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Interestingly enough pacifists also do not seem to have as inflexible principles as some assume. Just saying.
If they're discussing nuance and particulars, then they are people I can talk to, and with whom, despite my recent postings here, I actually share a fair bit of common ground. I am well aware of the sort you're talking about here - that is simply not the strand I've been arguing with of late.
Wow. Not doing empire. Not selling weapons to 3rd word dictatorships. Supporting international law everywhere instead of where it is convenient. Supporting the right of people to self government Working towards ending the rule of multinationals...
The empire is a lot bigger and more fundamental than that. The very existence of international law is possible because of American Empire, and was for a while pushed by parties affiliated with or neutrally tolerated by the Empire.
I think all the things you cited are particular strategies of the Empire, not the Empire itself. I may well share you disapproval of many of those strategies. But the Empire itself is the fact that borders are fixed, the major powers agree not to fight each other, and most governments agree to play by the same, or comparable, sets of legal, economic, and political institutions. The whole point of international law was to create a framework for this to work properly.
When I suggest that the empire is a lot better than the alternatives, what I am imagining is a complete collapse of the global order, where states truly feel free to, if not compelled to, fight it out amongst each other to build and protect their interests. In this world, ideas of human rights, democracy, freedom, etc. would be nothing more than the particular cultural notions of the West, with no binding or moral sway anywhere else. Why are slavery and collective punishment and a whole host of other things fairly rare in the normal course of civil and political life? Because the Americans don't like them very much. Some of the potential regional hegemons in this world may agree with these values at some level, but some may not.
vbo has posted several times on the transparently imperial nature of such bodies as the UN and the International Criminal Court. The very idea of international law is ridiculous without the idea that there is some power capable of enforcing it, and the whole idea of enforcing legal judgements against sovereign entities is inherently imperial.
When I claimed to benefit from empire, I meant it at an incredibly basic level. People want to learn English in this world, because it is the language of the Imperial power. I am able to travel around the world legally thanks to the stability of global relations provided by the empire. I am legally allowed to live in places where people want to learn English and are willing to pay me to do so. All that has been nice for me. I wouldn't mind some a few dollar dividend payments from the empire, but sadly those all go to the rich. :-)
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