Bribe and gun
And dagger lurk,
For us to make
Our empire work.

Ruling the world, as our government does, is tricky. Uncle Sam can never relax. The moment resisters in some subservient country, like Pakistan, sense weakness, they test him. He can’t afford to be seen as soft and he’s got to keep his eye on previously uncontested lands, like Mali.

Maintaining steady access to a bounty of natural resources is the major goal of this global control. The world is using them up at a heady clip. America dares not fall short of controlling its lion’s share, especially with China’s growing appetite for iron ore, oil, and other commodities.

Happily, we have a helpful tool for getting what we want: conquest. Not necessarily through pitched battle or incessant bombing — though those remain important techniques to trot out from time to time.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have a pretty good grip on how these operations work today. Our Special Forces have a manual that explains it. Recommended tactics focus on paramilitaries, surveillance, censorship, press control, limiting unions, limiting political parties, warrantless searches, arbitrary detention, employing terrorists, false charges of terrorism, false flag operations, and propaganda.

In other words, all the usual stuff of empire. Our embassies, consulates, military liaisons, and army bases have been teaching these tactics for decades. They’re further supported by the State Department-financed National Endowment for Democracy and International Republican Institute. Having been deemed to actually constitute foreign agents, these groups have recently been expelled from Russia, Egypt, and a few other countries.

Normally all these imperial activities go unremarked in the U.S. media. In part, that’s because there’s nothing new regarding the scale of our empire. The Obama administration may have sharply cut troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has also vastly expanded America’s reliance on drone warfare and the scale of U.S. military operations in Africa.

Collins-empire-x-ray delta one

x-ray delta one/Flickr

Plainly, there are other large world players in the empire game. Russia may be a hegemonic has-been, but it still possesses a slew of nukes. In response, we’ve got a massive wall of anti-missile bases around that country — to which Moscow loudly objects. Likewise the Pentagon is surrounding China with bases to menace it militarily in case it gets too economically powerful.

So that’s how the American empire goes in the 21st century. It’s an addiction. Uncle Sam is trying to control every country, propping up his dictator friends and subverting his antagonists, whether autocrats or democrats.

And as our leaders cut Social Security and Medicare to pay the outlandish tab for ruling the world, they have to justify it by claiming that this blessed nation is somehow in mortal danger.

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William A. Collins

OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.

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