The Price of America's Empire

Book - 2004
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Is America an empire? Certainly not, according to our government. Despite the conquest of two sovereign states in as many years, despite the presence of more than 750 military installations in two thirds of the world's countries and despite his stated intention "to extend the benefits of every corner of the world," George W. Bush maintains that "America has never been an empire." "We don't seek empires," insists Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. "We're not imperialistic."

Nonsense, says Niall Ferguson. In Colossus he argues that in both military and economic terms America is nothing less than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Just like the British Empire a century ago, the United States aspires to globalize free markets, the rule of law, and representative government. In theory it's a good project, says Ferguson. Yet Americans shy away from the long-term commitments of manpower and money that are indispensable if rogue regimes and failed states really are to be changed for the better. Ours, he argues, is an empire with an attention deficit disorder, imposing ever more unrealistic timescales on its overseas interventions. Worse, it's an empire in denial--a hyperpower that simply refuses to admit the scale of its global responsibilities. And the negative consequences will be felt at home as well as abroad. In an alarmingly persuasive final chapter Ferguson warns that this chronic myopia also applies to our domestic responsibilities. When overstretch comes, he warns, it will come from within--and it will reveal that more than just the feet of the American colossus is made of clay.

Publisher: New York : The Penguin Press, 2004.
ISBN: 9781594200137
Branch Call Number: 327.73 FERGUSON
Characteristics: 384 p. : charts ; 25 cm.


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Oct 27, 2013

"Niall Ferguson brings his renowned historical and economic depth ...." so starts the description of this bombastic claptrap of a book! Describing an author like Ferguson, as having historical depth, an author who attacks David Ickes in his preface to his puff piece on the Rothschild family, is hilarious! (Like a scholar attacking Alex Jones in America?) Ferguson, long a member of the lobbyist group for the international super-rich, the Bretton Woods Committee (, begins with the assumption that empire is a good thing, then seeks to justify the American empire? Many countries and peoples in the present, and in the past, would stridently disagree with such perverse sentiments. Did the victims of the Roman Empire, the Mongols' empire, consider themselves fortunate? One strongly doubts such pomposity of unsound cognition! The US has aggressively, in a most hostile fashion, exerted its authority and hegemony around the world, from the instigation of coups in democratic Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s, to the present day overthrow of Zelaya in Honduras (he just wanted to raise the national minimum wage by a few cents), to sanctions against Iran for their trading oil in Euros instead of the US dollar! Read P.J. Cain's and A.G. Hopkins' masterful work on the British Empire as a financial empire, and you will arrive at a much superior picture of the American Empire than you will ever get from drivel from Ferguson! (Their book, at least, was based on scholarship!)

Feb 13, 2013

Niall Ferguson is a great historian and wonderful story teller; there's no doubt about it. However, at times he mixes opinion with historical analysis. This is especially acute in the case of Iraq. His claim that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with the vast reserves of oil the country has "is supported" by two opinion pieces in US newspapers. His claim that the cost of the war would be about US $ 48 billion would be ludicrous if it wasn't so sad. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes estimated 3 trillion! (Google it if you doubt me, or better yet, read their book.) I also wish Ferguson stayed clear of economics because his knowledge of the discipline is very limited. For example, he mentions again and again a crude theory of the quantity of money in circulation, which means - according to him - that an increase in the quantity of money will INEVITABLY lead to higher inflation. The Fed has vastly increased the supply of money since the crisis of 2008 and yet the USA is still hovering near deflation. Ferguson apparently hasn't heard of a liquidity trap, or so it seems.

Oct 20, 2008

2/3 os a good book


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