By Charles S. Maier
Modern the US, with its unprecedented armaments and ambition, turns out to many commentators a brand new empire. Others angrily reject the designation. What stakes might being an empire have for our id at domestic and our position overseas? A preeminent American historian addresses those concerns in gentle of the background of empires due to the fact that antiquity. This elegantly written publication examines the constitution and effect of those mega-states and asks no matter if the USA stocks their characteristics and behaviour. Eschewing the normal concentrate on present U.S. international coverage and the hot spate of professional- and anti-empire polemics, Charles S. Maier makes use of comparative background to check the relevance of an idea frequently invoked yet now not regularly understood. Marshaling a outstanding array of evidence--from Roman, Ottoman, Moghul, Spanish, Russian, chinese language, and British experience--Maier outlines the necessities of empire all through background. He then explores the workout of U.S. energy within the 19th and 20th centuries, conscientiously interpreting its fiscal and strategic assets and the nation's courting to predecessors and competitors. To inquire approximately empire is to invite what the us has develop into because of its wealth, inventiveness, and targets. it's to confront lofty nationwide aspirations with the realities of the violence that frequently attends imperial politics and therefore to query either the prices and the possibilities of the present U.S. worldwide ascendancy. With studying, dispassion, and readability, between Empires deals daring comparisons and an unique account of yankee strength. It confirms that the difficulty of empire has to be a priority of each citizen. (20070601)
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Additional resources for Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors
Those who take part in running empires or write about those who do may stress the selﬂessness of the project, the role of “service,” or the “burden” of rule. 31 And empire rewarded those at home with a vicarious sense of fulﬁllment. The British subject who walked through London could look at the massive ofﬁcial buildings along Whitehall, Clive’s statue and India House at the end of St. 32 The Parisian ﬂâneur could outﬁt himself for Fez or Saigon at the Vêtements pour les Pays Chauds store on the Boulevard St.
It is easy and psychologically necessary to look away from violence erupting at the periphery. Empires depend upon distance and, in modern times at least, rendering violence remote. But violence there will always be: it is part of the imperial minimum. The lifeblood of empires is blood. Certainly the blood of those ruled; sometimes the blood of those ruling. The task for the policy maker and the citizen is to decide how much blood can be justiﬁed in the pursuit of any given political aspiration, even one that seems lofty.
From the Roman seizure of the Dacian treasure across the lower Danube to Hitler’s sophisticated economic exploitation of conquered territories, booty has always been recognized as a motive for conquest. However, most economic theories of imperialism (that is, theories accounting for expansion from economic motives) have not focused on the mere appropriation of goods, and certainly not the major theories that have emanated out of the Marxist tradition. Marxist theories have been built on three premises: ﬁrst, that labor alone—not land, not capital—can yield “surplus value”; second, that imperialism is motivated by the inequalities in economic development persisting across nations; and third, that an imperialist program can yield enough proﬁts from abroad to win over privileged labor groups at home, thus creating a broad consensus for expansionism.