Of Mice and Men: American Imperialism and American Studies

Of Mice and Men: American Imperialism and American Studies

Of Mice and Men: American Imperialism and American Studies

Of Mice and Men: American Imperialism and American Studies

Excerpt

Soon after he assumed office, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a study on ancient empires and their efforts to maintain power. A committee, whose members included Bernard Lewis, the Middle East expert from Princeton, and Newt Gingrich, historian and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, studied the regimes of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Genghis Khan to see how they tried to preserve their dominant positions. The committee concluded that the Macedonians and the Mongols soon lost power because they lacked strong political and economic institutions. The Roman Empire was more successful, not only because of its military power, but also because of its ‘franchise of empire’. The Chinese Empire remained dominant for a long period by combining its military power with the power of culture. The lesson the committee members drew from the historical examples was: ‘For the United States to sustain predominance it must remain militarily dominant, but it must also maintain its pre-eminence across the other pillars of power.’

In recent years it has become fashionable for policy analysts and academics to look at the United States as an empire. Their views range from left-wing criticism of an American global cultural and economic dominance, as in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire, to the views of neo-conservatives like Max Boot who wrote in The Weekly Standard ‘… on the whole, U.S. imperialism has been the greatest force for good in the world during the past century.’ In his book American Empire Andrew Bacevich, a former U.S. Army officer and now professor of international relations at Boston University, invokes Charles Beard and William Appleman Williams and concludes that since the end of the nineteenth century the United States . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.