By Jacob G. Hornberger*
The U.S. Empire, which controls
much of the world through hundreds of military bases in foreign
countries, through foreign regimes run by domestic U.S. puppets, and
through foreign dependency on U.S. foreign aid, got its start in 1898
during the Spanish American War. It was that war that enabled the Empire
to acquire its imperialist domain in Cuba known as Guantanamo Bay,
which is now the Empire’s premier international indefinite-detention
prison, torture center, and kangaroo judicial system.
The late 1800s were a time of worldwide empires. Great Britain,
France, Spain, and others were empires, possessing and oftentimes
brutally controlling people in faraway colonies. Although the U.S.
Constitution had called into existence a limited-government republic, by
the time the latter part of the 19th century had arrived, many
Americans had been swept up in the pro-empire fervor, owing largely to
the Progressive movement, which was also influencing America toward
embracing the worldwide move toward socialism and interventionism. The
Progressive idea was that in order for the United States to become a
great nation, it needed to become an empire, just like other empires.
In 1898, Cuba and other possessions of the Spanish Empire were
fighting for their freedom and independence. Since this was a time in
which U.S. officials were still following the Constitution’s
declaration-of-war requirement, President William McKinley sought and
secured a declaration of war against Spain, with the ostensible aim of
helping the Spanish colonies win their freedom and independence.
It was a lie and a double cross of those who were fighting for their
freedom and independence. In fact, the real aim was to replace the
Spanish Empire by defeating it and taking possession and control over
its colonies, with the aim of making America great by converting it into
Upon winning the war, the U.S. took control of Cuba, the Philippines,
Guam, and Puerto Rico. The Filipinos kept fighting, this time against
the world’s newest empire, the United States. For a good account of that
war and what it did to American values, see “ America’s Other Original Sin ” by Andrew J. Bacevich, which appeared this week in the American Conservative.
The Cubans, on the other hand, surrendered to U.S. power. As part of
its victory, the new U.S. Empire forced Cuban officials to entire into a
lease that granted the empire a perpetual lease of the 45-square-mile
property known as Guantanamo Bay.
The lease provided for payment of $2,000 per year in gold coin. After
President Franklin Roosevelt nationalized gold in the United States, in
1934 U.S. officials forced Cubans to accept a modification of the lease
that enabled the Empire to pay Cuba $4,000 in U.S. paper money, an
amount that, needless to say, has significantly decreased in value over
the decades owing to the Empire’s inflationary financial policies.
The Cubans don’t cash the checks the Empire sends them because their position is that the lease isn’t valid anyway.
From a legal standpoint, the Cubans are right. Since the lease
agreements for Gitmo were made under conditions of force, fraud, and
duress, they have been null and void from their inception. Moreover,
since the leases provide for no fixed expiration date, that also makes
them null and void under the law.
Of course though, the law is irrelevant. All that matters is force.
Since the U.S. Empire is much more powerful than the Spanish Empire was,
there is absolutely nothing the Cubans can do to regain their property.
Beyond the illegality of the U.S. Empire’s control of Gitmo,
Americans need to ask a critically important question: What business
does the U.S. government have owning and operating an imperialist
military outpost in a foreign country? America was founded as a
limited-government republic, not an empire.
Moreover, the Progressives have been proven wrong in the assertion
that the way to national greatness lies in empire. It’s the exact
opposite. An empire weakens, corrupts, and ultimately destroys a nation,
not only through the out-of-control spending and debt required to
sustain it but also through the moral degradation that comes with
forcibly controlling and brutalizing people in faraway lands.
After all, look at the stain of immorality that the U.S. national
security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon and the CIA — has brought to
our nation because of Guantanamo Bay. How can a nation whose government
establishes an indefinite detention prison, a torture center, and a
kangaroo judicial system in an overseas imperialist outpost, with the
express intention to avoid the Constitution and the Supreme Court, be
considered a great nation? That’s the sort of thing that totalitarian
nations, not great ones, do.
It’s time to dismantle the U.S. Empire and restore our founding
principle of a limited-government republic to the United States. A great
place to start would be by giving Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba, followed
by a termination of all foreign aid, a closure of all foreign military
bases, and an end to regime-change operations around the world.
*About the author: Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Originally published by the Future of Freedom Foundation.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute
1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)