Although it prides itself as the most vocal proponent of democracy in the world, the United States exhibits several characteristics, which distinguish it as an imperial power. First, the size of the country can be compared with historic empires. Second, the US strives for global supremacy, which resembles imperial powers. Finally, the belief in its exceptionalism is similar to the past empires’ nationalistic worldviews. Using the rhetoric of promoting liberal democracy, the US has accepted its role as an imperial power under a different label.
The United States has always presented itself as a powerhouse with immense capabilities. It distinguished itself from other great powers as a country with a drastically different organization of government and power. Yet, the US strove for hegemony in the Western Hemisphere since the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. After World War I, the US broke, stopped its isolationist policy, and started to exert influence worldwide actively (Burns, 2017). Therefore, between the wars, the United States realized its role as an imperial power.
The reason why the US exerted its influence on such a scale lies in the promotion of its belief in its exceptionalism. Since the American Revolution, Americans have viewed themselves as an inherently different nation, which should spread its values (Parmar, 2018). The importance of freedom, liberties, democracy, and market economy became an effective propaganda tool, which promoted the US as a superpower with an advanced political system and ideology (Jansson, 2017). As a result, the promotion of liberal democracy served as a means of expanding the American imperial power.
Altogether, although it presents itself as a unique nation, the United States acts like an imperial power. Over the centuries, America has increased its control over territories, spread its political ideas, and promoted the values of liberal democracy and the ideology of American exceptionalism. This course of action is extremely reminiscent of the modus operandi of an imperialist nation. The difference in the US case is that it operates primarily economically and labels its expansionism as the promotion of democracy.
Burns, A. (2017). American imperialism: The territorial expansion of the United States, 1783-2013. Edinburgh University Press.
Jansson, D. (2018). Deadly exceptionalisms, or, would you rather be crushed by a moral superpower or a military superpower? Political Geography, 64, 83-91. Web.
Parmar, I. (2018). The US-led liberal order: Imperialism by another name? International Affairs, 94(1), 151-172. Web.