EP 353 America’s Soft Empire and Its Impact on the Developing World

Empires of the past were pretty clear in their intent. They actually controlled the politics and the economy of the nations they colonized and put down their flag so there be no misunderstanding about their interests. In the modern era, following the Spanish Empire, the best example of that, of course, was the British Empire. Many may deny that America has picked up the mantle from Britain as a ‘soft empire’ but evidence of it certainly exists. The military and economic reach of America in the 20th century has all the trappings of it as we fanned out all across the globe. In another vernacular, we have been called’ the world’s policeman’. The debate about our role might best be framed in the context of whether the purposes for which we tried to dominate the world order were noble or for self interest, primarily economic. Atul Kohli, a professor of international affairs at Princeton University and author of ‘Imperialism and the Developing World’ focuses on the impact that we and Britain have had on countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. We will make this projection of American influence the subject of this episode and our next one, as well.