Faulty ivory tower.
Mott T. Greene
Professor of Science and Values University of Puget Sound
The Ferguson piece was interesting. I think some of Ferguson's observations are cogent, though not necessarily his remedies.
The difference between British and American approaches to empire is that Britain was keen on exporting people and investment capital and assumed that benefits to the home islands would follow. Being British was good, but knowing the native cultures was also important. The United States exports business models, rotates its people overseas, but not long enough for them to become too friendly with the natives, the better to help bring home the profits to the homeland. Americans view overseas assignments as assignments, not lives.
in short, Britain was secure that being British was special enough, while the United States, like the Soviet Union, views its specialness as ideological and subject to repeated verification. The Brit expats may have had their book clubs and parties but borrowed the Indian word gymkhana for their horse competitions and brought it home. The Yanks bring their Coke, fries, and Washington area-code cell phones to the Green Zone in Baghdad.
The only lasting American imperial power is cultural, the soft power of Joseph Nye: music, film, art, technology, and business know how. That is powerful and lasting, and sadly underutilized by the present ruling elite in Washington.
Prof. Jeffrey Harris
Plasma Research Laboratory
Australian National University
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|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2004|
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