Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Price of Empire

We recently celebrated (not sure that is the word for it) the anniversary of the US-led invasion of the territory of a soveriegn nation. The United States led a coalition of allied nations whose common purpose was to effect regime change in a nation that posed a real and present threat to their national interests. The despotic and militaristic leadership of that nation and its allies had been a threat to their neighbors, and were, if not possessing, pursuing weapons of mass destruction. In the process of defeating that nation's army and occupying its territory, we endured suicide bombers intent on destroying our will to fight. Long after major military operations were declared over by our president, we maintain forces on that nation's territory. I'm not referring to the current American Empire police action in Iraq. The nation I'm referring to is Japan.

On the 1st of April, 1945, US Marines and soldiers; supported by over one thousand US and British warships, including thousands of aircraft from scores of aircraft carriers; landed on the beaches of the Japanese island of Okinawa. By the time the brutal fight for Okinawa was over, more than 15,000 American servicemen had given their lives to seize a resource poor, but strategically rich island, the loss of which actually did more to seal the fate of the Japanese Empire than did the use of two atomic weapons a few months later. The Japanese fought our advance with inhumane tactics at every step; and we dished out worse than we got. The US Navy actually suffered more casualties than either the Marines or Army, as suicide pilots flew their aircraft into our ships with relentless fury. Today, the Japanese are staunch and invaluable allies and trading partners. The same companies that built the planes that crashed into our ships, now build the cars with which we crash into each other on our interstates.

Sixty-one years later we still maintain a military presence in Japan. Presence, and all the pain that goes with it, is the price of empire. Make no mistake about it, these re-United States constitute an empire just as surely as did Britain, Spain, the Ottomans, Rome, and a dozen others before them. Don't want the United States to "rule the world?" Fine, name the other country that you would rather be the dominant force in the world.

If you said "Jamaica," someone is on the way to your house with a search warrant.
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