Ethics & International Affairs Volume 17.2 (Fall 2003): Special Section: The Revival of Empire: The Invisible Hand of the American Empire [Excerpt]

Sep 11, 2003

In the field of interstate military affairs it makes sense to talk of an American empire; but not in interstate economic affairs where the world remains thoroughly multipolar. So says Joseph Nye. This essay disagrees with the second part. It proceeds by way of a thought experiment. Imagine you are an aspiring modern-day emperor in a world of sovereign capitalist states. What sort of framework do you create such that (a) it sets the context in which all states and firms have to operate if they are not to exclude themselves from the world economy; (b) it channels normal market competition so as to benefit your firms and citizens disproportionately; and (c) it allows your economic statescraft to operate with fewer constraints than it imposes on everyone else’s? The essay argues that the United States has indeed created such a framework since the 1970s, based on dollar dominance and American-centered private (not public) international financial relations. The framework allows the United States to keep spending far more abroad than it earns there—to have more butter and more guns (including military bases)—to a degree that other states cannot; and allows the United States to make the dollar swing high or low in accordance with American conditions, regardless of the costs inflicted on others. This is the paradox of economic globalization: it looks like the “powerless” expansion of communications and markets, but works to enhance the ability of the United States to harness the rest of the world to its rhythms and fortify its empire-like power. Concerted action between Europe and China and the East Asia countries is a vent for hope.

To read or purchase the full text of this article, click here.

You may also like

JAN 7, 2021 Journal

Ethics & International Affairs Volume 34.4 (Winter 2020)

The highlight of this issue is a roundtable organized by Kai He, T. V. Paul and Anders Wivel on international institutions and peaceful change. The ...

CREDIT: <a href="">pxhere/Public Domain</a>

NOV 13, 2019 Podcast

AI in the Arctic: Future Opportunities & Ethical Concerns, with Fritz Allhoff

How can artificial intelligence improve food security, medicine, and infrastructure in Arctic communities? What are some logistical, ethical, and governance challenges? Western Michigan's Professor Fritz ...

Image via <a href=""></a>

OCT 7, 2019 Podcast

Making AI Work, Ethically & Responsibly, with Heather M. Roff

Heather M. Roff, senior research analyst at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, thinks some researchers are having the wrong conversations about AI. Instead of ...