In his press conference last night, President Bush said, As a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America. We’re not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We’re a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest as well.
Unfortunately, the president continues to maintain the official line that imperial powers throughout history have taken that the U.S. government and its enormous military-industrial complex wages wars of aggression for liberation rather than foreign occupation and domination. Perhaps Bush is unaware that he was echoing a line by the British imperial general Stanley Maude, who, after marching his military forces into Baghdad in 1917 in order to establish British Empire rule, declared, Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.
As Chalmers Johnson explains so well in his new book The Sorrows of Empire, Americas imperial rule is reflected by the large number of military bases posted in more than 100 countries around the globe, manned by some 350,000 U.S. overseas troops. In the presidents words, just ask Germany and Japan, which still have U.S. military bases in their countries nearly six decades after the end of World War II.
Of course, we can only hope that Bush isn’t echoing the claim by Americas ally in World War II the Soviet Union, a brutal communist power akin to Nazi Germany that its 45-year occupation of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other Eastern European countries was actually a liberation of the people living in those countries.
The president also emphasized in his press conference that the violent opposition to the U.S. occupation in Iraq is nothing more than a power grab. What he failed to explain, however, is why Iraqi public officials appointed by the U.S. government are any more legitimate than Iraqi citizens who have assumed power without the consent of U.S. officials.
In fact, isn’t that what the violent fuss in Iraq is now all about and why U.S. soldiers are being sacrificed not to liberate Iraq (Remember: Saddam Hussein is now in jail!) but over who is now going to hold the reins of power in Iraq? Will the new ruling regime in Iraq be U.S.-appointed Iraqi puppets who are willing to do the bidding of U.S. officials, especially after having large amounts of U.S. taxpayer cash stuffed into their pockets and bank accounts, or independent Iraqis, ones who are unwilling to obey mandates and orders issued by U.S. government officials?
And isn’t that the real reason political power, not freedom that U.S. officials have devoted their entire efforts for the last year toward establishing a U.S.-appointed regime (the Iraqi Governing Council) rather than organizing national democratic elections elections that would probably result in the ouster of all U.S. military forces from Iraq?
If only the president had acknowledged that by abandoning our founding principles of republic in favor of empire, our nation has strayed off course, with disastrous consequences not only for the American people but also for the people of the world. What America needs so desperately today is not a debate on how to invade, occupy, and rebuild foreign countries but rather on whether the time has come to dismantle Americas military empire and restore the republic envisioned by our ancestors.