Does the American Empire Deserve to Die?

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 Exclusive to STR

November 2, 2009

I’m halfway through a reflective book written by an old curmudgeon. Part patriot, part historian, all gadfly, Gore Vidal wrote Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia in 2004, just before the upcoming national elections. Almost a time capsule coupled with dire prophecy, the book is a sober, sometimes cynical look atAmerica .  Vidal warned specifically against the electronic voting boxes and the Help America Vote Act ( HAVA ) especially. Yet Vidal optimistically entertained the idea GWB might lose the 2004 election.  

Not a chance.  

“We hate this system that we are trapped in, but we don’t know who has trapped us or how,” wrote Vidal. “The American press has generally shied away from telling us about ballot fraud . . . . Yet at the dawn of the empire, for a brief instant, our professional writers tended to make a difference.”  

Vidal traced that “dawn” back to the Spanish-American War at the turn of the 20th Century. Yet the historian in him also notes that we’ve always been empirical, back beyond the so-called Mexican War more than 50 years before that. So why haven’t our professional writers of today readily admitted that we are indeed an empire and have been an empire for a very long time, and yes, that we indeed “create our own reality”?  

So I posed the question to various well-known and respected writers from the left, right and center: Does the American Empire deserve to die, and if NOT, why not?  

“Our founding fathers never intended the country that they created to be an empire,” replied Paul Craig Roberts, former top Reagan Treasury official.

Roberts, who penned such un-Reaganite columns as “The Rich Have Stolen the Economy” and “The US as Failed State”, added: “The political system is unresponsive to the American people.  It is monopolized by a few powerful interest groups that control campaign contributions.  Interest groups have exercised their power to monopolize the economy for the benefit of themselves, the American people be damned.”  

American people be damned?  

So the empire would then deserve to die, right?  

“Short answer: Yes,” replied columnist Dave Lindorff.  “If America cannot change and become a nation that promotes peace and harmony and defends and encourages real democracy, then it is more of an evil than a good and as an empire, especially, deserves to die. Nothing good can come of empire, which is fundamentally exploitative.”  

Lindorff composes columns for Counterpunch.com such as “Depleted Uranium Weapons: Dead Babies in Iraq and Afghanistan Are No Joke."

Some conservative media heavyweights might disagree.  

“Doug — I think the USA should return to the limited government of our Founders — I laid out that case in America For Sale,” wrote conservative Jerome Corsi. His book titles, like The Late Great U.S.A and The Obama Nation, would seem to imply that America, as a nation or republic was doomed, mostly due to liberal policies rather than a concerted, behind-the-scenes, bipartisan effort.  

Likewise longtime activist and 9-11 truth advocate Devvy Kidd politely replied to me: “Do I believe our constitutional republic should die? Of course not. Do I support the destructive foreign policies over the past five or six decades? Of course not. A return to true constitutional government under our Constitution will do just fine.”  

Nice to see some people believed a return could happen before we expire, like Rome , during the worst abuses of the Caesars.  

“I suppose all Empires deserve to die in the end, usually when the marginal rate of return to inhabitants becomes too burdensome, as with Rome ,” concurred Alexander Cockburn, editor at Counterpunch.com.  

“Key for me is that all empires overreach and self-destruct,” replied columnist Stephen Lendman, of the Centre for Research on Globalization. “We sure as hell are doing it big time, and one of my (radio show) guests makes an important point. Having been a former high-level insider, she believes the power elite has given up on America . They're sucking all the wealth out of the country and us, taking it abroad with our jobs, and when the economy is fully drained, down the trash we go. Meaning? America is just another banana republic. I believe her, and also believe all empires die, no exceptions. We truly deserve it and not a moment too soon. We won't be missed.”  

STR columnists seem to have a better grasp than most, since they appear to consider the power of the individual vs. the power of the state on an almost daily basis.  

“As to your question, the first part would definitely be yes,” wrote Alex Knight, “though that need not mean the death of America . . . . Remember, the thrust of your question was empire -- something America need not be, wasn't once, and would be better off NOT being.  All of that said, it is possible that the end of the American empire will also involve total domestic implosion--revolution, civil war--who knows what.  There are a lot of possibilities that extend from answering Yes.”  

Do ALL empires deserve to die? Or just some more than others?  

George Smith wrote: “The word ‘deserves’ is a bit tricky, but otherwise if you're asking whether I would like to see the empire die, the answer is emphatically yes.  Empires necessarily entail war and a resource-consuming military establishment . . . The government has been very successful in keeping Americans believing most of what it does is, at worst, a necessary evil.  With that kind of support, the empire can make the claim it deserves to exist.”  

History is undeniable. All empires die. No exceptions; only a matter of time when.  Whether all empires deserve to die, even our own, is arguable. In any case, the implication is that we the people do not. Whether left, right or centralist, the implication is that the republic may be a distant memory or a myth but a fond one. No power of recollection, no road map back, no more Manifest Destiny (if we ever had one), unless some serious, SERIOUS reunification happens soon. An ethical revitalization, if one is ever possible, at the most crucial moment in a tottering empire’s lifespan.    

Personally, I believe that all empires deserve to die, some sooner than others. Just imagine the tens of millions of innocent people crushed beneath the juggernaut of the American Empire in the past century and then try your best to justify their deaths. Could you? If you can, than yes, Americadeserves to survive and thrive, but if not, we deserve the trash heap as a grand idea that failed, drowned in blood. I wish it were not so, but wishing doesn’t make it so, only worthy efforts.  

Good Luck to us all, and to those nations around us.

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 133

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman enjoys exploring the occasional ghost town or spooky conspiracy and can be found wandering the back roads of America. Recently Doug finished writing, directing and producing an independent feature film, naturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA.