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Question: Is the USA an imperial power? Is that a good thing?
Yes/Good   -8 (17%)
Yes/Bad   -21 (44.7%)
No/Good   -14 (29.8%)
No/Bad   -4 (8.5%)
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Total Voters: 47

Author Topic: US Imperialism?  (Read 1781 times)
JohnFKennedy
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« on: November 17, 2005, 02:41:08 pm »
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In no way is this a post meant to enrage you crazy yanks, it is based on a book I have just bought and will be reading soon by a British Historian named Niall Ferguson. The book is called Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Ferguson has always argued that all history is "the history of empire" and believe that the world is currently in the stage of an American Empire, despite what successive Presidents have said.

Far from deploring an American Empire, Ferguson believes that the sooner the US recognises its presence as an imperial power, the sooner it can benefit the world, however, he believes that the inception of the United States in a revolution to escape an imperial power, means that the USA has yet to proclaim itself as an Imperial power.

So, do you think the USA is an Imperial Power? If so, is that a good thing and if not, would it be good for it to be as such?
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JohnFKennedy
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2005, 03:00:55 pm »
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For information about Niall Ferguson see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niall_Ferguson - I am sure that he is someone most of the right wingers on this forum could get along with Wink.
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 03:34:13 pm »
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I am aware of both the scholar and the book. He makes some interesting points, but they are not necessarily conclusive.
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opebo
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 04:05:46 pm »
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Yes, bad, for ordinary Americans.  Fabulous for the elite of course.
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2005, 04:20:02 pm »
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a book I have just bought and will be reading soon

Yankees normally write book reviews after reading a book, rather than before.  Perhaps the custom is a little different in your country.

I recommend "American Empire" by Andrew Bacevich, a history professor at my old alma mater, Boston University.  Bacevich makes many of the same observations that Fergusson does (or that you think he does, remarkably, without having read his book.)  When you have completed Bacevich's book, I'll recommend other excellent books on the topic of US imperialism.

I didn't vote, but if there were a "Of Course / Neither bad nor good" option I would vote.
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JohnFKennedy
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2005, 04:39:01 pm »
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a book I have just bought and will be reading soon

Yankees normally write book reviews after reading a book, rather than before. Perhaps the custom is a little different in your country.

I recommend "American Empire" by Andrew Bacevich, a history professor at my old alma mater, Boston University. Bacevich makes many of the same observations that Fergusson does (or that you think he does, remarkably, without having read his book.) When you have completed Bacevich's book, I'll recommend other excellent books on the topic of US imperialism.

I didn't vote, but if there were a "Of Course / Neither bad nor good" option I would vote.

I wasn't attempting to write a book review, (they tend to be a lot more focused on ideas and analysing the book itself rather than just a synopsis of the work) just a summary based on the words of the man himself - he produced a television series to accompany his book which was screened in Britain last year. I have watched that in my history classes and thus do have some knowledge of the basic principles of his work, though obviously not the intricacies which will come with reading the book.
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angus
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2005, 05:22:18 pm »
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just giving you a hard time kiddo.  One day you'll read the line "...a book I haven't read yet says..." and you'll laugh.  But you'll be laughing, with, and not at, the one who wrote it.  anyway, it's an interesting thesis.  I haven't read Fergusson's book either, but I've read some about the subject.  (actually, Bacevich has a whole boatload of these books.  and yes, he's a republican.  a totally Republican republican in the older, truer sense.)  Ever notice how the romans, circa AD150 had two parties?  The Republicans and the Imperialists.  We have two parties as well:  The nationalistic Imperialists and the democratic Imperialists.  I'm usually not a right-wing nut, but on these kinds of issues I'm pretty far right, and thus tend to be more in line with the Libertarians than either the Republicans or Democrats.  (To libertarians, the phrase "...and to the Republic for which it stands..." still means Republic, nothing more, nothing less.)  Anyway, I'm still loathe to label such things as US imperialism either "good" or "bad"  For one thing, as Opebo points out, such phenomena can be beneficial to some, but not to others.  But, more broadly, empires come and go, and eventually, when they go, as happened in your country for example, a nation usually joins its place among the mature, post-imperialistic nations of the world.  Of course, there are the frustrated "almost was" type nations such as Germany, and the "has been" nations such as Peru, which once had a socialist empire as large in area as a third of the continental united states.  (If you're really into dry academic presentations of History, check Hyams and Ordish "The Last Inca" in which the two old english farts make an excellent case that the Inca was the best example of a Socialist Imperialist power that the world has ever known.)  Also, there are aspects of US imperialism that benefit me, and aspects that do not, so it's not as simple as your question would imply.  I have more pressing concerns at the moment than an argument over the advantages versus disadvantages of imperialism, but suffice it to say that the US version of imperialism contains both, as do all versions.  I'm more a fan of the Republic than of the Empire, but I suppose all nations experience growing pains.  So ours must.
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2005, 07:15:14 pm »
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Yes/Bad
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2005, 09:57:51 pm »
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Yes/Bad

All imperalism is bad. Period, end of story.
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2005, 09:23:21 am »
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Imperial, no. Dominating force, yes.

Good? No. Better then the alternatives? Yes.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2005, 11:47:31 am »
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Somewhat yes/Good
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JohnFKennedy
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2005, 11:49:44 am »
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Yes/Bad

All imperalism is bad. Period, end of story.

Do you honestly believe it is that simple? Empires may have downsides for humanity, but do you honestly believe they do nothing good for the world ever?
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tweed
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2005, 04:40:09 pm »
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No, the US is not imperialist, and it hasn't been for over a century.
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2012, 09:32:03 pm »
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No, the US is not imperialist, and it hasn't been for over a century.

who's this f'ing fool?
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The Mikado
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2012, 11:47:03 pm »
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In no way is this a post meant to enrage you crazy yanks, it is based on a book I have just bought and will be reading soon by a British Historian named Niall Ferguson.

a British Historian named Niall Ferguson.

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2012, 11:56:53 pm »
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Niall Ferguson? Yeeeaah, I wouldn't trust him with any history after say, WW1.
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The Mikado
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2012, 12:00:38 am »
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Niall Ferguson? Yeeeaah, I wouldn't trust him with any history after say, WW1.

Fixed your post.

I've actually read the book in the OP, it along with several others of Ferguson's have been assigned to me at various points.  I swear Harvard is trolling the world employing him.
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 01:33:52 am »
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Who the f voted Yes/Good and No/Bad?
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2012, 10:42:20 am »
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I voted "No/Good"

The U.S. could have fairly been described as imperialist at several points in its history but at the present seems to be more hegemonist, insofar as the States is not interested in having strongly protectionist policies, engaging in expansionary conquests for territory, or maintaining unequal economic relationships internationally. It instead seeks to wield diplomatic influence to advance its own national interests, achieve and sustain military and economic supremacy over other countries, and be strategically positioned to defeat (or simply out-compete) countries that maneuver to overtake its status as a superpower in one respect or another. At present, it is our transnational and multinational corporations - not the government - that aggressively negotiate lopsided terms of trade, and the States' extraordinary military presence around the world is merely a relic of Cold War geopolitics which has yet to lose its popularity to an extent sufficient for it all to wither away.

In my opinion, the best case to make for the U.S. being a modern-day imperialist power would be if we discuss imperialism in terms of culture. It's not unknown in our contemporary political culture for leaders to regard our customs and heritage as superior to those of other peoples (nationalism, American exceptionalism, etc.), want to project their values onto other countries (e.g., the global gag rule and placing sanctions on certain other countries), or try to globalize our political-economic order (e.g. neo-conservatism and neoliberalism). Support for globalization in terms of economics in particular has the United States indirectly exerting cultural influences abroad to other countries to an extent much more profound in its overall impact than their influences tend to have on cultures here (which actually happens to be a factor in generating anti-American sentiments in some parts of the developing world). This kind of imperialism appears to be a lot more persistent than others.

Then again, can it really be considered imperialism if there is not a deliberate intent on the part of American policymakers to subordinate the ways of life adhered to by folks living in other regions of the world to, or supplant them outright with, American equivalents? Or would you argue that more than a mere minority of our leaders actually harbor such sentiments in one form or another? Would you all say that American imperialism has been a constant, by the way, or rather something which has ebbed and flowed in its intensity from one era in its history to the next?

As for Niall Ferguson, I have never heard of the bloke. O.o
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2012, 11:19:01 am »
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I've read Ferguson, and I like him.

Frankly, I feel as if I benefit from living in the world's hegemon, and I believe that I, and the average American, would be worse off if we were to lose that status. So I think it has been a good thing, economically, politically, and militarily.

Culturally, it's a different story. Perhaps it's because the US lacks any sort of high culture or really a kind of native culture, Americanization has been the worst thing to happen to the world, and I say this without hyperbole, in the past 150 years. The wholesale standardization of societies and decimation of traditional cultures is just... indescribably terrible. When I see it happen to my own culture it makes my blood boil. I mean, the whole idea of substantive, and meaningful differences between peoples is quaint nowadays, because we're all the same, fed the rubbish that comes out of this country. Coca-Cola was cute as something similar everywhere. But this is different. It's just... disgusting.
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2012, 11:24:32 am »
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It really annoys me people who attack the U.S for adopting an interventionist foreign policy. If the U.S had done that in World War II, then Nazi Germany might have lived a much longer life. Not to mention the Kims ruling all of Korea and Kuwait being ruled by Saddam Hussein, who incidentally would still be inflicting his brutal murderous regime upon his people. Not to mention the Soviet Union and China having free reign to wreak havoc around the world.
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2012, 11:47:41 am »
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I would kindly submit that (a.) foreign intervention and imperialism are not necessarily the same thing, and (b.) during the Cold War the U.S. was actively involved in supporting authoritarianism as a means to achieving its more often than not selfish ends. One might say that we engaged in both acts of "good" and (unnecessary) "evil" abroad, just as the Soviets did. The States wreaked plenty of havoc around the world, though in fairness the number & scope of misdeeds committed by each side were certainly not equal. And despite the human rights abuses being notable in Iraq, North Korea, and the PRC over the courses of their respective histories, I am still inclined to argue that they have caused less suffering and oppression on an international scale than the United States.

Hmm, or maybe not? Now that I think about it, I'm not sure which regimes the PRC propped up. xD
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« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2012, 12:33:05 pm »
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It has certain imperial aspects, though calling it an empire outright would be silly. As for good or bad, I'd say its influence in the international scene has done more good than bad, especially in the post WW2 context (see the Marshall Plan, Bretton Woods, support to Western Europe through NATO, etc...). There have been very bad things as well of course.
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« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2012, 02:00:53 pm »
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The correct answer here, IMHO, is "in some ways"/"it varies"
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« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2012, 02:25:44 pm »
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I can't believe I fell for Tweed bumping a 7 year old thread.
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