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Is the United States an Empire?

In this seminar course, we will consider some of the pros and cons of “empire,” with brief looks at the great empires of the West, from Rome to the empires of the modern era including Spain, Portugal, France, and England. We will begin by asking the fundamental question: What is an empire? What, for example, did Spain and England want from North America when they colonized it? How does an “empire” differ from a “nation” or a “state”? Today, when “empires” are considered evil by some—and when America and Israel are sometimes accused of evil deeds in the name of empire—we consider whether America has indeed acted like an empire, and whether its behavior today warrants classifying it with the other empires of the ancient and modern worlds.