An ‘ex-Pat’s’ View on the American Empire and Its Religious Divide with Europe

Michael York
Bath Spa University College


That the United States of America is an empire and always has been an empire is a case that can easily be made. The format of my presentation shall be in three parts. First, I wish to discuss what an empire is. Secondly, what are some of the contemporary European views on the American imperium? And, lastly, what are the implications and possible suggestions that might be made concerning the reality of imperial dynamics and any viable future efforts for or against the world dominance of American hegemony?

Niall Ferguson records, in his Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (2004, 2005) concerning “imperial denial,” his discovery that “It is … acceptable among American liberals to say that the United States is an empire – provided that you deplore the fact. It is also permitted to say, when among conservatives, that American power is potentially beneficent – provided that you do not describe it as imperial.”[1] In other words, Ferguson pigeonholes most of us right from the start. Ferguson’s own position is that America is indeed an empire but that that is not necessarily a bad thing. The entire history of the human species upon planet Earth is essentially the history of empires. The United States is by his count the sixty-eighth world empire – with Communist China, the sixty-ninth, and the European Union as possibly the seventieth. My own understanding of when a people are under imperial subjection is when they are unable themselves to determine their government. The difference between totalitarian dictatorship or oligarchy and imperial rule rests not so much on the degree of governmental hegemony but on the collection of ethnicities that comprise the polity. An empire is a cosmopolitan corporation, and the real link between the American and Iraqi peoples today is that both are subject to the same imperial government.

In many respects, the emerging American empire is similar to the Roman empire of the Caesars. But it also conforms to another polity, that other great Anglophone empire, namely, that of Victorian Britain. Like the former, the U.S. manages to spread its own language and culture around the world. Again, like Rome, it provides the open opportunity to obtain citizenship that is not dependent on ethnicity. In the latter case, namely, that of the British Empire, we have an example of what is considered a ‘liberal empire’ – one that endeavours to augment its own security and well-being by providing the rest of the world with beneficial public goods, integrated global markets, free trade, rule of law, private property rights, infrastructure investment, public heath and educational opportunities. In terms of the degree of both economic resources and military capabilities, the United States is reminiscent of the British imperial achievement.

Much of American accomplishment has likewise been achieved through the exercise of what is frequently designated as ‘soft power’. This is the ability to entice and attract to get what one wants without resorting to undue force or inducement. Americanisation refers to the means by which America makes its values attractive to others – such means as corporate telecommunications, American cinema and television programmes, exporting desire through image advertising and missionary evangelism It is through such institutions that America seeks to familiarise with and persuade others of her version of international law, democracy and free market economy. Whether such soft power is to be called the ‘white man’s burden’, ‘manifest destiny’, ‘responsibilities of power’, ‘promotion of freedom’ or ‘strategies of openness’, it does possess a noteworthy degree of self-proclaimed altruism.[2]

Of course, much of the imperial expansion of the United States does not reflect the exercise of soft power but rather the very real power of colonial and military expansion – or at least intervention. As Ferguson ironically sees it ironically, “there were no more self-confident imperialists than the Founding Fathers themselves”[3]: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton. The westward expansion of the thirteen original American states was conducted with little or no regard of the agreement of indigenous peoples. Treaties were bought and subsequently broken with Native Americans as the land-hungry mass migration, religious motivations and military strength of the U.S. governmentally-backed Euro-American alone dictated.[4] The U.S. was at least able to secure territory nominally held by its European rivals more often than not not by conquest but by purchase. Beyond the North American continent itself, America’s maritime empire was established through strategic, commercial and ideological considerations: Midway, Guam, Wake Island, Samoa and Hawaii. Puerto Rico and the Philippines were acquired through war; Alaska and the Virgin Islands, through purchase. In addition, America’s imperial influence short of outright annexation has operated in Columbia-Panama, Cuba, Hispanola, Nicaragua and Mexico. None of this should be surprising inasmuch as the one thing all empires must do is expand. Comparing the Anglo-Saxon empire with all other empires, The Daily Reckoning concludes that “Eventually, the empire expands until [it] reaches beyond its limits … then, it either goes broke, is defeated, or both.”[5]

As an ‘empire in denial’ or an imperium of anti-imperialism, the general consensus of the American people has been against the imperial tendencies of the polity’s de facto situation.[6] This reluctance became clear when the U.S. Congress refused in 1869 the offer by Santo Domingo (later the Dominican Republic) to be annexed to the United States. There are further illustrations, but as we see in the Philippines, with Vietnam and more currently with Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a traditional unwillingness for the American people ‘to stay the course’, to complete the job, to insure that their imperial mission achieves the democratic and economically secure intentions that have been declared by the administration at the start of conflict and occupation. There is the inevitable question of whether a U.S. government is truly reflective of the U.S. people, that is, whether the American government is or even could be a democratic expression of the will of the people. With most presidential elections since I can remember approaching a fifty-fifty electoral divide, this means that there is a group of people who are not able to determine their own leadership and yet are greater in size than virtually all other nations apart from the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and the United States as a whole. Democracy was originally conceived for the small city-state, the Greek polis and Swiss canton, and not for the super-sized nation-state that we find in the world of today. This situation may not automatically invalidate the democratic process in the large state, but it does render its possibility all the more difficult.

Having had the experience of empire – the Roman, Napoleonic France, the British, the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese maritime colonial expansions, the German Reich – Europeans perhaps have a more astute and critical perspective on American imperial denials.[7] The anti-Iraq War demonstrations in London, which I attended, were truly enormous – the size of which was downplayed in the British media and other MSM[8] but nevertheless demonstrated a pervasive feeling that America was motivated essentially by oil interests and not from any alleged threat to its internal security through Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. The Anglo-American alliance between Bush and Blair is increasingly understood in terms of government’s political strengthening on the basis of magnified and manufactured fear. A government at war is not a government that can be questioned and made to be accountable. Such a government is necessarily one of imperial design – one that, in the American instance, is the result of a mobilised and highly effective alliance of the military infrastructure, corporate interests and a religiously based zeal.[9]

It is this role of religion that is, of course, of particular interest for most of us who attend the American Academy of Religion’s annual conference. In contrast to the United States where religious practice is extremely high and religious belief even higher if not ‘astronomical’, European religious belief is substantially lower. It is nevertheless still much higher than its demonstrable practice, and in Europe we see this activity as a minority characteristic – whether this minority is actually increasing or not. This is what Grace Davie refers to as “believing without belonging.” In general, the European Values Survey has indicated that Europeans react and form their goals and aspirations through what we might describe as secular rather than religious concerns. However contentious the whole issue of secularisation remains, this situation of belief and practice is significantly different for the United States of America where, in terms of religious faith and fervour we have a country that is much closer to an Islamic nation than a European one.

As BBC reporter Justin Webb puts it, “America is fast becoming a nation of faith not fact. A nation where the unpleasant aspects of human existence are simply airbrushed away.”[10] While Europeans are concerned with issues of social justice and such global concerns as pollution, global warming, poverty, avian flu and Aids, Americans are appearing increasingly focused on a need for otherworldly miracles. The dominant religious framework is no longer the Sermon on the Mount but the Book of Revelation. There are two consequences from this when seen especially from sceptical and more ‘worldly’ European perspectives. First, the essentially Fundamentalist belief that would risk and even wants to risk an Armageddon to hasten a Second Coming and the alleged ‘new world’ that is to come with it. Second, the more Evangelical conviction that American imperial victories reflect the nation’s Christian mission of fulfilling the ‘Word of God’ in contrast to the bankrupt decadence of liberal depravity among godless Europeans. On the European side, however, the EEU is becoming steadily more and more recognised as the defender of the personal freedoms and human rights that were once the distinguishing hallmarks of the American experiment.

This loss, on the part of America, of being the protector of ‘moral imagination’ is the result of multinational corporate interests who perceive the environment simply as a ‘no holds barred’ and unadulterated resource for the taking along with a supportive and virulently active Rapture-oriented fundamentalist wing of Protestant Christianity. In an article called “The Crusaders: Christian evangelists are plotting to remake America in their own image,”[11] Bob Moser sees that it is

“evangelical activists [who are] behind the nation's most effective political machine -- one that brought more than 4 million new Christian voters to the polls last November, sending George W. Bush back to the White House and thirty-two new pro-lifers to Congress.”

Emilio Gentile refers to this development as ‘political religion’, that is, the use of religion as a political instrument.[12] In the case of these so-called ‘Soldiers of Christ’, comprising a “hybrid of fundamentalists, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, conservative Catholics, Charismatics, and other evangelicals, all of whom are at war doctrinally but who nonetheless share a belief that America is destined to become a Christian nation, led by Christian men who are in turn directed by God,”[13] there is still the self-perception of being a persecuted minority who are fighting the godless forces of secularism. The far-right of this loose coalition are known as Dominionists – people who believe that God’s gift to Adam and Eve of ‘dominion over the earth and all its creatures’ bestows the right to unlimited exploitation. In its desire to make Christianity the only legitimate voice in the state, one that is necessary for the Second Coming of Christ, the Dominionist or Christian Reconstructionist agenda seeks, among other things, the death penalty for apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft.[14]

More moderate than the Dominionists, the National Association of Evangelicals adopted in October 2004 an “Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility” that affirms the ‘God-given dominion’ as a responsibility to steward the earth rather than abuse it, but the basic Rapture credo itself is that “the world cannot be saved.”[15] The only thing that matters to the hardcore Christian coalition is personal salvation. As Bill Moyers asks, “why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine, and pestilence brought by economic collapse are signs of apocalypse foretold in the Bible?”[16] Pat Robertson expressed this idea in part when he attributed the 911 attacks to God’s displeasure with the nation’s godless depravity and homosexuality. More recently, the New Orleans hurricane Katrina devastations have been seen as consequences of the city’s Sodom and Gomorrah degradation. In a theology that capitalises on catastrophe and manages to hold its own when things are well, fundamentalist religiosity has, according to Anatol Lieven, now become “an integral part of the radicalisation of the right in the US and of the tendency to demonize political opponents as traitors and enemies of God and America.”[17] If America has always been an empire, and if a benevolent and liberal empire is possibly a good thing for the world at large, the present regime in charge of that empire, “whose chief characteristics are [according to Bill Moyers] ideological disdain for evidence and theological distrust of science,”[18] seems to be on a fast track to political and economic and, eventually, military ruin. There is now the very real possibility that the American Empire will fail.[19]

The present-day myopia and arrogance displayed by the U.S. administration and its supporting electorate are accepted by Europeans as a consequence of the American theological conservatism characteristic of a vitally strong and still growing churchgoing constituency – fuelled in part by the religious broadcasting of televangelism. But as the dominant player on the world stage of today in terms of military, economic and political – if not also religious – might, the United States has seemingly stepped unwittingly into the onus and legacy of the Crusades and the ongoing historical clash between Christendom and Islam. Gary Frazier at the Village Baptist Church in Destin, Florida proclaimed that “Allah and Jehovah are not the same God…. Islam is a Satanic religion.”[2] This crusader conflict would appear to assist the current political agenda of the present U.S. administration with its leadership through a culture of fear. It also supports – and is supported by – the so-called Religious Right that responds to a president that displays piety in a publicly open fashion. A strongly declared morality and grounding in faith have been the hallmarks of Bush’s appeal to religious conservatism but these have simultaneously estranged him from nearly one-half of the American public and most of his Western European allies.[21] Coupled with this religiosity is still the belief that the Western democratic ideal has triumphed throughout the world. This is Francis Fukuyama’s ‘the End of History’ assumption, one that drives America’s role as Crusader State and which, even after 11 September, 2001, “led the Bush administration to view those epochal attacks as the work of an evil few rather than a product of animosities welling up from within an increasingly anti-Western culture.”[22]

A typical European perception was expressed by Peter Oborne on the eve of the meeting of G8 leaders in Gleneagles, Scotland.[23]

“Like many people, I was brought up to love, almost worship the United States. We were taught that it was the one sure protector of order, security, freedom and civilisation across the world.”

But in discussing the new threats that have emerged in our world of today, namely, Islamic terrorism, global warming and environmental degradation, Oborne finds that “it is no longer clear that America is on our side as we fight them.”

“the US has turned from a friend and valued ally into the biggest threat the world has faced in half a century. … America, the largest economy in the world, won’t even admit we have a problem [with global warming]. The US is destroying the planet that we live on, yet refuses even to discuss the matter.”

Oborne continues by comparing the American intransigence with the manner in which the United States “is conducting the so-called war on terror.”

“it has embarked on a series of illegal operations of its own. … There has been no more effective recruiting sergeant for Osama bin Laden over the past three years than George Bush. Those of us who grew up loving America must come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a benign force. … she has now become a rogue state which needs to be tamed.”

As an empire, both today and in the past, the United States has been characterised by an extraordinary degree of poor planning and ineptness. The post-World War II reconstruction of Germany and Japan are often cited as the U.S.’s two most successful examples of economic recovery and establishment of working democracies. A close look at the historical register, however, reveals how much of that success was due to sheer luck. In fact, in both cases, the original policy was to thwart any economic redevelopment – a policy that changed with the realisation that occupation was too expensive without this redevelopment. And apart from Germany and Japan, there are virtually no other examples of a successful exportation of American ideals, culture and institutions.

The shift that will increasingly be seen to have occurred from the former Republic of the United States to the emerging American Empire parallels the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. The democratic institutions remained in name in both instances.[24] For the Romans, however, the imperial framework opened the way for the advent of the Church. Christians, however, were not the cause behind the political change but instead were the consequence. For the present situation in the United States, the religious card has been a major determinant, though, admittedly, not the only one. If the Roman parallel were to continue, it cannot be Christianity as such that emerges from the American imperial framework but a particular form of Christianity – a conservative, fundamental, evangelical and highly emotional form of Christianity that appears to flourish on the ruins of liberal secularism. This emergence is one possibility, or the emergence of a radically different spiritual awakening is another. Either way, the precariousness of the American polity and economy increasingly hang in the balance.

To be sure, there is a detectable reaction on the part of many conservative Republicans and Protestant Evangelists to the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Wolfowitz Neocon hijacking of their party or religion. For instance, Washington-based Baptist preacher Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics, has been described by Andrew Gumbel in The Independent Magazine as a person who believes that following the Gospel teachings means “standing up for the poor, agitating for universal health care, protecting the environment and combating the military-industrial complex in all its forms.”[25] In Wallis’ words, “I don’t think Jesus’s first two priorities would have been a capital-gains-tax cut and the occupation of Iraq.”[26] In November, 2004 at the All Saints Episcopalian church in Beverly Hills, Wallis raised the issues of poverty, the environment, the American health-care crisis and HIV/Aids as moral values that are ignored in the Republican political playbook. Wallis’ major point is that every American progressive movement in the country’s history has been religiously inspired in one manner or another. What the more moderate evangelicals, Roman Catholics, mainline middle-of-the-road Protestants, black evangelicals, progressive rabbis and even young Muslims are looking for in America, according to Wallis, is not the political middle so much as it is a moral centre.

It is precisely this location or re-location of moral values which appears to be the increasing quest for those both domestically and abroad who oppose the imperial hegemony of the right-winged religiously conservative Bush-Cheney Republican machine.[27] It should be clear through Barbara McGraw’s analysis that, despite the secular left’s rendering the separation of church and state into an icon, the forum of democratic debate – to be both a true forum and truly democratic – must include discussion of both religion and morality.[28] At the heart of the democratic forum is conversation and negotiation. Perhaps Ferguson is right that imperial polities are inevitable and that ‘good’ empires are possible. As he puts it,

“The problem in Liberia, as in so many sub-Saharan African states, is simply misgovernment: corrupt and lawless dictators whose conduct makes economic development impossible and encourages political opposition to take the form of civil war. Countries in this condition will not correct themselves. They require the imposition of some kind of external authority.”[29]

While many of us might look to an organisation like the United Nations to be this external authority, Ferguson opts for a liberal empire.

One difficulty with this position is that empires, all empires, invariably run their course – with the inevitable conflict and destruction that ensues as rival and successor empires take over. Given the fragility of an overcrowded planet, steadily diminishing natural resources, increasing environmental volatility,[30] and the much greater dangerous stakes involved, if we are not to reduce huge swaths of humanity to be simply guinea pigs for multinational corporations as John Le Carré depicts in his novel, The Constant Gardner and in the film made from it, or as bureaucratically-condoned expendables as witnessed in the post-Katrina ravages, it is time for the United States and the world as a whole to enter into dialogue.[31] If this dialogue is to be religiously inspired, it is less likely that the spiritual motivation can itself be sectarian. Instead, it can be, ought to be and even must be an open and steadily expanding conversation between Christians, Muslims, secularists, pagans and religionists and non-religionists of all hues and stripes both within and between all political divisions without limiting preset agendas or demands.[32] Despite that there is virtually no conversation within the United States at present, it is mandatory if we are to bypass the environmental and security void that confronts us that Americans learn to start talking in meaningful ways. Through conversation, through what I prefer to call The Conversation, it is time for each and every one of us to find the daring and the imagination to locate new and more viable means by which to manage and govern our planet for everyone and not just for and by elites that are dominated by their own self-interests.

By conversation (both talking and listening), I do not intend to suggest something airy-fairy and as the great panacea of all human woes. There is a problem, and there is a solution. Religions in particular have emerged more often than not as part of the problem and not part of the solution. As Gary Snyder says, “Our immediate business, and our quarrel, is with ourselves.”[33] Conversing with others is not being suggested as the only way forward but as certainly a most important avenue. Politics and religious sectarianism each have the tendency to demonise the other as well as for us to be demonised by the other. If we are to break free of the historical and cultural deadlocks we find ourselves within, both need to be bypassed. Conversing with others is not only a means to wealth, power, security, etc., but as a mode of religious awakening it becomes a sacred end in itself – one that imaginatively and experimentally might be used to supersede all the goals of self-oriented political and religious ends. I am suggesting that through the dynamic of multiple conversation on all levels and between as many people and groups as possible we can move beyond the limited competencies of politicians and so-called religious leaders and engage in manners that affect us all equitably. Those who cannot engage in such conversations, such as rainforest and Borneo tribals, require protectorate status, while those who can but refuse to engage, such as war lords, extremists and religious fanatics, must be marginalized through their own self-exclusion.

Another difficulty with both empire and the kind of religion that conceives God as an omnipotent monarch relates to the very precariousness of power itself. Rome is the classic illustration of Lord Acton’s adage that ‘power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Against the religious understanding of an absolutely powerful God, there is a growing recognition of the empire of nature in which power is conditional and contextual but never absolute – a situation that allows both kingdom and republic to flourish mutually in the more creative modus vivendi of conversational adjustment, positional flexibility and viable growth. As part of nature rather than being simply an expendable worker-consumer cog or laboratory test-animal, as a species of individuals who possess and may be considered as possessing intrinsic dignity, human nature differs from the common and determinate nature of other animal species in having no remarkable degree of similarity. Instead, the one human nature that is common to all members of humanity is potentialities. As Mortimer Adler puts this, “Human nature is constituted by all the potentialities that are the species-specific properties common to all members of the human species.”[34] From this perspective, the differences between people and any apparent inequality between them are products of nurture and acculturation alone.

Adler continues that a successful world community must “retain cultural pluralism or diversity with respect to all matters that are accidental in human life – such things as cuisine, dress, manners, customs, and the like. … In contrast, the common elements that will unite all human beings [include] truth in science and philosophy, moral values and human rights, man’s understanding of himself, and the wisdom that is the highest good of the human mind.”[35] On the basis of this understanding, the understanding of the human being’s place within the empire of nature, there are two questions we need to face today: (1) could the American empire even survive under its present leadership of stealth, secrecy, power seduction and mismanagement,[36] and (2) is an empire in the first place the kind of government any of us require in the kind of world we have become? It is the empire of nature that alone possesses transparency rather than collusion, mystery rather than surreptitious furtiveness, and growth and change rather than the errors of mechanical design.



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Davie, Grace (1994). Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without Belonging. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ferguson, Niall (2004, 2005). Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. London: Penguin.

Fisk, Robert (2005). “We are all complicit in these vile acts of torture - but what can we do about it?” The Independent (Saturday, 18 June).

Fraser, Giles (2005). “Fundamentally speaking.” The Guardian (Saturday, 23 July - <>)

Josephy, Alvin M., Jr. (1994). 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Hedges, Chris (2005). “Soldiers of Christ II: Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters.” Harper’s Magazine (May).

Kincade, Kit (2005). “Constitution, Not Religion, Under Attack”. The Louisville Courier-Journal (Sunday 24 April).

McConnell, Scott (2005). “How They Get Away With It.” e-PRAXIS e-List (4 July Issue: Copyright © 2005 The American Conservative – accessed 13.7.5

McGraw, Barbara A. (2003). Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America. Albany: SUNY.

Merry, Robert W. (2005). Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Model, David (2005). Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes with a Straight Face. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press.

Moser, Bob (2005). “The Crusaders: Christian evangelists are plotting to remake America in their own image” (accessed 16.4.5).

Moyers, Bill (2005). “Welcome to Doomsday.” The New York Review of Books 52.5 (24 March:8-10).

Osborne, Peter (2005). “Why the US is now our great enemy.” Evening Standard (Monday, 20 June).

Smith, Michael (2005). “How the Leaked Documents Questioning War Emerged from 'Britain's Deep Throat'.” The Sunday Times UK. (Sunday, 26 June).

Snyder, Gary (1990). The Practice of the Wild: Essays. Washington, D.C.: Shoemker & Hoard.

Starr, Kevin (1973). Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915. New York: Oxford University Press.

Urban, Hugh (2005). “Religion and Secrecy in the Bush Administration: The Gentleman, the Prince, and the Simulacrum.” (accessed 15.8.5).



[1] “Preface to the Paperback Edition” of 2005 (p. vii).

[2] Ibid. 23.

[3] Ferguson (2005:33).

[4] For a presentation of the often shameless expansion of the thirteen original states and the accompanying conniving strategies and violations, see Josephy (1994). In this light, in condemning the shenanigans of California’s Bear Flag revolt, Josiah Royce warned “that when our nation is another time about to serve the devil, it will do so with more frankness, and will deceive itself less by half-unconscious cant. For the rest, our mission in the cause of liberty is to be accomplished through a steadfast devotion to the cultivation of our own inner life, and not by going abroad as missionaries, as conquerors, or as marauders, among weaker peoples" (cited in Starr, 1973:160).

[5] “Empires expand … or contract … because that is what makes them empires. If they minded their own business and stayed within their own borders [as nation-states do], they would not be empires. … A true empire cannot help itself. It must engage in … extravagant ‘imperial overstretch’ that it can no longer pay the costs.” From “Today’s Daily Reckoning – Taking The Bull By The Horns,” The Daily Reckoning [ –] (4.10.5 09:22 PDT).

[6] For instance, reflecting the imperialism of anti-imperialism, the words of W.H. Steward that appear on the winged Victory monument that is found at the corners of Market, Montgomery and Post Streets in San Francisco to celebrate the admission of California to the Union are relevant: “The Vanity of our Empire Hangs on the Decision of this Day.”

[7] As Ferguson (2005:294) sums up: “Few people outside the United States today doubt the existence of an American empire; that America is imperialistic is a truism in the eyes of most educated Europeans.”

[8] MSM (mainstream media).

[9] On the intense preoccupation with information control of the Bush administration, “arguably the most secretive in U.S. history,” see Hugh Urban (2005). Moreover, Scott McConnell (2005) sees that “The failure of Americans to generate a politically significant domestic opposition to the war is now one of the most important developments in world politics. It means that the Bush administration can contemplate, without any fear of adverse domestic political consequences, expansion of its war to Syria or a large-scale bombing of Iran. The only constraints on its behavior are international.” But even this last is now questionable in the light of the following: “The bilateral instruments, signed by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and the US Ambassador to Ireland James C Kenny last week, provide for sweeping powers to be given to the US authorities on request, including the right to seize documents, check bank accounts and carry out searches of property [of suspects arrested on Irish soil]”: Human Rights Commission to probe CIA agreement 21/07/2005 - 9:48:17 AM

[10] Broadcast aired on the BBC World Service on 19 February 2005.

[11] Moser (2005).

[12] Moser (2005:8).

[13] Hedges (2005). Harper’s Magazine (May 2005).

[14] While the Dominionist/Reconstructionist agenda and position are admittedly extreme, religion and politics are more broadly cited as incompatible bedfellows. Ruth Rendell, Religion Correspondent of The Times, covering a report by Gregory Paul that appeared in the Journal of Religion and Society on 27 September 2005, discloses that “belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.” Paul’s study is based on the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies and compared such social indicators as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy. He found that “the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. … [T]he evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills.” Rendell cites Paul at the conclusion of her article with the following: “The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience social disaster is therefore refuted.”,,2-1798944,00.html (27.9.5).

[15] Moyers (2005:8).

[16] Ibid.

[17] Cited in Moyers (2005:10).

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ferguson (2005:290) cites the reasons for the lack of American imperial success if not its ultimate failure to be its economic deficit, its manpower deficit and – especially – its attention deficit, namely, the unwillingness of Americans to do the imperial work abroad that is necessary and to stay the course until the job is done.

[20] Cited in Moyers (2005:8).

[21] Note further that “In a momentary lapse President George W. Bush even used the word crusade himself to characterize the war he wished to wage against terrorism following the attacks of September 11, 2001” (Ferguson, 2004, 2005:106). For the emergence in the Bush administration of ‘America as Crusader State’, see Merry (2005).

[22] Merry (2005:252). As Merry puts it, “the West’s values, its ideas and ideals, its governmental structures and religious sensibilities … are not universal” (p. 254).

[23] Osborne (2005:15).

[24] As one illustration out of many, note Smith (2005): “In America only Congress can declare war, and it did not give the US president permission to take military action against Iraq until October 11, 2002.”

[25] Andrew Gumbel, “The moral minority,” The Independent Magazine (Sunday, 25 June 2005:19).

[26] Ibid. p 21. In addition, in her opening statement to the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul on 24 June 2005, Arundhati Roy stated that “The assault on Iraq is an assault on all of us: on our dignity, our intelligence, and our future.”

[27] In this light, Robert Fisk (2005) asks the following: “What can we do when an American president dispatches ‘suspects’ to third countries where they will be stripped, wired up, electrocuted, ripped open and tortured until they wish they had never been born? What can we do with a prime minister - ours - who believes that information from torture victims may be of use to us and may be collected by us? How can we clean our hands when we know that men are being subject to ‘rendition’ through our own airports? Doesn't a policeman have the right to go aboard these CIA contract jets that touch down in Britain and take a look at the victim inside and - if he believes the man may be tortured - take him off the plane?”

[28] McGraw (2003). See further Kincade (2005): “Conservative Christians have some very specific ideas on how our civil society should work. Most of us do. Unfortunately, they have developed the hard position that their ideas spring from the sole religious truth and that anyone who disagrees is persecuting them. Is religion under attack or is the Constitution? In our age of religious fervor, it is popular to extol the religious faith of our nation's Founding Fathers, but the framers of the Constitution left God out of that document. There is no mention of a deity or a creator, divine providence or anything similar.”

[29] Ferguson (2004, 2005:24). Ferguson’s ‘bottom line’ is that “there seems to be no better alternative for the United States and the world” than the American imperium (p. xxviii), and yet, earlier, he states that “The ‘unipolarity’ identified by some commentators following the Soviet collapse cannot last much longer, for the simple reason that history hates a hyperpower” (p. xxii).

[30] As Snyder (1990:193) puts it, “there can be no health for humans and cities that bypasses the rest of nature. A properly radical environmentalist position is in no way anti-human.” Even Ferguson (2005:296) admits that, due to transnational terrorism, nuclear proliferation and organised crime along with disease pandemics, climate change and scarcity of water, cooperation between states rather than competition is now most necessary.

[31] For a typical example of racial prejudice in the service of imperial extension, Starr (1973:18) states the following: “Hatred of Mexicans is total – and totally in the service of American expansion. From Santa Fe to San Diego, the Mexican is depicted as a swarthy desperado, treacherous, cruel, cowardly.”

[32] For instance, Fraser (2005), after referring to such biblical passages as “Blessed is he who takes your little children and smashes their heads against the rocks” and “O God, break the teeth in their mouths ... Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime; like the untimely birth that never sees the sun ... The righteous will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked” as well as referring to Samson in the Philistine temple of Dagon as  “the nearest scriptural justification for suicide bombings,” concludes: “After all, it is precisely the non-negotiability of the divine commandment that makes peaceful religious politics so elusive. If the choice is between the ballot box and divine will, how can the faithful remain committed to democratic decision-making?”

[33] Snyder (1990:189) – from the essay “Survival and Sacrament.”

[34] Adler (1985:161).

[35] Ibid. p. 166.

[36] On the lying necessary to justify wars, see Model (2005).