To Hell with Empire

“If we continue on this course of reflexive interventions, enemies will one day answer our power with the last weapon of the weak-terror, and eventually cataclysmic terrorism on U.S. soil." So I predicted in these pages in 1999.

On September 11, 2001, "cataclysmic terrorism" struck America as three Boeing 767s crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, bringing down the towers and crushing and burning to death three thousand people.

Now let me repeat the warning: If this Prodigal Nation does not cease its mindless interventions in quarrels and wars that are not America's concern, our lot will be endless acts of terror until, one day, a weapon of mass destruction is detonated on American soil. What is it about global empire that is worth taking this risk?

Page 44 of this book offers a war scenario in which, after U.S. special forces run down Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, his terrorists retaliate with a crude atomic weapon in the port of Seattle. During the Afghan war, there were reports that al Qaeda had sought such a nuclear weapon and may have built a" dirty bomb."

With China, North Korea, and Pakistan possessing nuclear weapons, with "suitcase" atom bombs reportedly missing from old Soviet arsenals, with Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran working on weapons of mass destruction, it is a virtual certainty that such weapons will be used in an American city if we do not dump overboard our neo-imperialist foreign policy.

"Why do they hate us?" When some Americans raised this valid question about September 11, they were accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, as if exploring the motives of those who attacked us was the same as justifying their heinous actions. Hard analyses were evaded. Instead, we were instructed to believe that we were attacked because of our virtues. We are a target, said National Review, "because we are powerful, rich and good." Republican leader Jack Kemp said our enemies "hate our democ- racy, our liberal markets, and our abundance and economic opportunity, at which the terror attacks were clearly directed." At a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush gave this response to the question of "Why do they hate us?":

They hate us for what they see in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote, and assemble and disagree with each other.

If these analyses are correct, it would appear that bin Laden and his gang in Tora Bora had simply stumbled onto a copy of the Bill of Rights and gone berserk.

The president later professed himself astonished at the vitriol directed at America: "I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. ...Like most Americans, I just can't believe it because I know how good we are."

What is it about Americans that we have so often lacked for the gift that the poet Burns said was the greatest the gods could give us-"to see ourselves as others see us"? For the simple truth is: We are not hated for who we are or what we believe; we are hated for what we do. It is not our principles that are despised; it is our policies.

We Americans have been behaving like the Roman Empire. Between 1989 and 1999, we invaded Panama, smashed Iraq, intervened in Somalia, invaded Haiti, launched air strikes on Bosnia, fired missiles at Baghdad, Sudan, and Afghanistan, and destroyed Serbia. We imposed embargoes and blockades on Libya, Iran, Iraq, and dozens of other states. The Iraqi sanctions may have caused the deaths of 500,000 children. When Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under President Clinton, was asked if this horrific toll of Iraqi children was justified, she replied, "We believe the price is worth it."

No doubt, in every instance America acted out of good and noble motives, but can we not understand how others might resent the "Dirty Harry" on the global beat? And how has all this neo-imperialism profited our people?

The blow-back has been an Arab-lslamic resort to "the last weapon of the weak." Terrorists blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; Khobar Towers, the American military base in Saudi Arabia; the USS Cole; and the World Trade Center. Other plots to blow up U.S. airliners, subway trains, and airports were aborted-at least until September 11.

Why did Osama bin Laden target America? Not because we are a democracy, but, by his own testimony, because he wanted the American infidels off the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia that is home to Islam's holiest shrines. The terrorists were over here because we are over there.

"You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bitten," ex-President Herbert Hoover had written friends on the day of Pearl Harbor. On September 11, this country was again bitten by rattlesnakes upon whose nest we had trampled.

None of this is written in defense or absolution of bin Laden's mass murderers. When these fanatics slaughtered thousands of Americans, Mr. Bush's war to run al Qaeda down and destroy the Taliban that had given them sanctuary was America's war, our war, a just war. But now that we have overthrown the Taliban and uprooted the command structure of al Qaeda, it is time to ask, "Quo vadis?" Where are you going, America? What are we doing over there? What benefit do we derive from an immense military presence in the Arab and Islamic world to justify September 11?

To his credit, President Bush has recognized and jettisoned the hubris of the Clinton administration, whose secretary of state, Madame Albright, once volunteered, "If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future." But the president must still recognize that, only yesterday, Arab peoples looked upon America as a beacon of hope, a champion of the oppressed, a light unto the nations. Now millions see the United States as an arrogant empire that flaunts its power, props up corrupt dictatorships, and spreads its ungodly culture among their young. How can we call a policy that reaps such a harvest of hatred a success?


In the Middle East and Islamic world, what vital interests are there for which we should risk our own peace and security? Oil and Israel, we are told.

But, to answer the oil question, read pages 379-382. America not only has oil of her own, we have access to the oil of Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Angola. There are vast untapped deposits on the North Slope of Alaska, in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of California. We are rich in clean-burning coal and natural gas. We built the world's first great hydroelectric dams. We invented nuclear power. Would we really rather risk atomic terror in American cities than inconvenience the caribou of Prudhoe Bay? Are we so intimidated by the accident at Three Mile Island--which cost not a single life--that we will risk a second September 11 rather than build more nuclear power plants?

Then there is Israel, another so-called vital American interest. In fact, at the heart of the Middle East conflict is the Israeli occupation and creeping annexation of Arab land in Gaza, in East Jerusalem, and on the West Bank, seized in the Six-Day War of 1967. Some 370,000 Israelis now live in these occupied territories, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continues to subsidize new settlements. This is what is behind the two Palestinian lntifadas that have been marked by terrorism against Jews, and Israel's use of assassinations, tanks, and gunships to crush the uprisings. Dozens of Jewish children have been massacred at pizza parlors, in nightclubs, and on buses, and hundreds of Palestinian children have been shot to death, with thousands wounded.

And though it has received $100 billion in U.S. arms and aid over the past thirty years, Israel has contemptuously dismissed U.S. demands to stop building settlements on Arab land. And, despite our generosity, Israel suborned the traitor Jonathan Pollard to loot our vital secrets, lied about it, and then sold the technology for our Patriot and python missiles, and the AWACS and F-16, to Communist China.

Israel looks out for Israel first, and Americans must start looking out for America first. Because our interests as a world power are broader and greater, and may conflict with the annexationist agenda of Sharon, America must make known to the Arab and Islamic world that Israel does not have a blank check from the United States. We can no longer give preemptive absolution to an Israeli regime that could drag America into a war of civilizations with the Arab and Islamic world-and there is reason to believe this is exactly what Ariel Sharon has in mind.

It also seems this is what some Americans are hoping for. Among them is Paul Wolfowitz, Pentagon author of the "Wolfowitz Memorandum" of 1992 (see pages 7-10), a scheme for American empire by a which the United States would use force to block the rise of all regional powers, and go to war with Russia, if necessary, to keep her out of the Baltic states. Wolfowitz's memorandum drips with the arrogance of power and hubris that took hold of our foreign policy elites after our sudden, stunning victory in the Cold War. Under George W Bush, Wolfowitz is now back at the helm of affairs as deputy secretary of defense, and he has argued forcefully for an invasion of Iraq. Noisily echoing him have been his neoconservative comrades at The Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary, and The New Republic, and on the op-ed pages of the nation's newspapers.


With their freedom and security now at risk, Americans must speak up and speak out on what they want their country's foreign policy to be, or that policy will be imposed without their being consulted.

To neo-conservatives, the U.S. goal is clear: exploit our position as the world's sole superpower to impose a Pax Americana on mankind. If we accept this as America's national purpose, the only objection to the interventions of the 1990s was that there were not enough of them; and defense spending should double or triple, from today's 3 percent of gross domestic product to the 6 percent of the Reagan years, or the 9 percent of the Eisenhower era.

But for believers in the Old Republic (see pages 364-365), this would disgrace the memory of our Founding Fathers and betray the vision for which America came into existence. Pax Americana--or, in its more prosaic formulation, "benevolent global hegemony"--is a prescription for what one historian has a called "permanent war for permanent peace."

But if we reject the vision of America as the new Rome or the twenty-first-century reincarnation of the British Empire, what alternative do we offer?

It is this: Foreign policy is the shield of the republic--to protect our freedom, our citizens, and our honor. As Jefferson wrote, the policy of the United States should be "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none." And as John Quincy Adams added in 1821, America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

This is who we are and what we believe. This is the foreign policy we ought to pursue, for, with the Cold War over, who threatens our republic?


Of all nations, Russia alone, with its vast nuclear arsenal, has the power to destroy the United States. But with the Soviet empire dead, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the Soviet Union broken up into fifteen states, and the Red Army back inside Russia's borders, we have no ideological, territorial, or historic quarrel with Mother Russia.

"Russia is a natural ally for the United States," I wrote in this book (page 386), and President Bush should be commended for bringing Russia in from the cold. She belongs to the West, and no new NATO expansion is worth the price of her permanent alienation.

As for China, the Clinton policy of appeasement, seconded by the corporate conservatives in Congress, provided this callous, lax brutal regime with $400 billion in trade surpluses in the 1990s. China used this immense transfer of western technology, factories, and capital to build itself into a regional power, on the way to becoming a world power. And China's path to power is clear: expansion and hegemony in Asia, with the end goal of pushing America back across the Pacific.

Readers of this book may see parallels between China's path to power in Asia and how an aggressive, expansionist America rose to power in the Western Hemisphere. Beijing intends to subdue Islamic separatists in the west and Tibetans in the southwest by force and mass migration, as the Jackson-Polk-Grant generations subdued Indians and Mexicans in our own west and southwest. China will then seize the disputed islands in the South China and East China seas: the Spradys, the Paracels, the Senkakus, and Taiwan. By migration into sparsely populated lands to the north where Russians are dying out, Beijing plans eventually to recapture the “lost territories” taken by the tsars in the nineteenth century. As China's power waxes and U.S. power wanes, Beijing will attempt to push America out of Asia, as the United States pushed Spain and Britain out of North America--for every great power establishes its own Monroe Doctrine.

But is a U.S.-China war therefore inevitable? No. China's pre-eminence in Asia may be an inevitability, but it does not imperil any vital U.S. interests. Moreover, an expansionist China must collide with Asian nations, all of whom distrust her, and many of whom will fiercely resist being vassalized. These Asian peoples did not break free of the Western empires only to submit to the hegemony of the Middle Kingdom.

The Uighurs, an Islamic people determined to carve anew East Turkestan out of China's far west, will impede Beijing's drive into central Asia. Vietnam claims the Paracels, the Philippines have claims in the Spradys, and Tokyo will not politely surrender the Senkakus. Southeast Asia will not meekly acquiesce in Beijing's control of the South China Sea and its oil resources. And Russia must soon awaken to the peril to her territorial integrity. Thus, an expansionist China, by bullying and threats, could call into being alliances to resist her drive to Asian hegemony. America need not put herself in harm's way.

And if we believe time is on the side of freedom and democracy, let us avoid a clash with a belligerent China and let the acids of modernity and a rising middle class do the work of subverting tyranny in Beijing.

In the U.S.-China relationship, the great issue is Taiwan and the great question is: Should the U.S. fight an air-and-naval war with China if Beijing attempts to return the island to the "embrace of the Motherland"?

President Bush should think long and hard before committing us to go to war for the independence of Taiwan. For President Carter long ago abrogated the U.S. mutual security treaty with Taiwan, and Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all agreed that Taiwan is apart of China. American presidents sold this pass a long time ago. We cannot walk the cat back.

But, while the United States has no treaty commitment to Taiwan, this is not to say America has no moral obligation to Taiwan's people or no interest in their fate. For America to stand aside and permit China to drag Taiwan, like some fugitive slave, back home to the plantation would be seen by the world as an Asian Munich.

What should U.S. policy be? First, inform Taiwan that its defense is first and foremost its own responsibility. If Britain, with only Spitfires and Hurricanes, could defeat the Luftwaffe and abort a Nazi invasion, Taiwan-with one hundred miles of ocean between the island and mainland--can turn back a Chinese invasion or defeat a blockade. In truth, China does not have either the air supremacy or sea lift for a successful invasion, and as for the missiles China is targeting on Taiwan, Taiwan can match these with missiles of its own.

The future of Asia is for Asians themselves to determine. Unless directly attacked, the United States ought not to fight another war such as Korea or Vietnam. And, to avoid being drawn into such a war, we should let lapse our old alliances with South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, remove U.S. troops, restore Okinawa to Tokyo, and base our fleets and Marines in Guam, Midway, and Hawaii. Anti-Americanism in Asia would evaporate and North Korea's nuclear threat would vanish. Equally important, only the shock of a U.S. strategic withdrawal from the Western Pacific will convince these nations to do what they should have done long ago-buy the weapons and build the regional alliances for their own defense.

With six Asian nations now possessing nuclear weapons, and Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan capable of producing them, the U.S. should restore to itself full freedom to decide when, where, and whether to intervene in future Asian wars. America has been blessed by Providence with great oceans between her and the blood-soaked continents of Europe and Asia. Why surrender this advantage and make America a front-line fighting state when there is no vital U.S. interest at risk on either continent and the nations there are rich enough and populous enough to provide for their own defense?

The model for U.S. foreign policy should be the Nixon Doctrine of 1969, by which America provides the defensive weaponry that Free Asia needs but American boys do not do the fighting Asian boys should do for themselves. America's interest in a free Asia, great though it may be, cannot be greater than the interest of Asian peoples themselves. They should, they must, take the lead in the defense of their own freedom and sovereignty.


With the overthrow of the Taliban and eradication of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, "Islamism," an ideology rooted in Islamic extremism, sustained a crushing defeat. But what continues to unsettle Americans is the television footage of Islamic peoples cheering the slaughters of September 11. Is the predicted "clash of civilizations" at hand?

Not a few in the Islamic world and the West believe this is so, and some ardently desire it. And, with the War Party cawing for an attack on Iraq, with Ariel Sharon unleashed, and with our press demanding a reappraisal of U.S. ties to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, a clash of civilizations between Islam and the United States has become all too possible.

President Bush, however, seems instinctively and wisely aware that such a conflict would be a disaster for this country. For no matter how many casualties we inflict or battles we win, we can- not kill Islam as we killed Nazism, fascism, and Bolshevism. Islam has survived for almost 1,600 years and is the principal faith of forty-seven countries; it is indestructible.

Astonishingly, in 1938, when the Muslim world lay dormant under the heel of Western empires, a famed Catholic writer presciently predicted that Islam would rise again. Wrote Hillaire Belloc, "It has always seemed to me probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent."

And indeed, Islam is rising again. But, while America should seek to avoid any such clash of civilizations-for this would provide no benefit to the West--if Islamic radicalism seizes control of numerous nations, war may be unavoidable. And if it comes, how stands the balance of power?

In wealth and might, the West is supreme, though wealth did not prevent the collapse of the European empires and might did not prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire. Rome was mighty and Christianity weak, but Christianity triumphed over Rome. Islam 's strengths, too, are in the moral, not the material, realm.

Islam is a militant faith, while Christianity is milquetoast, and if demography is destiny, the West seems doomed. It is as difficult to find a European nation where the population is not dying as it is to find an Islamic nation where the population is not exploding. And while the warriors of Islam are willing to suffer defeats and death--some eagerly seek martyrdom--Western Man recoils at casualties. They are full of grievance; we are full of guilt. Islam imposes its faith, while the West preaches that all beliefs are equal.

Thus, in any war of civilizations lasting decades like the Cold War, Islam cannot be counted out. It is the fastest growing faith in Europe and has already surpassed Catholicism worldwide. And as Christianity dies in Europe and churches empty out, mosques are going up. To defeat a faith, you must have a faith. And what is ours? Individualism, equality, democracy, pluralism, la dolce vita? Can these overcome a fighting faith, almost 1,600 years old, and rising again?

To avoid a clash of civilizations, Americans should back off from confrontation with the Islamic world and let these peoples work out their own destiny. In every country where Islamism was imposed--Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan--it has failed. And after two decades of bristling hostility and total estrangement between Iran and the United States, a young Iranian generation has voted twice to reject the rule of the mullahs and reach out to America. As in the Cold War, where we were disparaged by those we defended, our best friends may be those forced to live under the boot of our adversaries.

The great criminals of modernity have been the tyrants who treated human beings not as ends in themselves with intrinsic value, but as means to their ends. This was the crime of Lenin, Stalin, Hider, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot. And it is a sin against patriotism to treat a country not as an end in herself, a land to be loved and cherished, but as the means to an end, be it global democracy or "benevolent hegemony" or world government or Pax Americana or some New World Order. This is the sin of the Wilsonians and neo-conservatives alike.

America should be loved by her patriotic sons and daughters not because she has a glorious mission to pursue or she is the "world's last superpower" or the "indispensable nation." This is puerile braggadocio. Like a wife or a family, America should be loved for herself, for what she is: our country. As for the "national greatness" crowd, they do not understand true patriotism. For them, as for the ideologue Wilson, America is not her true self unless she is cast upon some great adventure. Nonsense.

True patriotism is love of country for inexpressible reasons, simply for who and what she is. Young America was a weak country, but she was worth loving, worth defending, worth preserving, even at the cost of one's life, even then, because she was our country. U.S. foreign policy should, as it did for most of American history, reflect this truth and be shaped with one great purpose in mind: to preserve and protect America, and to hell with empire.