The Exit Strategy of Empire, by Wendy McElroy

Garet Garret is an American writer he doesn’t get near the attention he deserves. From Wendy McElroy at ronpaulinstitute.org:

The Roman Empire never doubted that it was the defender of civilization. Its good intentions were peace, law and order. The Spanish Empire added salvation. The British Empire added the noble myth of the white man’s burden. We have added freedom and democracy.

— Garet Garrett, Rise of Empire

The first step in creating Empire is to morally justify the invasion and occupation of another nation even if it poses no credible or substantial threat. But if that’s the entering strategy, what is the exit one?

One approach to answering is to explore how Empire has arisen through history and whether the process can be reversed. Another is to conclude that no exit is possible; an Empire inevitably self-destructs under the increasing weight of what it is — a nation exercising ultimate authority over an array of satellite states. Empires are vulnerable to overreach, rebellion, war, domestic turmoil, financial exhaustion, and competition for dominance.

In his monograph Rise of Empire, the libertarian journalist Garet Garrett (1878–1954), lays out a blueprint for how Empire could possibly be reversed as well as the reason he believes reversal would not occur.  Garrett was in a unique position to comment insightfully on the American empire because he’d had a front-row seat to events that cemented its status: World War II and the Cold War. World War II America already had a history of conquest and occupation, of course, but, during the mid to late 20th century, the nation became a self-consciously and unapologetic empire with a self-granted mandate to spread its ideology around the world.

A path to reversing Empire

Garrett identifies the first five components of Empire:

the dominance of executive power: the White House reigns over Congress and the judiciary.

the subordination of domestic concerns to foreign policy: civil and economic liberties give way to military needs.

the rise of a military mentality: aggressive patriotism and obedience are exalted.

a system of satellite nations in the name of collective security;

and a zeitgeist of both zealous patriotism and fear: bellicosity is mixed with and sustained by panic.

These are not sequential stages of Empire but occur in conjunction with one another and reinforce each other. That means that an attempt to reverse Empire in the direction of a Republic can begin with weakening any of the five characteristics in any order.

To continue reading: The Exit Strategy of Empire

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