Throughout history, governance and relative safety have most often been provided by empires, Western or Eastern. Anarchy reigned in the interregnums. To wit, the British may have failed in Baghdad, Palestine, and elsewhere, but the larger history of the British Empire is one of providing a vast armature of stability, fostered by sea and rail communications, where before there had been demonstrably less stability. In fact, as the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson has argued, the British Empire enabled a late-19th- and early-20th-century form of globalization, tragically interrupted by a worldwide depression, two world wars, and a cold war. After that, a new form of globalization took root, made possible by an American naval and air presence across large swaths of the Earth, a presence of undeniably imperial dimensions. Globalization depends upon secure sea lines of communication for trade and energy transfers: without the U.S. Navy, there’d be no globalization, no Davos, period.
But imperialism is now seen by global elites as altogether evil, despite empires’ having offered the most benign form of order for thousands of years, keeping the anarchy of ethnic, tribal, and sectarian war bands to a reasonable minimum. Compared with imperialism, democracy is a new and uncertain phenomenon. Even the two most estimable democracies in modern history, the United States and Great Britain, were empires for long periods. “As both a dream and a fact the American Empire was born before the United States,” writes the mid-20th-century historian of westward expansion Bernard DeVoto. Following their initial settlement, and before their incorporation as states, the western territories were nothing less than imperial possessions of Washington, D.C. No surprise there: imperialism confers a loose and accepted form of sovereignty, occupying a middle ground between anarchy and full state control.
No other power or constellation of powers is able to provide even a fraction of the global order provided by the United States. U.S. air and sea dominance preserves the peace, such as it exists, in Asia and the Greater Middle East. American military force, reasonably deployed, is what ultimately protects democracies as diverse as Poland, Israel, and Taiwan from being overrun by enemies. If America sharply retrenched its air and sea forces, while starving its land forces of adequate supplies and training, the world would be a far more anarchic place, with adverse repercussions for the American homeland.
THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG!!!
A refreshingly honest admission of the goodness and necessity of a global imperium for universal order and for bringing all the “good” and “wonderful” Western civic values to us. Quite a frank description of the American global military hegemony as quite simply imperialism which military hegemony alone is responsible for the continued “dominance” of the West.
I agree with many of the premises and arguments in this article, but with one very important disagreement, that is, I don’t think it should be an -American- imperialism. Americans have never been very good imperialists (just look at the Philippines) by way of contrast with the British.
But alas, the sun has set upon the British Empire, and the sun is now setting upon the American Imperium as well… I can’t help but see this article as a fading echo, mourning for the collapse of the West dominance and longing for the good ‘ole days of the Western hegemony. It is the tragic awakening unto consciousness of the necessary preconditions for the Western dominance just right before they lose it…