Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I'll be happy to spare you the squishy language, but allow me to point out that the term Imperialism is squishy too. And I think, one of the premises of Marshalls piece was that these terms like Imperialism, which are useful to historians, are often misapplied when we want to describe the present. It seems to me you are somewhat guilty of what Marshall hammers the NeoCons over.
That being said, your application of various behaviors of the American state that are consistent with Imperialism is much more useful than the British one Perle and Max Boner were using to pimp Destroy All Monsters. What I have issue with is whipping out loaded terms like Imperialism and then lumping a disparate variety of events, policies and outcomes as Imperialism. My caution is partly political and partially policy based. Imperialism in the 19th Century was founded in some assumptions I am not sure are operative right now. I would like to see a bit more discussion about that before I am on the Imperialism bandwagon.
Which I know you get, James. But my critique of your viewpoint is not that it's wrong to fuss about Imperialism. I am urging caution in falling into the historical analogy trap, applying Imperialism, or fascism, to name another abused term.
I much prefer to shoot NeoCon "National Greatness" in the back of the head by proving it's not good for the long terms interests of the nation, both from a military and economic perspective Here is where we can use their Imperialism analgoy against them, by emphasizing all the outcomes that directly resulted from these policies and behaviors that ended up blowing up and eroding the interests of the British, for example. Same for Fascism. It's not just bad because of the Nazi's, it had severe negative consequence for a variety of reasons, not just because it was misapplied.
And that fundamentally is how I see the argument of the Bush Administration. They pimps themselves as pragmatists, and that while liberalism may be nice, it won't keep the Iraqi Devil robots from raping your pets. They are, of course, fucking wrong. Current economic and foreign policy is eroding our long term economic and national security interests, similiar to how Imperialism and Colonialism eroded British and European interests in the long term as well. That is the lesson the NeoCons ignore, and that Marshall so aptly nailed.
I see your argument as strictly moral and ethical. It's not wrong, but incomplete. Marshall, because he is a historian, veers away from those judgements and makes the pragmatic case against Imperialism. It's not just nitpicking, including the "It's a shitty national security policy on top being morally bankrupt" is important, at least to me.
In answer to your question about how to get the United States out of the imposing the hegemony business, the best way is to demonstrate it doesn't work as advertised. It is ultimately self-defeating. history has demonstrated that when one nation adopts Imperialism, or whatever these goons at the White House call it, your ability to sustain it is finite. That I think is history's applicable lesson.
I really don't know what institution, relationship or organization is required to move us from Imperialistic behaviors, to more sustainable and, I guess more liberal,
For the sake of starting the discussion, Post War Europe might bear some examiniation. Yes, I know it is a much abused metaphor. But think of it in the broader historical context. Euorpean states, particularly France, Germany and England, have been at virtualy perpertual war for thousands of years. Breaks in the war were simply the time between rounds, not real cessations of hostility. Europe is now forging a new entity that seems to be making that old paradigm obsolete. It is based on shared economic and security interests. That could point the way to similiar relationships on a larger scale...

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