|White House / Pete Souza|
|President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai meet in an arrival ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 28.|
The American Empire is alive and well—and as expansive as ever. We have established more than 700 military bases across the world, largely encircling the peripheries of Russia and China, which are now central to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The Cold War in the aftermath of World War II drove the expansion as we searched for security—and markets, to be sure.
Perhaps we now are the largest imperial power the world ever has known. Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan trivializes the once-massive naval and air facility at Cam Ranh Bay during the Vietnam War, and we have developed “permanent” mega-bases in Iraq. We engage in denial, and euphemisms abound. Stumping for the colonial takeover of the Philippines in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, so fashionable today, insisted that “there is not an imperialist in the country. … Expansion? Yes. … Expansion has been the law of our national growth.” Chalmers Johnson reminds us of Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s liberal “idealist imperialism,” which would make the world safe for democracy. (See Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic” and other works.) Deceit comes from the top.