We’ve had some great empires here on
Earth over the past few millennia — the Romans, the Greeks,
the Byzantines, the Ming Dynasty and the British, to name a few.
But as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. No matter
how mighty, each and every empire eventually fell to a ragtag
enemy.

Joel Hoard

But how can something as powerful and awe-inspiring as a
globe-spanning empire succumb to lesser forces? Without exception,
it’s because they failed to respect their enemies. Their
hubris was so great that they were never willing to compromise, to
yield or to admit flaws.

The way things are going now, the American Empire will be no
exception. We’re making the same mistakes that every other
empire has, and we’re on a collision course with destiny.
Conditions are ripe for America’s downfall. The United States
has more enemies than ever, and we’re not showing any of them
respect. We’re always right, and we have more weapons than
they do, so don’t fuck with us.

When America comes under direct attack — Sept. 11 for
example — I’m all for hunting down the attackers,
smoking them out of their holes and all that crap. But only a very
small faction of the America-hating world has attacked us, and for
those who haven’t attacked, pre-emptive strikes aren’t
the answer. The dominant thought in America is that because our
military is the most powerful in the world, why should we bother
listening to anyone else? We can’t go invading a country
every time someone gives us the evil eye. Not only will that make
even more people hate us, but in practical terms, our military will
be spread too thin.

Our enemies have some valid claims, and it would do us some good
to listen to them for once. They call us arrogant bullies. They say
our steadfast support of Israel is out of line. They claim
we’re waging a silent war on the Arab world. And
they’re right on all counts.

But we’re so set in our ways that we could never consider
dropping our imperialist ways or reconsidering our sponsorship of
Israel. Chances are even John Kerry isn’t willing to admit
these flaws, and in President Bush’s eyes, the only mistake
America could make is not re-electing him.

The American image is so tarnished that the French have turned
against us — and we bailed them out twice when empires tried
to take them over. Things are so bad that our only true allies in
Iraq are Britain, Italy, Poland (don’t forget Poland) and a
handful of countries with military forces that number only in the
dozens.

Forming stronger alliances is a good step in improving our
image. At least Kerry understands this much. But the only problem
with the way we create alliances is that our allies end up being
our partners in crime.

Before we can form a true, solid alliance, we need to establish
ourselves as a peaceful and accepting nation. We can’t be
bullies who go to war at the drop of a hat. We need to be
reasonable and thoughtful for a change.

But what if we don’t change? What if we go on invading,
occupying and ruining countries that were otherwise doing fairly
well on their own? For one, we’ll be turning out more and
more terrorists. Just look at what happened this week in Iraq. Part
of the reason we went to war in the first place is that we assumed
the Iraqis were allied with al-Qaida. If they weren’t then,
they sure as hell are now. Over the weekend, insurgent Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi and his Iraqi followers pledged their allegiance to
Osama bin Laden.

By no means does the current group of folks who oppose America
have the military power to compete with America, but they’ve
already exposed chinks in our armor. If we don’t change how
we go about the terrorist problem, they’ll only gain in
strength. There will never be a point when we’ve killed off
all of the terrorists. Kill one group, and another comes up in its
place.

So what are we to do? There are two options available when
dealing with people who hate you: 1) You can kill them, but we know
that’s only a temporary solution. Or, 2) You can make them
hate you less — the long-term solution. The best way to solve
this problem is at its root. We need to take a peaceful approach
and make people hate us less. Maybe I’m just optimistic, but
I think it’s possible. Hell, if we’re lucky, people
might actually like us for once.

 

Hoard can be reached at
“mailto:j.ho@umich.edu”>j.ho@umich.edu.

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