The Empire Has No Clothes Challenges U.S. Policy Of 'Preemptive' Wars and 'Nation Building': News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
May 30, 2008

The Empire Has No Clothes Challenges U.S. Policy Of “Preemptive” Wars and “Nation Building”

“ . . . a persuasive case that current U.S. national security policy is contrary to the principles of both liberals and conservatives and is actually undermining our security and civil liberties.”
Lawrence J. Korb, former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense

OAKLAND, Calif., May 30, 2008—Does the United States really need to intervene around the world in order to safeguard its security? As public debate of America’s role in the world intensifies during this presidential election season, national security and U.S. defense policy expert Ivan Eland critically examines the growing interventionism and militarization of U.S. foreign policy in the paperback edition of The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed (Updated Edition) (May 30, 2008 / The Independent Institute / $17.95).

“Most Americans don’t think of their government as an empire, but the United States has been steadily expanding its control of overseas territories since the turn of the twentieth century,” says Eland, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. “U.S. national security policy, particularly since the end of the Cold War, is contrary to the principles of both liberals and conservatives and actually undermines American security and civil liberties,” argues Eland. In The Empire Has No Clothes (Updated Edition), he examines the history of U.S. military interventions around the world from the Spanish-American War to the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the steady expansion of the U.S. overseas empire and its military bases since the turn of the 20th Century.

In The Empire Has No Clothes (Updated Edition), Eland argues that conservatives should be against a U.S. empire because overseas wars harm the domestic economy and are the principal cause of expanding government—even in the non-security realm. Imperial overextension, which the United States is now experiencing, has caused the demise of many empires throughout history and may even result in America’s decline as a great power, à la Great Britain, says Eland.

Liberals should be against a U.S. empire, he points out, because many “humanitarian wars” are really fought for ulterior special-interest purposes and end up being neither effective nor humane. In addition, overseas wars lead to the erosion of civil liberties at home and increased corporate welfare being slathered on defense contractors.

And all Americans, Eland concludes, should be against empire because it reduces security at home by causing “blowback” terrorism, creates an imperial presidency, and distorts the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution.

“U.S. foreign policy has been imperial under many U.S. presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, even though America’s own colonial subjugation, at the hands of the British, has bequeathed an anti-imperialist self-image. Although the current Bush administration is more overtly hawkish than any U.S. administration since Ronald Reagan, all post-World War II administrations—including the Clinton administration—have tried to maintain U.S. dominance in the world,” says Eland. He examines a multitude of failed policies of nation building, “humanitarian” missions, and “peacekeeping” in Afghanistan, Serbia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as U.S.-backed disasters in Lebanon, Somalia, and Iraq.

In The Empire Has No Clothes (Updated Edition), Eland traces the roots of the Founding Fathers’ original policy of military restraint. For almost 175 years of its 225-plus year history, the United States, with a few lapses, stayed out of major foreign wars, Eland points out. By keeping its military small and at home and government spending low, the country grew into the world’s largest economy and individual liberties generally flourished. Even after World War II, the United States quickly demobilized the bulk of its temporarily vast military. It was only during the Cold War, says Eland, that America finally and fully abandoned its traditional foreign policy in favor of containment of the Soviet Union and began creating alliances that spanned the globe and marked the beginning of a global U.S. empire.

However, those worldwide alliances, argues Eland, should have ended with the Cold War. Instead, he says, the United States expanded NATO in both territory and mission, enhanced East Asian alliances, became mired in the previously non-strategic Balkans, erected quasi-permanent bases in the Central Asian nations of the former Soviet Union, reinvigorated the U.S. alliance with the Philippines, tightened the informal alliances with Israel and Taiwan, and invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of fighting terrorism.

In The Empire Has No Clothes (Updated Edition), Eland advocates a return to the original U.S. foreign policy, which emphasized international commerce and cultural exchange with severe limitations on U.S. military intervention worldwide. He warns that further “blowback” terrorism of the September 11th variety, which results from U.S. entanglement in overseas ethnic and religious civil wars, will create a climate of pervasive fear at home. In that climate of fear, he says, the intrusive powers of the state could expand at the expense of the republic itself—perhaps the most pernicious effect of a U.S. empire.

Praise for The Empire Has No Clothes (Updated Edition)

“ . . . [he] shows that the concept of empire is wholly contrary to the principles of liberals and conservatives alike and makes a mockery of the Founding Fathers’ vision for a free republic.”
Ron Paul, U.S. Congressman

“One of the best recent discussions . . . . Highly recommended.”
Orange County Register

“The Empire Has No Clothes offers a powerful and persuasive critique of recent U. S. foreign policy. It deserves the thoughtful attention of conservatives and liberals alike—indeed, of all Americans disturbed by the imperial pretensions evident in Washington since the end of the Cold War.”
Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations, Boston University

“Ivan Eland’s new book is a scholarly, compelling and provocative study of where we are, how we got here, and the dangers inherent in the aggressive, imperialist policies we are implementing. It is impressively lucid, filled with careful research, rational analysis and highly insightful commentary, certain to satisfy concerned readers across the political spectrum.”
Edward L. Peck, former Chief of U.S. Mission in Iraq, former U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed (Updated Edition)
By Ivan Eland
Published by The Independent Institute
May 30, 2008 | Softcover | 272 pages | $17.95 | ISBN 978-1-59813-021-8

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