By David Coates (auth.)
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Extra resources for America in the Shadow of Empires
10 Likewise, Josef Joffe notes that America has a “virtual empire . . ” “A rulesbased world requires a caretaker,”11 and, for everyone’s sake, that is what the United States must continue to be. The Thayer defense of America as an empire is echoed in that offered by Thomas Madden. ” It is not that America has actively sought empire; it is rather that America has had empire thrust on it. ” For Madden at least, the United States was and still is a reluctant global power—isolationism being, in his view, “woven into the DNA of the American character”—one drawn into foreign alliances, much like the young Roman Republic, only in response to external threats; and once so drawn, obliged to play a incrementally bigger role only to honor the trust placed in US support by its allies.
On the contrary, a whole litany of critics from both the political left and the political right have dismissed both characterizations as entirely fanciful and selfdelusory. At the very least, some are struck by the trappings of empire that the United States has developed on a grand scale for itself since the 1940s. S. ”16 This disjunction between self-perception and foreign policy reality was particularly acute in the 1990s when, with the Cold War over and the United States left standing as the world’s one superpower, the global reach of American arms was still not reduced.
As we now close in on what exactly to call the contemporary United States in this discussion of empires, it does seem that a nation-state is best labeled as some kind of empire if it exercises regular and effective sovereignty over the internal and foreign affairs of other nation-states or regions, and it is best not labeled as some kind of empire if it does not. ”75 The idea of a continuum is particularly valuable here. At one end are empires that exercise direct and formal control over subordinate polities and rely heavily on superior military force to initiate and consolidate that control.
America in the Shadow of Empires by David Coates (auth.)