Can We Move Away From The American Empire?

Our American Empire is unraveling before our very eyes. On Tuesday the Brazilian newspaper O Globo revealed that our National Security Agency’s spying program extends all the way to Latin America, basing it’s reporting on a set of documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The newspaper showed that the NSA has been recording the telephone calls, communications, and electronic data on the citizens and officials on a group of countries including Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

Even more concerning, the NSA has focused it’s Latin American spying operations on those countries’ natural gas and energy industries. The program that they run to do this is named ‘boundless informant’. For Venezuelans, Mexicans, and Brazilians, those revelations were pretty shocking and angering. But they shouldn’t be surprising. That’s because the United States of America is an empire, and like all empires from the Roman to the Spanish to the British, it needs to maintain control over other countries, especially other countries that can provide us with essential natural resources, like oil.

Sometimes the empire keeps control over other countries by invading them, sometimes by economic bribery, and sometimes by supporting covert action against foreign governments, like the way Reagan did with the Contra’s in the 1980s. Other times like the O Globo report shows, our empire preserves it’s power by winning the information game, by spying. Snooping on Mexican gas executives and Brazilian bureaucrats is just another way for our empire to keep itself on top of the global throne. Constant warfare and foreign adventures like spy games with Latin America are the way empires work. By directly and indirectly controlling much of the world, empires can ensure a steady supply of all those natural resources and strategic alliances that keep them on the top. Empires in a sense are predators or parasites, they suck the marrow out of the bones of everyone else, in order to grow and thrive.

But in the end, as historic global powers like the British, Romans, and Spanish eventually found out, empires fall and they fall because their empires. Those very things that make a country an empire have their own built-in limitations that end up bringing that empire down. For example, it’s pretty damn expensive to keep building military bases all over the world. It’s pretty expensive to go to war every decade or so, and it’s expensive to fund those institutions that direct and manage that imperial war machine. Eventually those costs become too much to bear, or the resources become depleted, and the empire falls.

American Empire


But empires aren’t fragile just because they cost a lot, one of their other weaknesses is that the very tactics they use to keep themselves in power, end up inciting other countries to rebel against them. The British learned this from their experience with….US….and their experience with Ghandi in India. The desire for self-determination is a fact of human nature, and because empires deny this basic right, they invite backlash. But for Americans, the worst part of our imperial power posture is that it funnels resources away from our problems here at home.

Look around you. Our roads, bridges, and water treatment systems are crumbling. Our cell phone service is spotty and our broadband is some of the slowest and most expensive in the developed world. Even our trains are state-of-the-art…..for the 19th century…..and a joke compared to those of Europe, Japan, South Korea, and China. Increasingly, as we have had to divert more and more of our natural resources to our empire, our social safety net and our education systems have disintegrated.

Our country faces a number of pressing problems, and none of them will be solved by building more military bases in Japan, or snooping on Mexican oil executives. These problems will only be solved by taking the money and talent that we are now using to prop up our declining empire, and putting that money to work rebuilding America, revitalizing our economy, and rejuvenating our middle class. History has proven this over and over again. The Roman, the Spanish, the British, the Mayan, the Aztec, every empire you can think of, grew powerful by military conquest and foreign adventurism, but eventually they all over-extended themselves.

This weakened the very foundations of their nations, and in the end they all fell. Some collapsed so completely there is barely a remnant left, while others like the British empire which ended in the early 20th century, made a reasonable and rational transition from empire to nationhood. The United States should learn from these examples and draw down our empire before it’s too late, before we’ve collapsed into a pit so deep we’ll never be able to get out. Let’s end the empire, and put America and Americans first.

This full transcription first appeared on Ingenious Press. Like us here on our Facebook Page.

Can America Move Away From Empire?” is an original production from The Big Picture on Russia Today.