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Liberals cannot ignore U.S. imperialism

The predominant liberal mindset here in the U.S. is that the Democrats are the sensible party of social and economic justice, while the Republicans are the evil party of rigid social hierarchy and corporate power. While the Democrats are undeniably more sane and willing to compromise than the Republicans, they are more or less equally complicit in the construction and maintenance of the global U.S. military and economic empire.

The evils of U.S. imperialism are rarely spoken of or emphasized in liberal circles. A substantial proportion of liberals see no problem with free trade, citing, for example, the most elementary neoclassical economic argument that “trades makes everyone better off.” These liberals fail to recognize the consequences of globalized economic processes for the masses of the Global South. For example, the elimination of trade barriers and the aggressive efforts of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] to force poor and vulnerable countries into shifting production from subsistence crops to cash crops for export has led to famine on an incomprehensible scale in countries such as Kenya. Liberalized trade also dooms resource-rich countries to perpetual underdevelopment, inequality, corruption and sometimes even catastrophic civil war, such as that of the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo], which has claimed over five million lives.

Many liberals also often fail to acknowledge the destructiveness of the U.S. military empire. The most recent evidence of this is the silence from liberals about Obama’s drone program. Obama’s drones have killed an unknown number of people throughout the world in a campaign of terror against the enemies of the security and diplomatic apparatuses of the federal government. These killings have escalated conflicts around the globe and have ruined the legitimacy of the U.S. government abroad. Whistleblowers and journalists here in the U.S. have also faced state repression for attempting to expose this secret war.

In the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins describes the process through which U.S. corporations and governmental institutions abuse and exploit poor nations. First, these poor countries’ governments are convinced to take massive IMF or World Bank loans (the U.S. has tight control over both of these organizations) based on ridiculously inflated economic growth rate predictions. When these poor countries’ economies inevitably fail to meet the expectations of the growth models, their governments are forced to default.

The consequences of default are essentially indentured servitude to the U.S. In post-default deals struck between the indebted country and U.S. institutions, these poor countries must eliminate barriers to trade, allow the U.S. to construct military bases on their land, allow U.S. corporations to extract natural resources from their land and align themselves with the U.S. when voting in the UN [United Nations]. Through these tactics, the U.S. government has created a clandestine and unofficial economic empire around the world.

The list of crimes of the U.S. government abroad goes far beyond free trade deals and drone killings. The U.S. military serves as a global police force for private capital, tolerating regimes that are friendly to its interests while openly hostile towards regimes that are not. The toxic combination of immense military power and deeply entrenched business interests in the federal government has produced an unstoppable and almost autonomous imperial machine that profits off of war, exploitation and growing global inequality.

If liberals have a desire to bring justice to the world, they must educate themselves about, raise awareness of and actively combat U.S. imperialism.

Comic by Ashley Ferguson, a Sports Editor for the Voice. She can be reached for comment at

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