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Is The US An Imperialist Nation?

By James A. Lucas

07 March, 2013

This article contains information which shows that the US, as an empire, exerts tremendous influence over many nations based on a number of factors as follows:


According to the Arms Control Association, the US has approximately 5,113 nuclear warheads, including tactical, strategic, and non-deployed weapons . People around the world know that the US is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, having killed about 200,000 Japanese at the end of World War II, without ever making an apology. Although other nations would heave a sigh of relief if the US did not have such a gigantic arsenal, that big stick is held in reserve as America's ace in the hole. ( 1)


According to Chalmers Johnson, in 2004 the US had about 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries, which is about two-thirds of the nations of the world. ( 2)

And the number of bases is skyrocketing. In the following decade, the Pentagon has constructed and gained access to new military bases, camps, airfields, training centers and surveillance and missile shield installations in at least thirty nations, bilaterally and through NATO: Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Colombia, Djibouti, Estonia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mali, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Oman, Qatar, Romania, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and Zambia among them. (3)


Since WWII the US has bombed over 30 nations. (4) Usually these attacks last a number of days and are carried out mostly by the US Air Force, which maintains over 170 strategic long-range bombers, 20 operational stealth bombers, and 450-500 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at various locations around the world. ( 5)


According to the Physicians for Social Responsibility, usually at least five of the 18 US Trident submarines are on patrol in the Atlantic and Pacific at any given moment. They carry 960 nuclear warheads. (6)

Our navy rules the oceans of the world with 13 aircraft carrier strike groups and 77 attack submarines. With stocks of over 4,000 bombs and 100 guided missiles, a single one of these carrier strike groups is bigger and more lethal than the entire military force of most nations.

US Navy attack submarines are capable of surprise military assaults well beyond immediate coastal zones. Armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, they are capable of precision long-range strikes, as they demonstrated in both Gulf Wars against Iraq, by launching missiles from the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea at targets deep inside Iraq. The newest Cruise missiles, which can be armed with either conventional or tactical nuclear warheads, have an operational range of 1,500 miles. (7)

While the target range of the Navy is impressive, the US Air Force can hit targets beyond the reach of the US Navy. In the future the Navy may carry drones which could easily attack coastal areas around the world where most of the world's population lives.


The full extent and nature of CIA activities around the world is a closely guarded secret, known only to a few outside that organization and the National Security Agency. A combined total of 29 nations reportedly have been the target of CIA intrusions into their internal affairs according to Katangas and Zepezauer. ( 8)(9)


US Special Forces (like those who executed Osama bin Laden) were in 60 nations during the Bush administration but that number has risen to 75 and probably will go over 100. (10) Over the next five years, Army Operations personnel are slated to grow from 32,000 to 35,000 . (11)


The Obama administration has been “indoctrinating and schooling indigenous military partners through the State Department and Pentagon's International Military Education and Training Program. Last year it provided training to more than 7,000 students from 130 countries.” (12)

The School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) monitors the activities of the US School of the Americas, which has a history of training military personnel from nations in Central and South America in methods of torture and how to obstruct human rights efforts in those nations. Each year the SOAW holds a vigil and a protest at Ft. Benning, Georgia, demanding its closure.


After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US captured alleged terrorists and placed them in such locations as Guantanamo in Cuba and Bagram in Afghanistan. Others were kidnapped and transported to many other nations where they were imprisoned and often tortured. According to a report by the Open Society Institute, 54 nations participated in this “American torture system.” This report documents that 136 individuals were swept up in an ongoing operation, but mentions that the total number is not known. South and Central America was one of the few regions that did not cooperate with the US. ( 13)


The US sells arms to other countries to assure that their policies benefit the economic interests of the U.S. These sales are often contingent on them using these arms to prevent any activity in their homelands that is not in the interests of the US. Also, it provides a source of income to reduce unemployment in poor countries. If the leaders, frequently dictators, decide to adopt policies that benefit their people instead of maximizing the profits of foreign companies, the US can threaten to end the arms sales to compel them to comply. Over two-thirds of the world's active conflicts involve weapons have been supplied by the US . ( 14)

The US sold arms or military services to well over 100 nations in 2008, and during the two Bush terms the majority of US arms sales to the developing world went to countries that our own State Department defined as undemocratic regimes and/or major human rights abusers. One reason some of these governments are undemocratic is because the US stifled their democratic processes despite the incessant propaganda from Washington about promoting democracy throughout the world. William Blum mentions that our nation has interfered in over thirty elections in foreign nations since World War II. (15)

In its “Yearbook 2010,” the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) documents that the United States accounts for 43 percent of world military spending and 30 percent of global arms exports, making it preeminent in both categories. (16)


U.S. drones are the pilotless aircraft operated remotely which are used for reconnaissance and assassinations. So far, about 3,000 innocent people, including children, have been killed in a CIA-operated drone program, mainly in Pakistan. Assassinations by the U.S. have a long history which has served to terrorize people in other countries. Since WWII the U.S. has been involved in the assassinations or planning of them of over 50 prominent foreign individuals in various nations. (17) Drones will, if US policy is not changed, continue to accelerate that killing spree.

There are a total of 7,494 drones in the US military inventory, compared to 10,767 manned aircraft. Our government is experimenting with a drone system that would input a computer image of a person's face so that drones could locate and kill that individual automatically without a human command. The Hellfire missile that is carried by some drones has a casualty radius of 60 feet so anyone near the intended target is likely to die or be severely injured. (18)

Furthermore, there have been reports of people who have gone to help those killed and injured by a drone's missile who themselves suffered the same fate when the drone came back for a second flyover.

According to a new US Congress report, between 2005 and December 2011 the number of countries that possess drones rose from 41 to 76. Drones could become big business, since the Pentagon has identified 66 countries that would be eligible to buy drones under new guidelines yet to be approved by Congress. (19)

In the future many nations and individuals may have drones, legally or illegally and they may want to settle scores with other individuals, groups or nations. A monster may be inside this Pandora's Box.


The US can easily attack any nation in the world. Drones would make it even easier to participate in wars and to target individuals, creating even more enemies around the world. It is an anachronism to talk about our military withdrawing from any country such as Iraq or Afghanistan, because in effect, the US occupies most if not all of the world now, even if it does not have bases in all the nations.

It is important that Americans know that the U.S. is an empire and that in about the last 60 years the US has been responsible for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts around the world. (20)

A high German official during the 1930s was asked after World War II how it was possible for the German people to not have known that the holocaust had been perpetrated. He replied that “Some people did not know and others did not want to know.”

Is history repeating itself?

James A. Lucas, a retired social worker, is an anti-war and anti-imperialist activist member of the September 11 Coalition/Dayton Peace Action. In 2010 he was the recipient of the first Dayton Peace Hero Award granted by the Dayton International Peace Museum.


1. Arms Control Association, Fact Sheets Briefs, http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweapons

2. Chalmers Johnson, “ Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson on Garrisoning the Planet,”Tom Dispatch January, 2004, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/1181/chalmers_johnson_america's_empire_of_bases

3. Rick Rozoff, “Washington Uses Arms Sales to Achieve Global Supremacy,” December 30, 2010. http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/washington-uses-world-arms-sales-to-achieve-global-supremacy/

4. William Blum, Rogue State, p. 32.

5. Richard D. Vogel, “ Combating Globalization: Confronting the Impact of Neoliberal Free Trade Policies on Labor and the Environment, h ttp://combatingglobalization.com/articles/combating_globalization4.html

6. Physicians for Social Responsibility, http://www.psr.org/chapters/washington/energy-and-peace/trident.html

7. Richard D. Vogel, “Combating Globalization: Confronting the Impact of Neoliberal Free Trade Policies on Labor and the Environment,” h ttp://combatingglobalization.com/articles/combating_globalization4.html/

8. Steve Kangas, “ Timeline of CIA Atrocities, “ http://www.http.com/kangaroo/CIAtimeline.html

9. Mark Zepezauer, The CIA's Greatest Hits, 1994.

10. Nick Turse, “The US Has Special Operations Forces in How Many Countries,” September 19, 2011, Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/09/us-special-operations-forces-75-countries?page=2

11. Thom Shanker, “Army to Use Special Forces Training”, Dayton Daily News, 5/13/12.

12. Nick Turse, “The US Has Special Operations Forces in How Many Countries?” Mother Jones, September 19, 2011. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/09/us-special-operations-forces-75-countries?page=2

13. Greg Grandin, “How a Washington Global Torture Gulag Was Turned into the Only Gulag-Free Zone on Earth,” Huffington Post February 26, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-grandin/latin-america-torture_b_2712298.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

14. Frida Berrigan, “Our #1 Export,” July 1, 2009, Foreign Policy in Focus. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/01-4

15. William Blum, Rogue State, 2005, p.237.

16. Rick Rozoff, “ Washington Uses Arms Sales to Achieve Global Supremacy,” http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/washington-uses-world-arms-sales-to-achieve-global-supremacy/

17. William Blum, Rogue State, p. 1.

So far since WWII the U.S. has been involved in assassinations or attempted assassinations of over 50 people in various nations

18. Know Drones- What you should Know about War Drones/what you can Do, knowdrones.com (“A Future for Drones – Automated Killing”, Washington Post, September 19, 2011)

19. Mapping Drone Proliferation: UAVs in 76 Countries Global Research, September 18, 2012 http://www.globalresearch.ca/mapping-drone-proliferation-uavs-in-76-countries/5305191

20. James A. Lucas, “Deaths in Other Nations since WWII Due to US Interventions,” ( www.countercurrents.org/lucas240407.htm ).






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