Theorizing the American Empire: Life with a Bengal Tiger

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Theorizing the American Empire: Life with a Bengal Tiger. Hans N. Weiler Stanford University Third Byblos Autumn School, September 2005. Prelude. Jefferson and the historic mission of the American empire: - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Theorizing the American Empire: Life with a Bengal TigerHans N. WeilerStanford University

    Third Byblos Autumn School, September 2005

  • PreludeJefferson and the historic mission of the American empire:May (this decision) be to the world, what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to some parts later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. (1826)

    Byblos, September 2005

  • The legacy of American exceptionalismThe New England settlers as the chosen peopleAmerica as the new Zion, the shining city on the hill, the Novus Ordo SeclorumJedidiah Morse (1792), Albert Beveridge (ca. 1900)Wehler: a hinge joining Calvinist predestination with secular Messianism

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Debating the notion of American empireStaunchly advocating the notion of American empire: Neo-cons and their intellectual brethrenThe moderate critics: Theories of ambivalence about empireConstructing alternative theories: Institutionalism and multi-polarityThe Skeptics: Rejecting the notion of American empire

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Staunchly advocating the notion of American empireRobert KaganMichael MandelbaumEt al.: Max Boot, Niall Ferguson, Richard Perle

    Byblos, September 2005

  • The moderate critics: Theories of ambivalence about empireMichael Ignatieff: Empire LiteUlrich Wehler: The informal empireJosef Joffe: The empire in need of help

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Constructing alternative theories: Institutionalism, multi-polarity, sovereignty, democracyJoseph Nye: Hard and soft powerRobert Keohane: After HegemonyCharles Kupchan: Multipolar worldsStephen Krasner: Crises of sovereigntyMichael Hardt and Antonio Negri: Empire and the multitudeJennifer Pitts and Sankar Muthu: Liberalisms ambiguous dance with empire

    Byblos, September 2005

  • The Skeptics: Rejecting the notion of American empireAndrew Bacevich: Perverted American militarismDavid Rieff: Fantasies about empireEmmanuel Todd: Too weak for empireHarald Mller: Confrontative hegemonyRashid Khalidi: Limitations of raw power

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Back to the lifeboat

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Questions for discussion (1)1. How helpful is Nyes distinction between hard and soft power in understanding the role of the United States in world politics?2. A number of authors emphasize the role of developments in information and communi-cation technology in shaping the future of inter-national relations. Do you find this view per-suasive, and what is in your opinion the role of information technology in the future of international relations?

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Questions for discussion (2)3. What is the empirical evidence for the emergence of a multi-polar world system, and how compelling and solid is it?4. How critical is military strength in sustaining U.S. influence in world politics, as compared to economic strength, moral integrity, or diplomatic skill?

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Questions for discussion (3)5. How valid is the argument that a functioning U.S. hegemony is needed in order to effectively deal with humanitarian crises ( la Liberia, Kosovo, Zimbabwe)? If the argument is not valid, how do you propose that humanitarian crises should be effectively handled?

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Questions for discussion (4)6. A hegemon, by definition, needs no democratic legitimation beyond the means (military, economic) to sustain his hegemony. How would a non-hegemonic world system managed by, for example, international organizations establish and sustain its legitimacy? Does Hardts and Negris notion of multitude (2004) solve that problem?

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Questions for discussion (5)7. There are widely contrasting statements in the literature on the role of the United States in the world. E. Todd considers the U.S. a superpower that has become economically dependent and politically redundant (2004, 31). Michael Ignatieff argues, with a view to the U.S. and problems of failed states: nobody likes empires, but there are some problems for which there are only imperial solutions (2003, 11). Who is (more) right?

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Questions for discussion (6)8. Charles Kupchan sees a connection between the end of American primacy in the world and the end of a particular historical epoch that of industrial capitalism, liberal democracy, and the nation state (2002, 35). Do you agree? 9. Is transnational interdependence (Nye) a viable alternative to hegemony, American or otherwise?

    Byblos, September 2005

  • Email: weiler@stanford.edu

    www.stanford.edu/people/weiler

    Byblos, September 2005