Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
Harvard University Press 2013
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Big IdeasNew Books in HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network March 12, 2013 Marshall Poe
Is there an “American Empire?” A lot of people on the Left say “yes.” Actually, a lot of people on the Right say “yes” too. But Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman says “no.” In her stimulating new treatment of the history of American foreign policy American Umpire (Harvard UP, 2013), Hoffman lays out the case that America have never been an “empire” in any real sense. Rather, she says America has been and (for better or worse) still is an “umpire,” making calls according to an evolving set of rules about what makes a legitimate state. She points out that not all of the calls have been good ones–Vietnam and Iraq II being the most obvious examples. Nonetheless, America has long served the world as a kind of fair broker. Whether America should continue in this role is, as she says, an open question. Listen in.