America's military imperialism may shake domestic democracy to its foundations.
America's military imperialism may shake domestic democracy to its foundations.Given the perspective of history, it is clear that there is no less stable political configuration than the one we have in the United States today-a domestic democracy and a foreign empire. A nation can be a democracy or it can be an empire, but it cannot for long be both. It will either succumb to the temptation to keep its empire and thereby lose its democracy or else try to remain a democracy by getting rid of its empire.The primary example of the first is the Roman Republic, the source of many of America's constitutional protections against dictatorship and tyranny. Institutions such as federalism; the balance of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government; fixed terms in office and fixed dates for elections; the veto; and many other things were borrowed from Rome. But after the assassination of Julius Cæsar in 44 B.C., the Roman Republic decided to keep its empire and, as a result, declined into a military dictatorship.The best example of an empire deciding to retain its democracy is the British Empire after World War II. The English people recognized that keeping their "jewel in the crown"-India-could only be achieved through administrative massacres against the Indian people, a tactic the British had often used in the past. But to do so again, after the war against Nazism, would have turned Britain into a domestic tyranny. It chose to abandon its empire and remain a democracy (while, of course, letting the United States step into its old imperial shoes).Some people question whether what we do abroad as a nation can be called imperialism. The British ruled India, much of Africa, and large swaths of the Middle East through their colonies. They did not dominate these places through consent but through direct military force. Similarly, the Dutch dominated Indonesia, the French Indochina and Algeria, and the Japanese Korea and Taiwan. These, too, we recognize as empires. But what the Russians had in Eastern Europe-a system of satellites from Bulgaria to East Germany, ruled through the Soviet Red Army-was also a form of empire. Moscow dominated these countries through huge military forces stationed on their borders or based in their territories, local pro-Soviet puppets, and economic integration into the Soviet-bloc system.\n\n\n
|Imperialism is invariably accompanied by militarism.|