Customer Review

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent surevy of American foreign policy, 21 April 2006
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This review is from: Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (Paperback)
Colossus is one of the best books I have read on current affairs on politics in recent years, and the foreward for the paperback edition is the best piece of writing on the problems in Iraq I have read to date. He never holds back from being controversial, and his book is continually thought provoking, especially for anyone with a theoretical knowledge of international relations.

His argument that American has already been an Empire is a compelling one. Americans would certainly struggle to deny that America expanded westwards, displacing an indigenous population, whatever the merits or otherwise, and their interventions in South America demonstrate their imperial pretensions in ensuring that regimes sympathetic to their own interests are in place.

The real interest in Ferguson's argument is not that America is an Empire, but the strengths that can be gained from it and its possibility as a force for good. He stresses that America has already been doing this, and firmly believes that it has contributed much to security. He issues a stirring defence of globalisation and makes the rather neat point that globalisation hasn't created problems in Africa, as African economies aren't integrated into a globalsied system. He does acknowledge that the problem is that developed countries do not allow Africans to enter into that integrated economic system.

Whilst he presents an interesting argument and compelling about America being an "Empire in denial", I do not necessarily think he explained why it is in "denial" enough. This is surely necessary in order to understand and predict America's response to its decline if (or when) it occurs, and the dichotomy between this and what is often perceived as a willingness to exert influence where it is not needed or wanted.

His arguments concerning the reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq was not as concrete as I think he assumes. He appeared to fundamentally misunderstand why people were concerned about the invasion, and whilst Saddam perhaps did deserve what happened to him given the repeated opportunities he had to stop flouting UN resolutions, to blame the invasion on Saddam was perhaps putting things a bit strong.

This book is an excellent exploration of America's foreign policy through history, and a magisterial survey of the contemporary global political system. Worth reading for anyone with at least a passing interest in international relations.
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