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    Brave New World

    How Large Is America?

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    America is located in North America, but it is also a mini-empire of territories which include Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Guam. We don’t hear too much about that. To most of us, America is a logo-type landmass situated between Mexico and Canada. Why is this?

    Dan Kovalik, who teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh, answers this and other related questions.

    To the question why America doesn't talk about the fact that it has colonies, Dan says: ‘…People know that to be an empire is to be a dominator, that is to be less than democratic, but we fancy ourselves as being the beacon of democracy in the world. There is an incredible difference between empire and democracy, so people don't want to admit that we are an empire, that's for other people to be. And we fight evil empires… so you can call it national denial."

    A discussion ensues about the size of the American empire, and Dan includes American overseas bases in the count. "It comes to a very large number of people… If you look at some of the countries, such as South Korea, the US base there is gigantic. You can't walk around Seoul without seeing US service people. The Honduras is similar, where the US has a giant military base that really dominates the country. They call Honduras a non-floating aircraft carrier for the United States. Then you think about Guantanamo; it's in the occupied territory of another country that does not want us there. There are many examples where the US has just taken other territories largely for its own military expansion."

    Dan argues that the status of a military base is not the same as that of an embassy; however he says that if you were to attack a US military base you would probably find that you are attacked back, therefore military bases are similar in status to that of embassies, almost US territory. It also seems to be very difficult for countries to get rid of US military bases. Dan comments: "Look at Japan — it can't get off US bases, including Okinawa which is a huge thorn in their side…"

    Another discussion follows place as regards the status of Americans who are born on one of the US's foreign territories. "People from Hawaii or Alaska which are States are of a different status than people from, say, Puerto Rico which is not a State, it's a territory. People from the territories face different obstacles that other US citizens in terms of jobs [in mainland US]. More important is how those territories are treated by the Federal government, and I think we see how Puerto Rico was treated recently with the hurricane, it was treated as a second-class entity. The attempt to rebuild there has been at best half-hearted…"

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    Tags:
    colony, empire, territory, America, United States
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