It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but clear evidence can
be seen at least in the aftermath of World War II.
Regardless, there can be no doubt that today the United States of America is an 'empire'. It is probably safe to assume that most Americans do not think of their country as an empire.
As a conservative in my younger years, I might have even labeled the suggestion as anti-American, rationalizing to myself:
We get the bad guys, give the country back to
the good guys, and we leave. The U.S. does not try to rule the world.
This network is so vast that there is probably
not one single individual who knows precisely how many bases exist at any
given time, but even the Pentagon acknowledges that the number is over 600,
and with an honest assessment the total would surely be much higher than
that, possibly over 1,000.
There are currently about 160,000 U.S. soldiers officially deployed overseas, along with many more tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of individuals such as spies, technicians and civilian contractors. This comes at an enormous cost, measurable in many different ways.
Among these are the cost in blood, the price in
dollars, and the impact on American society.
The bulk of this number is accounted for in the Vietnam War and the Korean War, both undeclared and unnecessary wars. The remainder is mostly made up of deaths in the so-called War on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq - 6,822 to be exact, but the War on Terror is perpetual by its own definition and by design, so this number is most certainly not final.
On top of this number - which is already more
than double the deaths on 9/11 - are many tens of thousands wounded.
The common diagnosis of this epidemic is the inadequate treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, as the Future of Freedom Foundation's Jacob Hornberger suggests, the root cause may be more accurately identified as,
The cost in the blood of innocent civilians has been astronomically higher than that of soldiers - well into the millions.
The Vietnam War alone saw the deaths of two
million civilians. Throughout the 1990s and following the first war on Iraq
first president Bush,
the U.S. caused the deaths of as many as half a million children with its
crippling sanctions aimed at punishing former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein, a
price that the Clinton administration said was "worth it" (not just once,
There were over 133,000 individually recorded civilian deaths due to direct violence, but this number is known to be very low. It is estimated that the total count of Iraqi deaths, both civilians and fighters, due to the U.S. invasion could be over 650,000 and possibly even over a million.
Over 11 years later, people continue to die daily as a result of the violence that consumes the country.
In addition, between 1.5 and 4.5 million people
have been displaced from their homes, surely never to return. Further,
post-war Iraq has been plagued with a dramatic increase in cancer and birth
defects - likely the result of the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium
and white phosphorus.
American forces have removed munitions from only 3 percent of the,
Although military officials say they intend to
clean up the munitions left behind, other former U.S. warzones remain deadly
to this day, including Vietnam where bombs continue to kill civilians over
40 years after the last American soldier left the country.
President Obama has heavily increased the use of drones throughout the world, and there has been much evidence showing a high rate of civilian deaths. In an effort to distort the numbers of civilian drone victims, Obama has redefined the word "militant" to mean any military-aged male killed within a blast radius.
In other words, he has redefined "civilian" to not include any male above the age of 18 regardless of whether he is actually a civilian.
The Obama administration has even routinely and
intentionally targeted first responders to the scene of drone attacks in
"double tap" strikes (which the U.S. considers "terrorism" if done by
others), in addition to striking multiple wedding parties in what it claims
However, this does not give an accurate picture of what the U.S. actually spends on militarism. The official figures exclude significant expenditures that are spread throughout the Federal government.
For 2015, this includes,
The official numbers also exclude the interest on the national debt from past military spending, which is conservatively estimated to be over $185 billion annually, and some estimate to be up to $364 billion for fiscal year 2015.
When taking into account these and other
non-Department of Defense expenditures, the annual cost of the Empire easily
tops $1 trillion.
But the true costs when accounting for interest
over the next four decades could be a staggering $6 trillion.
But it is reasonable to expect that regardless
of where the money went, it would have been more productive than building
weapons to blow up people and property in aggressive wars of choice.
The family is subordinated to the State as soldiers leave their loved ones behind to go fight in wars ostensibly to defend freedom and keep Americans safe, but which in reality have little to do with these reasons and are instead primarily about fighting for the interests of the Empire.
Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and
daughters are killed, maimed and psychologically scarred for life. Thousands
of orphans and widows are created, and the impact is felt throughout
Actions that would have been abominable to most people in any other circumstance - such as torture - are gradually accepted.
Even many churches are overcome with nationalism and abandon their religious teachings of peace.
Constant imperial aggression seems to have a conditioning effect on a society.
People who live under empire grow to accept similar treatment as those on the receiving end of their government's foreign violence.
Mark Twain identified this phenomenon when he predicted in 1909 the eventual results of imperialism following the U.S. conquest of the Philippines:
This sentiment is put even more succinctly by the inimitable Scott Horton who paraphrases the late American author and professor Chalmers Johnson by saying:
Evidence of the truth of these statements can be seen in the way Americans are treated domestically by government forces.
The U.S. has the largest prison population in
the world, with half of inmates imprisoned for drug offenses. There are over
100 SWAT team raids per day in this country, many of them no-knock raids
conducted in the middle of the night with disastrous consequences to totally
The NSA collects billions of phone calls,
emails and cell phone location records every month without a warrant or even
probable cause. The notion of being secure in one's person and property from
government intrusion is virtually a thing of the past.
As a result of the Empire, Americans are less free, and they are also less safe due to the hatred that their government's actions throughout the world engender. Americans are immeasurably poorer as a result of massive government spending and debt.
And as subjects of the U.S. Empire, many Americans sacrifice a part of their humanity and even begin to view people outside of their country the same way their government does, and are gradually finding themselves treated similarly at home as well.
The price of the Empire - in blood, treasure and soul - is simply too high to tolerate.