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Liberty and Democracy are not opposing ideas. The political center is where all change is made. Let's embrace reason and civility.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Fringes of Empire

It is no secret.  Half of US discretionary spending is on "the military", and this spending has allowed the US to dominate world politics since World War 2.

America has been a colonial power since well before that, but it wasn't until WW2 that we made the transition to "superpower".  And while the US is certainly not alone in the suppression of billions of people around the world, it certainly dominates the game today.

But this little article isn't about all the big players, it's not even about democracy in the US.  I'd like to talk about you, and me, and the world we have come to expect when we wake each morning.

You and I, as US citizens, are living the American Dream.  The oil from the world flows to the US, gets refined and distributed, and you pump it into your gas tank.  You probably complain from time to time about how expensive gas has become.

As a human being, you probably have some empathy for other people throughout the world.  You're probably distressed when you hear about massacres, injustices and trillion-dollar war budgets.  After all, it's not your fault that these things are happening.  It's not your fault that we invaded Iraq and hundreds of other forgotten places around the world.  I'm sure you'd vote to change that too.

Have you considered, though, what the effect would be of a major military withdrawal of US forces from its commitments, hot and cold, around the world?  Have you considered what would actually happen if the US "defense" budget was cut by 50% and we stopped the wars, stopped supporting dictatorships, and stopped providing military force for the US version of the East India Tea Company?

That's right.  Bitch now about gas prices, but recognize that it is US foreign policy that makes it possible for you to budget your daily life back and forth to work, and the store, and to visit your friends and family.

So much of the worlds' resources flow to the US.  It's just a fact.  It's not because we're awesome, or we're divinely gifted, or somehow superior to the rest of the world.  It isn't because we are "free".

Is it possible to have the advantages of colonialism without the moral cost?  Would you be willing to live in a world where all that oil did not flow to the US?  And what would you say to the billions now on the fringes of Empire?

Thanks for all the fish!  (Hitchhiker's Guide)

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