Sunday, March 26, 2017

What's Really Behind The Birth of American Empire

Stephen Kinzer is one of the best historians going. Find the time to listen to this.



(ht Charles Burris)


  1. Our nation creates the world reserve currency with nothing backing it and we enforce it with the most powerful military in history. We are the modern day Sparta and we are at the disposal of the worlds most powerful crime families.

  2. Libertarian scholars are all over the Spanish American war. Libertarian historian Joseph Stromberg has written extensively on this watershed of Empire. He wrote a particularly interesting review of Walter Karp's magnificently written "The Politics of War" in firstthings magazine. Stromberg 's review provides something of a libertarian class analysis of the drive to empire. William Marina, another libertarian historian, has outlined how "the Roosevelt Corollary" to the older Monroe Doctrine played a role in Empire. And speaking of Teddy Roosevelt, biographer Jerome Tucille, himself a libertarian, has written on the neglected role of black troops in the war and how TR sidelined their contribution. Reason video interviewed JT on the subject. I'd recommend checking out Stromberg in particular.

  3. At 13:15, Kinzer mentions noticing in the old newspapers ubiquitous "economic concerns", specifically the problem of "GLUT". This sounds like a "problem" in need of Austrian analysis. Solving the "problem" requires empire and Keynesian "stimulus", right?

    I have a continuing objection to Mr. Hedges as he always blames these types of problems (including the 2008 housing bust) on "unregulated laissez faire capitalism".

  4. Chris Hedges provides his usual "analysis":

    The Trump kleptocrats are political arsonists. They are carting cans of gasoline into government agencies and Congress to burn down any structure or program that promotes the common good and impedes corporate profit.

    They ineptly have set themselves on fire over Obamacare, but this misstep will do little to halt the drive to, as Stephen Bannon promises, carry out the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Donald Trump’s appointees are busy diminishing or dismantling the agencies they were named to lead and the programs they are supposed to administer. That is why they were selected. Rex Tillerson at the State Department, Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Tom Price at Health and Human Services, Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education are eating away the foundations of democratic institutions like gigantic termites. And there is no force inside government that can stop them.

    The sparing of Obamacare last week was a Pyrrhic victory. There are numerous subterfuges that can be employed to cripple or kill that very flawed health care program. These include defunding cost-sharing subsidies for low-income families, allowing premium rates for individual insurance to continue to soar (they have gone up 25 percent this year), cutting compensation to insurers in order to drive more insurance companies out of the program, and refusing to enforce the individual mandate that requires many Americans to purchase health insurance or be fined. The Trump administration’s Shermanesque march to the sea has just begun.

    If only.

  5. R.E. Bob's comment 3:11 PM.

    Kinzer's discussion of "glut" is I suspect in line with the views of new left revisionist historians - for example, William Appleman Williams who argued that "wars for the open door" were an underlying driver of US foreign policy more or less from then on. Basically from then up to the "neo-liberal world order" today.

    Joseph Stromberg - himself influenced by Williams - did a pretty comprehensive Austrian analysis of "open door imperialism" called 'The Political Economy of Liberal Corporatism" in 1977 and it can be found here...

    Murray Rothbard recognised that various foreign policy leaders and influencers were often driven by "open door" theories in their heads, and these concerns often rose up during periods of business cycle crisis. See Rothbard in his "Wall Street, The Banks and American Foreign Policy" and other MNR articles.

    On the other hand Rothbard argued that Williams' (and by implication - other new left revisionists) use of the "open door" concept was overly rubbery and they stretched it to fit whatever US foreign policy action they disliked.

    (I would add that the N L revisionists also seem to neglect that that the cost of "Empire" is often much greater than any presumed "profit" from it, so instead of keeping capitalism going, imperialism weakens the economy. This analysis was performed by 'neo-isolationist' foreign policy expert Robert W Tucker in his critique of the new left revisionists "The Radical Left and American Foreign Policy" -1971)

    Rothbard's review of Williams book "The Tragedy of American Diplomacy" can be found in his "Strictly Confidential" book.

    (Also at -

  6. See also Stromberg's updated analysis @