The US Empire: A Tragic Comedy in Three Acts
What a delight it is to have an empire!
Do the Swiss get to send out drones to kill people they don’t know in countries they’ve never been? No! The poor yodelers go around with long faces and visit their shrinks. Americans have troops in 170 countries. Where are the Swiss? Only in Switzerland and the Vatican. Alas, they will never know the joys of nation building and people murdering.
We hear that Ron Paul was booed in the Republican presidential debates. Why? He suggested that we get out of the empire business, bring the troops home and become a civilized nation again. What a party pooper…a wet blanket…a killjoy!
An empire is so much more entertaining. We already have three wars going on…at last count…and quasi-wars in several other places.
Having an empire is like having a football team that plays for mortal stakes. It’s fun to watch…at least when your team is winning. And now, Team USA is kicking butts all over the planet. That’s why at football games, for example, (or so we’ve heard) images of the football team are sometimes mixed with images of US combat troops. The flag flies. The lumpen salute. They don’t want to think about it; they just want the homeland team to win!
And we have so much to look forward to. At least, we moral historians and ironic economists do. Gone is habeus corpus…forgotten is the presumption of innocence…into the wastebasket has been thrown the spirit of liberty. All that guff is in the past. In their place are hit squads and precision guided assassins. Now, the killer drones are only used abroad. But as the empire matures it is only a matter of time before they are used on more dangerous enemies — those at home! Yes, dear reader, if you can kill US citizens overseas, without any charges filed, let alone proved, you can certainly kill them where they might do the most damage — in the homeland. It is just a matter of time before the drones fly in Los Angeles and Baltimore, so watch out, Ron Paul.
You want to know what lies ahead? Just read the classics…particularly the history of Rome. Empires have roles to play too. They have scripts to follow. They have plots they must respect…and destinies they must fulfill.
For example, in the US, it is probably only a matter of time before a weak president is replaced by a strong emperor. A senate may be able to rule a constitutional democracy, but a real empire needs a real emperor, someone who can make decisions without getting caught in the gridlock of Congress. Besides, the public will love it. Yes, a popular general is sure to cross the Potomac sooner or later…from the Pentagon to the White house. The crowds will cheer. Garlands will be hung. Flowers will be strewn in his path. Finally, someone will bring order to the US…slay its enemies and reward its friends with war booty (military contracts).
And then, of course, there will be civil war. Once a government can be taken by force, rather than the fraud that is customary in democracy, force will be used to compete for it. Perhaps the Democrats will have their military men…the Republicans will have their own forces. They will fight it out for control of the empire.
And then, to stop the killing and the destruction, the army will get together and decide to put its own man in the top position. Inevitably, this will lead to more struggles for power…
…and much comedy. The military forces will choose even bigger morons than the voters. They will come and go quickly…with two, three…maybe a dozen new leaders in a single year. Some will be dangerously incompetent. Others will be dangerously able. Some will be lunatics.
How long will it be before an American Caligula appears? Will he force the senators’ wives to become prostitutes? Will he proclaim himself a god? Will he be murdered by his own guards and companions? We hope so.
Of course, it won’t the America we knew. Or even the one we want. But it should be a treasure trove for future historians and stand-up comedians.