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|Ch. 1||'Like a house of cards' : the British empire, myth and reality||15|
|Ch. 2||'Not colonies, but outposts' : the American imperial tradition||62|
|Ch. 3||'We don't do empire' : American 'imperialism' after 9/11||93|
|Ch. 4||'Still a global player' : British post-imperialism||134|
Posted December 11, 2007
Bernard Porter, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Newcastle, has written many books on the British Empire. This lively essay investigates the similarities and differences between the British and American empires. He writes, ¿As well as being as imperialist as Britain, America was also imperialist in most of the same ways.¿ Both claimed repeatedly not to be imperialist, even to be anti-imperialist. The British Empire was no good at nation-building witness Palestine, Uganda, Sudan, India/Pakistan, etc., so it created hardly any viable nations. The USA has done even worse, witness Somalia, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan. Porter points out, ¿There are many similarities between the two `empires¿. Both countries¿ denials of their `imperialisms¿, or at least of their imperialistic intents, are one. Capitalism is a second. Both `empires¿ have arisen and then spread around the world on the crests of waves of expanding commerce and foreign investment, called `free trade¿ in the one case, `globalisation¿ in the other. Oil is a common factor later on. Good intentions are another. Both the British and the Americans claimed to be `civilising¿ forces, even `liberating¿ ones.¿ He notes, ¿In reality, the only truly exceptional feature of the USA is her belief in her exceptionalism ¿ the myth, or delusion that she is different in the ways she thinks she is but that could be enough to keep her empire going on its own. Myths are powerful things.¿ This inflation of the power of myths is idealism ¿ only cartoon characters do not fall as soon as they step off a cliff. Quoting Condoleezza Rice, Porter writes, ¿`History marches towards markets and democracy¿ a market-orientated type of democracy that is, where competition is all, and cooperation, whether in domestic or in international affairs, simply slows things down.¿ Our capitalist ruling class loves the half-witted dogmas that markets produce democracy and that competition trumps cooperation. Writing about the methods of barbarism that empires always fall back on ¿ torture, concentration camps, internment, death squads - Porter wisely concludes, ¿Alien rule, whatever its other benefits might be, invariably gives rise to this sort of thing. We should remember that before wishing it on people today.¿Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.