I was born during the invasion of the Falkland Islands, in 1982. As a kid I thought that was pretty dull, a historical nonevent. But as an adult I came to see the Falklands War as the last stand of imperialism: a military victory for Britain, but not a particularly meaningful one, and not one that most countries would feel a need to replicate. So I feel that my life is concurrent with the world's post-imperial era. And in my view the United States has never really been a country with an imperial agenda, despite some imperialish moments. Although it has sought to be influential, post-WWII, it's doesn't have the teleological agenda or acquisitive disposition that characterises empire. In any case, I have a new post at Democracy in America, asking whether the debt deal's cuts to defense spending (or national security spending, depending on whom you talk to) signal a return to isolationism

Also, a post about Rick Perry's political shrewdness--and my knack for political forecasting. I've rarely been prouder than of my 2009 prediction that Barack and Michelle's trip to Denmark to lobby for the Olympics to come to Chicago would backfire. The IOC is just the kind of organization that can't resist the occasional opportunity to pull

08/05/2011 01:29

Most people put the Suez affair as the turning point in Western Imperialism. I would agree. The Falklands was simply bizarre: most countries would defend their own citizens in those circumstances if they were able. The key was that the British were just barely able.

You are presumably aware that the United States was originally on the Eastern seaboard? And that even before we were a country we were surveying and expanding into areas (Ohio River Valley) that we had fairly dubious right to be in? We fought two expansionary wars with Spanish speaking countries, and bought large areas of land when they became available. We twice tried to conquer our Northern neighbor. Somehow we wound up with a large island in the middle of the Pacific.

Much like the British, we did our best to maintain a soft empire of trading interests. We sent naval ships to Japan (who had done nothing to us) to force them to open their country up, and came reasonably close to fighting with the Germans around 1904 over issues involving the (British-German) Venezuela blockade. I have no idea how many times we have invaded small countries in Latin America.

From fairly small beginnings, we are one of the largest countries in physical area and geographical breadth.

None of these places were unoccupied when we obtained them. A few of them still have the original occupants.

How exactly do you define an Empire?

Of course another explanation for U.S. History is that we are an over sized land speculation (some throw in the word "Ponzi") scheme. Note how many of the founding fathers were involved into land speculation.


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