Academic journal article Military Review

ARC of Empire: America's Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam

Academic journal article Military Review

ARC of Empire: America's Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam

Article excerpt

ARC OF EMPIRE: America's Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam

Michael H. Hunt and Steven I. Levine, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2012, 352 pages, $35.00

THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION has captured significant attention in the last year. Events in the Middle East and Central Asia continue to vex U.S. foreign policy and military efforts, but they are increasingly becoming a landscape in the rear-view mirror as more emphasis on the greater Pacific region moves to center stage. Arc of Empire: America's Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam provides insight into this complicated region. Authors Michael H. Hunt and Steven I. Levine offer a thought-provoking study of the four U.S. wars in the Pacific.

Hunt and Levine contend that the war with the Philippines, the war with Japan, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War were not separate and unconnected, but "phases in a U.S. attempt to establish and maintain a dominant position in eastern Asia sustained over some seven decades against considerable resistance." Recognizing the provocative nature of this thesis, the authors devote their introduction to explaining how they use the term "empire." They provide an objective, historically based definition of the loaded term and reinforce the definition with four case studies. The studies appear as chapters, one for each of the four wars, and provide an excellent overview of each conflict, drawing connections among them. Primary sources substantiate their perspective, and the book has a strong international emphasis that details both sides of each conflict.

Even though Levine and Hunt concede that U.S. involvements in the Pacific have demonstrated most of the features of an empire, concluding that the United States has engaged in intentional empire building is a stretch. …

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