27 January 2012

Anti-American or anti-American empire?

Americans are a militaristic people. That, I suspect, is why President Obama made praise of the military a major theme in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He began his speech by praising the military and he ended by praising the military. And in between he practically boasted about murdering Osama bin Laden and made it clear he would wage war on Iran if it doesn't come to heel.

Furthermore he stated, with due humility, that "America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs—and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way." In other words, he will maintain the empire.

No doubt Obama felt this appeal to American jingoism is necessary for success in this election year. Unfortunately, it also displays the arrogance that leads many to criticize the United States, criticism that in itself leads to accusations of anti-Americanism. I have been the target of such accusations myself from time to time.

And yet, I am a great admirer of much that is America. I love their respect for the individual, perhaps their greatest strength. I love what their culture has given the world: the blues, Hollywood movies, baseball—my cup runneth over. And I love their irreverence: I love Michael Moore, and Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, and I adore the Montana Supreme Court which recently contradicted the U.S. Supreme Court by ruling that their state's laws limiting corporate donations for political purposes would stand.

But I am anti-American something. Not anti-America the country, but anti-America the empire. I am anti the misguided, self-righteous, violent and all too often hypocritical behaviour the U.S. habitually imposes on the world. I am anti their efforts to dominate the world in their interest.

And I will continue to speak out against the empire. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and as such deserves, as most liberal Americans would no doubt agree, the closest attention. As for accusations of anti-Americanism, that kind of name-calling simply means someone has run out of arguments ... and it isn't me.


  1. Bill, see if you can get your hands on "The New American Militarism" by Andrew J. Bacevich. He's a retired career US Army officer, a combat veteran, who became a professor afterward. In retirement he was able to shed the "Army line" and discovered the world was far from what he had believed it to be.

    Bacevich explains how the America that you and I admired is being lost, perhaps permanently, through the promiscuous union of the US military with political radicalism (neo-conservatism), Christian radicalism (fundamentalism), a military-industrial complex on steroids all operating under the auspices of a bought-and-paid-for Congress.

    As an example, Bacevich chronicles how precision-guided munitions lured the American government into substituting overwhelming firepower for diplomacy as its principal instrument of foreign policy.

    It's an awesome book, Bill.


  2. I'll give it a peek, Mound. Thanks for the tip.