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


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= >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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paineinthearse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:44 PM
Response to Original message
1. I like where you are going with this
....have sent it to a social historian for collaboration.

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kohodog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:46 PM
Response to Original message
2. Seems like an outline for a great book
The conclusion needs a bit of fleshing out imho. Are you saying that the third empire will collapse (and with our current hubris and escalating debt I fear it will), and that a fourth fascist theocracy will arise? It seems to me that we are at the tipping point of that transition and it is actually the end of the third empire. The question to me is that if we cannot stop this, how much of the world will we take with us?

P.S. Don't forget China!
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Zynx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:51 PM
Response to Original message
3. Writing looks good
Edited on Sun Feb-27-05 10:52 PM by Zynx
I would take issue with the contention that the American Empire has been three distinct creatures. Using a historical model, when an empire does collapse, it doesn't get back up in anything *close* to the strength it was at.

In the meantime it fluctuates. Rome, Russia and Britain all had good days and bad days, so to speak. But once they tank, they really tanked, and they didn't come back. So the American empire would essentially be one empire that really came into its own in the Cold War (after Europe committed geo-strategic mass suicide in two wars and handed the world over to the USA and USSR).

Also, if/when the US does finally tank, its not going to be rising up as a dangerous fascist state anytime soon. Even if the government wants to be authoritarian, the resources simply will not be there -- we are rapidly moving towards a nation that is economically crippled, and therefore incapable of military shows of strength. Wars cost money.

The US has the potential to fall shockingly hard and wind up like 1990's Russia.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:52 PM
Response to Original message
4. Will. it reads like an outline for a book, in my opinion...
The premise being so large that it is difficult to read, and write I presume, but it seems like each paragraph could be a chapter. It's like a historical comparative that describes what has gotten us to where we are today. Perhaps it is just me, but it seems like too much information in a small space. Your summation seems to be: "A breed of American fascism that will dwarf in both scope and brutality all previous breeds of harsh authoritarian rule." Should this point be somewhere in the intro of the article? Otherwise, well written with great thought as always.

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Lexingtonian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:22 PM
Response to Original message
5. Hmmm....

You may want to look at the degree to which this 'third empire' isn't just a rerun of the second. (The tragedy the first time, farce the second.) It really begins with Richard Nixon becoming VP. It's perhaps too much to say he began the streak, but this 'third empire' is arguable a revisiting and rearguing, by American conservatives, all the issues in some significant fashion suppressed by the Depression and Cold War and FDR's long-lasting wartime-defined political coalition.

Carter's Presidency and then Reagan's were (in retrospect) revisitings of the FDR issues, Bush Sr. Truman's, and Clinton was all issues that originated in the Eisenhower era. Bush Jr has run through the dilemmas/issues of the JFK and LBJ terms and Nixon's first term up to this point. And now the Bushies tell us that Iran and Russia's non-democracy and Castro's pals and the new Allende (read: Chavez) in Latin America are due for some attention by the '08 election. And, I found out, American involvement in violence in Nicaragua begins in 1972 with an attempted putdown of the early Sandinistas. We've all seen this movie before. We're stuck in a regurgitation and reabsorption of the problems and dilemmas of ~1973 to ~1988 in various fashions.

The truth of the radical Right's power over the past 20-some years is that it has very little order, and that which it takes has alarmingly medieval origins. The Cold War was, to them, a last run at the Asian Menace of Huns and Mongols and Avars and Turks. The 'War on Terror' is just a last run at the problems that led to Tours And Poitiers and the Crusades. The 'War on Drugs' is another argument with hostile Indian tribes. And somewhere between all of that, there's some foggy ideal of England circa 1600 as a way to run the United States in perpetuity. It's the Middle Ages being given one last run. One last evasion of Modernity.

A third analysis is that domestic politics since the end of the Cold War has followed a pattern of conflict that resembles in curious ways the dynamics and struggles and cycles of effort/activity of the American Civil War. The Democratic Party being the North, and to give a bit too much away, control of Virginia represents majority federal power and the present fits to the time of the final internal argument about whether or not pass the 13th Amendment on for ratification, which was the argument between moderates and radicals about whether the war was just an effort to reattain the status quo or justification/necessitation for abolition of slavery.

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:34 PM
Response to Original message
6. You've got a hold of something, but it's still in an awkward stage
Some of the syntax is pretty strained. The metaphors seemed forced in places. And the tone varies between would-be epic, straight historical, and mildly colloquial. But I assume you'll clean up all that as you rewrite. (As well as the careless errors, like "Chris LaHaye" instead of "Tim.")

More seriously, though, I found it hard to follow your chronology, and I think you need to rethink the basic way you're structuring the periods. For one thing, I'm not sure why you use 1917 as a major transition. To me, it seems that there was a continuing phase of US imperialism which started with the Spanish American War in 1898 and the Open Door Policy in 1899 and extended through the 1930's.

The focus of this phase shifted from America's own Western frontier to Latin America and the Pacific. The hallmarks were gunboat diplomacy and banana republics, and that stayed consistent throughout. (Think, for example, of the career of Smedley Butler. Or Allen Dulles's work for United Fruit in the 1920's.) It wasn't that the US advanced to a new phase in 1917 and then retreated again so much as that it resisted Wilson's attempts to prod it into a larger role and kept on the same course (even under Roosevelt) for another couple of decades.

The second phase I see as starting in 1941 with Henry Luce's call for an "American Century" and as characterized by America's active involvement in Europe and the Middle East and assumption of the former colonial role of Great Britain and France. And the fall of that second empire I see as happening not slowly but fairly abruptly in 1973/74 -- marked by the oil crisis, the collapse of the post-World War II economic system, the US withdrawl from Vietnam, and Watergate. The 1975-79 period was then a sort of interregnum, when the underpinnings of the third empire were being put in place.

What you're doing is very worthwhile, and I hope I don't come across as overly critical. But you've bitten off a big chunk, and the essay still needs work and thought to make it what you want it to be.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Yeah
It started as an outline, staggered into becoming an essay, and collapsed under its own weight about six paragraphs before I finally put a bullet in its head. I wanted to get some feedback on the skeleton here, and yours is exactly what I'd hope for. I'm going to attack it again in the morning.

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Eloriel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #6
36. Hmmm, yes. Here's my take
First, there haven't been THREE American empires. Just one with perhaps different phases.

If you start out with a flawed metaphor like this, the whole thing can ONLY continue to be shakey and, in Will's own words, "fall of its own weight," in between your trying to prop it up with twisted logic and such. (This is how Repugs build their arguments -- forcing things to fit. Don't do it. Abandon that flawed basic premise!)

I confess I didn't read much of it because I found what I've just discussed SO off-putting, but I did notice something about the USA Chant being born at that hockey game, and this being the beginning or birth of --- noooo, don't go THERE, either. Doesn't work, isn't the TRUTH. It's another tortured point forced into place to serve your flawed premise. (And are you confusing nationalism with something else? You don't have to be an empire to exhibit nationalism and vice versa). Further, I'm not even sure your comment (however you phrased it) about that generating the most sentiment for a game of sport is accurate. It's my understanding Sea Biscuit inspired an entire nation. Do you really kno for sure which was bigger?

Not your best work, not even in draft form. Perhaps I should say: not your best THINKING.
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bpilgrim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:40 PM
Response to Original message
7. belay my last
Edited on Sun Feb-27-05 11:46 PM by bpilgrim
(on edit: never mind about just started some maybe it will become more clear but is it commonly accepted by historians that the civil war was an act of empire? i was stuck on foreign conquests but i see what you mean)

now back to reading.

BTW: aren't we lucky to get first dibs on will's excellent articles, wooHoo!

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Squeech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:15 AM
Response to Original message
9. This is the first time
that the entire government has agreed that it's an empire.

During what you describe as the first two empires, we didn't admit it. I'm trying to remember who it was that said something like "Too wise to rule the world, we shall merely own it," but that was our posture up until Vietnam. (Of course back then we could assume that Great Britain was going to do the administrative work too.) All our plutocrats wanted out of the rest of the world was enough stability to make sure we could ship merchandise safely, and repatriate the profits. I'm certainly not saying that we never wreaked our will on other governments (Mossadegh's Iran, Allende's Chile, etc.) but we used to use the CIA and other covert actors to do it, for plausible deniability.

I dunno, maybe Iraq isn't as different as I think it is. I vaguely remember coming across a list of American military interventions in the 20th century, and it averaged about one per year, mostly in the Caribbean or Central America. But we never used to garrison our client states. This is new.
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mordarlar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:24 AM
Response to Original message
10. What fascinates me is the way "empires" bleed their resources dry...
What is power if it leads to the destruction of the host? The host's health is necessary to sustain the power. This may not make sense but time and again this one point stumps me.
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yvr girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:42 AM
Response to Original message
11. Not the easiest read, but my brain is a bit mushy at the moment
I agree with the other poster's comments about empires. After they fall, they don't generally rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. It's more like a geo-political version of Groundhog Day. Same thing over and over again, but worse.

Maybe you want to comment on the strength of the empire (gold, silver, bronze, iron, clay.) Perhaps that's too obscure.
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mordarlar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:55 AM
Response to Reply #11
14. That is intersting...
The Bible references several empires using an image of a statue.

Rome was described in the book of Daniel 2 as the legs of iron which mixed with clay at the feet. It followed the empires of Greece, Persia and Babylon which were described as being made of bronze, silver and gold. The last empire Rome was stronger then the previous yet as it becomes mixed with clay it is shown to be a divided kingdom. And thus more fragile.

It suggests that the differing people will be no more able to mix than the clay and the iron. And by being unable to form as one the empire is fatally weakened.

It is very similar to the position we find ourselves in.

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yvr girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:58 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Shame on me for not quoting my source
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mordarlar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 01:00 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. I did not want to assume.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:43 AM
Response to Original message
12. I would argue the first empire began with the Mexican-American War
Edited on Mon Feb-28-05 12:45 AM by Radical Activist
Fittingly, it was the first war Americans were led into based on lies. Lincoln, as a member of Congress, introduced a number of resolutions in Congress to point out the false assertions Polk had made to justify the war. That war was about nothing but Manifest Destiny.

Grant felt the Mexican-American war is what led to the Civil War. If the US had not expanded then there would have been no new territories and no new states. The addition of new states is what led to the renegotiation of the slavery issue and made it an irrepressible conflict that could only result in Civil War, in Grant's view. He felt the Civil War was in some part America's punishment for an unjustified war of aggression.

Anyway, the M-A war was more about Manifest Destiny and building an empire than the Civil War was. That seems to better fit what you are trying to describe.

I have long felt the current Iraq War is more like the M-A War than any other war in US history. There are many parallels.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
13. You don't make a strong argument that
the Council for National Policy is very influential, and I'm not sure why it was included in the essay.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 01:07 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. Me neither
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 02:22 AM
Response to Original message
18. Dynasty perhaps?... but empire?
Your recapitulation of american history comes off glib, in that it is
a serious stretch to call 3 empires in a century.

Myself i would start with the civil war, explaining how the war never
ended, and instead has spilled out beyond america's borders in
subsequent dynasties of governance. The hubris of creating and
defending american democracy through force of arms, and the huge
miliatry industrial complex began in the civil war.

As well, the cold war is better summarized on page 261 of chalmer's
johnson's "sorrows of empire": "The ideological war between capitalism
and communism during the second half of the twentieth century was not
a conflict between totally different ideologies. It was rather a civil
war between two extreme viewpoints of the same Western ideology: the
search for happiness through the material progress disseminated by
the Industrial Revolution"..<snip>.. "the cost of the Soviet version
of development was shortages and lack of freedom; today, that of the
neoliberal, capitalist variant is unemployment and social exclusion."

All war is civil war, and you externalize it in your essay. To see this
ongoing power grab to exploit the labour of mankind freely without
opposition, is a continuing outgrowth of slavery and the original
civil war that is still not settled... 3 empires my foot.... rather
1 unfinished civil war.

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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 05:51 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. Manifest destiny
was distinct from empire-building. Not saying it was better, in any sense, but it is different. Empire-building means extending the control of trade routes, which allow for the empire (city/state) to access the natural resources of "distant" lands .... where the population has a culture (usually: ethnic heritage, language, religion) than the city/state. Empires are often expanded by colonial means; hence, the English settlements in the northeast were a form of empire, as were the Spanish adventures in Central America.

The period of manifest destiny that followed the Civil War was not an effort at empire-building per say; it was an expansion based upon the displacement of native populations, with tactics of genocide used to reach the goal.

Look at when the US extended to "distant" lands as colonies ..... and focus upon the period between WW1 and WW2, and I think you'll find what you are looking for in terms of empire-building.
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yvr girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 07:35 AM
Response to Reply #21
26. Manifest destiny also assumed that the conquered would be grateful
Canadians don't look at manifest destiny as purely against native peoples. There was a race to the Pacific, but we also skirmished along the 49th. You saw North America as your rightful territory. We saw ourselves as a group who did not want to join America.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 07:45 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. Interesting.
I think that an area that Will might consider to get a better understanding of "empire" is the relationship the Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, had with the French, the British, and the Colonials in the 1700s. One of the primary reasons the Confederacy was more sympathetic to England was because the "crown" did not look to expand it's land base in North America; it had signed, for but one example, the Fort Stanwix Treaty. This made an official cut-off to white settlement, with a goal of increased trade along the border. The "Patriots" were intent upon expanding their land-base.

Add to that the triangulation of the French & English for decades before, and it makes a truly interesting example of what empire-building is and isn't. And that clearly includes Canadian history. Thank you for adding that important part.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #21
38. The psyche of empire
I was really suggesting, that if i trace the war-like expansionism that
is, in will's essay, broken in to empires, it has a single origin, with
the colonialism and manifest destiny... yes. However, the warlike
addition of the military industrial complex to the mix came at the
civil war, as well, the concept that might makes right. These forces
are in their seed form in the 1860's, and grow 140 years later in to
a hubris of a global empire of bases... all of them to protect the
south's ability to exploit labour, to denigrate and weaken labour that
the property rights of the empire remain unimpinged.

Marx's views on class struggle are more relevant as chords of the
american myth, more so than an artificial call of empire, per woodrow
wilson and FDR... as the presidents are given too much credit... their
wars and expansion comes from elements nurtured in american thinking,
that very ugly thinking that fought a war to create unity... how
perverse it was then, and how perverse today. The story of the ugly
beast of the american south, and the plantation mindset since those
plantation-formers left england with that civil war... that the
principal of enslaving human beings using force is the american crux.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. The USA's relationship
with Central America is by definition "empire." Manifest destiny was not "empire." Empire is based upon the control of trade and natural resources, including labor as much as any material good. Manifest destiny was expanding the boundries by displacing or killing the people who had lived there. These are two distinct things.
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Dirk39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 03:32 AM
Response to Original message
19. Hello from Germany to Mr. Pitt!
I remember reading an interview with you in a (small) German daily just about a few month ago, that's how popular Mr. Pitt is around the globe!

You didn't mention the "neo-classical" and neoliberal economists and their role within the "3. Empire" at all.

You didn't mention the Chigago Boys, you didn't mention Karl Popper and his theory of an "open society". (Maybe because it isn't too comfortable for a northamerican Democrat????)

Besides the think-tanks you did mention, I think the neoliberals are far more important. What did start with Reagan and Thatcher cannot be revealed without mentioning the pseudo-scientific theories of the neo-liberals.

If you don't agree with me - I don't care: simply privatize me!!!


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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 05:27 AM
Response to Original message
20. I would suggest
reading through Patrick Buchanan's "A Republic, Not An Empire" to get an accurate outline of the expansions that define empire-building.
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Capt_Nemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 06:17 AM
Response to Original message
22. Very good essay. But if I may make some remarks:
Edited on Mon Feb-28-05 06:38 AM by Capt_Nemo
1. "with the creation of the state of Israel, the strategically-vital Middle East"
Well to be precise, in the 40s it was the Soviets that were counting on Israel
to establish a foothold in the region, channeling their support through
But then came the blowback for the soviets when Israel chose France and the UK as allies.
The strategic alignement between US and Israel only becomes fully materialized
after Israel loses the support of France somewhere between the
'67 and the '73 wars.

2. "It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the third American empire came into being, but a hockey game will suffice as a marker"
From a symbolic point of view it is a very good way of introducing what
you named as the the third American empire, but from an historical
point of view there is an event that happened months earlier which I
find more relevant because of the way it mirrors the current overstretch
of the American empire and what it may indicate as the probable future
of US power:
The soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
This proved to be the fatal mistake in a long succession of blunders
by the Brezhnev government. It was the straw that broke the camel's
back. The USSR's Military Industrial Complex was out of control, trying to match every move of it's US counterpart but in a country with a GDP
that was one fourth of the US GDP. Add to this the Afghan quagmire
and the co-opting of China by the West (it could be THIS that realy
won the Cold War, so maybe it was Nixon and not Reagan that did it)
and the seeds were sown for the colapse of the USSR, the event that completes the emergence of that third american empire.

3. There is not enough emphasis the blowback perspective of 9/11. September 11
as the inevitable consequence of 50 years of US foreign policy based on the
principle that my enemy's enemy is my friend, that bred Saddam, OBL
among other notorious characters.
September 11 as part of the price the US had to pay to win the cold war.
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RBHam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 06:29 AM
Response to Original message
23. Will - I think you should see this video
If the dots he connects are even half-way creible - there is a freight train heading our way. This Empire won't go down without consequence to those who stand up to it.

9/11 is an Expression of a Deep and Abiding Crisis in the Capitalist World Order

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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 06:57 AM
Response to Original message
24. One of the things that has struck me as an engineeer and businessman is
how centrally managed enterprises succumb to more nimble adversaries with far less resources. In that vein, I am going to predict the demise of the American Empire with its emphasis on costly hardware is going to be brought down by newer adversaries with software expertise, just as our mainstream press is feeling the heat from the internet including this site at DU.

From a historic persepective, our times remind me of the rise of Nazi Germany behind the vaunted Panzer Army that struck terror in the hearts of Europeans until Zhukov turned back the tide on the outskirts of Moscow and Chuikov demolished the Sixth Army in Stalingrad.I do believe that our fall will come from an unexpected corner most likely from knowledgeable people with the least resources.
This is why our bloated Defense Mandarins will pay no attention to it and are likely to be surprised that they exist at all, much less pose a threat to them.

And I agree with your statement that Empires fall, always.This one is going to be no different.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 07:17 AM
Response to Reply #24
25. I bought "Where the Right Went Wrong"
on Friday afternoon. It's an interesting read; the only down-side is that it is a bit too short, and I finished it so fast. But it explains in simple and concise terms exactly why the economic policies of the United States will fall flat in a very short time. It expands on your first paragraph, in a fascinating manner.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 07:51 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. It is quite possible our economic collapse will come before the
collapse of our military enterprises abroad. Whatever from it takes, the rise of many nations,like China, India, Brazil and some smaller ones,with rising technological elites, is going to pose a formidale challenge to our economic dominance we have taken for granted. When that economic dominance disappears, look for the contraction in our military adventures.
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Capt_Nemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 08:15 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. If it happens like in the USSR then you are absolutely right
Edited on Mon Feb-28-05 08:21 AM by Capt_Nemo
14 years after the collapse of the USSR, Russia still has a strategic
deterrent and a space infrastructure that only the US can match.

More than that, the russians are now transforming their strategic bomber
forces to have a limited conventional power projection capability
with global reach.
Again no other power besides the US has such a capability.

Gone are the days when they could command massive effective armies, but still
building upon what they inherited from the USSR they are trying
to get the capability to make symbolic shows of force on any other
corner of the world. Not that it will do them much good...

So you are most probably right: the economic collapse of the US will come before
any "downsizing" of its military happens.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #29
32. The seeds of such a collapse are built right into our system which
cannot continue without maximization of profits either by increasing its markets or cutting its costs.I think the outsourcing phenomenon into China and India accomplishes both. Cheaper labor combined with huge markets are the lure, but it could become the thin end of the wedge. Already Chinese corporations are hunting for game in the West through an acquisistion binge. An Indian corporation, Mittal Steel, is now the largest producer of steel in the world through acquisition of many steel companies all over the world. You may very well see both India, China and Brazil form joint ventures in armament technologies including advanced figher aircraft breaking our monopolies in these markets.The Britain based missile makes BAe Systems has now contracted with Bharat Dynamics a big player in the defense industry of India to supply missiles to European Forces. I believe these are all signs of a future when our technological edge cannot be taken for granted.When that future arrives or even before when our economic system caves from the pressures, we may see the failure of our Empire.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #28
31. Right.
Buchanan's book focuses on the economic issues. The military occupation & over-extension is but a part of that.
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jdots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 08:21 AM
Response to Original message
30. The forth empire is what you should funnel it into
I will buy your book because it will offer questions and not easy answers.The easy answers may be the downfall of humanity .
The technology is here for us to use or have it use us.
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mattclearing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
33. Excellent stuff.
A more obvious (and probably accurate) starting point for this third Empire would likely be Eisenhower's farewell address warning of the military industrial complex, or the Bay of Pigs invasion, but of course, either of those would open up a whole can of worms that I imagine you have likely considered opening and smartly rejected.

Pulling out the E-word is hard enough without drawing the conspiracy card which those events inevitably lead to.
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
34. I like the whole piece. What about some mention of
the Defense Policy Board, the Defense Department advisory group composed primarily of former government officials, retired military officers, and academics. Its members include former national security advisers, Secretaries of Defense, and heads of the C.I.A. The board meets several times a year at the Pentagon to review and assess the country's strategic defense policies.

I haven't done an exclusive workup of the board, but it's members included Richard Perle, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Hillman, an investor and a close business associate of Perle's . . .
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
35. A typo and a comment...
The typo: "inches of sh(l)ipping the leash."

The comment:

In my opinion, when it became clear in the late 70s that American Labor would find it hard to compete with the emerging world was when those who had ruled the world in the "second empire" decided that the use of overwhelming US military might was needed to ensure their continued power.

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Silverhair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 11:58 AM
Response to Original message
37. You left out the Mexican War of 1846.
I have read, but am not going to google for a link, that the general that commanded the American troops, General Scott, was ashamed that he had been used and had taken part in such a blatant land grab. We took about half of the country of Mexico from them.

The history of that war is a fascinating read. No other country in the world expected the USA to win. The Mexican troops were well trained and vastly outnumbered the Americans. The difference was that Scott discovered the genius of one of his captains - Robert E. Lee. Captain Lee continued to come up with brilliant ideas. And the Mexican troops had the misfortune to be commanded by - Santa Anna.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 05:20 PM
Response to Original message
40. Have you seen "Digby Blog's" latest on "Regionalism" and how it's
Edited on Mon Feb-28-05 05:24 PM by KoKo01
affected American Policy? There's a great link to Michael Lind article about this, plus Lincoln's Address and some other comments for perspective. A VERY LONG READ...and it's left hanging a bit. With your heritage I wonder if you could do something more with what Digby's started...rather than what you are working on...Here are the links...but you need to go to the site and scroll down to Lincoln and carry it from there. I'm just giving a little snip... Instead of "Three Empires" what if it's just a continuity of American "Regionalism?"

WHY ARE THEY SO ANGRY? is Digby's blogging with links. I wonder if you couldn't follow up on this and expand on it. Rather than "Empire" couldn't it be "Why ARE they so angry," with your own special Pitt insight? :shrug:

(Embedded link from Digby in his musings:}
Civil War by Other Means

By Michael Lind
Whitehead Senior Fellow

Foreign Affairs
September 30, 1999




Regions in the United States are notoriously difficult to define. The best guide, perhaps, is provided by speech regions. Most linguists identify four regional dialects of American English: northern, midland, highland southern, and coastal southern. The Greater New England or northern speech region, according to the historian David Hackett Fischer, includes "New England, upstate New York, northern Ohio and Indiana, much of Michigan and Wisconsin, the northern plains, and the Pacific Northwest, together with islands of urban speech at Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco." Since the late 1700s, this area has been the heartland of opposition to foreign wars and the U.S. military establishment. Pro-war, pro-military attitudes have been strongest in the areas identified with coastal southern speech (the Tidewater South) and, to a lesser degree, in the Highland South, from West Virginia through Tennessee to Texas.

The pattern of Greater New England's opposition to wars and the opposite tendency of the South, especially the Tidewater South, to be strongly interventionist first manifested itself in the earliest years of the Union. During the War of 1812, the hawks tended to be southerners like Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Congress' vote on the war followed sectional lines, not partisan lines. In the House of Representatives, the northern-and-mid-Atlantic-dominated Federalist Party voted unanimously against the war; the southerners who controlled the Democratic-Republican Party solidly backed it.

This pattern reemerged in subsequent conflicts. Southerners generally favored the western expansion of the United States; northerners disproportionately opposed it. In the 1830s the most extreme American pacifists broke away from the American Peace Society to form a new organization that forswore the use of force even in self-defense. Its name tells the story: the New England Non-Resistance League.

The Resentment Tribe

The other day I rhetorically asked, "Why are they so angry?" and Matt Stoller replies :

(The whole deal on Digby's thought process about this with the links is here :) /
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AmericanCherokee Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
41. small error
I'm new and probably have no right to jump in and criticize, but there's one thing you might want to correct.

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.

Christians wouldn't want to impose Old Testament law. This would mean they would have to throw out the New Testament, deny Jesus as the Messiah, and go back to Judaism. Jews use Old Testament law, not Christians. You'll lose some credibility with that one. The rest is good, but I'd agree you bit off enough for a book.

I'll go to the lobby now and stop being a pest right off the bat.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 09:06 PM
Response to Original message
42. Kick........because he might still be lookin' for comments or he's
already gone an written it....but a kick...just in case..
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 09:18 PM
Response to Original message
43. Very good. Perhaps you could expand the part about:
Edited on Mon Feb-28-05 09:19 PM by Swamp Rat
"Americans are most easily governed when they are made to fear the strangers over there across the horizon." - This idea of otherness has its roots in 15th Century imperialism (you know, travelogues about those nasty Carib cannibals, etc.) and has been exploited to the nth degree by propagandists on FOX, CNN, et al. You might even fit Gingrich in there as well as Rudolf Hessian talking heads like Hannity, Savage, Coulter, Limbaugh, O'Reilly by drawing comparisons to other reichs.

edit: Swamp Rats can't spell
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