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Some people still feel this way

  1. Oct 31, 2008 #1
    Some people still feel this way....

    My conversation with a good old friend:

     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2008 #2

    Evo

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    LBS, you have to start a dialogue, what exactly do you wish to discuss?
     
  4. Oct 31, 2008 #3
    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    I mostly would like to discuss his comments about Iraq being a dire situation that we needed to act upon to regain leverage in the Middle East.
     
  5. Oct 31, 2008 #4

    Office_Shredder

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    I think it's an interesting question... if America could invade the middle east to capture oil wells and ensure it remains the world's sole superpower for another 20, 30 or 50 years, should we do it? A lot of people would say that's not 'fair', but consider our initial superpower status was heavily derived from the fact that we were the sole large industrial nation insulated from the effects of total warfare in WWII, so it's not really 'fair' that we're a superpower to begin with.
     
  6. Oct 31, 2008 #5

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    The situation in Iraq is vastly improved in recent months (year). As of a few minutes ago, October became the first month since the start of the war that no Americans were killed in Baghdad (and there were just 13 combat and non-combat deaths country-wide: http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2008-10-30-iraqnews_N.htm ). It isn't quite where it needs to be yet, but it is getting pretty close.

    On the larger issue, people today have broadened the definition of "imperialism" to include any aggressive foreign policy, even purely economic ones. By the classic definition (taking over a country and making it a part of yours), the US is not imperialistic. Since the end of WWII, the west in general and the US in particular have decreased the size of their empires.
     
  7. Oct 31, 2008 #6
    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Interesting. Imperialism can also mean "the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations." I think under this definition, you can say the U.S. has become imperialistic to some degree.
     
  8. Nov 1, 2008 #7

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    To what degree? Could you name a country besides Iraq and Afghanistan where that condition exists and explain how that definition fits?
     
  9. Nov 1, 2008 #8
    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Why are you not including Iraq and Afghanistan?
    How many countries are necessary to qualify? Do murderers need to kill more than one person to qualify as being a murderer?
     
  10. Nov 1, 2008 #9

    Hurkyl

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    It should be obvious; Iraq and Afghanistan are still emotionally charged topics that people have difficulty discussing objectively (e.g. the juxtaposition of this comment with your next comment is a demonstration of this).

    I assert that any serious argument that the U.S. has been imperialistic would draw support from many events; so in light of my above comment, I think Russ's request is fair and reasonable.

    The only exception to my assertion I can see is if someone was claiming that the U.S. has only just begun with Afghanistan & Iraq -- but that does not appear to be the case in this thread.
     
  11. Nov 1, 2008 #10

    Astronuc

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Afghanistan and Iraq are rather extraordinary situations with complex histories.

    In Afghanistan (and Pakistan), the prime US goal is to deprive al Qaida (Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, et al) a safe haven from which they can attack the US and allies, and with the Taliban undermine the national governments.

    In Iraq, the US seems to have stumbled into a minefield. Certainly there are economic interests at play. Iraq has large oil reserves, and it would be of interest to some in the US to exert influence and/or control of those resources. Iraq has also presented a national and international security threat vis-a-vis invasion of Kuwait and programs to produce biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and missile systems to deliver them well beyond its borders. Bush and his administration felt compelled to remove Saddam Hussein and his sons from control of Iraq. That has however introduced an instability with the conflict among Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish interests.

    Elsewhere, the US has supported some governments which have not been democratic, e.g. Equatorial Guinea, and last century, Nicaragua (Samoza), Guatemala (Ríos Montt), El Salvador (Roberto D'Aubuisson), . . . .

    On the other hand, if the US does not establish strong economic/political ties, China, Russia and other nations will. China has big projects in Zambia and Dem. Rep. of Congo, and they don't appear to favor the population.
     
  12. Nov 1, 2008 #11
    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Originally Posted by Alfi - Why are you not including Iraq and Afghanistan?

    It was not 'obvious' to me. That's why I asked. Thank you for your explanation.
    I do not agree with 'emotionally charged topics' as a valid reason for those two examples being disqualified though, but I notice Astronuc has supplied additional examples that can be considered and discussed.
     
  13. Nov 1, 2008 #12
    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    I think globalization as a whole could be added as support to the notion that the U.S. is becoming imperialistic. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the United States still the front runner in the globalization movement?
     
  14. Nov 1, 2008 #13

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Actually, though that's true, that's not the reason they shouldn't be included: the reason is that they are situations currently in progress. You can't call them imperialistic unless the US intends to stay in both countries indefinitely and since they are essentially in-progress wars, it is tough to argue either way.

    Yes, the intent, is that we will not stay there indefinitely, assuming you believe our national policy.
    I'm not even looking for many, just maybe one or two real ones where we got our hold on them and didn't let go.
     
  15. Nov 1, 2008 #14

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    I didn't see Astronuc asserting that those were examples of imperialism. All he said is that we supported governments. We support a lot of governments that we have no control over so I don't see how that implies imperialism.

    To put a finer point on it: toppling a government is not imperialism unless the government is replaced by a puppet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2008
  16. Nov 1, 2008 #15

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    That seems to me to be inherrently self-contradictory. If "globalization" was about American imperialism, it would be called "Americanization". Indeed, it is a common American criticism of globalization that are losing control of our own country!

    Could you explain why you think globalization means an assertion of American control (and over whom)?
    Depends what you mean. American companies are going abroad and foreigners are investing in the US at a very high rate, so if that's what you mean then yes. What that has to do with imperialism is beyond me, though. Could you explain?
     
  17. Nov 1, 2008 #16

    OmCheeto

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Like Saddam Hussein in his fight with those heathen Iranians.

    And freedom fighters like Osama bin Laden in his fight against those godless commies.

    If a country can't stand on it's own two feet without "leveraging" it's way into foreign lands, then I would call that a form of Imperialism. But I suppose that's easier than just fixing what is wrong at home.
     
  18. Nov 1, 2008 #17

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Let me put a finer point on it by expanding on that definition, since the definition doesn't really explain much. It requires historical context.

    Up through about WWII, much of the world, including the US, operated under a very simple/straightforward form of imperialism: Country A decides they want country B, so country A invades/annexes country B and makes it a part of country A (or installs a puppet regime). Simple. I call this "classical imperialism" because it is the way imperialism worked for most of human history before WWII.

    After WWII, partly due to the creation of the UN (and yes, with roots before even WWI, but it didn't really stick until after WWII), that form of imperialism ceased to be acceptable. That doesn't mean it isn't still practiced, but it is pretty rare and generally when it happens between medium-sized countries or larger, the international community intervenes (see: Kuwait, 1991).

    Now you guys will have to help me with defining what replaced classical imperialism. I tend to see "hegemony" as being direct and strong control. Syria's strong economic and political control over Lebanon would be a good example. Russia seemingly moving to revert back to the Cold War protective circle of puppet nations would be another (though it is arguable that that is closer to the classical definition, since they seem to be attempting to actually annex territory as well as just exerting influence).

    Due to the morphing of the definition in the past 50 years, this is not a simple issue. If you want to use a morphed definition, you really need to explain not only the definition you are using but why you think it applies. It is often asserted that the US is imperialistic, but I rarely see anyone attempt to lay out an argument for it.
     
  19. Nov 1, 2008 #18

    russ_watters

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Though I disagree with your characterization of them, sure: those are examples where we supported a cause but did not intend to exert any direct or lasting control. So you are agreeing with me, right?
     
  20. Nov 1, 2008 #19

    OmCheeto

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    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    Yes. I agree with you. Classical imperialism is dead. But it has been replaced by strategic meddling, which, depending on the situation, may or may not be a good thing for all parties.

    I would call the liberation of Kuwait a good thing.
    I would have like to have waited for more global support for the second gulf war.
    But only time will tell whether it was good for the survivors.
    I do like to see countries bounce back, like Germany and Japan, after we clobbered 'em.:rolleyes:
     
  21. Nov 1, 2008 #20
    Re: Some people still feel this way....

    I honestly think "globalization" is pretty much "Americanization." I don't see any foreign companies moving over here. I do see a lot of American based companies spreading their economic product overseas which I think could fall under "economic hegemony." I think that point is debatable, depending on how you view it. I'm just trying to get a discussion going on this.

    I'm mostly referring to economic hegemony. I don't think the United States really wants to control Iraq and Afghanistan politically for a long period of time.
     
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