- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 56496th edition (April 25, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 069112762X
- ISBN-13: 978-0691127620
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz 56496th Edition
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"The book makes a very compelling case that imperialism has always been a centerpiece of the American project. Its brisk and readable style makes it useful for courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels."--Paul T. McCartney, Journal of American History
"Empire for Liberty deserves a wide audience of students, scholars, and even general readers. Immerman provides crucial, poorly understood background that helps place recent controversies in a broad context, and he offers fresh analysis of some of America's most colorful and complicated thinkers about America's place in the world."--Mark Atwood Lawrence, History Teacher
"Overall, Immerman has written one of the best descriptions and analyses of 'American empire'--its meaning, evolution, and key figures that have impacted the idea. Empire for Liberty is essential reading for students and enthusiasts of American history and the United States' place in and approach to the world, historically and contemporarily."--Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader
"In this penetrating, lively account that introduces readers to diplomatic history in a most painless way, Immerman offers case studies of six public figures whose choices affected the ever-increasing power of the U.S."--Choice
"Immerman has produced a masterly if controversial conspectus that leads the reader far beyond the six men featured in the book."--Gill Bennett, RUSI Journal
"Empire for Liberty makes important contributions by demonstrating how U.S. efforts to expand its empire gradually pushed it farther from the East Coast and further from its constituting ideals. . . . Empire for Liberty puts a mirror in front of us, forcing us to accept the complexity of designing a moral foreign policy that still serves a national interest."--Barak Mendelsohn, Political Science Quarterly
"Given the directness, the clarity, and the analytical rigor with which Richard H. Immerman has assessed American imperialism, he obviously was not intimidated by the words, the concept, or U.S. imperial practices."--Joseph A. Fry, Marine Corps University Journal
"Empire for Liberty should be mandatory reading for anyone seeking to better understand how and why notions of empire and liberty drove the American experience, and the extent to which this nexus remains central to understanding contemporary US engagement with the rest of the world."--Andrew L. Johns, Canadian Journal of History
"This book is a welcome addition to the growing body of scholarly work that grapples with the notion of America as an empire. . . . [T]he essays in this book well repay reading by anyone who wonders about the big questions that swirl around America's rise to global prominence."--Frank Ninkovich, Historian
From the Inside Flap
"Empire for Liberty places both the theory and the practice of empire inside history. Richard Immerman's complex, ironic account of the American empire and its relation to the concept of liberty is an essential analysis of how the United States became the kind of power it is today and where it might now be going."--Marilyn B. Young, New York University
"Immerman, one of the most accomplished and distinguished historians of twentieth-century U.S. foreign relations, tackles a subject of enormous importance. This short book fills a vacuum by presenting a brisk but analytically challenging synthesis through the lives of six individuals who played pivotal roles in the growth, evolution, and maturation of the American empire."--Robert J. McMahon, author of The Limits of Empire: The United States and Southeast Asia since World War II
"Game over. With the appearance of Richard Immerman's brilliantly conceived and incisive book, the post-9/11 competition to map the origins, evolution, and present-day afflictions of the American empire has ended. Empire for Liberty sweeps the field."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
"This is a superb book about a timely subject. Immerman tackles the idea of empire, a concept that Americans have preferred not to talk about and historians have shied away from. Given the importance of the topic and the ongoing debate over the future of U.S. foreign policy, this book should attract a readership beyond academia."--George C. Herring, author of From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776
"Forceful, engaging, and provocative. Immerman makes a significant contribution to American history by synthesizing the ways representative policymakers have conceived of the question of American empire. Empire for Liberty will be a well-read and important book."--Jeffrey A. Engel, editor of The China Diary of George H. W. Bush
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Richard Immerman's new book is one of those few that can present an argument in a very concise and precise way.In his introduction,the author explains that his purpose"is not to judge the American empire in terms of good or bad....Rather, it seeks to persuade the reader that America is and always has been an empire"(p.4)By picking up six different individuals who influenced U.S behaviour in a variety of ways,the book shows the "trajectory of the rising American Empire from its inception to the present,analyzing waht the phrase means and how the meaning has evolved".
It was Thomas Jefferson who famously labeled the United States the "Empire of Liberty".What the meaning of "liberty" entails is even more difficult to define than "empire".Broadly speaking,Immmerman's view is that by building an empire the United States has frequently done evil in the name of good.In the times of George Washington the empire was responsible for the expansion and security of a large expanse of territory that inluded many peoples of diverse races and nationalities.In the nineteeth century, the meaning of empire changed;after 1850,white Americans,blacks,Native Americans,Mexican Americans and others challenged the central governmen's authority to deny them self-rule.The empire that America created in the twentieth century was the most powerful empire in world history.Its rival Soviet empire,and the antecedent British one,pale in comparison.Its global leadership,the technological innovations,the manufacturing gross domestic product far eclipse all competitors.The military superiority and its growth,the commercial muscle and the world organizations the US helped to establish provided potent mechanisms for global management.
Benjamin Franklin is the first individual to begin the list of individuals who shaped Amerian imperialism.Franklin was "the foremost believer in an expanding American empire" and the one who consciously articulated the "first conscious comprehensive formulation of 'Manifest Destiny', and he personified the link between the American and British empires expressed in the reciprocal principles which allowed the empire to function properly.
John Quincy Adamn follows.This Secretary of State was the one who insisted that America had to be an empire of,and not for,liberty.He turned his back on what he judged to be an empire of slavery and he also pronounced himself against the notion that Americans must go abroad in order to destroy various monsters.Adams identified slavery as an "evil that perverted human reason and tainted the very sources of moral principle";he wanted it banned everywhere and hoped,for the sake of Union,that the Peculiar Institution would die a natural death.He was a firm believer in George Washington's caution against international political entanglements,although we are told that Adams was far from being an isolationist.America's purpose was to cement liberty within the United States.Thus,the priciples he advocated became the famous Monroe Doctrine.Adams did not hesitate to condem and indict Anrew Jackson for the extermination of Indians whom " we have been driving like swine into a pen west of the Mississippi".He was the most resolute and celebrated opponent of the Mexican War waged by President Folk.One of his disciples was William Henry Seward,who strongly believed the United States could exercise political control of foreign territories without bearing the costs of establishing colonies.He proposed to negotiate reciprocal treaties,acquire scattered startegic outposts across the Pacific and purchase Alaska in order to facilitate the Chienese market.
The next in line is Henry Cabot Lodge,who accepted Webster's dictum:"Liberty and Union now and forever".He was responsible for supporting an aggressive policy exercised by Mckinley and Roosevelt in the 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century.Lodge believed that US imperialists were agents of international reform and did not care very much about the anti-imperialists like Mark Twain,the industrialist and magnate Andrew Carnegie or the Democratic presidential aspirant William B.Bryant,even when the horrible nes about the crimes in the Philippines reached the American public.Lodge's arguments rested on racial premises and he did not believe in the equality of races.It came as no surprise to anyone that Lodge also strongly supported s a policy of restricting immigration in the name of keeping America's racial purity. He bitterly resented Wilson's ideals and ideas as well as the famous Fourteen Points which formed the foundation of the peacemaking process after WW1.John Foster Dulles combined Wilson's crusading moralism with Lodge's faith in force and wrote a damning indictment of the traditional European empires.He was agaisnt America's colonialism and was a Cold War zealot who regarded the USSR as the Evil Empire or,to put it in his words, "the empire against liberty".
The last chapter is about Paul Wolfowitz,who extended the Manichean view perpetuated by the Bush administration.Wolfowitz is,rightly in my view regarded as the "Ugly American",who had influenced the Bush policy makers into adopting a policy of lying,cheating and truth-twisting-a thing for which the American people are still paying the price these very days.
This book is a brilliant synthesis and analysis of the ways the American conceptions of empire came to fruition and the way this empire is going these
days.It is a provocative and riveting book that should be read by anyone who wants to learn about the American foreign policy and its tragedies.
What seems to bother its critics is that liberty and empire fit together like oil and water. The notion of empire seems to subvert the whole idea of liberty which, in fact, it does. Yet they are the engine that has driven American commercial, military and political expansionism and dominance from the beginning. The progression and dominance of the American empire have been steady and unyielding from the day the Pilgrims landed on what became the Massachusetts Colony. Anyone standing in the way has been removed, shoved aside or, where possible, assimilated.
Thomas Jefferson, for whom the idea of liberty was of central importance, found it difficult to reconcile liberty and empire. As the American empire expanded, he came to think of it as an empire that would promote America's concept of liberty around the world. It would be an empire for, not of liberty. And therein lays a major contradiction: Empires have to do with security, prosperity, and the projection of power and greatness; liberty has to do with freedom. America's claim that it is preserving and promoting liberty leads to conflict when liberty and freedom are defined in American terms and America's security concerns become paramount, which happened at the beginning of the Cold War when Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles established what Immerman calls an "Empire for Security" to confront the Soviet Union and Communist China that Dulles thought of as empires of evil. From there the U.S. road led to what Immerman calls "the collision of empire and liberty at Abu Ghraib and Guantànamo."
When an empire promotes liberty it is inevitably paternalistic, dominant and intended to be accepted by others "because it is the best," which unavoidably leads to confrontation and conflict. As we saw at Abu Ghraib and Guantànamo, it also leads to violations of human rights and excusing (or ignoring) the blatant human rights violations of allies, as the U.S. has done with Israel for over sixty-two years. Both have badly damaged America's reputation in the world, and both are inexcusable; yet Guantànamo remains unresolved, and Israel continues its predatory treatment of the non-Jewish population of the Occupied Territories without a word of disapproval from the Obama administration, calling our commitment to liberty into question.
It is the chapter on Paul Wolfowitz that is the most revealing in relation to current U.S. history and politics. In his mind there is a dichotomy between America those who are perceived as "evil" (Iran, North Korea and Saddam's Iraq). Those who are "good" represent America's politics of liberty, those who are "evil" stand in the way of them. These are defined in terms of America's missionary impulses of exporting her concepts of liberty and her national interests, which are seen as identical. In Wolfowitz' mind, "the United States must remain engaged ... until it had ridded the world of all those tyrants who [hold] in contempt the values and liberties that the United States [stand] for. Monsters cannot be contained... They [have] to be defanged before they [can] bite. Wolfowitz became a convert to preemption." "[T]he United States must support constructive policies and programs that [co-opt] potential opposition and [generate] a tidal wave of support for American leadership." "Destroying monsters" in Wolfowitz' mind "was the prerequisite for establishing an American empire and an American empire was the prerequisite for an Empire for Liberty" No interference was to be permitted.
Wolfowitz' missionary zeal, combined with his myopic vision quickly became an arrogance that bordered on the delusional. As Immerman says, it "led to what may turn out to be the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, a blunder that could prove fatal to the American empire." The blunder was the decision to invade Iraq, decapitate its leadership, and free its people who, in Wolfowitz' mind, would welcome the Americans much as the French had done in Paris at the end of World War II. There was no need to plan for an occupation, as the newly-freed Iraqis, grateful for their freedom, would create an American-style democracy to replace Saddam's dictatorship. Our military would be in and out in six weeks' time. I still remember Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gleefully chortling about it.
Reality has proven to be quite different. The fragile fabric of Iraqi society exploded in internecine warfare and terror, terrorists swept into the country, thousands of American lives were lost, over a million Iraqis were killed and millions more uprooted and injured. Over seven years later (not six or seven weeks) American troops and installations are still there, though no longer in a combat role. It was an enterprise born of the ignorance of arrogance, an ignorance that blinds its afflicted with the inability to see. Most, if not all of American leadership still doesn't see it.