Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The hidden costs of American imperialism

By Ryan Cooper, The Week

Did you notice that Tennessee suffered severe flooding a few days ago? If you were just watching TV, chances are good that it slipped your notice. Broadcast news has been throwing such a purple-faced screaming tantrum over the withdrawal from Afghanistan that they barely have had time for 21 dead Americans.

It’s a good example of how American empire comes at the expense of the welfare of the American citizenry. People are drowning and going hungry while the national elite is gripped with narcissistic panic over an imperial defeat halfway around the world.

The media frenzy over the Afghanistan withdrawal is the most intense such event I can recall in years — maybe even since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. The absurd mask of so-called objectivity was abandoned entirely; anchors and reporters displayed open anger and disgust at Biden’s actions, especially his refusal to submit to their moral hectoring and restart the war.

This display of emotion shows they had become personally invested in the American empire, viewing it in a sense as an extension of their own identity. When the U.S. military cruised to easy victory against the Taliban in 2001 they felt great pride and satisfaction, as if they had participated personally (and some indeed had). When the ensuing occupation got bogged down in an unwinnable quagmire, showing the empire was not omnipotent — and in fact was stunningly incompetent and corrupt — they felt uncomfortable and ashamed, and stopped covering the war almost entirely. But now that the inevitable defeat has come, the humiliating failure can no longer be denied, their pride has been wounded, and they are lashing out with rage and defiance.

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