When the United States senses an existential threat, how do we respond? And what can the patterns of the past tell us about the challenges we face today? This is the untold story of how US foreign policy was born.
Starting in the early 1900s, the United States went on a regional rampage of breathtaking scope and scale. There were coups and counter-coups, protectorates and annexations. Invasions were followed by occupations, and occupations by insurgencies and counter-insurgencies. Foreign capitals became accustomed to U.S. Marines policing their streets and U.S. warships patrolling their waters. By the mid 20th Century the country had claimed control or influence over all of their rivals in the Western hemisphere, achieving what no other modern nation achieved: regional hegemony.
In We May Dominate the World, Sean Mirski presents a vivid history of US foreign intervention that has stark lessons for today. From 1900 to 1933 the US took diplomatic and military actions in over seven countries, and landed forces in Latin America more than three dozen times, an average of almost two new expeditions every year. Chronicling the rise of this interest abroad from the years just after the Civil War up until the outbreak of WWII, Mirski exposes a key chapter in US history where reckless actions abroad were driven by bouts of instability and often met with lasting, detrimental outcomes.
Written with a policy analyst’s eye for pattern and detail and a writer’s eye for narrative and character, We May Dominate the World highlights how America has historically responded to existential threats and how that legacy is now playing out in the present. Rather than altruism or even imperialism, this era of foreign intervention emphasizes that instability, or the threat of instability, has always been a key motivator in US foreign policy. As our relations with adversarial nations like North Korea and Iran grow increasingly unpredictable, and as China consolidates its own regional dominance, presenting an entirely new kind of threat to US interests, this book urges us to take stock of the strategies available to us and learn from our past.
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