I follow Forrest Palmer on social media and when he posted this on Sunday, it totally struck a chord with me:
“I am so cynical now, my only response to the Iran debacle is “Spare me the fake fucking outrage, this is what empires do…””
For real. It’s an unsentimental view expressed with little concern for decorum, and it also happens to be true. “Well said,” in other words.
This is, indeed, what empires do, and the USA is an empire by any honest definition of the term.
Our very existence in North America is an imperial occupation. These lands were violently seized by committing genocide against the original inhabitants, and then shunting most of the survivors into prisoner-of-war camps called “reservations.” This was our original sin.
Like other empires throughout history, we enslaved other humans in order to generate wealth. This was our second founding travesty. It has changed forms over the years but never actually ended, and nowadays is ensconced as the incarceration industry.
From the beginning of the US, power has been concentrated among a small oligarchic ruling class who are hostile to democratic ideals, though they like to talk them up in principle. As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has pointed out, Trump is not the first real estate mogul to be president. That would be George Washington, who built his wealth by selling real estate stolen from the Indians. It’s been a dirty business since Day One.
But our mythology is strong. We are an exceptional nation, a “shining city on a hill,” who everyone else imitates, but nobody else can approach. We are the peak of human history so far, and everything before us was prelude. We can do no wrong.
That’s empire, alright: bloated, brazen and full of bullshit.