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Should the U.S. be an Empire ?

 
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Ok, I admit it, I'm kind of cross-posting

Has anyone read "Colossus" by Niall Ferguson? (I haven't, but I heard him interviewed, and I've read some of the reviews, therefore I'm fully qualified )...

In it, he compares the British empire to the U.S.'s foreign policy over the last 50 years or so. Basically the idea is we act like an empire, we should just come right out and be one - you know making the world safe for democracy

From the reviews, it seems that his view of imperialism is fairly even handed (in other words it's not necessarily a bad thing).

So, being honest about it sounds good to me... maybe being an empire is OK, but we really ought to be upfront and realistic about it. For instance, if we're going to 'convert' Iraq, let's know going in what kind of committment we're making, and what our long term goals are... is Iraq going to be our 'bastion of democracy' in the region?
 
High Plains Drifter
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The only difference between imperialism and any other form of political economy is that taking over the world is an explicit objective.

Show me a country that claims to want no more than what it has and I'll show you the next big pain in the ass waiting to happen.
 
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Well, if the US is going to be an Empire it'd have to have an armistice declared on both sides to discuss peace terms else the war is officially still on.

That's how an Empire would handle the end of a "war". I think.
[ June 03, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
 
mister krabs
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I think it's a really bad idea that we will probably be forced into. The problem is that the more we rely on foreign countries the more we will rely on them doing what we want. We already rely heavily on the Middle East for our oil so what do we do if the Middle East flips us a collective bird and refuses to sell us oil? What do we if we move all our programming to India and India closes down trade with us because we don't do something they want us to do? The Romans ended up with an empire because they had to expand to defend other parts of their empire.
 
Ugly Redneck
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
We already rely heavily on the Middle East for our oil so what do we do if the Middle East flips us a collective bird and refuses to sell us oil? What do we if we move all our programming to India and India closes down trade with us because we don't do something they want us to do?



The concern shown above is flawed. You have a genuine problem with the Middle East because you cannot produce oil on your own. Oil is a limited resource and can be extracted only in certain areas of the world. Software programming on the other hand simply requires trained minds. If India, hypothetically, shuts down trade with US then all that US has to do is train another country or its own people and the problem is resolved.

Moreover, I think the problem is vice-versa in the case of programming. Indians should be more concerned about "what if US decides , for instance, Cambodia is cheaper than India and shuts down trade with us?".
[ June 03, 2004: Message edited by: Paul McKenna ]
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:
Software programming on the other hand simply requires trained minds. If India, hypothetically, shuts down trade with US then all that US has to do is train another country or its own people and the problem is resolved.

Resolved in how long? If there are no US programmers (or the pool becomes much smaller) then who makes the changes to the software while the pool of skilled programmers is redeveloped?
 
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Resolved in how long? If there are no US programmers (or the pool becomes much smaller) then who makes the changes to the software while the pool of skilled programmers is redeveloped?



The above is different from the risk originally stated. So while the above statement acknowledges that talent can be replenished, it may take a while. And that is the calculated risk that the nation needs to make. Wouldnt you then say that India is at a greater risk, simply because a very large percentage of its economy is tied to the US and any collapse in trade with the latter will ultimately collapse its own economy.
 
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
I think it's a really bad idea that we will probably be forced into. The problem is that the more we rely on foreign countries the more we will rely on them doing what we want ...



I agree with this. We also rely on China for cheap consumer goods etc. However, that does not mean that the US has to become an empire. There are two ways to get what you want: persuade or force.

We can work with other countries and let them benefit by cooperating with us. Yes, that probably means more foreign aids and more tax for US tax payers. But we get a stable global system that benefits us most. This is the price we pay! That also applies to the group of people who are hurt in the globalization process inside the US. For example, I strongly support government programs to retrain outsourced IT workers. Yes, that would mean more tax to me but I am willing to accept it because otherwise, the laid-off IT workers will create a big political backlash against the system that benefited me.

Or, we can use our military force to force other people do what we want. BTW, that would also result in tax increase. But I do not think it would work. We have such a hard time beating down Iraq. Can we do this to China or France or India?

You can either spend 200 billion to help or spend 200 billion to kill. If we do the former, we make new friends and make ourselves safer. If we do the latter, we become an empire that everyone wants to rebel against.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:
Wouldnt you then say that India is at a greater risk, simply because a very large percentage of its economy is tied to the US and any collapse in trade with the latter will ultimately collapse its own economy.



To some extent but I would suspect that once India's economy gets rolling it will become a consumer of it's own IT resources. And ultimately, the US is not the only source of IT jobs in the world.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
For example, I strongly support government programs to retrain outsourced IT workers.

But how many McDonald's cashiers does the country need?
 
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
You can either spend 200 billion to help or spend 200 billion to kill. If we do the former, we make new friends and make ourselves safer. If we do the latter, we become an empire that everyone wants to rebel against.



Michael, when was the last time you checked the countries which are the recepients of US monetary aid? Once you have done that, please also check the nations which host the most anti-US elements. You might be in for a surprise!
 
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
To some extent but I would suspect that once India's economy gets rolling it will become a consumer of it's own IT resources. And ultimately, the US is not the only source of IT jobs in the world.



Ultimately, India will not be the only destination for IT jobs in the world. See.. its not a lopsided scenario. If India's economy grows then so will its wealth. And that wealth will be circulated back into the global economy. I am not going to state that US will directly benefit from this circulation of wealth.. but it might indirectly benefit.

Secondly, Thomas, I dont think you may be aware of this fact but the Indian industries have also been massively hit by globalization. My father has been unemployed for the last 2 years because semiconductor manufacturing in India has been outsourced to China. He isnt complaining, instead at the age of 60 he is learning mandarin to try and discuss employment opportunities with Chinese firms.
 
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Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
We have such a hard time beating down Iraq. Can we do this to China or France or India?



Beating Iraq was done in an incredibly short amount of time. The problem is that we decided not to simply beat them down and leave.

You can either spend 200 billion to help or spend 200 billion to kill. If we do the former, we make new friends and make ourselves safer. If we do the latter, we become an empire that everyone wants to rebel against.



Faulty logic I'm afraid. Not everybody can be bribed. People don't see or care what we do to help them necessarily. We could pull our military out of the Middle East totaly, funnel all our aid to Arab and other Muslim nations, adopt policies that are 100% beneficial to that part of the world, and there would still be no shortage of people over there who want to kill us. There is nothing we can do to peacefully combat that idealogy. As long as we are the biggest and baddest around, as long as our culture remains so dominant, our very existance will always be an afront to the many over there. Paying them off won't help us. And as long as we are the biggest and baddest, smaller nations with little military power, inferior economic might, but delusions of grandeur, such as France, will make it the cornerstone of their foreign policy to obstruct us.
[ June 03, 2004: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
 
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Oil is a limited resource and can be extracted only in certain areas of the world

True to an extent. The major reason we get oil from Iraq versus, say, Alaska is because it's cheaper and congress won't let Bush drill where he wants to in Alaska.

To say oil is a limited resource is a bit of a fallacy. Instead of the question "When will we run out of oil" we should question "When will the demand for oil outway the capacity to produce it."
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:
True to an extent. The major reason we get oil from Iraq versus, say, Alaska is because it's cheaper and congress won't let Bush drill where he wants to in Alaska.



I remember seeing one of Kerry's campaign ads recently where it says something like "Kerry promises to reduce our reliance on Middle-Eastern oil". What I have heard (sorry no sources) is that this will not include further exploration (such as ANWR, like we need to do), nor revitalization of our domestic drilling capabilities. The truth is that we can be self-sufficient on oil if we really wanted to, but I guess it's still cheaper to rely on others, so we choose not to be self-sufficient. Honestly I'd rather pay more for fuel and have the increase in domestic jobs than I would pay another cent to the majority of OPEC nations. Hell, I'd rather help revitalize the Russian oil industry and buy oil from them than pay another cent to the majority of OPEC nations.
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:


I remember seeing one of Kerry's campaign ads recently where it says something like "Kerry promises to reduce our reliance on Middle-Eastern oil". What I have heard (sorry no sources) is that this will not include further exploration (such as ANWR, like we need to do), nor revitalization of our domestic drilling capabilities. The truth is that we can be self-sufficient on oil if we really wanted to, but I guess it's still cheaper to rely on others, so we choose not to be self-sufficient. Honestly I'd rather pay more for fuel and have the increase in domestic jobs than I would pay another cent to the majority of OPEC nations. Hell, I'd rather help revitalize the Russian oil industry and buy oil from them than pay another cent to the majority of OPEC nations.



I 100% agree with that!
 
Michael Yuan
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Originally posted by Gregg Bolinger:
True to an extent. The major reason we get oil from Iraq versus, say, Alaska is because it's cheaper and congress won't let Bush drill where he wants to in Alaska.



First of all, we do not get all that much oil from Iraq. If we do, that might somehow justify the war economically. But some people in the administration has screwed up so much that we could not even get oil.

Second, from the studies I read, drilling in Alaska would only satisfy 3% of the US domestic need. It is not going to eliminate our needs on foreign oil. Even the republican congress sees this and would not let Bush's friends drill there -- they can drill all they want in Iraq.

A better short-term approach is to promote gas saving cars like hybrid cars. But then we will be dependent on Japanese technology. Ironic, isn't it.

At last, oil is just a small part of the picture. One thing some of you might especially dislike is the future of medical products. Bush does not allow US scientists to do stem cell research and I know some top talent in this field is doing wild things in China. Would the US consumer pay for the Chinese replacement organ to save lives? You bet. That is much worse than our current dependence on Chinese products in Walmart.
 
Michael Yuan
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Faulty logic I'm afraid. Not everybody can be bribed. People don't see or care what we do to help them necessarily. We could pull our military out of the Middle East totaly, funnel all our aid to Arab and other Muslim nations, adopt policies that are 100% beneficial to that part of the world, and there would still be no shortage of people over there who want to kill us. There is nothing we can do to peacefully combat that idealogy.



I agree with you partly. I did not mean to say that we should withdraw the military from overseas. On the contrary, any successful foreign policy needs a military to back it up. And to deal with people like Bin laden, military is the only solution -- that is why few people are against the afgan war. However, what I am arguing is that the decision to use the military should be based on well researched facts and not just "Jesus-told-me-so".
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
And to deal with people like Bin laden, military is the only solution -- that is why few people are against the afgan war.



Here's what I hear is an interesting book on the subject that's been making the rounds lately. I can't say I've read it myself, but folks approaching it with an open mind may find enough within to be convinced of some connection.

However, what I am arguing is that the decision to use the military should be based on well researched facts and not just "Jesus-told-me-so".

Between this post and the previous one, don't you think we're laying the rhetoric on just a tad thick? I've got some nice rhetoric of my own, but mine leans in the direction most apt to be censored.
[ June 03, 2004: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
 
Michael Yuan
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Between this post and thie previous one, don't you think we're laying the rhetoric on just a tad thick? I've got some rhetoric of my own, but mine leans in the direction most apt to be censored.



My apologies if anyone gets offended. I do not intend to offend Christians -- in fact, I have good Christian friends. Bush did say that part of his confidence in the war comes from his prayers. I think this does more harm to Christians than to anyone else because this links the credibility of the Christian faith to himself. Ok, I'll shut up now.
 
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I've got some nice rhetoric of my own, but mine leans in the direction most apt to be censored.

Be proud!
 
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:



Between this post and the previous one, don't you think we're laying the rhetoric on just a tad thick? I've got some nice rhetoric of my own, but mine leans in the direction most apt to be censored.



How true.
 
Bert Bates
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Again, having read the reviews, and not the actual book, I am totally qualified

One point the book makes is that we seem to be ignoring history. What history shows, over and over again, is that empire building is slow and expensive (actually it's kind of like software development ). In fact, if we were really honest about how long it takes and expensive it is, we wouldn't do it in the first place (also, similar to software development).

So, whenever the Bush 'folks' give us an update, they sound a lot like a software development manager... "well, we're making progress but it's taking a lot longer than we thought, and we're gonna need a lot more money..."

Isn't this all SO predictable?
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:

Faulty logic I'm afraid. Not everybody can be bribed.


Don't kid yourself. Everyone has a price. Everyone. The trick is making sure no one knows what that price is.
 
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Originally posted by Bert Bates:

One point the book makes is that we seem to be ignoring history. What history shows, over and over again, is that empire building is slow and expensive



... and then some nasty dictator triggers a world war and your entire empire gets dissolved....

On a more serious note, the British Empire was a large, capitalist empire, dedicated to trade and money - not really that different from what some people accuse the US of being or wanting to be. The empire didnt last though - partially through the economic strains of the world wars, and partially because we realised that its just a whole lot less hassle (and maybe better economics) to be friendly trading partners with a country than to have a master-slave relationship. Let's face it - imperialism went out with the last centaury.


So, whenever the Bush 'folks' give us an update, they sound a lot like a software development manager... "well, we're making progress but it's taking a lot longer than we thought, and we're gonna need a lot more money..."



Is it me, or does Bush rarely get through a speech without saying "we will prevail"? I always find his speeches slightly strained - he gives the impression of wanting to say an important phrase that will be quoted for years to come... every time he says something. Wanting to make a historical quote is fine (at times like the end of the war this is to be expected), but even when giving a mundane press conference he seems to be speaking in catch phrases and sound bites. I feel like saying to him "Relax, say what you mean rather than what you think will sound good. Chill out a bit".
[ June 07, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
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