Just recently, I was accused by a writer for the ultra-Right Washington Times of being a "defeatist" when it comes to America's expansionist military policy abroad. The giveaway, it seems, is that I penned a book for the American Empire Project -- a series of critical volumes published by Metropolitan Books. Contributors to the series, the article claimed, want "a retreat from Iraq to be the prelude to a larger collapse of American preeminence worldwide." My initial response on reading this was to insist -- like so many anxious liberals -- that no, I am not opposed to American preeminence in the world, only to continued U.S. involvement in Iraq. But then, considering the charge some more, I thought, well, yes, I am in favor of abandoning the U.S. imperial role worldwide. The United States, I'm convinced, would be a whole lot better off -- and its military personnel a whole lot safer -- if we repudiated the global-dominance project of the Bush administration and its neo-conservative boosters.Klare says a lot more in this piece, but one of the things I'd like to flag especially is this:
Let's be very clear: the pursuit of empire and success in what the President calls "the global war on terrorism" are mutually incompatible. The more we seek to dominate the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa, the more we will provoke anti-American fury and the very violent extremism with which we claim to be at war.So the spread of democracy and the war on terrorism - roughly speaking, the only two redeeming elements ascribed to American foreign policy - are both undermined by America's desire to remain the last superpower. Indeed, when it comes to choosing between forwarding American power or any other initiative, imperialism wins. This was a dilemma faced by the British Liberals back in the 1800s as well: When it comes to Empire vs. Civlization, Empire wins every time.
Recent polling data suggests that hostility toward the United States is on the rise in all of these areas and that our hegemonic policies and hypocritical stance on the spread of democracy are largely responsible for this. Only by repudiating the unilateralist military doctrine of the Bush administration and withdrawing most of our forces from these areas can we hope to achieve a reduction in militant anti-Americanism. By rejecting unilateralism, moreover, we can secure the assistance of local officials whose help is desperately needed to identify and root out hidden terror cells.
The only way for America to be put on the right footing again is for the military to pull back from non-essential areas, to reduce the number of essential areas (by reducing dependence on imports, especially oil), and build up America's allies to the point where they can defend themselves against plausible rivals - a job that is basically complete in Europe and Asia.