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on October 7, 2015
Studying this book gives ample justification for the belief that the United States is an empire that is built upon the ashes of old empires. However unlike the empires of the past, the United States has through subtleness and tact caused many of its citizens to believe that empire-building is not only historically and economically justified, but also the morally proper thing to do. Even the use of military force, which has been used over and over again in US imperial adventures, is viewed as an ethical imperative, even “healthy to a nation”, as Henry Cabot Lodge is quoted as saying in this book. Other empires in history have been deemed “evil” for carrying out the same sort of actions that the US has indulged itself in for the last 200 years, and is continuing to do, albeit under the guise of “security” rather than under the banner of “extending civilization to lesser peoples abroad”.
This book however is not a study in the psychology of mass hysteria, xenophobia and jingoism, but rather a detailed account of the policy-makers/plunderers who attempted to maneuver events to their benefit throughout American history. This story is not a pretty one, but readers who desire the raw, naked truth about US foreign policy will find sound scholarship in between the covers of this book. There is much more waiting to be uncovered when it comes to this aspect of US history, but the author gives a fairly unbiased account, and one that does not show any signs of being seduced by the doctrine of American exceptionalism or sycophancy to any political party.
After finishing this book one can conclude with fairness that there does not seem to be any country in the world that has not been touched by US foreign policy. But even though the violence the US has deployed to attain its goals does not compare perhaps with other nations, many countries that showed promise for development and self-determination were decimated by the decisions made by weak-minded, ethically austere American government officials. Countries like Cuba, Chile, Haiti, Guatemala, and Vietnam come to the immediate forefront in the carnage, terror, and body count they experienced as the result of misguided US foreign policies, but there are many other places that have found themselves under the yoke of these policies. Newcomers to the history of American foreign policy may be surprised to hear for example of US presence in the Russian revolution, the US invasion of Mexico, or the attempts to force Japan into opening up its markets.
The attempted control of the “weak and semi-barbarous people” delineated in this book has not only lead to disasters for the peoples trampled upon, but also for the United States. Using a pistol rather than rational persuasion has been viewed as the more intelligent alternative, and like other empires in the past, the United States is now feeling the burden of its loyalty to this alternative. It remains to be seen of course what country in the world will attempt to build upon the ashes of the American empire.