Is America an empire?
All evidence points to yes. The United States controls a majority of world trade, and secures it with control over organizations such as the IMF and World Bank. The U.S. military maintains approximately 200 overseas bases and has enough aircraft carriers to blast a small country into oblivion.
In addition to the economic and military expanse of the United States, American culture is spread far and wide, surpassing every other major cultural player in the world. English is the lingua franca and international business language for the entire globe. Its importance is paramount in maintaining the interdependent economies of the globe. American food, music, and dress are prevalent in every major city around the globe.
So what does this mean if America is an empire? It means that the United States has the power to shape the future of the world in whatever image best fits its interests.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as American interests are intertwined with the liberal ideals of spreading democracy, the free-market and civil liberties, thus creating what is known as a “Liberal Empire”.
Some examples include the Roman Empire and British Empire, both tying together an incredibly diverse array of cultures into a common market. In a nutshell, they encouraged stability through economic prosperity and peace and general well-being of all subjects followed.
We stand then at a crossroads of empire; the Pax Americana of the post Cold-War world has been shattered first by the events of Sept. 11, and followed by President Bush’s mobilization for a unilateral, preemptive strike on Iraq. Who knows what will come after that.
I do not believe that the U.S. should sacrifice its legitimacy to liberal imperialism in a mad quest for oil, vengeance and greed. The United States has accomplished a lot for the world in its efforts to create a global stability in the form of the Marshall Plan, regional security alliances, and the interconnectedness of national economies.
If the United States abuses its respect it has garnered over the course of the past century, the dreams of global cooperation could die with it. If the United States does not make the mistake of Rome, Britain, France, China, etc., the world could potentially see the United States come to be head of a peaceful, global government.
The mistakes of these nations, which prevented them from surviving their demise, amongst other things, were an arrogant belief in their own superiority and infallibility. These empires did not possess allies or mutual security pacts; they had subject nations who paid tribute in order to be allowed the privilege of not being enslaved.
That is what the American empire is built on and that is why it can survive and lead the world community into the 21st century. It is not afraid of taking the diversity of the world and making it its own. If the international and multi-lateral platform that this country was built upon (as far as global politics go) were to fall, how would the United States be any different from empires like the Mongols or the Russians who ruled through force and intimidation rather than stability and mutual benefit?
The world cannot prosper under a tyrant, but a wise ruler can achieve miracles.