The heart of empire? Theorizing US empire in an era of transnational capitalism

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Stokes, Doug (2005)

Contemporary critical theorising on US Empire tends to diverge in two ways. First, more traditional approaches tend to foreground the national basis of the USA's imperial project and the subsequent ongoing inter-imperial rivalry inherent between rival capitalist states and regions. A second ‘global-capitalist’ approach rejects the notion of US Empire and instead posits the transcendence of a nationally based imperialism in favour of an increasingly transnationally orientated state and global ruling class. I argue that both accounts fail in their singularity to capture the nature and role of the US state within a global political economy. Instead, I argue that the US state has long been both subject to and demonstrative of a dual national and transnational structural logic that seeks to enhance US national interests while reproducing a world order favourable for global capital as a whole. Crucially, the end of the Cold War and the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have exacerbated the tensions between these dual logics; these will potentially affect both the hegemony of American Empire and the future of international relations in profound ways.
  • References (78)
    78 references, page 1 of 8

    1 William Appleman Williams, 'The frontier thesis and American foreign policy', Pacific Historic Review, XXIV, 1955, p 379.

    2 For a selection, see Wesley K Clark, Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism and the American Empire, New York: Public Affairs, 2003; Ivan Eland, 'The empire strikes out: the ''new imperialism'' and its fatal flaws', Policy Analysis, 459, 2002, pp 1 - 27; Nial Ferguson, Empire: How Britain Made the World, London: Allen Lane, 2003; Victor Davis Hanson, 'A funny sort of empire', National Review Online, 27 November 2002; G John Ikenberry, 'The illusions of empire', Foreign Affairs, 82 (2), 2004, pp 144 - 154; Charles S Maier, 'An American Empire', Harvard Magazine, 105 (2), 2002, pp 28 - 31; and Max Boot, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, New York: Basic Books, 2002.

    3 See George W Bush, State of the Union Address, Washington, DC, 29 January 2002, at http://www. Cf Bruce Cumings, Ervand Abrahamian & Moshe Ma'oz, Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth About North Korea, Iran, and Syria, New York: New Press, 2004.

    4 Michael Cox, 'The empire's back in town: or America's imperial temptation-again', Millennium, 32 (1), 2003, p 8.

    5 New York Times, 17 February 2003.

    6 Michael Ignatieff, 'The burden', New York Times Magazine, 5 January 2003, p 24.

    7 Condoleezza Rice, Remarks by National Security Adviser on Terrorism and Foreign Policy, 29 April 2002. Cf Jack Snyder, 'Imperial temptations', The National Interest, 71, pp 29 - 40.

    8 Robert Kaplan, quoted in Emily Eakin, New York Times, 31 March 2002.

    9 Sebastian Mallaby, 'The reluctant imperialist: terrorism, failed states, and the case for American empire', Foreign Affairs, 81 (2), 2002, pp 2 - 7.

    10 Max Boot, 'The case for American empire: the most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role', The Weekly Standard, 15 October 2002, at http://www.weeklystandard.comcontent-public-articles-000-000-000-318qpvmc.asp. For an extended discussion of Boot's call for US neo-imperialism, see his The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, New York: Basic Books, 2002.

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