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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:38 PM
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This Third American Empire (seeking input)
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This is very rough. Any and all input would be greatly appreciated.

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There have been three American empires since the creation of this nation. Each has fed the other, and each has been established and fortified by war, and more importantly, by the vast profits derived by the few in the making of war.

The first American empire began with the conclusion of the Civil War. All the states east of the Mississippi River had been brought by force back under the rule of the federal government, a national taxation system had been established to provide revenues to that government, and the nascent outlines of what Eisenhower described as the military/industrial complex had been built by the lucrative contracts handed out to arm, clothe and feed the military.

For many years prior, Americans had been pushing into the western lands occupied by native peoples. Under the banner of Manifest Destiny, the military/economic machine created to fight the Confederacy pushed its way to the Pacific Ocean. In the process, the vast majority of Native Americans were erased from the book of history, a book that is always written by the victors.

The boundaries of this first empire were limited to the 48 continental states, but it did not long stay this way. By the time Woodrow Wilson assumed the presidency, the first American empire had expanded to include Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Imperial footholds had been established in South America and East Asia. While other global empires were on the wane the Spanish empire was essentially dissolved with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, while the French and British empires were being attacked and slowly rolled back this first American empire became more muscular with each passing day.

The transition between the first and second American empires began on April 2nd, 1917, when newly re-elected President Wilson reversed his campaign theme of staying out of the European conflict and asked congress for a declaration of war against Germany. Previously, Americans had defined themselves in no small part by being separated from the troubles of the Old World. When the doughboys shipped out, however, that line of demarcation was crossed.

Despite the eventual victory in Europe, the second American empire took many more years to flower and flourish. American armies and navies were essentially dismantled in the aftermath of the War to End All Wars, and the 1930s saw the near-collapse of the American economic system. The advent of and eventual victory in World War II not only cemented the second empire, but resurrected and forever changed the fundamental underpinnings of the American economy. From that victory to now, the American economy has been based centrally on preparation for and fighting of wars.

By the end of World War II, the influence of the second American empire stretched throughout Europe to the borders of the new foe, the Soviet empire. Strongholds of the second American empire could be likewise found in Africa, the Japanese mainland and many Pacific islands and, with the creation of the state of Israel, the strategically-vital Middle East. American corporations which had built the victorious war machine swam in an ocean of profits. The military/industrial complex was about to become the dominant force in domestic and global commerce, conflict and social structure.

The central reality of the second American empire was the Cold War, a death struggle between two competing ideologies waged across the width and breadth of the planet. The icy staring contest at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin stood a grim counterpoint to the hot blood spilled in proxy wars fought in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere. American and Soviet arms dealers salted the world with millions of conventional weapons to aid these proxy fights.

All the while, larger and more powerful nuclear weaponry was developed by both sides, deployed across the globe, and aimed with deadly intent. On several occasions, most prominently during the Cuban Missile Crisis, these dragons came within inches of shipping the leash. The production of these weapons left uncounted tons of waste behind.

The roots of the third American empire were planted deep in this time. At home, the populace became accustomed to existing in a perpetual state of war. The establishment of the Truman Doctrine by men like Paul Nitze created the foundations for an enduring reality: Americans are most easily governed when they are made to fear the strangers over there across the horizon.

Profits from contracts for the development and deployment of weaponry became profitable on an epic scale. The military/industrial complex came to own whole swaths of the American political spectrum on both sides of the aisle, and attached itself umbilically to the petroleum industry as a matter of basic expediency. One cannot fight wars without an abundance of oil and gasoline, and after a fashion, the means and the ends became indistinguishable.

The fall of the second American empire came slowly. Millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the large-scale death empire required. The Vietnam War ended with images of Americans fleeing from rooftops in helicopters. A president was required to resign his office or face removal and imprisonment. A 1950s-era chess move in Iran resulted in the 1979 Islamic revolution and the daily humiliation of America by masked gunmen pointing rifles at blindfolded hostages. The CIA, long the sharp saber of American foreign policy, was broken by the Church Committee. Gasoline became brutally expensive and the American economy struck yet another reef. The American populace, by and large, fell into what could be called a mass depression, described by the last president of the second American empire as malaise.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the third American empire came into being, but a hockey game will suffice as a marker. On February 2, 1980, the American Olympic hockey team came from nowhere to defeat the unbeatable Soviet squad in Lake Placid. The subsequent eruption of nationalistic fervor, augmented by the American squads victory over Finland in the final round to capture the gold medal, led to an outpouring of public emotion that no sporting event had ever created.

It was at Lake Placid that the now-familiar chant of U.S.A.! U.S.A.! was born. The American people had been well-trained during the second empire to expect being on top, and the years prior to Lake Placid had been hard. Something so simple as a win on that ice was enough to strike sparks again, to ignite the long fuse that has been this third American empire. The American people were mesmerized by the vision of their flag rising next to but just a little higher than the red Soviet banner. It was their first taste of what would become a long and uninterrupted stretch of total global dominance.

The central aspect of this third American empire has been the rise of the movement conservative. Not to be confused with the breed of conservative that included Nixon and Rockefeller, the movement conservatives held American nationalism and evangelical Christianity as a dual-headed state religion. They spurn concepts of dtente and international cooperation. They were and remain radicals in every sense of the word, seeking to deconstruct the American social state that had been in place since the days of FDR.

Ronald Reagan, the first president of this third empire, was the avatar of these movement conservatives, who first began to become an organized entity in American politics during the campaign of Barry Goldwater. Reagan was their perfect man: Confident to a fault, dedicated to the enrichment of the wealthy corporate class while deconstructing Roosevelts social safety net by any means necessary.

Reagan established the forked-tongue policy talk adopted by the present administration: Speak about the end of large government, gut entitlement programs wherever they can be found, while simultaneously cut against the grain of the small government ideal by vastly increasing the military and intelligence apparatus of government with trillions of dollars of taxpayer monies.

This cash, as it did during the rise of the first and second empires, vastly increased the power and reach of the military/industrial/petroleum combine. The movement conservatives, funded by this combine, pushed for the deregulation by government of business in every aspect of commerce, none more pointedly than within the media. Over the course of this third empire, that combine has purchased 99% of the news media, ensuring that an uninterrupted commercial advocating for empire would be broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Competing messages were all but shut out.

When the Berlin Wall finally fell, when the Soviet empire finally imploded, the banner for this third American empire was unfurled for all to see. For the first time in history since the apex of Roman rule, one nation and one government and one military ruled supreme over the known world. The movement conservatives, having lost communism as the main target for their energies and ire, turned inward and laid siege to the tattered remains of the leftover establishment that lingered from the second empire.

Much has been made of conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century, organizations made up of movement conservatives whose influence has reached far and wide within government during this third empire. One think tank, however, has worked in almost total secrecy since its establishment in 1981, at the outset of the third empire. It is this group, more than any other, which has shaped and defined the third empire as we know it. While many other groups have had influence, this one serves as an excellent standard for the main.

The <a href=http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/2/22/155525/061 >Council for National Policy</a> does not advertise, but its presence is felt immediately in virtually every aspect of American life. Its members include Senators, religious leaders and prominent crafters of policy. Among these are Pat Robertson, Bob Jones III, Jerry Falwell, Larry Klayman, Ralph Reed, Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, and Paul Weyrich. Groups affiliated with CNP include the American Conservative Union, USA Radio Networks, Gun Owners of America, the Eagle Forum, and the Family Research Council.

Today, many of these extremist groups have been accepted into mainstream political dialogue, thanks to the influence of the media portals purchased by the combine years ago. CNP is funded by, among others, Nelson Bunker Hunt of the Texas-based petroleum empire, the Coors family, and Pierre DuPont, whose family became rich by manufacturing gunpowder for the military during World War I.

In 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as CNPs first executive director, told Newsweek, "One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government." He was right.

CNPs first president and co-founder is Chris LaHaye, author of the Christian fundamentalist/apocalyptic Left Behind book series. He was followed by Tom Ellis in 1982, who served as the director of the Pioneer Fund, an organization that has worked hard to promulgate the idea that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. Subsequent leaders of CNP have pushed the overweening goal of the organization: To infiltrate government from top to bottom, and to establish the Christian Reconstructionist goal of leaving aside the Constitution in favor of Old Testament law.

The rise of George W. Bush, leader of the evangelical/political wing of American Christianity since 1996, to the office of the president has been the fulfillment of the dreams of movement conservatives and their representatives in the CNP. September 11 cemented their ascendancy. Now, permanent war and rule by fear are accepted without question. Now, the news media owned by the combine opens the public dialogue to these radicals while painting them as moderate, rational Americans. Now, the dominance of the military/industrial/petroleum combine is unquestioned. Now, the idea that America is engaged in a holy war has been widely disseminated.

There are several cracks in the veneer, however, many of which began during the second empire. The weapons disbursed across the planet during the Cold War are now being pointed at us. Many of our former client states such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which served us so well during the Cold War, have now become profoundly debilitating problems that have exposed our vaunted national security system and military forces as less than adequate to the tasks of empire. The dollar is failing slowly but surely, and new power combines between nations like China, Russia and Iran threaten to destabilize American dominance. Oil, the true coin of this realm, is also becoming scarce. The extremism that always comes when one overwhelming force spreads its wings has passed the point of management, and has itself become both organized and well-funded.

It seems all too clear that this third American empire is preparing to collapse under its own ponderous weight. The movement conservatives cannot contain the forces that have been unleashed against them. The American military is proving itself to be incapable of sustaining the unreasonable demands being placed upon it. The ghosts from the second empire loom large, in Europe and Africa and the Middle East and Central Asia, and the power of Jesus cannot hope to contain them. The American economy, sustained for sixty years by petroleum and war, stands at grave risk of being subsumed by both.

There will be a fourth American empire. Like the previous three, its realities will exist far beyond platitudes and utopian desires. If the ultimate collapse of the third empire is as debilitating as it threatens to be, this fourth empire will be hard put to sustain itself any better than its predecessors. In the collapse of the third empire looms the ultimate threat: A breed of American fascism that will dwarf in both scope and brutality all previous breeds of harsh authoritarian rule.

Tomorrows history is being written today in blood. Empires always fall. Always.

Roll, wheel.
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