How much does the idea of the “American Century”

Title: How much does the thought of the “ American Century ” owe to the impression of the “ American Empire ” ?


In 1938, Time publishing house Henry Luce coined the term the ‘American century’ to mention to America’s influence over the universe in the twentieth century. This was done during the beginning of World War II in which Luce urged America to support democracy in an influential column of the ‘Time’ . America’s foreign policies still today are based on the thought of distributing democracy in the other less powerful states.

In this essay we would analyse how far this attack of being a duteous Samaritan has been effectual for American foreign policies analysing the function of the impression of American Empire and the parts of the US in keeping and reconstructing democracy around the universe, one of its primary aims. In this context any implicit in motives for imperium edifice would besides be analyzed.

American Century and American Empire:

From the beginning of the World War II until the terminal of the twentieth century, the anticipation and call for rise and prosperity of America and twenty-first century being America’s century seems to hold materialized. The term ‘American century’ nevertheless now refers to a wholly different construct. It refers to the American laterality on all other states, for much of the twentieth century get downing with the World War II go oning through to the Cold War period in which the United States was one of world’s two major world powers ( besides McGrew, 1994 ) . This stage nevertheless ended with the 1980s when America bit by bit acquired the place of the world’s merely world power by the 1990s. The impression of the American Century has frequently been overdone or rebuked by footings such as ‘hyperpower’ or ‘hegemon’ to denote considerable resistance of American laterality in many parts of the universe ( Agnew, 2005 ) .

Promoting political ideals of democracy, and economic policies for growing, revenue enhancement reforms and foreign direct investings seems to hold been the major accents of the construct of the American Century ( besides see Maidment, 1994 ) . However critics point out that the term overemphasizes the function of the American policies, and domination on a planetary phase.

As of today, ‘American Century’ denotes the overall American laterality and its political, societal, economic and cultural influence on provinces around the universe, a phenomenon rather sweeping and conspicuous in the twentieth century ( Bacevich, 2002 ) . Over the period of the twentieth century, many states followed and adopted the economic policies of America stated in the Washington Consensus presented in 1989 as a policy of economic growing.

The construct of American domination over the universe is closely related to the impression of the American Empire that suggests America’s historical place as a major power and cultural influence either on direct settlements under its control or states to which it offered fiscal or political assistance. The term ‘American Empire’ is therefore a politically laden phrase like the term ‘American Century’ and is used informally to depict the present or twentieth century economic, cultural and political influence of the United States on the remainder of the universe. However the term may or may non be used negatively but refers to American power on a planetary degree ( Hardt, 2000 ) .

Two basic issues are considered when analyzing or analysing American laterality:

1. How far is the construct of the ‘American Empire’ tenable? Is at that place an American Empire at all or is this simply a theoretical construct?

2. Is the construct of American laterality one of hegemony or is the American influence positive? What is the extent to which the construct of the American Empire can be positive or negative?

The first inquiry is answered by critics who claim that the term American Empire is decidedly valid and executable based on the fact that America is the lone world power now since the terminal of the Cold War and the autumn of the USSR. Thus America’s world power position is extremely noncontroversial and matchless. The United States have been claimed to hold a history of imperialism and hegemony as America is non merely an economic world power but besides politically the strongest with complete influence on the United Nations. American control nevertheless has been accepted utilizing the statements from American exceptionalism that claims particular place of America and its people in the universe ( Jervis, 2005 ; Buchanan, 1999 ) .

America’s get downing as a incorporate state began with the Independence following the American Revolution against British Colonization. Yet the British policies of enlargement and control seem to hold infused into American civilization and were practiced to the hilt by the new American political relations. The focal point ab initio was on enlargement within North America and on development of agricultural and industrial sectors. However the period of ‘empire building’ so to talk in which there was a inclination to command foreign land held by external foreign authoritiess began with the Spanish American War more than a century after American Independence. After the Spanish American war, many of the provinces under Spanish ownership such as Puerto Rico and Philippines came under US control.

Some of the countries that have been in US control at some point of clip during its imperium edifice stage are:

Cuba, Guam, Haiti, Panama Canal, US Samoa, Virgin islands, Puerto Rico and Philippines.

In some of the analyses of the influence of the construct of American Empire Bacevich ( 2002 ) argues that there was small or no alteration in American foreign policies after the cold war. Like many other critics Bacevich claimed that American foreign policies have ever been made in such a manner so as to warrant enlargement and entree to foreign markets for the benefits of domestic economic system. This is seen in instances of US control of Iraq which many claim has been motivated by US’ desire to command the oil markets in the in-between E. Bacevich like many other modern critics argues that America’s chief economic grounds of foreign intercessions are masked by moralistic grounds of reconstructing democracy and America’s foreign policies are shaped to take such advantages that would carry through both its hidden docket of economic control and manifest docket of reconstructing democracy. Bacevich ( 2002 ) has warned that economic imperialism as practiced through American foreign policies may really be the major cause of America’s ultimate ruin. Here the inquiry arises whether America’s autumn has already begun and whether this century would give manner to new world powers with more accommodating and advanced, adaptative or agreeable foreign policies. Critics point out that present American policies may non be in its best involvement and will take to its political, economic and cultural isolation ( in Jervis, 2005 ; Bacevich 2002 ) .

Analysis of footings such as ‘American Empire’ and ‘American Century’ have been related to constructs such as American Hegemony and American Imperialism and there has been in recent times, turning resistance to American foreign policies. One of the outstanding critics of American policies Buchanan ( 1999 ) has argued that from the late twentieth century, America has engaged itself in excessively many convulsions, contentions and has intervened in excessively many unneeded foreign personal businesss and parts. Examples are Afghanistan, Middle East and Iraq. Harmonizing to critics, the September 11, 2001 terrorist onslaughts on the twin towers seems to hold been a direct consequence of American policies and unneeded intercession. Buchanan seems to hold led the increasing resistance to American foreign policies of intercession and control and have added to voices in favor of American Isolationism which counters American foreign policy determinations ( besides in Jervis, 2005 ; Agnew 2005 ) .


On the other manus Hardt ( 2000 ) suggests that the US lies in the centre of development and formation of a planetary government of international power that should be capable of supervising jobs in all domains of the universe. In what has been termed as an ‘Empire’ Hardt and Negri discuss the construct of an imperium non merely from an American position but from a planetary, centralised position. The relevancy of the book in this article is that the writers stress on the demand for such control which can be centralized and implemented at an international degree. Possibly the function of the UN needs to be revamped for accomplishing such aims.

Comparisons could be drawn and have been drawn with American foreign policy of control and laterality to profit the American state with the British enlargement schemes in the 18th and 19th centuries. American imperialism of present times that seeks to step in in foreign lands for political or economic control can be compared to British policies of enlargement in which wealths of foreign lands were brought to Britain through colonisation. This definitely suggests that the construct of the American century is closely related to that of the American Empire as American imperialism is comparable to the policies of the British Empire ( see Hardt, 2000, McGrew, 1994 ) . The term ‘Empire’ can hold both positive and negative intensions and can stand for or mention to the powerful position of a state or the resistance of hegemony as imposed by the state on other lands.


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Philadelphia, Pa. : Temple University Press ; London: Eurospan [ distributer ] ,2005.

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American imperium: the worlds and effects of U.S. diplomatic negotiations /Andrew J. Bacevich.

Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press,2002.

Buchanan, Patrick J.

A democracy, non an imperium: reclaiming America ‘s fate /Patrick J. Buchanan.

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[ Imperio & A ; imperialismo.English ]

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Empire /Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri.

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Jervis, Robert

American foreign policy in a new epoch /Robert Jervis.

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Culture /edited by Jeremy Mitchell and Richard Maidment.

Sevenoaks: Hodder & A ; Stoughton in association with the Open University,1994.

Democracy /edited by Richard Maidment.

London: Hodder & A ; Stoughton in association with The Open University,1994.

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