Crises and Power
U.S. Foreign Policy
   Development & Aid
   Regional Influence
      Latin America
      Middle East
      North America

Quotes on Power

About the book Crisis and Leviathan

Center on Peace & Liberty North



The U.S. government’s attempts to maintain the entire continent of North America as a sphere of hegemonic influence are longstanding and varied. They included repeated interventions in Mexico, with several direct military incursions. In 1846, after annexing Texas and making plans to take California and New Mexico when offers to buy the territories from Mexico were declined, U.S. forces took actions that were perceived as provocative by the Mexican government. By late 1847, the U.S. military forces were in Mexico City. In the peace settlement, the U.S. government acquired two-fifths of Mexico’s territory.

The next major act of interventionism on the continent was President Abraham Lincoln’s successful violent effort to prevent the southern states from seceding from the union and establishing one or more separate countries. The Civil War occurred despite the fact that before and after the war, slave emancipation in other countries throughtout the rest of the Americas was sucessfully pursued without resorting to war. The war radically changed the conception of the United States from a confederation of sovereign states to a unified state with provinces subordinate to a central government. The campaigns to eliminate or relocate Native American tribes are also examples of the U.S. government’s intention to impose its will on the bulk of North America. Then, the Spanish-American War (1898) netted the U.S. government control of Cuba and Puerto Rico (along with Guam and the Philippines).

This continental hegemony was reinforced by virtually every subsequent administration--usually under the guise of responding to a war or economic crisis, such as the Great Depression. With policy precedents set during previous U.S. wars, interventionist programs with names such as the Square Deal, New Freedom, New Deal, Fair Deal, New Frontier, Great Society, along with myriad unnamed schemes from Democrats and Republicans alike, enabled the U.S. government to impose increased dependency (e.g., nationalized old-age pensions, medical care, unemployment insurance, education, highways, western land holdings, etc.) on the citizens under its jurisdiction. Moreover, preparation for and involvement in wars (including the “war” on drugs) have fostered the growth of a national-security garrison state with its attendant centralized economic power, armed-to-the-teeth posture, and intrusions on privacy and other civil liberties. The U.S. government’s achievement of military, especially nuclear, global reach exacerbated tensions, providing further justifications for controls on the domestic population, leading to today’s USA PATRIOT Act and other measures.

Every aspect of this imperial ambition curtailed the liberty not only of targeted populations, but also of the citizenry under the control of the government in Washington, D.C. Heightened levels of taxation and limits on civil liberties have been considered essential elements of this interventionist program.

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