When Britain could no longer provide global governance, the United States stepped in to replace it. But have the British Empire and the American Empire been all that good for the world? The world somehow got by before they came along.
The American public and many of its foreign policy experts praise the British Empire for ensuring stability, when they probably should examine its violent and often brutal colonial subjugation of what it regarded as inferior races for economic gain.
Adolf Hitler admired the British Empire, but thought it too brutal.
As for the American Empire, it is littered with foreign policy interventions that caused more international problems than they solved.
American entry into World War I led to a string of disasters that the world has never fully recovered from. US entry to tip the balance of the war inadvertently brought about an allied victory that rubbed Germany’s nose in the dirt. It paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler, who exploited the war guilt clause, reparations, and the economic depression to rise to power and attempt to conquer Europe. World War II was merely a resumption of World War I two decades later.
The likely US entry into World War I also kept the Russian provisional government involved in the conflict - increasing the probability of winning and providing much needed aid to do so.
Had the Russian government sued for peace earlier, Vladimir Lenin could not have used the unpopular war to bring a revolutionary government to power. The post-World War II Cold War was borne out of the ashes of World War I.
During that Cold War, the US created the national security state, the first large peacetime army in American history, and a far-flung empire of military bases, unneeded alliances, foreign military interventions, and large amounts of foreign aid.
Instead of spending much money and many lives to conduct an expansive worldwide Cold War against the Russian revolution government approach to accelerate the Soviet Empire’s collapse would have been smarter.
With a less interventionist and less costly US foreign policy, Soviet finances would have been depleted even faster than they were by the costs of providing aid and governance to basket cases they took over in the developing world.
During the Cold War, the US also encouraged the spread of radicalism in the name of religion around the world to counter godless communism, including providing aid to the anti-Soviet Mujahedeen to “give the USSR another Vietnam.” As a consequence of supporting such militancy, the US created the al-Qaeda. The United States then helped Saddam’s invasion of Iran as a counterweight and eventually built up another future enemy. And these are only a few of the many examples of ill-fated US meddling in faraway regions of the world.
The founders of the United States, who are regularly idolized by most Americans, would roll over in their graves at the mutation of their traditional, peaceful, and restrained foreign policy into a militaristic, globe-girdling empire that is exhausting the country economically and ruining the republic that they created.
(By Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute)