Tag: american imperialism

Learn from China: How to Beat America

By Daniel Szewc | Poland

Since the dawn of time, empires have been competing with each other. Whether it was during antiquity- Athens with Sparta, Rome with Carthage, or even the competition between the UK and France during their colonial peaks, the race to be the world’s strongest has been the Holy Grail of geopolitics. This has been so since even before geopolitics itself existed.

An Era of Competing Powers

To become the 20th-century global hegemon, without doubt, was impossible for all but two: the Soviet Union and the USA. As we all know, the latter finally won and became the first definite world power. At the same time, it became the only non-secluded geopolitical player to not need to strive for a balance of power, but instead, to express it wherever and however it would want.

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In practice, this caused the world to get used to the comfortable (for most) American protection on the world’s oceans. What’s the catch? Well, countries have to either be a very key piece in the American strategic puzzle, such as Saudi Arabia, or comply with its political system and the economic interests of its elites. The latter of the two lost America the world.

Greater Tolerance from China

The only reason why countries would leave the American sphere in favor of the Chinese one was ironically the lack of what many Americans value most: independence. More precisely, countries wanted more sovereignty in their own actions. So, they started re-evaluating their decisions and compared the two superpowers. China, many found, cared far less about the internal structure of allied states. Three main factors led to this.

First of all, the Chinese ideological footprint, originally Marxism, was convoluted and impure. They essentially had no solid principle to claim to stand behind. So, considering they are not solidly communist, it would not be practical or sensical for them to force Marxism on allies. The second factor is that no matter who rules China, the state’s main goal is to secure national sovereignty by de facto castrating the West’s ability to levy control over China again. Thirdly, China’s government has no moral obligation to be consistent in actions, as long as it is effective.

Lacking Idealism

This is the key difference between the West’s virtue of idealism: even if a government is in no way idealist, it is expected to act as such by the general public. In contrast, China’s morality is more based around the philosopher Sun Tzu. Basically, he rejected the use of Poland’s “Bóg, Honor Ojczyzna” or France’s “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. Instead, Sun Tzu favored a more behind-the-scenes, closed-door approach to politics.

The acceptance of espionage as a viable, ethical political tactic, for example, is not uncommon in the East. In the West, however, such a notion is reprehensible, as Americans make clear on the daily. In fact, Sun Tzu’s morality closely resembles that of Niccolo Machiavelli. The West viewed the philosopher as demonic and unworthy of following. Nonetheless, China gains power while nations increasingly hold anti-American sentiment. After decades of the American spread of democracy and nation-building, we finally begin to see the results: the superpower’s efforts are backfiring.


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The Last Thoughts of Delavan, Killed by an American Bomb

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

I did not yet know that Delavan was going to die today. On the scorching March morning, the young hustler and I had taken to the burning streets with our bare feet, hustling towards the center of town.

We traveled through slums far worse than our own, where cardboard shacks endlessly lined the streets. A powerful enough gust of wind blew them apart, crinkling the doors made of only newspaper. While we struggled for clean clothing and education, the people here sought shade and water.

All of a sudden, not a mile from town, Delavan stops on a dime. A girl with faded rags and a dust-caked face sits on the side of the road, tears streaming down her gentle face. She looked no more than six, but lived through horrors that even Delavan, the son of a poor baker, would never have to experience for himself.

With a kind smile, he approaches the girl, who points and wails at the flaming shelter behind her. Beyond the ruins, two men are in combat, one holding a box of matches. The second man is badly burned on one side, with hair singed off his head and face. Perhaps the other, the defendant, is the girl’s brother or father. Each time the attacker lands a blow, the terrifyingly real thud sends the man and the little girl into further agony.

Delavan, nearly always gleeful despite his own poverty, distracts the girl. He opens the large leather bag around his shoulder and pulls out a loaf of bread. Though she does not speak as he places it in her tiny hands, her widened pupils reveal she has seldom, if ever, held this volume of food at once. She gives him a weak hug and begins to eat, as Delavan smiles and continues his journey.

I don’t think I would have noticed the girl, let alone stopped for her. Coming from a poorer area than Delavan, though only slightly, the travesties of everyday life fail to faze me.

As we approach the center of town, time passes in a blur. It often occurs this way, in the beautiful agora that forms every weekend morning. The rich set up stands with umbrellas and patchwork tarps, forming beautifully-faded rainbows that lined the busy streets. Those with a little bit of money, such as Delavan and I, carry as much as we have in bags and begin the routine shouting and selling, trying to avoid competitors who can sell for less. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, we usually arrive with bags full of bread, and leave with bags full of dough.

All the while, the poor lay on the outskirts, begging for money, for food, for anything to stretch their tragic lives another day. The most polite of those with money make no notice of the poorest of the poor. Those without dignity call them leeches and spit in their faces, kicking them away from their entitled path.

Delavan, of course, gives nearly half of what he has to this ever-struggling class in a land of ever-struggling classes. Today, though, the world did not bless him with that opportunity. For as soon as he approached his first buyer, a bomb fell on him, blowing them both to pieces.

I believe that his last thoughts were of how he could further help the poor girl from the journey. But the bomb ensured that she would suffer alongside him.

The blast threw me backwards, and before long, many more came behind it. Though the agora differed greatly in class, we were now all the same, caught under merciless missile fire from above.

As a child, my mother told me of the world’s unfortunate reality, that below the breathtaking skies and beautiful rainbows lived a world of death, hatred, and destruction. I had laughed her off then. I could not possibly imagine breathtaking skies or beautiful rainbows, only endless heat.

Now, as the destruction came from above the rainbows, destroying them on impact, I felt my world truly turn upside down.

As the missiles rained down around me, I fled, faster than humanly possible. Racing through the streets, putting as much distance between myself and the town as I could, I failed to notice the little girl, still eating Delavan’s last gift to the world.

I remember collapsing in the street somewhere, losing my voice, screaming his name until my throat was raw. I pounded the pavement with my fists in fury, cursing whoever was responsible for the attack. The blood that ran from them was inconsequential, and meant nothing next to the suffering of so many that day. Of Delavan.

Tears ran down my face, as they had the girl’s, and as bomb after bomb rained down from afar, I felt about as old, and about as strong.

In the days and weeks that passed, I did not return to the market. When I finally did, some months later, I heard word of a faulty bomb with an American flag on its side. I knew little about America, but now I learned that they were part of a war against us. They killed my best friend, and whether intentional or not, there was nothing in the world that could bring him back.

I began to wonder if it was about the color of my skin. If for some reason, America hated us for who we are, for our differences. But as I later realized, the very man Delavan was about to trade with was American. A tourist from a far away place called Virginia, he had only wanted to taste local bread, before his own country slaughtered him along with my own people.

I do not take a great deal of pride in my own life. Though my family survives and has shelter and food, abject poverty strikes us relentlessly, almost like the bomb struck Delavan. But, unlike Delavan, our lives will continue. I wonder if, back in America, they know about the lives of those who survive, and of those who don’t. I don’t know who makes the decisions in America, but I wonder if they know that they are responsible for his death. They should know Delavan’s story, should hear it before sending more instruments of death to plague us again. But until that day, we all sit under the bombs, waiting for our turn, never knowing when they may come.


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John McCain: A Man of Honor or Disgrace?

By Atilla Sulker | United States

Society often uses death as an excuse to exempt the deceased individual from criticism. This is especially true in the case of a person of honor, a statesman, or in the case of John McCain, a war hero. To come to a consensus of truth, however, we must remove this lens and never lose sight of the individual’s shortcomings.

We can all agree that the death of any individual is sad and doesn’t warrant us to insult their character, especially considering that they are no longer in this world to defend themselves. But at the same time, we must break out of this idea that once an individual has died, they are vindicated of all shortcomings. In the case of John McCain, I don’t use the term “shortcomings” lightly.

What is a hero? First, consider the context of the question. In the case of a tall tale, a hero could have otherworldly attributes. In the real world, a hero could be considered someone with great achievements and courage. Of course, contemporary society places the titan Arizona Senator in this category.

Then presidential contender Donald Trump found himself in hot water in 2015 for proclaiming that the Arizona statesman was not a war hero. Before addressing this point, it is important to know as to how that whole debacle started. Trump infamously questioned McCain’s valor in an interview in which he was criticized for calling John McCain a “dummy”. It is important to understand that Trump referred to McCain as a “dummy” before he questioned McCain’s heroism.

Looking back at the interview, it appears that the interviewer immediately brought up McCain’s war hero status in an attempt to invalidate Trump’s comment. This well exemplifies the elitist fabric of society’s perception of statesmen and “heroes”. Their hero status exempts them from any criticism, even if the criticisms have nothing to do with questioning valor. When Trump referred to McCain as a “dummy”, he was responding to McCain referring to Trump’s supporters at a Phoenix rally as “crazies”.

In regards to Trump’s latter comment that McCain’s capture was not an act of heroism, one must reassess the attributes of a hero. Does POW status necessarily align with hero status? Can hero status also include POW status?

Vicente Lim is an example of an unsung WWII hero who also happened to be a prisoner of war. Lim not only was a general, but also helped in the Filipino resistance against the Japanese. The Japanese captured and executed him in 1944. McCain does not fit this description, even though he was a POW. Yes, it is true that he endured great torture and pain as a POW, and this deserves a badge of courage, but it should not give him automatic hero status.

Additionally, this discounts the importance of the many other POW’s who were captured alongside McCain. There are countless other individuals, such as Senator Tammy Duckworth, who have sacrificed much more and even shed blood. To call McCain a hero and not recognize the actions of those who have sacrificed far more is an insult to these unsung heroes. Perhaps it was McCain’s background that lead to his fame, particularly the fact that his father was a navy admiral.

Heroism depends on context. If the context is an undeclared, unjust war, would we refer to our troops as heroes, or rather servants of the state? This question is especially important during the eras of the military draft.

Dr. Phillip Butler, who was a fellow POW alongside McCain, notes an important attribute of the great maverick: his infamous volatile tendencies. Butler describes McCain’s volatile character as being linked to his policy proposals, for example, the continuation of American empire through the provocation of further conflicts. Unfortunately, as Senator, this volatile mind already helped shape a substantial amount of U.S. foreign policy, including helping to supply the supposed “freedom fighters” in Syria. Ultimately, though, the Islamic State either defeated or converted many of the rebel groups.

Among other things, McCain is no friend of civil liberties. After all, he, along with co-sponsor Russ Feingold, put into effect the McCain-Feingold Act, which placed further limits on speech in an attempt to supposedly implement “campaign finance reform”. McCain also voted in favor of the Patriot Act, among other bills that limited privacy. Dr. Ron Paul has always stated that a common problem in the way we solve things is we treat the symptoms rather than cure the disease. McCain did exactly this throughout his career. Increasing size of government has led to the phenomenon of “dark money” and cronyism in politics. The “dark money” is simply a symptom of the expanding nature of government.

What strikes me most about McCain is the public perception of him being a “maverick” for standing up to his party. This may seem like an honorable quality, on the surface. But looking closely, it is simply another way of saying that McCain represents the epitome of failing bi-partisanship in Washington. There is certainly nothing of “maverick” quality in someone who is so cozy with the establishment that he embodies this bi-partisan spirit. Being a sort of mediator between the two parties does not make someone a “maverick”, especially when the establishment bases of the two parties are virtually identical. Both parties are in favor of gradually curtailing human individualism and free will. It is simply a matter of picking your color of poison, and John McCain picked both red and blue.

McCain was indeed an enigmatic character in many ways. His experience in Vietnam shaped his stance on torture, and he wasn’t afraid to cross the aisle in search of allies. But McCain’s public perception absolves him from blame from his many clear faults. Labels such as “war hero” should not immunize an individual from criticism, for under the immunity lies a man whose policies have killed thousands, civilian and soldier alike. And so henceforth, the question then becomes: “On August 25th, 2018, did America lose a hero, or just another dangerous arm of the state?”


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