Oct 09

Colossus

By Kenneth Feucht books Add comments

Colossus, by Niall Ferguson ????

I had just reviewed another book by Niall Ferguson, and this book is actually quite complementary. The overall thesis of this book is that the USA is actually an Empire, and that that is a good thing. The first few chapters start with a history of the United States from the international perspective, showing how the USA has always stated a non-Empire status, while simultaneously behaving like an emerging empire. Even with statements from our recent presidents and some GOP presidential candidates that we are not an empire, Ferguson provides adequate details to show that they indeed are different from all other prior empires that the world has known, yet their very behavior in international politics is consistent with empire status. Ferguson then develops the theme of the Brjitish Empire, emphasizing its triumphs and failures as a world dominating force. Another recently reviewed book by me (The Rise and Fall of the British Empire) takes a quite caustic view of the British Empire. This book has a more balanced view, discussing how the empire status of the British was ultimately mutually beneficial to both England and the subject country. Most notably, the institution of the rule of law and honest commercial interchange was instilled in many countries that are now benefiting from that. The departure of the British often has led to greatly decreased GDP and oftentimes to civil war or catastrophes far worse.  Ferguson also delves into the negative side of empire, showing how England invested far more in foreign nations than they gained, ultimately leading to a diminished status of England in the world at large. He then discusses the positive and negative aspects of the USA as empire, specifically focusing on our near bankrupt status as a nation and the potential instability of both the European Union and the US economic situation. Yet he sees the need for a dominant force in the world that would promote the continuation of free trade and economic stability. Ferguson looks at matters nearly entirely from the viewpoint of an economist as ex-patriot Brit. Though he does briefly bring up the religious question of the loss of faith in Europe, he does not equate that in any way as being a potential harmful matter but merely as a fact of note comparing the difference between American and European society.  I would tend to be a bit hesitant to not attribute other factors as leading to the rise and fall of nations (see Isaiah 40:15-27). Thus, I would personally attribute the greatest danger of the USA is its loss of faith in the Judeo-Christian God.

Ferguson is a provocative read and very informative. I would recommend this book, though I do not entirely agree with everything he says. He certainly is quite thought provoking, and will certainly force one to rethink their stance of Empire, whether one comes from a liberal or conservative perspective.

 

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