Wooow! I can’t accuse America, my own country, of IMPERIALISM!
Or can I? Yes, America still claims freedom speech, right? What I think is as important as anyone else’s opinion. Maybe more so based on my experience and international point-of-view. Everything I say here is for America’s own good, in my opinion. So I’ll say it again – imperialist!
Americans may and do encourage their government to take actions they think are appropriate to “help” people all over the world, but do we ask those people if they want America’s help. If not maybe that help is not welcome, and America is not making friends. Friends are good. Enemies are bad. Right?
So, what is imperialism? My Webster’s Dictionary says this:
The policy of powerful countries seeking to dominate the affairs of weaker countries.
Very interesting! But could that refer to our America?
Maybe being the world’s only super power and the good guy too, as we all know we are, more imperialist behavior is what the world needs. I suspect many Americans may think that way. But I hope most people do not think that way.
The world has changed a lot since I protested the Vietnam War. I can’t understand what people think any more. But not so long ago many thousands of people rallied in the streets to tell their government that Vietnam gave us no appearance of wanting our help and we were just propping up dictators.
Now, thanks to TIP, lots of countries are questioning our help again.
I like what Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and former SoCal professor, said in his book Dismantling the Empire. “In the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union, US officials seemed unbearably complacent about America’s global ascendency. They were visablily bathed in a glow of post-ColdWar triumphalism. It was hard to avoid their high-decibal assertions that our country was “unique” in history. In the words of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, “the indispensable nation.” “If ever there was a self-satisfied country that seemed headed for a rude awakening, it was the United States. I became concerned as well that we were taking for granted the goodwill of so many nations, even as we incautiously ran up a tab of insults to the rest of the world.” (Emphasis mine.)
My homily – –
Let me offer a short homily to make my point in a different way: What if you have a bunch of kids and your yard is a mess with children’s toys, a tree house, and maybe some cardboard boxes they play in under your watchful eye? It is a great place to play, as kids should.
What if your neighbor has a perfect lawn, or at least he thinks so? What if he asks you to clean your yard because he thinks your yard reflects poorly on the neighborhood? What if he volunteers to clean your yard? You say NO! What if he threatens to call the local citizens organization, the local version of the UN, if you don’t do something soon? How long does this behavior have to continue before you start to get more than just a little angry at that neighbor?
Put this idea onto an international scale, add in a dose of religious, political, and cultural differences too, and you know what I am talking about. If other neighbors get involved the neighborhood can become polarized. Neighbors with nice yards might agree with your neighbor. Those with children might rally to your defense.
You know why America might not be challenged often: military strength, economic influence, gifts to our friends, etc. But, regardless, America isn’t always welcomed to butt into the business of other countries. The US Trafficking In Persons program and the demands it makes on ALL other countries provides an excellent example.
So what was that definition of imperialism again? Was it: The policy of a powerful country seeking to dominate the affairs of weaker countries?
What does TIP really do – –
Trafficking in Persons, conducted by the United States Department of State is not just a report, as many people might think. It is an interactive program with demands made on other countries to change laws and speed up their justice system in regard to anything America defines as trafficking in persons. Countries must increase penalties only for those crimes under the new umbrella of trafficking. Countries are expected to provide special help for victims of trafficking separate and different from any existing welfare / support programs.
Countries are threatened with sanctions if they do not do these things. Yet some of the countries around the world never heard of this new crime called trafficking until the TIP program was forced on them. I am sure some are still trying to figure out what TIP means.
Think back. When was the first time you ever heard the word “trafficking” yourself? In my case it was in mid-2001 and I was working for the Department of State at that time.
Will TIP lead the way to one worldwide police force?
In a recent newspaper story in the Bangkok Post, Agency mulls ex-cop trafficking rap, March 4, 2014 said this: “Thai authorities are obliged to keep the US Embassy informed.” And, “”We need to report every detail to headquarters as they have to update the US on all developments of the trafficking case,” a Kuraburi police officer said.” This is very revealing.
I question whether American citizens want our State Department to have a behind-the-scenes hand in supervising police departments around the world. Is this the slippery path that will eventually lead to one world government, or at least one worldwide police force in America’s image?
If that sounds good to you do not forget that America has a higher percentage of it citizens in prisons than any other country (setting aside North Korea as an abomination) . America has 700,000 people on sex offender lists, including many juveniles, thanks in part to a hyper-religious interest in sex. America has a higher per capita number of rapes than any other first world country. Sexual related sexual attacks are rife in the US military but probably greatly exaggerated on college campuses. If this is the world’s path to one worldwide police force, is it the example the world wants to follow?
So, what should foreign policy be – –
I like what David Fromkin, Boston University professor of history and international relations and author of numerous books including “Kosovo Crossing“, said about foreign policy: “Foreign policy realists argue that the United States should intervene abroad only in defense of the national interest.”
From this I take the opinion that, if the United States expects to find traffickers and their victims everywhere they look then, they should constrain their looking to the United States. There is already a history of witch hunting to find trafficking victims in America. Hey, its our country and it if turns into a disaster, its our disaster.
But overseas just STOP this imperialist behavior. It makes enemies not friends. The handful of unwilling sex workers, proportionately speaking, and people America sees as being subject to slavery-like conditions truly are the responsibility of someone else, unless of course they are in America.
I like what President Obama said, Sept 25, 2012 – –
Quoted in the 2013 TIP Report and abbreviated here: “It ought to concern every person, because it’s a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. . . .”
I agree with my President except for three minor concerns:
First, what do we do if other people are not as concerned as we are? It can’t be the United State that leads all efforts at expressing this concern, this social consciousness, if there are many people / countries who just do not get it in the same way we do. If so, maybe America needs to take a step back and ask if we are acting like the neighbor who thinks he has the perfect lawn and tells others what they must do.
Second, America is quickly making enemies due to our imperialistic behavior as we force other countries to do things against their will, regardless of the worthiness of the social implications.
Third, the USA is making demands for rapid social change from countries that are, in some cases, in the same stage of enlightenment and evolving changes to their culture that America was in not so long ago. But now they must quickly be like us, or else! That is not a friend-making policy.
Wooow! Come to think of it all three of those concerns sound very much alike. But I also think saying the same thing three different ways is a good way to make sure someone hears it the way it makes sense to them. Okay with you? But I especially like my third concern. Should we just wait for other countries to be like us? Pushing ot hard is known not to work well.
How do you define imperialism?
Do you think imperialism is only about military power? Does the USA have to station military forces around the world to get you thinking about possible US imperialism? Well, bear in mind that the USA has 737 military bases around the world with more than a half million troops permanently stationed in 130 countries per the Pentagon’s 2005 inventory. Maybe there are even more now.
Our warrior in the War on Trafficking, the US State Department, has been on a construction binge for several years. Newly constructed American Embassies look like massive modern day fortresses in the middle of many capital cities. Recently an quintessential American tourist told me what happened when he drove past the American Embassy in Phnom Penh Cambodia in a bus and took a picture of his country’s embassy out the window. Security guards came on to his bus and took his camera and confronted him over why he was taking pictures. The pictures were erased. Crazy!
With these thoughts in mind you might have new ways of understanding trafficking. Of course America is the good guy, but are other countries always so sure?