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Op-ed: America must accept its status as an empire
By Larry Carcelli

I am very concerned about recent foreign policy decisions made by the Trump administration that have alienated once-dependable allies. I believe the decisions have been made based on a gross misreading of history.

It appears that the Trump administration does not understand that the United States was permanently transformed from a sovereign nation to an empire after the fall of the Soviet Union. The problems the United States faces today are the same problems that all emergent empires in the past have faced. Acceptance of this paradigm shift is essential to finding realistic solutions to current problems.

The success of any political entity is based on the exchange of security and well-being for allegiance. Sovereign nations have the luxury of focusing almost exclusively on the parochial needs of its own homogenous and well understood polity. Empires must accommodate the needs a more numerous and heterogeneous citizenry.

Our own security and well-being are now inextricably linked with the security and well-being of our allies. Our military alliances assure access to raw materials and secure trade routes. Our trade agreements bind us in a mutually beneficial web of economic well-being. And our political alliances reinforce the cultural values that promote the universal hope of a better future that sustains the allegiance of a heterogeneous and far-flung citizenry. It is this allegiance that allows our empire to flourish.

Historically, empire has been sustained by tribute paid by subjugated states to the imperial hegemon. The American empire has constructed a unique system of tribute that does not require subject states to submit, force dynastic marriage, impose taxation, exploit the local populace or coerce unfair trade agreements. The American empire is willingly supplied with a luxurious surfeit of cheap manufactured goods in exchange for security and the promise of material well-being. We trade labor for the American Dream.