Tuesday, May 30, 2023

America’s Secret Empire: Territories Not Even Americans Know About

When a student from Washington, Los Angeles, New York, or Texas is asked who constitutes or constitutes the borders of the United States of America, the majority usually answer the fifty states lying between Mexico and Canada. That’s all. It is a well-established geographical concept, which, however, is consistent with the widespread idea throughout the world that a country is an “empire” that exercises economic, military and cultural power throughout the world. But what about the islands, atolls, archipelagos, and overseas states that America ruled, dominated, and inhabited in the 19th, 20th, and 20th and 21st centuries?

During the four decades that the United States occupied the Philippines from 1898 until the end of World War II, its government did not even appear on the map. It is a remarkable characteristic of all the overseas countries, which they claim to be the most powerful country in the world, that they do not talk about it, as if they wanted to hide from the Washington government that their power extended beyond its borders. Atlantic, Pacific, Mexico and Canada. The rest, which covers more than two centuries, millions of square kilometers and inhabitants, as if they did not exist.

As Daniel Immerwahr explains in his recent book ‘How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Colonies of the United States’ (Captain Swing, 2023): “This is how most people think of the country today, perhaps including Alaska and Hawaii.” Political scientist Benedict Anderson called it the “apple logo” because if the earth had one, it would be its silhouette. But the disadvantage is that this is not right. His silhouette does not fall within the right limits.

Historian points out that not only did Hawaii and Alaska, which gained statehood in 1959, miss out on this map, but many other Americans also did not know that the borders of California or Ohio were similar. Also absent was Puerto Rico, which, although not a state, has been part of the country since 1899; and the Philippines, omitted during the first half of the 20th century. “When did you see a map of the United States that included Puerto Rico?” What about American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the small islands that the United States has annexed over the years? Emmerwahr adds.

islands and atolls

The same can be said about the many other islands that the United States now holds in the Pacific, of which almost no one is aware today. For example, the Aleutians, Baker, Howland, Jarvis, Wake, Guam and Kingman Reef, as well as Johnston and Palmyra Atolls, all with their governments, to a greater or lesser degree, depend on Washington. And others in the Caribbean beyond mentioned, such as Navassa Island, Serranilla, Bajo Nuevo (also called the Petrel Islands) or the famous Key West.

The inhabitants of this “hidden empire,” as Immerwahr describes it, whether willingly or through neglect, never really knew what to call their borders. At the beginning of the 20th century, when they occupied most of the states in the United States of America – from Puerto Rico to the Philippines, passing through Guam, American Samoa, Hawaii and Wake – their status was clear. The colonies were launched shamelessly by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. But that imperious spirit, as it had been before in Spain or Great Britain, did not last long. From the White House they soon tried to hide or minimize it.

The word “colonialism” has become religious in the country within a decade or two. In fact, in 1914, when the World War was about to begin, an American official wrote: “The word colonial” should not be used to express the relationship between our government and the peoples who depend on it. Then he named it “territory” according to historian Rebecca Tinio McKenna in her book ‘American Pastoral Empire: The Architecture of US Colonialism in the Philippines’.

unequal to the country

This should include about a hundred islands that, from 1840 until the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States of America had occupied in the Caribbean and in the Pacific Ocean. It is true that many of these possessions, of which it has been said above, have fallen into oblivion, notwithstanding that some were of great importance. This is what happened, for example, with the inhabited island of Howland in the middle of the Pacific, with an extension similar to that of Central Park, which was convenient for aviation because of the bridge. The Japanese knew and didn’t hesitate that one day they bombed Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii during World War II.

“The geographical map of all these leaves out both the great colonies and the very large islands. And he has another reason for deception. It means that the United States is a politically equal space: a union in which the states are united voluntarily and equally. But it is not, nor is it. From the day independence was established by Great Britain until the present day, it has always been a collection of states and regions. The country is divided into two parts, with different laws for each of them”, emphasizes Emmerwahr.

The Washington government never seemed to care that, before 1940, the so-called American colonies scattered around the world had almost twenty million inhabitants. This means that even if the United States were to hide or pay much less attention to the fact that eight Americans were living outside the continent between Mexico and Canada, most of them in the Philippines. And all of these constituted what some called the “Greater United States” at the beginning of the 20th century.

the pride of Britain and Spain

“Those blobs, like Howland Island and others like it, are the foundation of America’s world power. They serve as military staging areas, launch pads, platforms, lighthouses and laboratories. They establish what I call a control point. Today that empire is equal to the whole earth. However, none of these (neither large colonies, nor small islands, nor military bases) left much of the mind on the mainland. “One of the most unique features of the US government has always been overlooked,” Immerwahr explains in his essay.

It is curious why, while Great Britain and Spain were proud of their empire, the United States neglected to hide it. The reason, according to the historian, is that this country has always considered itself a nation and did not want to be anything else. Born into an anti-imperialist rebellion, it has since fought against Hitler’s Third Reich and the Japanese Empire in World War II, to the common empire of the Soviet Union, which has grown into dozens of satellite states around the world. The Cold War

Nation World News Desk
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