See a very interesting article, Mirage of Empire, in the New York Review of Books, where John Gray, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, reviews two books that promote the notion of an America as Imperium:
--Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond, by Robert D. Kaplan and
--The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World's Government in the 21st Century, by Michael Mandelbaum.
Kaplan is one of the most profoundly weird thinkers of our time. I find him to be bizarrely attracted to really, really bad ideas. Like this idea that America has any business modeling its “Pax Americana” after any imperial periods from the human past.
Let there be no doubt, this is exactly what was preached by Leo Strauss, that ungrateful wretch of a fugitive from devastated Europe, who had the nerve to lecture at happy, progressive, pragmatic and successful America, that we really oughta copy all the wretched philosophical errors that had made his home continent a debacle and a festering sore. Of course today’s neocon adventurists ate it up, especially the platonist rationalizations about “philosopher kings” who needn’t answer to those they rule, have no need for accountability, and who are duty bound to lie like mad, whenever the mood strikes them. Again, read about a guy named Alcibiades.
And yet, as usual, I take a position that does not fit either left or right. Just because the neocons are flipping loony for wanting anything like a traditional “empire”, so is the left for refusing to recognize that we are still in an imperial age... and the for the near-term, anything other than some kind of Pax Americana is simply unthinkable. The alternatives are simply unthinkable. In his review, Gray rightfully points out many flaws in the notion of an American Imperium that is at all comparable to those of Britain and Rome.
But he does no better than Kaplan and Mandelbaum at addressing the key role of Pax Americana as midwife for Whatever Comes Next. (WCN)
We have maybe a decade, at best. The technological and military superiority that America now clutches desperately can be hoarded, it can be squandered, it can be thrown around in “imperial” bluster...
...influence to help design WCN... a version that will remain forever loose, according to American tastes, rather than a bureaucratic “world government” in the EU style.
A WCN in which individuals have standing, instead of the present “international order” in which only states and corporations have any voice at all. A WCN which can safeguard the Earth and our children, without becoming a bossy nanny, from which there is no escape. Even now, despite the quasi-deliberate way that the Bushites have torched esteem for the US, all over the world, America still has the influence to help guide WCN in the right directions. But will it?
..or it can be carefully spent, using force judiciously to maintain peace while using
Not while the left refuses to recognize a duty. Or while the right is obsessed with adolescent thumping.
==On Accountability and Government==
“Government ought to be all outside and no inside . . . Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety."
- Woodrow Wilson
If we could create a panel of all of our past presidents and put them on TV, I bet most would be fuming right now,especially Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ike. But two of them would be giddy and happy. James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding. Can any of you guess why?
Come on. It’s easy.
==Miscellaneous Items ==
Your phone records are for sale Chicago Sun-Times January 5, 2006
The Chicago Police Department is warning officers their cell phone records are available to anyone -- for a price. Dozens of online services are selling lists of cell phone calls, raising security concerns among law enforcement and privacy experts. To test the service, the FBI paid Locatecell.com $160 to buy the records for an agent's cell...
Data Mining 101: Finding Subversives with Amazon Wishlists applefritter Jan. 4, 2006
An individual with access to the Internet can develop a fairly sophisticated profile of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens by using data mining of free and publicly available resources, such as Amazon.com's vast database of wishlists, as programmer Tom Owad has proved. He extracted names and cities for readers of "dangerous books" to show...
'Robot agents' to help settle disputes The Register Jan. 6, 2006
The e-Dispute system provides fast online arbitration, mediation and conciliation services to help organizations quickly resolve disputes. e-Dispute's online collaboration tools include video, audio, live-chat, e-forum, text and transcript capabilities with full case management, fact assessment, analysis, and weighted issue/interesting...