By my reckoning America fought three justifiable wars: the Revolution, the Civil War and World War II. All the others, from 1812 through Iraq, were to dilate or defend the empire.
Imperial wars were once unpopular. Lincoln, Emerson and Thoreau opposed the Mexican War by which we grabbed up everything from Texas to California. Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain were luminaries in the broad anti-imperialist movement fired up by the Spanish-American War.
We won those wars. And since there’s no argument with success, anti-imperialism didn’t catch on. Today we have a small generic peace movement but no anti-imperial effort to speak of. Indeed, Americans accept like the weather that millions of their bodies and trillions in their taxes should go to Washington and Wall Street’s quixotic quest for full spectrum domination of the earth below and the heavens above.
Few bother to mull the iron logic that four percent of the world’s people cannot long boss the other 96 percent, not even with an infinite array of monstrous weapons. Even fewer notice that this mission impossible is failing badly. They quickly change channels on those ever fewer occasions when the media notice Iraq and the crumbling U.S. position in the rest of the Middle East.
Latin America, now integrating and breaking free of Washington in the most dynamic political upheaval since the Spanish got booted two centuries ago, is utterly ignored. At best, Americans know that everything now comes from China--so that it’s no longer cool to badmouth communism.
Four presidential candidates had the guts to acknowledge and criticize the empire. For this among other sins of candor, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader were quickly exiled to Extremia, the Devil’s Island for truthful pols. But ignoring the hippo in the hot tub doesn’t make it slink away.
America’s choice has always been clear: Either abandon the imperial endeavor and learn to live in a world of parity, or suffer Vietnams and Iraqs unto insolvency and ignominy. The first requires a sentient citizenry and a popular movement. Without them, the second will simply continue to happen until our ruins match those of Rome.