Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff at PostGlobal

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. He overseas the fund's policy programs. He was previously the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly, Die Zeit. Close.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. more »

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The Abuse of "Empire"

In the recent past, nothing has fascinated theorists more than the idea of America as an empire. There has never been anything quite like America's dominance of the world, they argue. Just look at defense spending, economic power and cultural attraction. But the term "empire" may be overused, one that doesn't fit today's U.S.-led democratic political order.

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All Comments (15)

Anonymous:

Putting "American empire" into Google gets 1,430,000 hits, not 33,400,000 as Kleine-Brockhoff asserts. Perhaps he did not use quotation marks in his search - if so, any item with "American" and "empire" will come up, even if the two terms have nothing to do with each other in the document.

SAM:

The USA is undoubtedly the most admired country in the world for its outstanding achievements in science,technology,medecine,culture,art,movies,
space discovery,militaty superiority etc.
All above aschievements belong to the American people and American society.However, on the other side of the equation,there is the US administration and its ruthless and biased foreign policy that draws a striking contrast between the status of the American society and that of US administration.Many people sometimes wonder if such awkward US administartion is a real representative of such great society.

speed123:

Restore the republic! Consider Ron Paul for 2008

Watch the only honest, anti-war, anti-empire, pro-constitution candidate at work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hfa7vT02lA

california condor:

George W. Bush is counting on the Democrats taking the Presidency in 2008 along with a crushing majority in both Houses of Congress. See, that's the only way Bush can save his legacy. The Democrats, the only Party left standing, will be stuck with cleaning up Bush's myriad messes, not only just the Iraq debacle, and The Great Pretender can sit at his ranchette down in dusty Crawford and blame the Democrats for spoiling all his alleged good works which, he'll say, were going great until the Democrats took over. To repair what he has ruined will be the work of a generation or more. It will be a thankless task for the Democrats, and the conservative know-nothings will sit by the side of the road and hurl vile invective while men of good will try to save the nation from the GOP's recent incompetence, criminality and fecklessness. It may be mission impossible, but someone's got to do it.

x2:

Don't worry liberals. Once the Democrats take the White House, they'll turn America from an empire into a second rate nation that does everything that France and the UN tells it to do.

They'll also bend over backwards for the terrorists so that their feelings won't be hurt.

Anonymous:

Of course the United States is an imperial state. That's old news.

The voluble PNAC neoconservatives who authored the script for Bush's foreign policy have been quite open about it. Their pundit ideologues and propagandists relish in the idea.

There's the infamous quote of a White House staffer who said, "Now we're an empire and we make our own reality; the reality-based community will just have to sit and watch." [paraphrase]

The U.S. runs its empire through multinational corporations, globalization structures, international trading agreements and manipulation of indebted governments through IMF and World Bank loans. Read "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins.

And the enormous network of foreign bases in at least 73 foreign countries and maybe more, the U.S. military budget which exceeds most other countries combined, the swollen intelligence budget of many dozens of billions of dollars, and the expenditure of $11 billion a month to subdue Iraq and master its oil reserves, and covert operations abroad to overthow opponents like Chavez -- all this adds to the proof of empire.

That the U.S. seems to be a short-lived empire, one in decline, and a not very competent or attractive one are facts beside the point.

Anonymous:

History will judge soon, because if the USA go bankrupt in a decade, all the friends of the USA will certainly be discredited.

If the USA will survive and be able to continue its relative peaceful domination over Japan, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Iraq ... which is not likely to happen, but if so, then history will be written by the USA, and thus the USA isn't an empire.

As always, history is a set of lies agreed upon.

But I'd bet that the USA will be recoded in history as an empire.

Salamon.:

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff.

The USa started being an empire very soon after Independence Day. Ask the natives who were displaced and slaughtered like animals. Look to wars with Mexico, Spain, etc. Look at the attempt by the USA congress and President to dicatate to sovereign nations regarding financial and other economic/political connections with so called "enemies of the USA". look at the support for the various satraps spread over the world serving the "national interest" of the USA not that of their native citizens. It was not some ghost from years past who interfered in Grenada, Haiti, Nicaraqua, Vietnam, Chile etc.

If forward bases are trip-wires, one wonders why the USA got into a tizzy when the USSSR posted some missiles 70 miles form the USA? and if forward bases are tripwires, why does Uncle sam wants to have X-radar in Checz Republic, when it has all the satellites to watch Russia.

Finally if the USA is not imperialistic, why the Monroe and Eisenhower Doctorines, [central/South America and ME respectively]?

While I can forgive Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff that he blindly backs the USA in too many blogs at WP, it is non-permissible by journalistic integrity to rewrite history. That is the Job of such luminaries as Stalin, Neo-con idiots at AEI, Zionist human right abusers and such.

Yes I agree the USA Empire from start to finish will not last too long as compared to Rome. The end, however, is coming extremely fast partially due to USA's Government's mistakes [deficit, ballance of payments, outsourcing of industry, exhaustion of armed forces]while the matter of Global warming, total population pressure of humanity [ecological footprint], and the consequent limitations on resources all will play a part in the decline.

Richardson:

America gave up imperialism in the first half of the last century. Since then our bases around the world have been, in the vast majority of cases, there to protect (a “tripwire,” as noted above), not to control the flow of resources into the U.S. – a key element of “empire.” Otherwise the Middle East would be under our control, and Iraq’s oil would be flowing into the U.S. (On a side note, those regions with many U.S. bases have enjoyed unprecedented decades of peace.)

Those that insist on the “empire” label for America, inarticulately equating “power” to “empire,” display a real gap in reasoning; but the issue is not a logical one, it’s emotional. If the U.S. ever chose to exercise the sort of power we are accused of using now, the difference would make those who now claim “empire” feel rather small and foolish (as they should even now).

While I don’t think it’s the “most” overused word in the Google age, it’s probably close.

Richardson
dprkstudies.org

On the plantation:

Anyone who has ever been stationed on a military base overseas realizes it's no empire outpost.

More like a human trip-wire than a governing center. Maybe America's being present around the world just shows simple courage to be seen and to assist other national communities at different levels. It might frequently be a waste on our part, but it most definitively is not possession. If empire was our purpose, Okinawa rightfully would be ours for keeps.

Rob:

Thank you, Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff, for your articulate, yet rational, logical and sober editorial to what is for some people an emotional question of US vs. Empire.

I hadn't realized until your editorial:

a) if we were an Empire, the US would likely own the World Record for quickest ascent. Do people really believe this to be true?

and,

b) if an Empire, then one would have to also add, when comparing Empires, the US as having the most compassionate, giving, cooperative, positive, productive and imitated ascent to Imperial status.

Added enlightenment. Peace.

Rob:

Thank you, Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff, for your articulate, yet rational, logical and sober editorial to what is for some people an emotional question of US vs. Empire.

I hadn't realized until your editorial:

a) if we were an Empire, the US would likely own the World Record for quickest ascent. Do people really believe this to be true?

and,

b) if an Empire, then one would have to also add, when comparing Empires, the US as having the most compassionate, giving, cooperative, positive, productive and imitated ascent to Imperial status.

Added enlightenment. Peace.

Author Eric Rouler:

"The United States has been acting as an empire with imperial ambitions for quite some time, certainly long before President Bush II came to power. The administrations of Bush I and Bill Clinton functioned according to the same imperial logic that guides the current Bush administration; the current administration is set apart from its predecessors only by its commitment to use force to achieve its global ambitions. This difference is to be explained by the fact that President Bush II and his Republican Party represent the interests of the neo-conservatives, who will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. The ideology of these neoconservatives is based on an objective fact: since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the United States is the sole world super-power which has the capacity—economic, financial, political, and military—to exercise global power. The neo-cons seek to use the reality of American strength to establish American hegemony."


http://www.logosjournal.com/rouleau.htm

Anonymous:

But the others fact remains, USA is the only democratic power that have its army bases all over the world and is building others bases in Iraq. That's why it deserve the name calling of an empire together with all evil consequences of foreign conquest like Iraq: hundred of thousand dead and million are refugee as the result of the invasion of Iraq: it's illegal, immoral and catastrophic.

So even the author is right that the term is a misused, let's keep in mind that the neocons policy is a empire-inspired one.

Anonymous:

That's it. If Nazi Germany can't become an Empire in 6 years of war against Russia, France, Poland et al. then America also can't. But the irony here is it's Iraq !

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