The American Empire

Number of US Military Deployed Around the World, by Country

On this Fourth of July, while everyone celebrates the past struggle for independence from Britain, let us not forget the extent of US influence in the world. The United States posts military in just about every country of geographic consequence in the world, effectively creating an military and economic Empire of proportions never seen in human history.

It would be unconscionable to the US government to allow China to build a military base in British Columbia or Mexico, let alone in Southern California, yet our largest deployments of military might sandwich China between Japan/Korea and Afghanistan. In fact, besides the smallest of states, there are very few countries where we haven’t yet set up shop, which of course include North Korea and Iran**.

Americans love to talk of freedom, but largely (in my opinion) have little clue as to what the word means. Yet, while we proclaim to cherish the often ambiguous concept of “freedom” for ourselves, we deny it to much of the rest of the world by posting weaponry wherever we see fit. Politically, guns in the backyard of a sovereign state castrates that state on the world stage, not to mention creating an environment of dependence on the US to assist in time of military need. The US attitude toward the rest of the world is akin to a mafia led extortion racket, of which Tony Soprano would be proud.

Clearly, though, my opinions on military deployments are not so simplistic, but I felt this an appropriate post for a day which, ironically, celebrates independence from a colonial master. It is a deep and complex issue and I am certainly not going to suggest otherwise. One can argue that some deployments are necessary and do, in fact, contribute to the greater good. However, we, as Americans, must remain aware of the great potential for harm in spreading our influence around the world and continue to question the motivations and aims of the powers that be.

** The data I used to create the map on the left was from 2010, before our incursion into Libya.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

One response to “The American Empire”

  1. julian says :

    Your view is short sided; never has the world enjoyed such peace, yet all the world troubles fall on the U.S. and its allies. History has shown the world has always been ruled by one evil empire to the next, except for one; The United States of America. From Babylonia to the Roman empire there has never been an empire built for peace. Until this time every empire has been built for war; but not U.S., it is an economic power house that was forced in to creating military juggernaut after two world wars that it was forced into by other world powers. Remember the U.S. tried to stay out of both world wars, but it was the empires of those days that took the world nearly to an horrific end. (Those empires are gone, just like the U.S. will be, because once a nation is lock into perpetual wars and outrageous debt, it is doomed. Our enemies in the desert know this, “A thousand cuts,” they plan for us. )

    The U.S. brought both World Wars to and end and at the same time tried to give the world a say in its own future through the creation of the U.N., and still the world cowards behind the U.S., or does nothing at all. Even now as U.S. is lead by weak leadership that wants nothing more then to pull away from the world, evil men rise to take advantage of the U.S. weakness and take nations for themselves. The U.S. only wants to compete economically, but its the world who only wants to take. When the The United States of America falls and it will someday; the next might will make right by pure might. The world again will cry for help, and there will no help to come. You will remember us; you will remember what we truly meant to this world, but we will be gone.

    Those Americans how hate their country so badly will know what it means to truly live under tyranny, and it will hit home, “We chose bad leaders who chose their own bad path, and we did nothing but complained. We voted the same evil men, or voted not at all, allow those evil men to stay in power to make more bad choices. In time the inaction of a people gave evil men permission to do more evil, and in time destroy a nation. We the people; gave up our power to evil men who used their our power to destroy our lives, and the world. We the people did nothing; so evil triumph over good, because good people did nothing to changed the world.”

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