The United States and Imperialist Power Essay

November 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

One should point out that the interpretation of imperialism has undergone a series of significant changes throughout the history. Today, one would hardly imply any positive characteristics while talking about imperialism and its values like it used to be in the era of the glorious Rome Empire. Whereas a long time ago the imperialistic status was treated as an honorable achievement, within the modern context, the relevant image seems to have a disadvantaged character.

Nevertheless, the change in the social attitude towards imperialistic states does not consequently signify that empires have ceased to exist. American political scientist, Joseph Nye, assumes that the key tendency of the modern governments is to substitute their true imperialistic ambitions by imaginary intentions that sound decent to the society (Nye 2004).

It is vital to note that the key characteristics of an empire have also changed within the time. Some specialists state that the principal imperialistic tool, colonization, is no longer crucial. Instead, powerful governments keep other states under control via the critical financial dependency of the former (Love 2005). The relevant assumption is typically applied to the example of the USA that is certainly one of the most powerful countries in the current civilization.

The debates over American imperialism appear every time the government displays the extents of the power it has over other countries around the world. As a result, the question arises whether the USA can be regarded as an empire of a new type or its power has nothing to do with imperialistic implications.

Cambridge professor, Antony Anghie, states that it is possible to trace the imperialistic features of the US foreign policy in case one analyzes the very first colonization that took place on the American territory (Anghie 2007). Then, the Indians, the native population of the continent, were actually conquered by the US government and its military forces. A great number of Indians were killed during the conflicts between the US military forces and the Indian tribes.

After that, those Indians who managed to survive were uprooted from their lands and resettled in the so-called reservations. The suppression of the locals resulted in the establishment of the dominant position of the US population on the whole continent. Some historians tend to think that the relevant incident was the first sign of the development of the imperialistic manner of behavior in the USA (Rowe 2000).

In the meantime, many historians note that the US government continued to spread its influence outside the American continent not only by military forces but also with the help of strong economy and the growing popularity of their national currency. (Morgan 2014).

In the twentieth century, the imperialistic ambitions clearly manifested themselves. Some analysts believe that the most vivid sign of this manifestation is to be found in the history of the Cold war – the conflict between the USA and the USSR, which were the only super powerful countries after the Second World War (Noonah 2006). During this conflict, both parties struggled not only with each other but tried to spread their influence over as many countries as possible. The most obvious examples are the Vietnamese War of the US and the Afghanistan military conflict of the USSR. After the Soviet collapse in 1991, the USA became practically the only superstate in the world with not only strong economy and powerful currency but with a number of military bases in different countries around the world.

Meanwhile, it seems that that the US government continues to increase its military forces and its influence in other regions. In order to find the relevant examples, one needs to analyze the recent conflicts in the Middle East region that led to the overthrow of the existing regimes in Iraq and Libya. There is an opinion that such interventions performed under the slogan of the advancement of democratic principles represent a new type of the imperialistic strategy (Lorimer 2002).

The analysis of the question’s background shows that drawing a definitive conclusion regarding the US imperialistic quality is rather problematic. On the one hand, the United States of America do not possess the typical traits of a classical empire. First of all, the country does not have colonies that used to characterize the biggest world empires such as Rome and Great Britain. Secondly, the rhetoric of the US government tends to criticize the principles of imperialism.

Most of the specialists come to an agreement that the general public appeal of the USA has remained unaltered throughout a long time period. Thus, the main principles it tends to advance are those of liberty, democracy and equality (Duménil & Lévy 2004). Moreover, the national government does not only foreground the ideas of equality but also disapproves the policy of other countries that bases on the imperialistic concept.

On the other hand, some analysts make a presumption that the appeal for spreading the democratic principles is a disguise the American government employs in order to conceal their imperialistic intentions (Boot 2003). The USA continues to pursue a rather aggressive foreign policy that contradicts considerably with an image of a democratic country. As long as the state has the biggest defense bill in the world, one might suppose that the interests of the USA concern not only their own country but deal with regions far away from the US national borders. Furthermore, despite the fact that the USA has no colonies, the government activity aimed at deploying the military bases in other countries lets one suggest that the state has found another tool that can substitute classical colonization. Hence, Steinmetz believes that colonization is no more an essential characteristic of a powerful empire.

Today, countries have other tactics that help them influence other states (Steinmetz 2005). Although the countries that put up with the American military presence within their borders are not overtly announced to be colonies, they still cannot claim they are completely independent.

Another curious aspect some analysts note is the similarity of the US rhetoric with that of the classical empires of the past. Thus, most of the American interventions are performed with the intention of spreading democracy and improving global society.

Meanwhile, the local community is not asked whether it needs the relevant improvements. The following policy highly resembles the Rome Empire era when the imperialistic mechanism of government was supposed to be beneficial both for the colonist and the colonies regardless of the opinion of the latter. The American historian, Max Boot notes that such a neglect of the interests of other nations contributes largely to the penalty of the US image. According to the author, most of the eastern world has a negative attitude towards the American policy and considers the state to be ultimately imperialistic (Boot 2003).

In conclusion, one should note that an image of an empire transforms subject to the spirit of the current age. Thus, on the face of it, the USA does not possess the characteristics common to a traditional imperialistic state. Nevertheless, the general policy the US government pursues has numerous implications typical of an empire. As a result, regardless of the public US rhetoric that advances democratic principles, one inclines to suppose that the country represents an empire of a new type.

Reference List

Anghie, A 2007, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Web.

Boot, M 2003, U.S. Imperialism: A Force for Good. Web.

Duménil, G & Lévy, D 2004, ‘The Economics of US Imperialism at the Turn of the 21st Century’, Review of International Political Economy, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 657-676. Web.

Lorimer, D 2002, Imperialism in the 21st Century: War, Neo-liberalism & Globalisation, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Web.

Love, E 2005, Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Web.

Morgan, JG 2014, Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin. Web.

Noonah, J 2006, The Principle of Liberal Imperialism: Human Rights and Human Freedom in the Age of Evangelical Capitalism. Web.

Nye, JS 2004, ‘Soft Power and American Foreign Policy’, Political Science Quarterly, vol. 119, no. 2, pp. 255-270. Web.

Rowe, JC 2000, Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Web.

Steinmetz, G 2005, ‘Return to Empire: The New U.S. Imperialism in Comparative Historical Perspective’, Sociological Theory, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 339-367. Web.

Read more