The Imperial model of governance is one that is almost as old as human civilization itself, only superseded in age by tribes and city-states. It is a political system that has changed faces and its technique of conquering a foreign territory for land, people or most commonly for its resources. Ancient Empires were confined to a certain geographic location due to a lack of sophisticated technology. These empires were some of the greatest and most celebrated in history; the Egyptian, Persian, Alexandrian, Roman, Chinese and the Inca empires are all remembered for great battles, great drama and the absolute enormity of their respective territories despite their limitations.
Enter the modern age, and imperialism dawns a new face and a far more efficient method of invading and incorporating territories under the domain of the ambitious European empires. With advances in technology, European governments were able to ‘leap across the pond’, and with gun’s, germ’s and steel were able to colonize almost any country that offered them economic benefit. From the 15th century to the 20th century this was an age known for European imperialism, with major players including, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Russia, Prussia/Germany, Portugal, the Ottomans and some would argue the beginning of the United States imperial aspirations. Most of these empires would fall after the conflicts of WWII, as empires became too much work to maintain. With the fall of the old guard, two new contenders for world dominance emerged from the ashes of the 2nd World War.
Once the Soviet Union and her associates of the ‘2nd world’ were out competed by the US and her associates of the ‘1st world’ a new age of imperialism began again. This time, the United States became an empire by default as she was the ‘unchallenged hegemony’. The United States qualifies as an empire not in the most literal sense of being ruled by an emperor, but by two qualifying factors:
- An extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority
2. A policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.
These factors and implications are not meant paint the United States in being the the stereotypical evil force that we often associate with the Galactic empire, but rather by being the powerful country in the world, any use of diplomatic or military pressure on other countries in the interest of the US, its people or its economy is considered an imperial doctrine and action. While I detest the imperial systems of earlier centuries, due to the unnecessary violence and unapologetic actions taken incorporate territories, I find nothing wrong in the name American Empire is these are the qualifying factors. As a realist in international matters, I view the game of geopolitics as winner take all. The American government has a duty to its interests and its people to ensure that the promises of domestic tranquility, common defense, and general welfare as defined in the preamble of the Constitution.
However, America’s time in the imperial spotlight may be nearing a close. As corporations and China begin to invest and purchase land rights from Africa and other under developed nations, we may see a new face to imperialism. As of late the Chinese have been purchasing land rights from African nations in exchange for shotty infrastructure. “China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism,” stated Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as reported in the Financial Times. We have also seen the rise of corporations, seizing land and hiring what are essentially slaves in the global south. As we watch in the future, America may soon have to share the title of Empire with competitors.
Do you agree that America’s duty to her citizens and interest’s as more important than than to the international community? Do you disagree? Why?
Do you believe that the United States is a true empire or simply an empire by technicality?
Do you believe that there is a way that there is a way for America to not need to apply pressure on other states and still pursue her interests?
Is there a way to rid the world of imperialism and hegemony or are we forced to repeat this pattern?
Would you call the United States of America an empire?
An Introduction to American Empire | American Empire |. (2014, June 22). Retrieved November 19, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fD7ew69wiI
What if European Imperialism Never Ended? (2015, November 16). Retrieved November 19, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvSe4npu9A8