Empires Suck

A world map of 1945. According to William T.R....

A world map of 1945. According to William T.R. Fox, the United States (blue), the Soviet Union (red), and the British Empire (teal) were superpowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back when I was a young man, I used to love playing the game of Risk.  The object of the game was to take over the world.  Some parts of the world were harder to defend than others, because the borders were much broader.  If you managed to be holding an entire continent when your turn came around, you receive bonus armies.  Of course, Asia was the one everyone wanted to hold, because it provided the largest bonus of armies.  But Asia was also by far the hardest to defend.

I always had the same strategy, if I could pull it off.  I tried to take Australia.  The only way the game allowed to attack Austria was from Asia.  So I would mass my armies at that one point, take one or two Asian countries just to be a thorn in someone’s Asian domination strategy, and then bide my time.  Eventually, the holder of Asian would become weak enough that I would be able to explode out of Australia with my massive army and swallow my opponent in one swift blow.  Then I would take over his war chest and annihilate the board in one swift stroke of victory!  Bwahahahahahahaha!

The point is:  war is costly.  In order to create empires, one must go to war.  Despite whatever overwhelming military force one has, the same truth always applies.  Unless you can achieve total victory, you will eventually achieve total defeat.  And so, the great empires of the world have always gone down in the dust–Egypt, Assyria,Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, the Khans, the Mongols, the Dutch, France, the Manchus, Japan, Germany, Spain, England, Russia, and soon the United States of America.

There will always be countries around this wide world engaged in war.  But we should learn something from the great empirical leaders who have come before.  People do not want to be ruled by foreign powers.  Usually, the masses would rather be free paupers than captive princes.  There are always some exceptions, some middlemen who see some instant money or power by aiding the foreign insurgents.  But, most people equate foreign invasion with a simple change in oppressive rulers rather than a break from oppressive rule.  Foreign fingers in the political pie only cause more chaos and more bloodshed.

When George Bush decided to attack Iraq,  I had no illusions that Saddam Husein wasn’t an evil tyrant who was hated by most of his people.  But I also had no illusion that a massive influx of American meddling was going to result in a much better situation.  Sure, some people are better off without Saddam.  But some people are now subject to genocide who were once protected by Husein.  So, as usual, we didn’t change the game; we merely changed the players.

My real reason for not wanting that war was because I saw in it the end of America.  Without naming names or assigning “blame”, America was in the midst of a pretty good run from 1980 till 2000.  Sure, government spending was still nuts.  But we’d managed to rein in the debt and were beginning to see signs of paying it down, back when it was still a manageable size of our GDP.  Into 2002, we had even managed to fight a fairly low-cost tactical war and strike back at 9/11 conspirators.  Then we decided we need to address Iraq.

I have read many good books on the subject of terrorism.  I understand that we must be aware of and disrupt terrorist operations before they do our country harm.  But, first we must have a country left to harm.  Bush’s war started a pattern of deficit spending that emboldened the succeeding politic to spend this country into oblivion.  Twelve years later, we are still in a war that no one wants, no one follows, and that has no end in sight.English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 w...

Great Briton was the last world empire.  By the 1930’s, it was said that the sun never sets on the British empire.  They ruled Africa, India, Canada, Australia, and countless island nations around the world.  And everyone with a money interest was ecstatically trumpeting the cause of empire.  But, the empire was never at rest.  Wars and mutinies abounded.  And, as the standards of living of the indigenous peoples were raised by their British overlords, the people became harder and harder to suppress.  And, to paraphrase the great rebel Princess Leia, the more the British tightened their grip, the more their satellites began to slip through their fingers.  By 1950, the empire was all but gone.

In the late 80’s, those of us who grew up with the Soviet Union and the Cold War looked on it utter disbelief as the Soviet Empire vanished into thin air.  Those who were born since then will never be able to understand the palpable presence that the “evil empire” had even upon citizens of the West.  The daily focus to “keep ahead of the Russians” was exhausting and, at times, took an almost unbearable toll on out psyche and our economy.  Yet, just like that, it was over.  And it caused our leaders a great dilemma.  Without the Soviets as the focus of our military might and aggression, who was going to fill the void?  Most people assumed it would be China.  But China wasn’t quite ready to assume the mantle yet.  Then Saddam occupied Kuwait.  Suddenly, a new “evil empire” was born.

The new enemy is really an old enemy.  For centuries, English and Russian expansion had threatened to gobble up the Middle East.  Sometimes, America covertly helped the empires.  Sometimes, when it still suited us to thwart the Russians, we backed the rebels.  Too many times, our efforts, like those of the British and Russians before us, have not been seen as “protective” or “liberating.”  There are many who would say that the Islamic fundamentalists are using semantics to turn us into the evil enemy.  That may be well and true.  But we also keep giving them ample reasons to hate us.

What is terrorism to one is defense to another.  This is as true as the ideas of freedom and license.  I have the freedom to swing my arm in the air in any direction I want, until I come to the point of the spot that your face has the freedom to occupy.  If I invade that space with my fist, I may call it freedom, but you will call it license.  You may decide to defend your freedom to occupy your space by cutting off my arm before I can invade your space.  Or you may decide to  punch me in the face before I can swing again.  You call that defense.  I will call that terrorism.  I will scream to the world, “He hit me!  Now I’m justified to kill him!”  This is how empires justify bully tactics and occupation, and annihilation.

Some people claim that we should fear the world takeover plans of the Muslim people.  After all, they have managed to conquer most of the Middle East, the southern Caucasus, central Asia, and northern Africa and are now trying to gobble up the rest of the world by colonization.  This is all true.  And it is indeed empire building.  But again, I must stress what eventually happens to all empires.  This empire have been expanding for 16 centuries, but has only in the industrial age had the oil-backed resources to colonize.  Already in Africa there are signs of the coming collapse.  Without a great enemy to hold up as the straw man that justifies fanatical jihad, the whole thing will collapse under its own record of abuse and oppression.  We need to step out of the way and let that happen.

All the great empires that have preceded America have eventually collapsed under the weight of their “benevolent despotism”.   America now stands at a crisis point.  We cannot continue to bleed the homeland dry in an attempt to project out power around the world.  Americans are tired of feeding the world while its own people struggle to survive.  The peoples of the world are tired of America blindly inserting herself into everyone’s business.  It’s time for this once great nation to start leading by example again.  The way to do that is to once again mind our own business until our way of life becomes what the world envies and not despises.  Bring home the troops.  Close the borders. Kick out the imperialists.  And let’s get busy and fix this thing.

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