Highway System, Clinton/Gore building out the internet, the Space Program, Public Education, Disease Control, Help for the Poor, etc.


          Killing People and dumping material over a cliff.
          (war mongering).

          When you figure it out, get back to me.

          1. The difference is that one requires a use of force whereas the other starts with the threat of the use of force.

            1. No one is truly that stupid as to ditto that “taxes at the point of a gun” stuff, so I’ll assume you just were drunk or stoned.

              Let’s take when you are more rational.

              1. If you are in the minority in this country and are a net producer (i.e., you pay more in taxes than what you get back), I challenge you to discontinue paying those taxes and see what occurs. While they will first confiscate your assets it WILL involve force if you attempt to stop the confiscation. I suppose if you insulate yourself enough from the dirty deeds it ends up feeling more clinical than being a bad thing.

                I appreciate the multiple pseudo ad hominems as well as subtle suggestion I’m a Limbaugh puppet.

                Assuming you are in Massachusetts, let me ask you this: when your state voted to lower personal income taxes in 2000 there were over one million people that voted against it. But afterwards only about 17,000 still paid the higher tax. Did you vote against the lower tax and if you did do you still pay the higher rate?

                1. Let’s talk more recent history. We had “libertarian” ballot questions recently to do away with our state income tax – which would have been quite a VAST savings for me and many others.

                  It went down 70% to 30%. In other words, people voted to keep the 5.3% income tax…..


                  I know that runs contrary to collecting taxes with guns . Let me explain it to you. MA is one of the most educated states in the USA. People know how to count. Just that is a great improvement over many places where people think $$ is pulled out of someone else’s arse.

                  As far as me challenging the system like your hero Shiff, that’s about as intelligent as protesting against road taxes by wandering into the oncoming lanes on a major highway.

                  Or, protesting against cops and for gun carrying by walking up near some and brandishing the weapon.

                  Chumby, look at it this way. Anytime you have to go to extremes or use them as an example to buttress your world view – it’s time to sit down and think a little bit.

                  1. So you voted against the decrease in 2000 but you pay the lower tax.

                    Voting on taxes and the methods of collecting them are completely different things. Again, choose not to pay and refuse to cede your belongings when then come for them to cover your taxes. The exams isn’t extreme, though the government methods are.

                    If folk know how to count in Mass, where are all those children that Duvall Patrick lost? Isn’t it over one hundred in State protection can’t be accounted for?

                    The rest of your post is prettying straw man. Not sure too many folks equate brandishing a weapon in front of a police officer to open carrying. Except those that self ordain themselves as educated and able to count.

                    1. Yes, your diatribe is very intelligent.

                      The Gov. should have been attached by a chain to every child in the state and followed them around.

                      Let me know when you get one ounce of reason or logic. As it stands, I’ll assume you cried “uncle” on your argument due to having to fish something about missing children out of your arse.

                    2. So we have likely established that you voted against a tax decrease yet file using the lower rate.

                      Regarding the kids, you mentioned how folks in Mass are good at counting and implied they like having higher taxes (with an implication that one gets more and better services as a result). So I provided an example of how (1) folks in Mass are having significant issues counting and (2) higher taxes don’t result in better services. How could a progressive like Duvall Patrick do so poorly for so many kids when he has tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to prevent those things from happening. I was responding to what you wrote. As for your assertion I have abandoned the original premise regarding taxes, it actually helps it since tens of billions of tax dollars in the hands of the nanny state equals hundreds of children missing from a nanny state program.

  5. But Garrett said that even if this claim were granted, the case for empire would be self-defeating because its price is bankruptcy.


    The real problem with empire is that it is incompatible with liberty.

  6. Ha ha.

    Naturally missing from this minor and obscure right-wing tool’s list of signs of empire:

    6) An entrenched class of billionaires whose capture of the political process and undermining of democracy ensures congenital, profitable war.

    How about reviewing an actual authority on empire from the era? From Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC’s “War Is A Racket”, 1935:

    “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902?1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

    I guess a discussion of Butler is too much to ask from a pet website of heavily-subsidized oil billioniares.

  7. Richman has been warning against Middle East interventionism since the 1970s, as did the Poole-era reason magazine. Too bad no one in power listened to these “morons.”

  8. Nice. Romney is on Meet the Press saying we should have just told Maliki “Fuck you, buddy, we’re not going anywhere.”

    Because we were there to guarantee the freedom of the Iraqi people, or something.

  9. Lindsay Graham kicked the Tea Party’s ass.

    So we’ve got that going for us.

  10. I guess a discussion of Butler is too much to ask from a pet website of heavily-subsidized oil billioniares.


    1. So: yes, it is too much to ask?

      That’s what I thought.

    2. I wonder how much longer an internal combustion engine with hardened valve seats would last with good old leaded gasoline.

      1. And a return to zinc additives in the oil!

  11. //We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire.

    now we haven’t. We don’t OWN any other countries that owe us tribute or taxes or resources on threat of more violence.

    //t you cannot make a single stroke between day and night

    even his metaphor is shitty. You actually can pinpoint a moment: it’s called the sunrise, the moment the sun appears on the horizon. The environment gets light beforehand but the sun still appears on the horizon at one moment. Learn fucking science.

    //He came up with five traits:

    In other words, a list that has NOTHING to do with what the actual meaning of “empire” is

    //(1) Rise of the executive principle of government to a position of dominant power,

    Extremely vague phrase which may not even apply to our country. One of our biggest problems is the removal of power from anyone in authority via 100,000+ pages of laws on the federal register. Anybody remember the story that the guys who wanted to redo the bayonne bridge couldn’t even figure out how to fill out all the permits necessary?

    //(2) Accommodation of domestic policy to foreign policy,

    Again, vague, and may not even apply to our country. The only “accomodation” is perhaps our huge military budget, but all our domestic shit is in its own fucked up realm.

    //(3) Ascendancy of the military mind,

    I wish. Our nation is half full of pansies who wouldn’t even shoot a terrorist to save their kids, and would subsequently blame George Bush after the terrorist does kill them

    1. – (3) Ascendancy of the military mind

      Uhm…. No.

      Human-on-dolphin sex is not really that weird
      Tracy Clark-Flory Saturday, Jun 14, 2014 07:00 PM EST

      I could have just posted, “” but that seemed more apropos for some reason

    2. It’s a classic prog tactic: a vague ‘problem’ that is impossible to disprove so it is always there to ‘fight’.

      ‘American Empire’ = ‘rape culture’ for libertarian foreign policy

      1. 🙂 that’s pretty good.

        The term ’empire’ is just a vague, amorphous “evil-feely” rhetorical device. If anything, its appealing to people’s childhood ‘Star Wars’ memories more than their rational understanding of geopolitics.

        Even were we to accept his bullshit claim of ’empire’ …

        (which i don’t, even by the terms he lays out above, which maybe score 1.5 out of 5, *at best*)

        … one wonders = were the major historical ’empires’ really all that bad for everyone involved?

        I think its been unpopular to say that ’empires promoted progress and peace’ for at least half a century. But there may be some truth to that. but that’s completely besides the point, considering that *there is no American empire* any more than we are immersed in a ubiquitous Rape Culture, as you point out.

        1. You raise an excellent point. Libertarians should really cut back on the bitching about empire. The British Empire was the greatest force for freedom and civilization the world has ever seen.

          1. Just ask the Irish.

  12. //(4) A system of satellite nations for a purpose called collective security, and,

    Again, vague, but to the extent we have that, it is not a bad idea and does help us maintain military might. We have bases in various places around the world, which makes mobilization that much faster. What country wouldn’t want that? I encourage every sane first-world country to do the same

    //(5) An emotional complex of vaunting and fear.

    again vague, but ultimately bullshit. Being concerned about legitimate threats is not an “emotional complex”, it’s rational. The world has dangers in it and it’s not unreasonable to be concerned about them and what to do about them. This is called “part of being alive”

  13. Again, Richman fails to discuss the essential issue.

    The only moral purpose of government is to protect the individual rights and freedom of its citizens. If other entities threaten or violate citizens individual rights then it is the moral obligation of the government to respond with force toward those threats.

    The US government acted morally in fighting the Civil War. The Southern Aristocracy and they threatened the unity of the country in order to continue their violation of individual rights. In late 1941 the Japanese attacked and killed Americans and destroyed the country’s weapons of self-defenses. It was the moral obligation of the US government to eliminate the Japanese threat and those who would support them–Germany & Italy. After 911, it was the moral obligation of the government to eliminate the threat to its citizens by destroying those who perpetrated and supported the attack. Thirteen years later, the government has not met that moral obligation, but instead devolved into another altruist motivated conflict that does nothing to secure or liberty and individual rights. Further rights violation by the US government have indeed been imposed–especially institutionalizing the complete abrogation of the 4th Amendment.

    Screw this talk of imperialism and Empires. It is completely wrong headed. Richman’s insight to the obvious–these conflicts are used to increase the power of the state–are of little use if the underlying analysis is faulty. His is.

    1. yeah I say, (and honestly any rational country already would have) don’t send any troops, just drive our warships up the the coasts of the middle east, and just fire unendingly at their cities and infrastructure until we get surrender. Why send any of our guys to die? They want to kill us, and we need to convince them to come out of this mentality. Few things are so simple.

      1. Drones, smartly guided missiles or what ever. The point is if the enemy is clearly identified and the goal set, the military experts can decide how best to accomplish the mission.

        God, this seems simple…

      2. Edwin baby. . .

        May I just say. . .

        You’re a cunt. 😀

  14. Sheldon Richman is an idiot.

    Why do they let him keep phoning in the same gibberish? We got the message at least a few years ago. All he does these days is borrow things other people said and rearrange them to re-write the same piece again.

    1. He’s like a version of Shikhia that can’t write and can’t actually cite any real evidence. Like mirror universe Shikhia. Maybe the other writers want someone to make them look good with Riggs gone?

      Can we get a non-retarded Reason writer to write about FP? Ron Bailey had some really interesting things to say years ago. He wasn’t part of the Nonintervention Cult.

      1. “Can we get a non-retarded Reason writer to write about FP?”

        I second the motion.

        Maybe Bryan Suits? A former military guy who has non-interventiony feelings might be better suited at actually ‘making sense’ about limiting our excursions abroad.

        I would agree far more often with non-interventionists if the proponents of the view weren’t screaming retards like Richman

        1. Ooooh! Oooooooooh!

          Let’s get a romance novelist to write articles in the fashion of trashy porn!

          1. You think having been in the military *disqualifies* a person from having a POV about ‘military intervention’?

            What’s your point?

            1. No, I was serious.

              A trashy romance story once or twice a week would really liven this place up.

              You’re kinda. . .sensitive, huh?

              1. non-sequitur =/= response to me

                1. You were talking about hiring new writers. I want a trashy sex novella. These things are related.

                  So shut up.

                  Jeez. I’m starting to get why the others bitch about you.

              2. Your Hired.

      2. Maybe David Friedman?

  15. An important marker on this journey was FDR’s decision to “freeze” Japan’s assets and impose a navy blockade on Japan Ito enforce a July 1941 order banning sales of oil to Japan. The US Navy Pacific Fleet was based in Pearl Harbor (Hawaii was not yet a State).

    FDR’s statement that the Japanese attack on the US Navy in Pearl Harbir was “unprovoked” was a bald faced lie. It was a logical consequence of US aggression against Japan.

    Now we are using the same approach with Iran, expecting that freezing a country’s assets and imposing trade sanctions will bring the country to its knees and result in a different outcome.

    1. Of course, you are correct – but when you are the bully and have a vast moat about you, you quickly realize that you don’t want other nations to be similar to you. Japan had desires to be just like we are (you know, taking over central america, pushing mexico back, taking Hawaii and Alaska, etc.)……..but in the eyes of the American empire this cannot stand.

      Only one nation – and it must be white and christian – can rule the world at one time.

      This is really nothing new. I think the Mexican War and then the Spanish-American War set the tone.

      At this point it’s not the “rise” of Empire. It’s the question of whether we want it (to what degree).

      1. Are you Richman’s retarded sidekick? Every word you say is retarded.

      2. Craig baby. . .

        May I just say. . .

        You’re a cunt. 😀

      3. craiginmass said. “Only one nation – and it must be white and christian – can rule the world at one time.”

        You are a racist, Nazi cunt. That is all.


        1. Only true “libertarians” could read a post about American Empire, make comments about it – and, then, when someone agrees but is not “one of them” turn to cursing and attacks to make their point. Your true colors are quite clear to all.

          A serious question.

          Do you read history?

          If so, could you please give a summary of our taking over the Phillipines in the Spanish-American war and our treatment of the people there – as well as how well they have done under our thumb.

          After you do that, we’ll talk…..

          Here’s the first assignment:

          “Immediately orders were received from General Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight; which was done to a finish. About 1,000 men, women and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger “

          1. Here’s your homework assignment craiginmass. Find on instance where a government was not involved in the loss of human life, or the destruction of property.

            Then we will talk. =)

            1. Because they did it, we should do it too, right?

    2. Bullshit. Not trading with a nation =/= ‘aggression’. Imperial Japan had long had eyes for Hawaii and FDR was right to put the squeeze on them.

      1. Fine comment as long as you stand behind our continual genocides in Central America as well as our general enslavement of their populations (by taking the valuable land, trade routes, etc.)…for our benefit.

        If that’s the case, you are 100% correct.
        But it’s ALL part of Empire. Why would you say we deserve Hawaii? Because we “Empired it” first?

        Here’s the shore history i.e. EMPIRE:
        “In the late 19th century the dominant White minority overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom and founded a brief Republic that was finally annexed by the United States”

      2. “Not trading with a nation =/= ‘aggression'”

        But enforcing sanctions are an act of aggression.

  16. Empires facilitate trade. With the decline of the Roman Empire trade declined precipitously and the world was poorer for it.

    So is the American Empire worth it for America? Probably not. Is it worth it for the world? See the decline of Communist ambitions.

    The next question will who will fill the power vacuum if America declines its empire? Will it be a good thing? Will we have Great Wars to settle the question? Will those wars be worth it? Probably not.

    Interesting times.

    1. Name the satellite states in the American Empire, please.

      Otherwise you’re playing Star Wars.

    2. The Roman Empire did not facilitate trade. It doled out trade to various rich nobles, excluding the local population’s that it dominated. It also used slave labor to undercut farmers, forcing them to sell their land’s to the same rich connected nobles who profited from slave labor.

      1. And trade declined with the end of empire.

      2. Ya know why they had slaves? Because they refused to let people build farm tractors.

  17. Country A gives money to country B in order for country B to buy weapons/training to protect itself from country C. Country A makes country B sign a contract that country B can only buy weapons/training from “Widgetco” TM, and training from country A’s military. “Widgetco” TM, a company located in country A gets large orders/makes a profit/creates jobs. Does country A have an interest in keeping country B, and country C fighting each other?

    1. This is why “Nation Building” in our modern era does not work.

  18. According to the Fiction Writer, Empire is the natural state of civilized white man….

    So that’s the view from on-high. Any conquering of peoples who can be declared to be “not using their lands to our standards” is fair game….

    From Ayn…..

    “Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”

    Well, it’s not too hard to see that’s a White Supremacist statement. Basically, it says “we have no responsibility for TEACHING other humans the positive efforts of white folks, but it’s fine to take over their domiciles and use them for our own benefit”…

    It’s hard to argue that the Fiction Writer thought anything other than Might=Right

    1. Well first off you are making an assumption that all Libertarians base their philosophy on Ayn Rand, so calling her “The fiction writer” is ineffective as an insult.

      Lame troll is lame.

      By using Ayn Rand quotes to argue against statism, nation building, and empire build you are doing all the work for me. =)

  19. Well, perhaps you can give me a figure who is more exalted and quoted in the realm of true libertarian thought and I’ll do my research.

    As it stands, all the political candidates and institutions who claim the mantle name their schools after the Fiction Writer. They don’t seem to be quoting Ghandi, MLK or others to any degree.

    Yes, I know about the Economists…..
    However, despite the libertarians rants, there is much more to life than economics.

    It seems that modern pols and industrialists are cherry-picking the philosophy for the parts which allow them to make more money or gain more political power, but passing over many of the foundations.

    So you guys don’t consider Objectivism to be central to the libertarian world view?

    I see a lot of running away from positions here – when they are actually pressed.

    1. Albert J. Nock
      Frederic Bastiat
      Murray Rothbard
      Friedrich Hayek
      H.L. Mencken
      I’m also including Khalil Gibran.
      There you go craiginmass.

  20. Mencken!

    I read a long bio of him. He’s a satirist!

    I guess I’ll look up the others, but that’s a bad start.

    Next thing you know, you’ll be suggesting “craigimass” as a Libertarian read…. 🙂

    Is Howard Stern also on the list? I think he espouses a similar philosophy of social criticism.

    1. Do whatever you want. That’s part of being “At Liberty”.

      1. OK, then, since Howard is the King of All Media, I hereby appoint him King of all LIbertarians.

        1. Well, I read through the comments section, and craiginmass once again proves himself to be a fucking dipshit and a half-wit.

          I think he believes he wins because not many people even bother replying to him.

          1. Ah, C’mon, Paul…

            You have to admit that claiming Mencken as a leader of Libertarian thought is a joke….

            I too – when I was young- bought into “schools of thought” somewhat like libertarianism. Then I had actually experiences. It changes things….

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