Back to Index

The American Empire



David Crow sats: "Empire" seems to me to mean military domination of vast areas of territory, often accompanied by physical occupation of those areas, i.e., colonialism. The U.S. has only marginally been a colonial power, but it seems clear that we are an empire. We are the only country in the history of the world capable of mobilizing tens or hundreds of thousands of troops to anywhere on the planet in a matter of weeks. Not only do we have this capability, we have used it with astonishing frequency in the past century--for good or for ill (an open question perhaps best decided on a case by case basis). Since domination occurs through economic as well as military means, perhaps "neo-imperial" is also a relevant category of analysis. What is interesting to me about Americans (about us, since I am one) is that we generally resist thinking of ourselves as an imperial power; the word "empire" carries a negative connotation for most, no matter of what political stripe. This is a marked contrast with past imperial powers, such as the Romans and the British, who boasted of their empires".

RH: David Crow says: ""Empire" seems to me to mean military domination of vast areas of territory, often accompanied by physical occupation of those areas, i.e., colonialism. The U.S. has only marginally been a colonial power". The vast areas of the US West were occupied militarily. Ulysses S. Grant was one of the many officers sent to a western fort. Peace drove him to drink, and he recovered his self-confidence only when he was in charge of the western front in the Civil War and then when Lincoln named him commander in chief of the Union Armies. He earned the title of "Lincoln's butcherȘ. He was a friend of General Sherman, who marched on Atlanta. The Union armies remained in control of the South until about 1890. What do Southerners think of Grant and Sherman? Grant used the expression "unconditional surrender" in his western campaign. and then at Appomattox. The US later adopted "unconditional surrender" as a principle in its overseas campaigns. The US boasted of its victories in the US West and South.

Ronald Hilton - 2/14/03


Webmaster