Veni, vidi, vici...[I came, I saw, I conquered] Julius Caesar. This quote from one of the most
famous Roman generals reflects the principle of a major phenomenon in international
relations: empires, a phenomenon which dates back as far as 2334 BC with the reign of Sargon
of Akkad, and which has progressively led to the globalized world of the present day. The term
'empire' comes from the Latin imperare meaning 'supreme rule or absolute power'. However,
although the primary aim of an Empire is to gain power, empires always aspire to something
greater: a new international order under their control and reflecting their values, which may
sometimes prove beneficial for their acquired territories. Is each age doomed (or blessed?) with
the existence of one major imperial power? As the foundations of power evolve, so will the
nature of the Imperial powers. Our study of empires will focus on three main sets of Imperial
powers: the pre-modern empires, the modern empires and finally post-modern empire.
We will argue that although each era saw the rise of a major Imperial power, and sometimes
benefited from its presence, the implementation of power by definition implies the subjugation
of other peoples. Most empires attempt to legitimise their domination: however the basis of
territorial expansion remains the attack on the fundamental right to freedom and selfdetermination.
[...] The status of The US is ambiguous: George Bush (43rd President of US (1946 - claimed: “America has never been an empire. We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused preferring greatness to power and justice to glory.” However, according to the definition of empires given by in Empires, Systems and States: “inclusive systems of order organised around a dominant state whose role is accepted as being quite indispensable to the functioning of the system as a whole” , the US clearly embody a powerful empire. [...]
[...] This is notably true in the case of the British Empire and the notion of an Anglo-Saxon race. Joseph Chamberlain, then secretary of State for the colonies at the turn of the century, expressed a view shared by many I believe the British race is the greatest of governing races the world has ever seen”. Had this notion of supremacy led to the spread of European advances in civilisation and trade, it might have had some positive effects. However, whereas an empire aims at supra-national 2 governance through the integration of its members , this form of colonisation promotes separateness and inequality. [...]
[...] Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.” . Unipolarity is indeed considered by Realists such as Waltz as the least durable of international configurations, since a natural reaction against a dominating state is the coalition of weaker states . The United States' contested empire, based on capitalist supremacy, aims at developing a stable world order, favoured by economic partnerships. [...]
[...] The Pax Romana is famous for the two centuries of 1 relative peace experienced by states within the Roman Empire after the access to power of Augustus in 27 BC. Roman rule pacified regions and quarrels between rival leaders, sometimes using violence to do so. Although there still was some fighting against “barbarians” and notably Germanic tribes, Rome knew no civil wars nor serious invasions during this period. Universal values such as justice or peace were promoted, notably in the case of religious empires such as the Muslim empire or the Holy Roman Empire. [...]
[...] Starting during the 15th century, and culminating during the late 19th an early 20th Europe was responsible for the development and integration of most of the world in a Global market which it dominated. Though it promoted this internationalization of the Economy as an opportunity to benefit both sides of the exchange, in reality it profited Europeans much more than it did third world countries. The historian L.S Stravianos reveals that the average income per person in the 1/3 world in 1850 was 1/5th of what it was in the 1st world, and 1/6 of what it was in 1900, whereas general production augmented . [...]
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