The general American public believes that the U.S. promotes freedom, democracy, and prosperity around the world, but much of the world responds that the American public is either stupid for not knowing better, or evil for supporting American militarism and imperialism.
Bush: They Hate Us for Our Freedom
In the aftermath of 911, when Americans wondered aloud why terrorists would hate us so much they would die in order to inflict harm on us, President George W. Bush offered an answer in an address to congress, “They hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Most people seemed to accept this absurd suggestion, along with the other absurd suggestions that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and supported Al Quaeda (both completely untrue.) The terrorists attacked symbols of U.S. financial and military might (World Trade Center and the Pentagon) not a symbol of our freedom like the Statue of Liberty.
US Myth: God is on Our Side
While Americans are generally clueless why some people around the world hate them, or attribute accusations of imperialism to jealousy or enemy propaganda, even Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has declared that the U.S. is a superpower that is trying to accumulate influence and control in many parts of the world, and is even worse than the British empire, which he acknowledged was pretty bad. Of particular concern to Williams is the American notion of being a chosen nation, with God on its side in all its endeavors.
U.S Military Spending
Critics point to the fact that US military spending accounts for 46 percent of the military spending for the entire world. While exact figures are difficult to pin down, since categories of expenses can shifted around to hide true figures, the Stockholm Peace Research Institute lists worldwide military spending. U.S military spending is by far the greatest at 46 percent, China is in second place at 6.5 percent, France at 4.2, and the U.K. at 3.8 percent. Almost half of the military investment in the entire world comes from one nation-the US.
U.S. Military Bases Worldwide
According to Department of Defense Base Structure Report 2010, the U.S. owns and operates 4,249 military bases in the U.S., 88 in U.S. territories, and 662 in foreign nations. New bases are constantly being built. According to the DoD Report, the replacement value of military buildings, structures and linear structures (such as roads and railroads) is $816 billion.
Imperialism in Latin America
Many military interventions in Latin America have been justified to the public as “protecting American interests,” but Latin American critics translate that as “protecting American corporate exploitation.” President Rafael Correa of Ecuador recently refused to renew a lease on a U.S. military base in his country, explaining that, “We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorian base. If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorian base in the United States.” When Bogata negotiated with the US over military bases in 2009, their Latin American neighbors criticized them. The 10-year lease involved seven bases stretching from the Pacific to the Caribbean. Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, said “the number of permanent personnel would not increase, currently 800 military and 600 civilian contractors.”
U.S. Military Conflicts
Viewing a list of all the armed conflicts in which the U.S has been involved since 1776 is an eye-opening experience. Including wars against the Native Americans and Cold War operations, many covert operations took place. Several of these conflicts overlapped one another, but taken together, it appears that the only year the U.S. was not actively involved in a military conflict of some sort was 1897; that’s one year of peace out of 235 years.
Why They Accuse the US of Imperialism
Other nations accuse the U.S. of imperialism because it spends by itself almost half of all the money the entire world spends on military operations. The nearly 700 military bases on foreign soil are accepted by the American public, but the idea of a foreign nation putting a base on American soil is unthinkable. Finally, the fact is that the U.S has been actively engaged in armed conflicts for so long it is doubtful that it knows how to wage peace. Yet many American citizens and certainly citizens around the world, would like to see it learn.