Jonah Goldberg doesn’t like America being called an empire. This seems to be the crux of his argument:
Your typical empire invades countries to seize their resources, impose political control, and levy taxes. That was true of every empire from the ancient Romans to the Brits and the Soviets.
One could have an interesting discussion of whether or not America actually does impose political control. Mr Goldberg himself implies that we should not leave Iraq because its “democracy is fragile.” Is not imposing democracy imposing political control?
But it’s more interesting to agree with his premises and follow his argument.
His premises are: 1) historically, most empires invade countries to advance their own interests; and 2) the US does not invade countries to advance its own interests (though it seemingly endlessly invades other countries).
This would seem to (obviously) raise the question of why the US invades so many countries.
Unfortunately, he has no answer, though he does reiterate that, “To say we did these things simply for plunder and power is an insult to all Americans, particularly those who gave their lives in the process.”
But to say we did them for no apparent reason or interest is more insulting, no?
– the blogger known as “Foseti” (he’s on my blogroll but you should also check out the original post for some good comments)
Normally I would just drop into your comment box and object to your normally incisive analysis, but I haven’t blogged in awhile so I thought I’d turn this into my own post for some easy material. Anyway, the central problem with your original post is that Goldberg never says the U.S. doesn’t invade countries to advance its own interests. He is silent on the matter of exactly why, as you put it, we do invade so many countries. Now, since I’m personally quite sympathetic to the arguments of the neocons, including the infamous Max Boot (who thinks we should be willing to describe our efforts around the world in imperial terms) I would argue that for the most part there have been basic strategic/national security interest reasons behind all of our recent invasions. I’m sure you and many of your commenters would disagree but you can hopefully understand there is no contradiction between saying, like Goldberg, that the U.S. doesn’t invade countries to maintain a traditional empire but we do invade for reasons having to do with our national security. A good example would be Afghanistan — we wanted to get Osama, the Taliban wouldn’t give him up, so we said we are invading to get him and to end Taliban rule so they won’t be able to use the country as a safe harbor for terrorists.