Assange as a Traitor: A Brief History of the Imperial Mindset

How is it that Julian Assange, an Australian, can be called a traitor by the United States government for the publishing of leaked documents?

Technically he can’t be but when the imperial mindset is so deeply entrenched in our policy makers and their apologists then it’s taken for granted that the United States government owns the world.

And if the US owns the world, then Julian Assange is a traitor.

Bob Beckel, a Democratic strategist, told FOX Business Show that, “We’ve got special ops forces. A dead man can’t leak stuff. … This guy’s a traitor, he’s treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. And I’m not for the death penalty, so … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”

Putting aside the horrific thought that assassinations are being recommended for those who are publishing leaked documents (I mean, if two wrongs make a right, with this case the second wrong being considerably worse than the first, then why is it not okay to embarass the US government when that supposed wrong of exposure is clearly intended to inform the public and get them to put pressure on the government to stop their illegal wars and corruption and unethical behavior?), or that no one has said what law he broke (some have even said that if he hasn’t broken a law then we will make it a law) by publishing the documents, or how as one Pentagon official put it, “We have yet to see any harm … that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents,” or how the government isn’t aiming the same hyperbole at other media outlets like the New York Times or Guardian UK . . . All that aside, the idea that a foreigner can be a traitor smacks of imperial hubris.

Our being an empire is nothing new. Our first president, George Washington, referred to the country as “our Nascent empire.” And as every good, god-fearing, flag-sucking American boy and girl knows, George never told a lie.

The basis of the Monroe Doctrine—which as you can tell by the name, is the doctrine of (5th) President James Monroe—is that the Western Hemisphere belongs to us, the American Empire. His Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, said there were "laws of political gravitation" for countries in the hemisphere, Cuba in particular, that "can gravitate only towards the North American Union."

Teddy Roosevelt had his “Big Stick diplomacy” which was nothing but the use of brute force to advance American foreign policy interests. I don't know how many of you remember it but Warner Bros. used to feature this doctrine in their cartoons. Bugs Bunny would put on a Teddy face and say, "I may speak softly but I carry a BIG STICK!!!" Out of that doctrine came the Platt Amendment which pretty much annexed Cuba and allowed us to put a naval base at Guantanamo Bay (in case you were wondering what the hell we are doing torturing kidnapped people in Cuba).

If you haven't you should read the document because you read all kinds of crazy things like, "For the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba . . . the government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba." What a joke. In recognizing their independence we, a "foreign power," impaired their independence by saying what kind of treaties they can enter to. But the real kicker is this: "… the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene… and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States." So that's what we're doing in Guantanamo Bay. Torturing kidnapped persons is "to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense."

The history of our use of military intervention in foreign countries to protect economic interests of affluent American capitalists spans the entire length of our history. Even one of our most decorated military soldiers, General Smedley Butler, admitted it:

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

Or as he put it more simply: “I was a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

How many times did US government officials go on television and accost Iran or Syria for meddling in the affairs of foreign countries, particularly Iraq who the US was (and still is) illegally occupying? Countless. And the reason it never occurred to them that we were meddling in their affairs is that we own the world. By default the US empire cannot meddle in the affairs of Iraq.

Through institutions like USAID the US Government gave millions of dollars to opposition parties in Bolivia to try and subvert democracy. When we finance political parties in countries around the world we can do it without feeling outraged or like hypocrites, even if we denounce the idea of foreign countries financing political parties here in the US, because, yep, you got it: we own the world. When we do it, it is because we are benevolent and exceptional, but imagine Hugo Chávez giving millions of petrol-dollars to the Green Party and ask yourself what you think our government would do.

And in 2006 when we resumed training Latin American militaries the reason provided by US Southern Command spokesman Jose Ruiz was that China “has approached every country in our area of responsibility.” The Monroe Doctrine lives!

We maintain over one thousand foreign bases. We are five percent of the world’s population but we account for over half of the world’s military spending. We are the number one arms dealer. We are the intergalactic planetary (empire), planetary intergalactic.

Under President Clinton and shortly before his leaving office his administration released a document called Joint Vision 2020 that said, “The overall goal of the transformation described in this document is the creation of a force that is dominant across the full spectrum of military operations.” We will use an unrivaled military to snuff out competition. (Ironically, ten years later Bill Clinton is now saying we should be prepared to lose our global dominance. Though he says in order to maintain influence, the American people should take considerable cuts in their "lifestyle" to accomodate. Take a momment to let that sink in. As we are bankrupting ourselves with imperial/military spending and catering to Wall Street it is the American people who should go on a proverbial diet in order to maintain the country as an influential player in global affairs. . . in the service of the Lords of Capital.)

The basis of foreign policy is global domination. Every American president has had a national security strategy and it involves world domination. When Bush came out with his liberals complained that you don’t brag about it. According to John Ikenberry, writing for Foreign Affairs magazine,

Pitfalls accompany this neoimperial grand strategy, however. Unchecked U.S. power, shorn of legitimacy and disentangled from the postwar norms and institutions of the international order, will usher in a more hostile international system, making it far harder to achieve American interests. The secret of the United States’ long brilliant run as the world’s leading state was its ability and willingness to exercise power within alliance and multinational frameworks, which made its power and agenda more acceptable to allies and other key states around the world. This achievement has now been put at risk by the administration’s new thinking.

President Obama’s NSS tried getting back to this. The NSS acknowledges that we have “an unmatched military” and “the world’s largest economy” which “will continue to underwrite global security.” It calls for “renewing American leadership so that we can more effectively advance our interests in the 21st century.” And naturally this aides in "ensuring the U.S. military continues to have the necessary capabilities across all domains – land, air, sea, space and cyber.” The issue of militarizing space has long been a contentious issue and it appears Obama intends to maintain the status quo. That is, the US versus the world. At just under two years into Obama's first and probably only term, you probably are shocked and awed at the idea of him preserving the status quo, right?

The United States must reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests, yet we will also seek to adhere to standards that govern the use of force.

Couple that comment about how we will “seek to adhere to standards that govern the use of force” with the statement that “The rule of law—and our capacity to enforce it—advances our national security and strengthens our leadership” and what you see is we will follow the rules when we can but won’t if it interferes with our “interests.” And don’t think for a second that we will tolerate this from other nations because we will have the “capacity to enforce it” which “advances” and “strengthens” our agenda.

The Empire remains and it shows in statements where it’s stated that “America’s commitment to pursue our interests through an international system in which all nations have certain rights and responsibilities. This will allow America to leverage our engagement abroad on behalf of the world.” Got that? We pursue our agenda through an international system where others have “certain [keyword for limited] rights and responsibilities” that enable us to use "leverage" to engage abroad (see aggression) on behalf of the world.

The paper also talks about our “efforts to shape an international system that can meet the challenges of our time.” What this means is, so long as we claim that “America’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are essential sources of our strength and influence in the world” then international systems need to be shaped in a way that don’t interfere with us.

International institutions must more effectively represent the world of the 21st century.


International law says that attacking Iraq and Afghanistan was illegal. Hmm. Well we need to shape them so they don’t. Good ole American innovation.

This reminds me a lot of something Noam Chomsky wrote several years ago:

In his “Year of Europe” address 30 years ago, Henry Kissinger advised Europeans to keep to their “regional responsibilities” within the “overall framework of order” managed by the United States.

Nothing has changed.

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