krainaksiazek the road to freedom and the demise of nation states 20168194

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Colossus - 2212836415

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Colossus Penguin

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Is America the new world empire? Presidents from Lincoln to Bush may have denied it but, as Niall Ferguson's brilliant and provocative book shows, the US is the greatest military and economic colossus of all time. What's more, it always has been an empire, with its founding fathers battling westwards for territory and their successors spreading freedom across the world - at gunpoint if necessary. Yet is the US really equipped to play Atlas, bearing the weight of the world on its shoulders? America, Ferguson reveals, is now an empire running on empty, backing away from the crucial imperial commitments of time, money and manpower - and resting on perilous financial foundations. When the New Rome falls, its collapse may come from within. Unlike the majority of European writers who have written on this subject, I am fundamentally in favor of empire. Indeed, I believe that empire is more necessary in the twenty-first century than ever before. The threats we face are not in themselves new ones. But advances in technology make them more dangerous than ever before. Thanks to the speed and regularity of modern air travel, infectious diseases can be transmitted to us with terrifying swiftness. And thanks to the relative cheapness and destructiveness of modern weaponry, tyrants and terrorists can realistically think of devastating our cities. The old, post-1945 system of sovereign states, bound loosely together by an evolving system of international law, cannot easily deal with these threats because there are too many nation-states where the writ of the "international community" simply does not run. What is required is an agency capable of intervening in the affairs of such states to contain epidemics, depose tyrants, end local wars and eradicate terrorist organizations. This is the self-interested argument for empire. But there is also a complementary altruistic argument. Even if they did not pose a direct threat to the security of the United States, economic and social conditions in a number of countries in the world would justify some kind of intervention. The poverty of a country like Liberia is explicable not in terms of resource endowment; otherwise (for example) Botswana would be just as poor. The problem in Liberia, as in so many sub-Saharan African states, is simply misgovernment: corrupt and lawless dictators whose conduct makes economic development impossible and encourages political opposition to take the form of civil war. Countries in this condition will not correct themselves. They require the imposition of some kind of external authority. There are those who would insist that an empire is by definition incapable of playing such a role; in their eyes, all empires are exploitative in character. Yet there can be


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