There’s no question that the origin of the United States of America, was colonial. People came to the county’s shores from other lands, with the intent of settling here. They did what such people do; they established colonies.
In most cases, I imagine the modus operandi can be argued to be simple. Find an empty space and fill it with settlement. That doesn’t by any means indicate every newcomer took that approach.
You can be sure some came in, saw land natives or even other settlers were occupying looked like great places to be, and ran them off in order to take possession of what they had.
I could be wrong, but I’d guess the number of folks who approached life in that way was small.
In the end though, where some of the people who came to what’s now the United States, acted in improper ways towards the locals or those who had come in before them otherwise, I doubt the number was necessarily all that high.
I’ve heard stories of how many native Americans were placed on reservations or treated in similar fashions, and I’m not really trying to dispute the reality of those things happening.
That said, I could be wrong, but I imagine the vast number of final settlements here, were not made under such circumstances.
That, of course, doesn’t take away from the guilt of those having acted incorrectly. The problem? Those people are no longer on the planet. That’s also almost certainly the case for those having been wronged as well.
That means the people currently around, neither participated in, nor were victims of, the various acts of colonization—good or bad—that came before.
Remember that much of what happened started not with those men who became citizens of the country, but with the British, the French, the Spanish, and others.
After that, acts occurring primarily inside the borders of what’s currently the United States, can be said to have been the responsibility of the people who were there following the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.
Then there were a few comparatively small acts of taking over other places that are now considered states (Hawai’i) or territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa and others) of this country.
This is almost the sum total of empire building that can be attributed to the now known United States of America.
You may ask, “What about entities like, South Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq?”
It’s probable if you’re part of the class that looks at those actions as empire building, you’re not going to be at all happy with my answer.
I was a member of the United States Air Force. In my earlier days, I married a young woman who was born, and spent her childhood in the Republic of Korea. When she was a young adult, her sister’s husband sponsored her entry into the U. S.
We were introduced, and—silly me—I allowed myself to get into a relationship with her that was not a great one for either of us. To be fair, out of that union, came two wonderful children who are now adults.
As a result of our marriage, we came to the conclusion that it was an acceptable idea, for me to serve a year or more if possible in Korea, and to bring her along, since when I received orders there, she was still a Korean national.
We went, and I got to see first hand, what the interaction between Koreans and Americans looked like in that country.
You may rest assured, that most servicemen did not have any real sway over the local population even if they did wander onto, or otherwise frequent bases or posts in the country.
In fact, it was not too uncommon for people in uniform to get drunk, act in disorderly fashions, and find themselves spending time in Korean jails.
The relationships between military commanders and local authorities (as well as the idea that people not born and raised in Korea who are of Korean lineage, were essentially un-persons, that’s a subject for another blog entry though), made it so mostly, if an American didn’t do something too stupid, he or she would probably be remanded to the custody of a base or post commander or similar.
From there, punishment would typically be meted out by military authorities.
The point here is, G.I.s in that country, largely held zero authority over Korean Nationals in any place other than military facilities, and even on those pieces of ground, their power was limited in a variety of ways.
And what sort of U. S. Settlements were there in the ROK as a result of “U. S. military occupation?” Other than Americans who worked on the facilities living in rented or where possible owned housing off those installations, there were none.
Obviously, it was and is acceptable for non-military members to go to Korea, to visit and to work, but that’s largely unrelated to what the various services are doing there.
Those who come to live in, work in, and visit the country, are there at the pleasure of the Korean government. If they choose to misbehave, the chances are, there will be some sort of punishment. That may mean expulsion, jail time, or other actions.
As with any country, the U. S. has diplomatic entities that may get involved, and might get the government of the Republic of Korea, to release American citizens to its authorities, so they can be repatriated (and potentially undergo punishment or rehabilitation in their home country).
I think it highly likely, the arrangements in most countries in which the United States has a presence, work in much the same way.
Now ask yourself this question, “Was this true for the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?” How about North Korea? What about Iran?
When people seek to imply that the United States of America is a colonizing or empire building country in modern times, they really need to take a minute to compare what happened or happens in entities like the former USSR and other such places, to what occurs here. I think they’ll find the contrast to be quite interesting to say the least.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.