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P.Clodius

Rome and the USA

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At least its a thought out exercise in comparative event history, rather than the typical attack on the current state of affairs or prediction of impending doom. I give him credit for being more objective than the standard comparisons. Though obviously in such a short piece, much of the examples provided are simplifications in the extreme.

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Though obviously in such a short piece, much of the examples provided are simplifications in the extreme.

Agreed. The similarities are easy to see, the differences aren't.

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Please don't take this the wrong way, my American cousins: It always bewilders me to hear the USA termed an 'empire' as Rome was. What foreign territories does the USA rule? How can we speak of the USA as an imperialist culture? It's something I have never understood. Perhaps you could enlighten me - modern politics not being my strongpoint. (I stick to pre-Christian times - much safer! :unsure: )

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Hawaii, Philipines, Caribean to name a few. The US has troops all over the place and its interests are without borders almost. Try this for research.

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Wouldn't that instead be a dominant global influence instead of a territorial empire? The US may have a considerable amount of clients, sometimes introduced or sustained by force, but calling it an empire is a blurring of terminology (at least, by what I consider to be a classic definition of empire). Would you consider the Soviet Union to have been an empire that included Cuba, North Korea, etc?

 

"Empire ought not be conflated with imperialism. The former is a structure, the latter is a policy."

 

Also, if the US supported Saddam Hussein militarily in his rise to power, would that not have made Iraq part of a US empire, and if so, wouldn't the current war be considered an internal police action instead? If Puerto Rico required a police action, would it be called a war, and would the US have to disregard international law in order to act?

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Wouldn't that instead be a dominant global influence instead of a territorial empire? The US may have a considerable amount of clients, sometimes introduced or sustained by force, but calling it an empire is a blurring of terminology (at least, by what I consider to be a classic definition of empire). Would you consider the Soviet Union to have been an empire that included Cuba, North Korea, etc?

 

"Empire ought not be conflated with imperialism. The former is a structure, the latter is a policy."

 

Also, if the US supported Saddam Hussein militarily in his rise to power, would that not have made Iraq part of a US empire, and if so, wouldn't the current war be considered an internal police action instead? If Puerto Rico required a police action, would it be called a war, and would the US have to disregard international law in order to act?

 

Cheers, Moonlapse - this is exactly what I was getting at. Publius - in your post above you directed me to places where the US have troops. Does the US actually administer those places governmentally? Hawaii, obviously, as it is one of the United States. It may all be coming down to what we define as an empire here, of course. The British Empire, for instance included territories that it actually ruled - e.g. India. Soldiers from the sub-continent were obliged to fight in the Second World War for King and empire etc. Could the US now call upon men from the Philippines to fight in Iraq?

Edited by The Augusta

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Serious political scientists use the term "hegemony" rather than "imperialism" to describe US international influence.

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I think the author makes some important points.

 

Initially, I was going to respond angrily to Clodius that American troops are stationed in many locations around the globe only because they were invited by governments that faced an external threat. For example, US troops were requested by Saudi Arabia because they feared that they could not repulse an invasion by Saddam Hussein, who had just invaded Kuwait and was lobbing missiles at Israel.

 

But, as the author argues, isn't this exactly how the Romans got involved in the Punic Wars--by good intentions blowing up in their face? And how many Saudis really do bristle (or worse) at the fact that they have no say in their government (being another crooked monarchy), resent their invitations to foreign superpowers, and hate the superpowers by proxy?

 

Or, to consider another Rome/America parallel, look at the sympathy that MacArthur had when he defied Truman. How close were we to being invaded by an American Caesar? (Thankfully, not close enough.)

 

On the other hand, one could make a very good case that the US fear of imperialism is just as destructive as its susceptibility to get involved where it shouldn't. Perhaps (perhaps) had the US been more hegemonic it might have saved Eastern Europe from Soviet oppression.

 

This is the dilemma: how to protect the republic from gathering foreign menaces, while not extending that power so broadly that it undoes the very republic that is being protected?

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On the other hand, one could make a very good case that the US fear of imperialism is just as destructive as its susceptibility to get involved where it shouldn't. Perhaps (perhaps) had the US been more hegemonic it might have saved Eastern Europe from Soviet oppression.

 

This is the dilemma: how to protect the republic from gathering foreign menaces, while not extending that power so broadly that it undoes the very republic that is being protected?

That raises the question of whether or not is it the rightful duty of the ruling political party to determine what is best for other countries and to implement this 'righteousness' with the use of military force. Despite the perceived drawbacks of non-intervention, I personally think that intervention is a much more destructive policy in the long run, especially preemptive. However, it's also good to remember that the Colonies did not fight off the British without aid.

 

I usually try to put these things in a smaller perspective, such as considering neighbors with differing ideologies. It it correct for a non-disciplinarian family to forcefully intervene in the matters of a disciplinarian family with disregard to established laws? Theres a lot of factors that come into play, but I think violence (use of force) should be an absolute last resort.

 

Anyways, I'm drifting a little off-topic.

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Initially, I was going to respond angrily to Clodius that American troops are stationed in many location...

I am but the Herald. Further, as a soldier I served in many different countries and I wasn't even in the US military!

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The biggest problem was that the writer says that the American settlers had no right to be there, sigh, the darn Mexican government invited them to settle in Texas.

The Mamertines (Sons of Mars) were also 'invited' to Messana, then ended up taking over.

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American imperialism is plain, the American empire has always been concealed in the main.

 

What was "manifest destiny" but imperialism writ large, or the Munro Doctrine but hegemony spelled out?

 

The US - on whatever pretext - has raped Mexico repeatedly, greedily bought Louisiana from the french, occupied the Phillipines, Cuba, Puerto Rico etc at various times. This, of course, all in a state set up by self-seeking aristocrats on false pretexts for their own sends. Quite often the actions are the results of policies decredd by "another crooked president" (see MP Cato's post for the reference, if you missed it!!).

 

Modern US imperialism is economic in nature and they are now exploring the possibilities of being a sole global super-power. Half the world sees their action in Iraq as related to US economic and natural resource ends, rather than about truth, freedom and the American way.

 

Now, let me say that I am actually a life-long Americophile, a supporter of the UK's special relationship - and much of what is said above is "tongue-in-cheek". But not all, and increasingly, I find myself disillusioned. I spent part of the weekend talking to well-read historians and people interested in politics, who are also long-standing lovers of the USA. But they too are beginning to question things.

 

The US and Rome are hardly similar at all, except in the extent that all empires rise and fall and all nations have similar histories. But I think there are lessons to be learned - not only by the US but by the "west" as a whole, from the fall of Rome. I set out those parallels in another post a while back.

 

"Would to God the gift t' gi' us; to see ourselves as others see us" wrote Burns (or something roughly similar). I think the perception of the US from outside - and maybe from minorities inside - is very different from the rather deceptive self-congratulation that often passes for analysis in the States it seems. Would a native American, an Empire Loyalist, an ex-slave, a modern black American necessarily see the same things or reach the same conclusions?

 

I write to ferment debate. Please come back to me - that is why I have written in a flagrantly confrontational way.

 

Phil

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The US - on whatever pretext - has raped Mexico repeatedly, greedily bought Louisiana from the french...

 

...I write to ferment debate. Please come back to me - that is why I have written in a flagrantly confrontational way.

If I thought you wrote with sincere conviction, I'd be really ticked off by this rubbish...

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