In The National Interest: the rhetoric of our empire

The government and mass media use the phrase “in the national interest” as a ritual phrase to introduce almost every story about our involvement in affairs around the world. It has its variant as “the national security interests”

Official Definitions of “National Interests”

Here is a definition of our “national interests” from a 2000 report by The Commission on America’s National Interests 1



Vital national interests are conditions that are strictly necessary to safeguard and enhance Americans’ survival and well-being in a free and secure nation.

Vital US national interests are to:

1. Prevent, deter, and reduce the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons attacks on the United States or its military forces abroad;

2. Ensure US allies’ survival and their active cooperation with the US in shaping an international system in which we can thrive;

3. Prevent the emergence of hostile major powers or failed states on US borders;

4. Ensure the viability and stability of major global systems(trade, financial markets, supplies of energy, and the environment); and

5. Establish productive relations, consistent with American national interests, with nations that could become strategic adversaries, China and Russia. Instrumentally, these vital interests will be enhanced and protected by promoting singular US leadership, military and intelligence capabilities, credibility (including a reputation for adherence to clear US commitments and even-handedness in dealing with other states), and strengthening critical international institutions — particularly the US alliance system around the world.2

And in the eyes of the Obama administration National Security Strategy (May 2010):3

To achieve the world we seek, the United States must apply our strategic approach in pursuit of four enduring national interests:

• Security: The security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners.

• Prosperity: A strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity.

• Values: Respect for universal values at home and around the world.

• International Order: An international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.

It is fundamental to every nation-state that it provide security to its homeland. In the case of the US we are fortunate to have the buffer of two vast oceans. In our hemisphere, there are no nation states that can be considered even remotely dangerous to our homeland. Given the enormous US Navy, the modern-day equivalent of the British fleet of the 18th and 19th centuries, there is no possibility of an attack across our vast ocean buffers. There certainly are dangers, the use of nuclear materials to create a dirty bomb delivered via a freighter, for example. But, no other country has the capacity to project a military threat to the US homeland.

Who Are Our Allies?

The US empire is built in part on a definition of “allies” and “partners” – our “alliance system”. As is well known, this artifice creates entanglements that justify or demand, depending on one’s view, our engagement all around the world. The important questions to ask are who are these allies and why are they our allies? Some, like Britain, continue to be included out of historical inertia. Anglophilia is a permanent feature of our culture. Who doesn’t like the British TV shows that flow into our TVscape? Others like Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Afghanistan are notorious for their oppressive governments.

Many argue that in this age of globalization, political groups can conduct terror campaigns here and this is justification for our now 13 yr old war on terror. This has come to be the mantra underpinning the creation of a national security state (NSS) that now includes as its battlefield the entire US population. Setting up this zero-incident threshold only justifies the NSS. It does not and cannot protect us against terrorism. This was clearly demonstrated in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The only people benefiting from this impractical policy is the NSS itself. We will not prevent the next terrorist act while allowing the NSS to seriously undermine the very values written into our founding documents.

Since WWII the US has become an empire. We have military and security bases on every continent. By definition, an attack or danger posed to this vast network becomes a vital national interest. It would be a good exercise for Americans to think of Chinese or Russian troops with tanks and airplanes stationed permanently in Omaha NB, or Boston MA. How would we feel? Then compound this with the

We have “collective defense arrangements” with 27 countries through NATO, 21 countries in the Western hemisphere through the Rio Treaty and 10 more through other treaty arrangements4

  This circular reasoning guarantees a continuous stream of threats and the capacity to respond immediately anywhere in the world.

We have identified consistently that our economic interests are part of this empire.


  1. accessed 06142014
  2. The authors of this report include many luminaries in the Bush administration and other foreign policy “experts”.
  3. accessed 06132014
  4. “U.S. Collective Defense Arrangements.” Accessed December 10, 2018.