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Whither WikiLeaks? The Case for the Critical Diplomatic History Method in American Empire Studies

Edward Hunt

Abstract

Scholars of American empire are overdue for critical scholarship on the secret U.S. documents that Chelsea Manning sent to WikiLeaks in 2010. The documents feature important information about the role of the United States in the world, but few scholars have investigated what the documents reveal about the structures and operations of American empire. This paper proposes two ways for scholars of American empire to begin incorporating the documents into their research. First, this paper calls for recognition of a field of study called American empire studies. Scholars have been conducting research on empire for over a century, but they have not organized a field of study that is needed for critical scholarship, such as work with the WikiLeaks documents. Second, this paper identifies a method of analysis called the critical diplomatic history method. Several works of critical scholarship provide lessons for how scholars can use the critical diplomatic history method to examine the WikiLeaks documents. By identifying a field of study and a method of analysis, this paper makes the case that scholars can work with the WikiLeaks documents to reveal hidden imperial structures, generate momentum for dismantling the American empire, and empower social movements that are working to create a better world.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 Chelsea Manning, “Bradley Manning’s Personal Statement to Court Martial: Full Text,” Guardian, Ma (...)

1 In early February 2010, U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning made a momentous decision about what to do with the vast amounts of secret U.S. government information in her possession. Having tried but failed to generate interest in the materials at The New York Times and The Washington Post, Manning decided to send the materials to WikiLeaks. Only then, she believed, would the information become available to the public. While visiting a bookstore cafe, Manning used her laptop to connect to the wireless Internet. Using Tor, an Internet anonymity network, she went to the WikiLeaks website and found the link for submitting documents. From there, she uploaded two large archives, including a database of more than 91,000 U.S. military logs from the War in Afghanistan and a collection of 391,832 U.S. Army field reports from the War in Iraq. In a short file that she included with the materials, Manning explained that the documents would lift the veil of secrecy on the American way of war. “This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war, and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare,” she noted.1

  • 2 Manning, “Bradley Manning’s Personal Statement.”
  • 3 Evan Hansen, “Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed,” Wired, July 13, 2011, http://www.wired.com/threat (...)

2 With that, Manning took a large step toward becoming one of the most significant whistleblowers in U.S. history. Over the next several months, Manning kept revisiting the WikiLeaks website, where she submitted hundreds of thousands of additional documents. In one submission, she uploaded a video of U.S. soldiers killing civilians in Iraq. Manning described the video as “war porn,” noting that she had seen countless examples. In another significant disclosure, she submitted hundreds of reports on the prisoners of war who were being detained and tortured by the United States at its military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The reports, Manning felt, reflected a morally questionable policy of mistreating prisoners of war. In another extraordinary move, Manning sent WikiLeaks an archive of 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables. The archive provided a record of “backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity that didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world,” she said. By early May, Manning had sent WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 secret U.S. government documents, making her the source of one the largest disclosures of secret U.S. government information in U.S. history.2 “I want people to see the truth,” she said. “Without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”3

  • 4 Elisabeth Bumiller, “Video Shows U.S. Killing of Reuters Employees,” New York Times, April 6, 201 (...)
  • 5 “The War Logs,” New York Times, n.d., https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/wor (...)
  • 6 Nick Davies and David Leigh, “Afghanistan War Logs: Massive Leak of Secret Files Exposes Truth of (...)
  • 7 “State’s Secrets,” New York Times, n.d., https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/ (...)
  • 8 “WikiLeaks Embassy Cables: The Key Points at a Glance,” Guardian, November 29, 2010, https://www. (...)
  • 9 “The Guantánamo Files,” New York Times, n.d., https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/guantan (...)
  • 10 Glenn Greenwald, “What WikiLeaks Revealed to the World in 2010,” Salon, December 24, 2010, https: (...)

3 Through her actions, Manning enabled WikiLeaks to create a global sensation. In April 2010, WikiLeaks created headlines around the world when it released the video of U.S. soldiers firing on civilians in Iraq. The video showed a U.S. helicopter attacking a crowd of people that included a Reuters photographer and another Reuters employee. The airstrikes killed a dozen people, including the two Reuters staff members.4 WikiLeaks called the incident “Collateral Murder.” In the following months, WikiLeaks collaborated with several major media organizations, including The New York Times, to begin reporting on the war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.5 The reports included several major revelations, such as the U.S. government’s concealment of the full extent of the civilian death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan.6 Later in the year, several news organizations began reporting on the diplomatic cables.7 Having exclusive access to the cables, they described the secret actions of the United States in many countries around the world.8 Finally, in April 2011, a number of media organizations began reporting on the detainees at Guantánamo Bay.9 Despite critical coverage of WikiLeaks, especially its founder Julian Assange, several leading news organizations worked with WikiLeaks to report on the documents.10

  • 11 Yochai Benkler, “A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle over the Soul of the Networ (...)
  • 12 Gabriel J. Michael, “Who’s Afraid of WikiLeaks? Missed Opportunities in Political Science Researc (...)

4 Extensive news coverage made 2010 the year of WikiLeaks, but there was a notable absence among those reporting on the documents. As WikiLeaks and its partner organizations posted documents online, academics produced few reports on the materials. Only a small number of scholars began incorporating the documents into their research. Notably, diplomatic historians made little use of the documents, despite their extensive experience working with government records. Diplomatic historians have not published any articles in their flagship journal Diplomatic History that make use of the diplomatic cables. To this day, there are no special issues of Diplomatic History that focus on the documents’ content. Likewise, scholars of international relations have done little work with the WikiLeaks documents. Many scholars have written at length about the implications of WikiLeaks for journalism and media structures,11 but few have displayed much interest in what the WikiLeaks documents reveal about the role of the United States in the world. More than ten years after WikiLeaks made most of the documents available on its website, there remains little scholarly work on the content of the documents.12

  • 13 Paul A. Kramer, “Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World,” The (...)
  • 14 The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire (London: Verso, 2015); Timothy M. Gill, “An (...)

5 The most apparent neglect came from scholars of American empire. Despite the fact that scholars of American empire have spent the past several decades producing path-breaking new scholarship on American empire and imperialism, particularly in the fields of history and American studies,13 these scholars have largely ignored the WikiLeaks documents. With few exceptions,14 scholars of American empire have rarely used the documents. Historians have displayed little interest in exploring what the documents reveal about their longstanding questions about the empire. Seldom have leading historians sought answers from the documents about the motives of U.S. officials, the effects of American imperialism on the world, and the longstanding problem of how to define the empire. Similarly, scholars of American studies have done little work with the documents. They have appeared uninterested in researching what the documents reveal about the cultures of U.S. imperialism. There has been no major effort to consider what the documents reveal about the imperial dynamics of age, class, race, gender, ability, ethnicity, ideology, and sexuality. American studies scholars have not uncovered any imperial tropes in the documents.

  • 15 Timothy Garton Ash, “US Embassy Cables: A Banquet of Secrets,” Guardian, November 28, 2010, https (...)
  • 16 William B. McAllister et al., Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign (...)
  • 17 The WikiLeaks Files.

6 The general lack of scholarly engagement with the WikiLeaks files raises important questions. One is why so few scholars have incorporated the documents into their research. If the disclosure of the diplomatic cables is a “historian’s dream,” as Timothy Garton Ash described it,15 then why have so few historians worked with the documents? A more important question is why scholars of American empire have been ignoring the documents. Presumably, scholars of American empire would have been elated to gain access to such vast amounts of uncensored internal government records, especially since they typically have to wait decades before they can begin reviewing these kinds of materials.16 With so many scholars conducting scholarship on American empire, why is it the case that they have not looked to the WikiLeaks documents for insights? Now that more than a decade has passed, it must be asked why most scholars of American empire have turned down the unprecedented opportunity to examine what hundreds of thousands of uncensored internal records reveal about the empire’s inner workings. How can they ignore the documents’ potential to illuminate the operations of American empire in ways that other documents cannot match?17

  • 18 Eric Lipton, “Don’t Look, Don’t Read: Government Warns Its Workers Away From WikiLeaks Documents, (...)

7 It is very likely the case that social pressures have deterred scholars from working with the WikiLeaks documents, especially due to threats of retaliation by the U.S. government and universities,18 but I believe that there are more fundamental reasons for the lack of scholarly engagement. Scholars of American empire face two major challenges. The first is a lack of institutions in the field of American empire studies. At a time when the American empire remains one of the most powerful forces in the world, there are no major institutions devoted to studying it. Without departments of American empire studies, scholars who complete dissertations on American empire will find it difficult to acquire tenure-track positions in their field. The absence of professional organizations devoted to this subject leaves scholars of American empire without a support network. They will not find the same kinds of support systems as their peers in other fields. Organizations that provide grants and fellowships do not regularly apportion major funding to work on American empire. University leaders may even question the need for departments of American empire, especially given that the field of American empire studies has not been formalized. After all, there is no journal of American empire studies. Scholars of American empire have not established any guiding principles for their field. The literature features few widely recognized canonical works on American empire. A good number of scholars even deny the empire’s existence. Like the American empire, which exists but is rarely acknowledged in U.S. political discourse, the field of American empire studies exists but does not appear to exist because it is largely informal.

  • 19 Erez Manela, “The United States in the World,” in American History Now, ed. Eric Foner and Lisa M (...)
  • 20 Kristin L. Hoganson and Jay Sexton, eds., Crossing Empires: Taking U.S. History into Transimperia (...)
  • 21 Patricia Nelson Limerick, “The Startling Ability of Culture to Bring Critical Inquiry to a Halt,” (...)

8 A second major challenge is that scholars of American empire lack a familiar method for working with the WikiLeaks documents. Scholars who have written about the United States as an empire have devised several methodologies, but they have not been preparing to work with hundreds of thousands of secret documents that record U.S. perspectives on recent events in every area of the world. In fact, scholars have grown increasingly critical of studies that focus on elite perspectives. Identifying limitations to scholarship that examines the actions and viewpoints of high-level government officials in a national context, many scholars have rightly warned about the exclusion of the experiences of most people around the world. Given these concerns, a major effort is underway to develop a more inclusive scholarship that uncovers the multiple ways in which diverse populations have shaped the United States and the world. With the influence of the “cultural turn” and the “transnational turn,” scholars of American empire have increasingly turned their attention to the relationship between culture and imperialism in a transnational context.19 A recent volume reviews what it calls a “transimperial” approach.20 While these new studies have provided important insights into the transnational workings of American empire, they have sidelined other forms of critical inquiry.21 Many works that are relevant to the study of the WikiLeaks documents have been dismissed, ignored, or forgotten. Thus, scholars lack a familiar method for working with the WikiLeaks files.

9 With these two major challenges in mind, I propose a pathway forward. First, I make the case for the existence of American empire studies. I begin by showing that the field has a long history, despite its unacknowledged existence and lack of institutional structure. I review several junctures in the field’s development. A crucial part of my review highlights lesser-known works, such as the overlooked but foundational scholarship of Scott Nearing. I believe that Nearing should be recognized as one of the early developers of American empire studies. Other parts of my review will be more familiar to scholars of American empire. I cover Indigenous critiques of empire, the notion of a Greater United States, W. E. B. Du Bois’s critique of the expansion of the color line, the geopolitics of empire, the scholarship of the Wisconsin School of diplomatic history, American hegemony in a capitalist world system, and cultures of U.S. imperialism. One development that I emphasize is the growth of work on American empire in the early twenty-first century. Much recent work has conceptualized the United States as an empire of military bases. Finally, I highlight the importance of the work of Noam Chomsky, who has done more than any other scholar to critically assess the main features and operations of American empire. My review is not a comprehensive survey of American empire studies, but it showcases an interconnected set of works to confirm the field’s existence.

  • 22 Hunt, “The WikiLeaks Cables.”
  • 23 Noam Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” New York Review of Books, February 23, 1967.

10 My second major goal is to identify a method in American empire studies for working with official documents, such as the WikiLeaks files. I identify what I call the critical diplomatic history method. To introduce this method, which I have been using in my own scholarship,22 I review past works that are important examples of critical diplomatic history. The authors of these works may not have defined a method of critical analysis, but their scholarship provides guiding principles for critical research into high-level government documents. Complicating claims that diplomatic history merely recounts what elites say, as some critics have charged, their scholarship shows that official records are critically important to revealing the lies, distortions, and obfuscations of empire. “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies,” Chomsky insisted.23 In this spirit, I introduce the critical diplomatic history method as a technique for exposing what U.S. imperialists try to keep hidden. Rather than being a stenography of elite perspectives, the method shines a light on the ways in which the empire functions. It lifts the veil of secrecy on the actions of the United States in the world, just as Manning intended to do. Thus, I make the case for the critical diplomatic history method as a form of critical analysis. The method uses official records to reveal the structures and operations of U.S. empire in a way that empowers those who are resisting the empire, working to dismantle it, and trying to create a better world.

2. American Empire Studies

  • 24 Kramer, “Power and Connection.”
  • 25 Edward P. Crapol, “Coming to Terms with Empire: The Historiography of Late-Nineteenth-Century Ame (...)
  • 26 Robert J. McMahon, “The Republic as Empire: American Foreign Policy in the ‘American Century,’” i (...)
  • 27 Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease, eds., Cultures of United States Imperialism (Durham: Duke Univers (...)
  • 28 Alfred W. McCoy, Francisco A. Scarano, and Courtney Johnson, “On the Tropic of Cancer: Transition (...)
  • 29 Catherine Lutz, “Empire Is in the Details,” American Ethnologist 33, no. 4 (2006): 593-611, https (...)
  • 30 Julian Go, “The ‘New’ Sociology of Empire and Colonialism: The ‘New’ Sociology of Empire and Colo (...)
  • 31 Paul K. MacDonald, “Those Who Forget Historiography Are Doomed to Republish It: Empire, Imperiali (...)
  • 32 Wesley Renfro and Dominic Alessio, “Empire?,” European Journal of American Studies 15, no. 2 (202 (...)

11 Scholars should harbor no doubts about the existence of American empire studies. The field has a long history, with many phases in its development, dating back over a century.24 Its major practitioners have included some of the world’s most highly regarded scholars. Some have celebrated the empire, others have condemned it, and still others have presented empire as a neutral category of analysis. There is a long history of diplomatic historians writing about American empire. By the 1990s, many diplomatic historians had come to terms with the existence of an American empire, particularly for the late nineteenth century.25 They developed extensive literature on American empire and imperialism.26 Since the 1990s, American studies scholars have expanded the field. Much of their work has explored the cultures of American imperialism in a transnational context.27 The growth in work on empire has led some scholars to identify an “imperial turn” in the humanities.28 Anthropologists,29 sociologists,30 and political scientists31 have followed with additional scholarship. Although much of the scholarship examines empire from different disciplinary perspectives, leading to divergences in the literature,32 many works intersect to create a shared foundation. Several junctures in the field’s development illustrate its multiple intersections in a multidisciplinary body of work.

  • 33 R. W. Van Alstyne, The Rising American Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960); Bradford (...)
  • 34 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, 1787, https://guides.loc.gov/federalist-papers/full-text.
  • 35 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, (...)
  • 36 Carl F. Klinck, ed., Tecumseh: Fact and Fiction in Early Records (Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall (...)
  • 37 H. H., A Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government’s Dealings with Some of th (...)
  • 38 Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right (New York: Hil (...)
  • 39 Frederick J. Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” in Annual Report of (...)
  • 40 Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, 4 vols., Presidential Edition (New York: G. P. Putna (...)

12 There is nothing new about the concept of an American empire. Since U.S. revolutionaries issued the Declaration of Independence in 1776, many people in the United States have viewed the country as an empire. The framers of the Constitution claimed that they were creating an empire.33 In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton began his defense of the Constitution by emphasizing its importance to “the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world.”34 Indigenous people, who were violently dispossessed of their lands, developed one of the first sustained critiques of American empire. As the United States violently expanded into tribal lands, many Indigenous leaders condemned the United States for being a destroyer of nations.35 Native nations “have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white men,” the Shawnee leader Tecumseh warned in 1811, as he was trying to unite Indigenous peoples in defense of their lands. “Look abroad over their once beautiful country, and what see you now? Naught but the ravages of the pale-face destroyers meet your eyes.”36 Some white Americans sympathized with these criticisms, producing critical accounts of the U.S. conquest of the continent. In A Century of Dishonor (1881), Helen Hunt Jackson condemned the United States for continually violating its treaties with Native nations. Indigenous peoples have “suffered cruelly at the hands either of the Government or of white settlers,” Jackson wrote.37 Yet others celebrated U.S. conquests, often appealing to notions of manifest destiny.38 Frederick Jackson Turner argued that the colonization of the West was important to democracy and national development.39 Theodore Roosevelt wrote a four-volume series titled The Winning of the West (1889-1896) in which he glorified the “colonizing conquest” of the continent. Expansion, Roosevelt insisted, “has been the central and all-important feature of our history.”40

  • 41 James C. Fernald, The Imperial Republic (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1898).
  • 42 Charles Morris, The Greater Republic: A New History of the United States (New York: Western W. Wi (...)
  • 43 Daniel Immerwahr, “The Greater United States: Territory and Empire in U.S. History,” Diplomatic H (...)
  • 44 Brooks Adams, The New Empire (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902).

13 From the late 1890s and early 1900s, U.S. writers produced one of the first major bodies of literature that conceptualized the United States as an empire. Writing in the aftermath of the War of 1898, in which the United States seized control of several Spanish colonies in the Caribbean region and Pacific Ocean, these scholars reviewed how the United States was constructing an overseas empire. Many scholars supported these imperial developments, making overtly racist arguments to claim that U.S. imperialism would be beneficial to the people of color who inhabited U.S. colonies. James Fernald, author of The Imperial Republic (1898), saw the potential for a new kind of imperialism that “may be worthy of admiration and honor.”41 Some scholars compared the United States to Great Britain, one of the most powerful empires in the world. Charles Morris, whose books included The Greater Republic (1899) and Our Island Empire (1899), noted that U.S. colonial holdings were “so vast in extent that, like the British Empire, the sun never sets on our dominions.”42 These writers introduced new euphemisms for the United States, such as “Greater Republic,” “Greater America,” and “Greater United States.”43 Brooks Adams, one of the period’s most prominent public intellectuals, was a leading advocate of American empire. In The New Empire (1902), Adams proclaimed that the United States was replacing Europe as the world’s dominant center of power. “The Union forms a gigantic and growing empire which stretches half round the globe, an empire possessing the greatest mass of accumulated wealth, the most perfect means of transportation, and the most delicate yet powerful industrial system which has ever been developed,” Adams wrote.44

  • 45 W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, “The Present Outlook for the Dark Races of Mankind,” A. M. E. Church Rev (...)
  • 46 W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, “The Souls of White Folk,” in Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (Ne (...)

14 As these scholars anticipated a great imperial future for the United States, others took a critical view. The scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois saw the expansion of American empire as an expansion of the color line. Not only did the color line oppress racialized people in the United States, Du Bois argued, but it was also a main feature of Western colonialism. “The color line belts the world,” Du Bois declared. Implicating the United States over its role, he criticized the country’s “new imperial policy” of colonizing overseas islands, which had brought more Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities under U.S. rule. Du Bois estimated that the U.S. colonial acquisitions that followed the War of 1898 had doubled the number of racialized people living in the United States.45 Viewing the United States as an imperial power that was expanding the color line across the world, Du Bois countered racist arguments that U.S. imperialism would be beneficial to BIPOC communities. In his essay “The Souls of White Folk” (1920), Du Bois associated the United States with the colonial practices of Europe. The United States, he argued, was participating alongside Europe in “a new imperialism” while continuing the Western imperial project of conquering the non-white areas of the world. The United States stands “shoulder to shoulder with Europe in Europe’s worst sin against civilization,” he wrote.46

  • 47 Scott Nearing, The American Empire (New York: The Rand School of Social Science, 1921).

15 Another intellectual who took a critical view was Scott Nearing. A key period in the field’s development came in the early 1900s when Nearing produced his foundational work on American empire. Rather than using empire as a descriptive term, as many of his contemporaries were doing, Nearing established empire as a category of analysis. Presenting his ideas in The American Empire (1921), Nearing argued that the United States featured an empire’s main characteristics, which he defined as conquered territory, subject peoples, a ruling class, and a ruling class’s exploitation of conquered territory and subject peoples. The United States, he argued, had gone through several stages of imperial development. Among these stages, Nearing included the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, the enslavement of Black Americans, the conquest of the West, and the acquisition of overseas territories. By the early 1900s, Nearing argued, a ruling class of wealthy industrialists had taken control of the country. Over the United States, there “towers a mighty imperial structure,—the world of business,” Nearing wrote. “That structure is the American Empire—as real to-day as the Roman Empire in the days of Julius Caesar.”47

  • 48 Scott Nearing, The Making of a Radical: A Political Autobiography (New York: Harper & Row, 1972); (...)
  • 49 Scott Nearing and Joseph Freeman, Dollar Diplomacy: A Study in American Imperialism (New York: B. (...)
  • 50 Scott Nearing, The Twilight of Empire: An Economic Interpretation of Imperialist Cycles (New York (...)
  • 51 Scott Nearing, The Tragedy of Empire (New York: Island Press, 1945).
  • 52 Whitfield, Scott Nearing.
  • 53 Nearing, The Making of a Radical.

16 After completing his foundational work on American empire, Nearing continued to develop empire as a category of analysis. Although his scholarship has been largely ignored, perhaps due to controversial aspects of his life, such as his expulsion from academia in the 1910s,48 Nearing’s critical assessments of empire established a foundation for a field of American empire studies. In Dollar Diplomacy (1925), Nearing collaborated with Joseph Freeman to review case studies in American imperialism. The two men identified several forms of U.S. imperialism, including imperial diplomacy, economic penetration, financial exploitation, political interference, armed interventions, spheres of influence, and seizures of territory. The purpose of U.S. foreign policy, they argued, was to open markets for U.S. businesses.49 Later, Nearing turned his attention to theoretical questions. He introduced his theory of imperialism in The Twilight of Empire (1930), in which he presented imperialism as a pattern of conquest and exploitation that repeated itself throughout history.50 In The Tragedy of Empire (1945), Nearing described empire as a “way of life,” particularly for Western Civilization. “The massive ruling class task has been the building of empire,” he wrote.51 By the mid-twentieth century, Nearing had become one of the most prolific scholars of American empire, even playing a central role in organizing a series of books on U.S. imperialism.52 In his autobiography, The Making of a Radical (1972), Nearing recalled that he had spent much of his adult life trying to understand the operations of empire and imperialism. From the time he had been expelled from the academy in the 1910s, he recalled, he had been “working for two additional degrees: Doctorate of Imperialism and of Civilization.”53

  • 54 Ellen Churchill Semple, American History and Its Geographic Conditions (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin (...)
  • 55 H. J. Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4 (1904): (...)
  • 56 Nicholas John Spykman, The Geography of the Peace, ed. Helen R. Nicholl (New York: Harcourt, Brac (...)
  • 57 Robert Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Rela (...)
  • 58 Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York: Alfred A. (...)

17 While Nearing conducted his foundational work on American empire, most scholars who maintained their academic positions remained focused on the question of how to strengthen U.S. power. During the first half of the twentieth century, these scholars developed new fields of study that considered how countries could maximize their power in the world. In the emerging field of political geography, scholars examined the relationship between geography and state power. Ellen Churchill Semple, author of American History and Its Geographic Conditions (1903), emphasized the importance of geographic factors. “The location of the United States makes it the master of the situation,” Semple wrote, referring to the country’s geographic position in a temperate zone between two oceans.54 A major debate in political geography concerned the question of how countries could acquire world empire. The British scholar Halford Mackinder claimed that whoever controlled the Eurasian “heartland” would control the world.55 Others disagreed, arguing that it was more important to control the seas. According to Nicholas Spykman, global domination would be determined by control of the “rimland,” or the areas around Eurasia.56 Other scholars dismissed these debates, believing that geography was not the decisive factor in world politics. In the emerging field of international relations, scholars initially focused on race. Many white scholars made racist arguments in favor of racial hierarchies.57 Over time, realist scholars shifted the focus to state power. In Politics among Nations (1948), Hans Morgenthau identified several elements of state power, including geography, natural resources, industrial capacity, military preparedness, population size, national character, national morale, and diplomacy. Viewing international politics as a struggle for power, Morgenthau argued that states had little choice but to seek dominance, especially if they intended to deter threats and maintain advantages. “All nations must ultimately seek the maximum of power available to them,” he wrote.58

  • 59 John Bellamy Foster, “The New Geopolitics of Empire,” Monthly Review 57, no. 8 (2006): 1-18, http (...)
  • 60 Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”; Charles A. Beard, The Idea of Nat (...)
  • 61 Morgan, Into New Territory.

18 As these scholars established a geopolitics of empire,59 other scholars continued to develop critical assessments of U.S. empire. From the 1950s to the 1960s, a group of diplomatic historians at the University of Wisconsin initiated a new phase in American empire studies by producing critical accounts of U.S. imperial history. Their approach, which became known as the Wisconsin School, brought the study of American empire into the mainstream of U.S. diplomatic history. Led by William Appleman Williams, the scholars of the Wisconsin School developed a narrative of the United States as an empire that sought overseas markets to relieve the domestic problem of overproduction. Their work built on earlier scholarship by Frederick Jackson Turner and Charles Beard, both of whom had grappled with the idea that U.S. expansion relieved domestic social problems.60 The Wisconsin School pointed to the open door policy as the logic of American empire. What distinguished the Wisconsin School’s work from other scholarship in American empire studies was its conceptualization of the American empire. Rather than defining the United States as a formal empire that colonized territories or a great power that sought world domination, the scholars of the Wisconsin School characterized the United States as an informal empire that used its economic and military powers to open doors to overseas markets. The United States, they argued, was an informal empire that sought to maintain an open door to the markets of the world.61

  • 62 William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (Cleveland: The World Publishing Com (...)
  • 63 William Appleman Williams, The Contours of American History (Cleveland: The World Publishing Comp (...)
  • 64 William Appleman Williams, The Roots of the Modern American Empire: A Study of the Growth and Sha (...)
  • 65 William Appleman Williams, Empire as a Way of Life: An Essay on the Causes and Character of Ameri (...)

19 Williams wrote many of the school’s defining works. His study The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959) remains one of the most influential works on American empire. Focusing on the period of the 1890s to the 1950s, Williams argued that the United States had constructed an informal American empire through a policy of overseas economic expansion. The “strategy and tactics” of the open door policy, he argued, “enabled the United States to establish a new and persuasive empire during the era when colonial empires of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were dying.”62 Later, Williams extended his analysis to other periods of U.S. history. In The Contours of American History (1961), he identified three major economic epochs in U.S. history, which he identified as the Age of Mercantilism, the Age of Laissez Nous Faire, and the Age of Corporate Capitalism. All three ages were marked by an expansionist outlook, he argued. The Monroe Doctrine, an 1823 statement of U.S. interests in Latin America, was “the manifesto of the American empire.”63 In The Roots of the Modern American Empire (1969), Williams argued that the country’s farmers had played a central role in developing the U.S. government’s expansionist outlook, mainly by seeking overseas markets for their crops.64 Believing that an imperial culture contributed to the country’s economic expansion, Williams considered the idea of empire being a “way of life,” the same idea that Nearing had introduced decades earlier. “It is perhaps a bit too extreme, but if so only by a whisker, to say that imperialism has been the opiate of the American people,” Williams wrote in Empire as a Way of Life (1980).65

  • 66 Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860-1898 (Ithaca: Corne (...)
  • 67 Lloyd C. Gardner, Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Pr (...)
  • 68 Thomas J. McCormick, China Market: America’s Quest for Informal Empire, 1893-1901 (Chicago: Quadr (...)
  • 69 Lloyd C. Gardner, Walter F. LaFeber, and Thomas J. McCormick, Creation of the American Empire: U. (...)

20 As Williams gained attention for his work on American empire, several of his students began producing complementary works. The diplomatic historians Lloyd Gardner, Walter LaFeber, and Thomas McCormick, all of whom studied under Williams at the University of Wisconsin, wrote books that established themselves as leading scholars in the Wisconsin School. LaFeber produced one of the school’s key studies, The New Empire (1963), which reviewed how U.S. officials had made a major push during the late nineteenth century to open markets for U.S. businesses.66 Another influential study, Gardner’s Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy (1964), highlighted the economic factors that shaped the diplomacy of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1930s.67 In China Market (1967), McCormick provided a detailed account of how U.S. leaders had worked to construct an informal America empire in East Asia with the goal of securing access to China’s markets.68 All three men collaborated on a survey of U.S. diplomatic history titled Creation of the American Empire (1973). “The central problem in American history,” they wrote, “is to explain the process or development, and therefore the present nature, of the American empire.”69

  • 70 Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945 (New Yo (...)
  • 71 Kolko, The Politics of War.
  • 72 Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Co (...)
  • 73 William S. Borden, The Pacific Alliance: United States Foreign Economic Policy and Japanese Trade (...)
  • 74 “Responses to Charles S. Maier, ‘Marking Time: The Historiography of International Relations,’” D (...)
  • 75 Thomas McCormick, “‘Every System Needs a Center Sometimes’: An Essay on Hegemony and Modern Ameri (...)
  • 76 Thomas J. McCormick, America’s Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War (Baltim (...)

21 With the Wisconsin School bringing the study of American empire into the mainstream of U.S. diplomatic history, a number of scholars began developing a more systematic framework for explaining the nature of the American empire. Elaborating on the notion of the United States as an informal empire that opened doors to overseas markets, these scholars began to conceptualize the United States as a hegemonic power that dominated a capitalist world system. In the field of diplomatic history, Gabriel Kolko developed the approach in works that included The Politics of War (1968), The Roots of American Foreign Policy (1969), and The Limits of Power (1972).70 Focusing on World War II and its aftermath, Kolko argued that U.S. leaders had worked to create “an integrated world capitalism.”71 In more theoretical work, Immanuel Wallerstein introduced world systems analysis, which identified capitalism as a world system in which core areas exploited peripheral regions.72 Influenced by Wallerstein’s ideas, several U.S. diplomatic historians began using world systems analysis to produce critical reassessments of U.S. foreign policy.73 “That history must be understood in the context of a world system became a truism in the 1970s,” LaFeber later reflected, even if “it was truer for some studies than for others.”74 McCormick embraced the approach, applying it to the study of American empire to identify the United States as a hegemonic power.75 “From the late stages of World War II until the late stages of the Vietnam War, American hegemony—global supremacy—was the driving force in world affairs,” McCormick wrote in America’s Half-Century (1989).76

  • 77 Kaplan and Pease, Cultures of United States Imperialism.
  • 78 Amy Kaplan, “‘Left Alone with America’: The Absence of Empire in the Study of American Culture,” (...)

22 As diplomatic historians began studying the United States as a hegemonic power in a capitalist world system, scholars in other fields began raising new questions, particularly about culture. In the early 1990s, American studies scholars began taking the study of American empire in a new direction by exploring the relationship between culture and imperialism. Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease edited a collection of essays titled Cultures of United States Imperialism (1993) that gave significant momentum to the shift toward cultural studies.77 In an introductory essay titled “‘Left Alone with America’” (1993), Kaplan called on scholars to give more serious consideration to the interactions of culture and empire, especially the impacts of culture on American empire and the ways in which U.S. imperialism affected culture in the United States and the world. She urged scholars to examine the idea that empire functioned as a way of life, the same notion that Nearing had formulated in The Tragedy of Empire (1945) and Williams had addressed in Empire as a Way of Life (1980). A goal of the volume, Kaplan explained, was to “explore more fully Williams’s later understanding, which goes beyond economics alone, of Empire as a Way of Life—not only for the ‘foreign subjects’ of U.S. domination, but for the U.S. citizens who benefit from it, who are subjugated to it, and who resist it.”78 With essays taking into account the dynamics of race, gender, ethnicity, and nationhood in U.S. imperial practices, the study marked a major turning point in scholarship on American empire.

  • 79 Thomas E. Ricks, “Empire or Not? A Quiet Debate Over U.S. Role,” Washington Post, August 21, 2001 (...)
  • 80 Patrick E. Tyler, “In Washington, a Struggle to Define the Next Fight,” New York Times, December (...)
  • 81 Ron Suskind, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” New York Times Magazine, Oc (...)
  • 82 Richard N. Haass, “Imperial America,” Brookings Institution, November 11, 2000, https://web.archi (...)
  • 83 Max Boot, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (New York: Basic Bo (...)
  • 84 Max Boot, “The Case for American Empire,” Weekly Standard, October 15, 2001, https://web.archive. (...)
  • 85 Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Metropolitan (...)
  • 86 “TomDispatch,” n.d., https://tomdispatch.com/; Tom Engelhardt, ed., The World According to TomDis (...)
  • 87 “The American Empire Project,” n.d., https://americanempireproject.com/.
  • 88 “Kill the Empire! (Or Not),” New York Times, July 25, 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/bo (...)
  • 89 William Appleman Williams, “Rise of an American World Power Complex,” in Struggle Against History (...)
  • 90 James Rubin, “Base Motives,” Guardian, May 8, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/may/08 (...)

23 One of the most striking junctures in the field’s development came during the early 2000s, when discussion of American empire briefly returned to the mainstream of American political discourse.79 As the administration of George W. Bush responded to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 by launching military interventions in the Middle East, discussion of American empire once again became commonplace in elite sectors of American society, just as it had been a century earlier.80 In Washington, some officials began openly talking about empire. “We’re an empire now,” a senior adviser to President Bush told The New York Times.81 In talks and articles, the U.S. foreign policy establishment made the case for American empire.82 Supporters echoed its logic in books83 and articles.84 As the public discourse shifted toward empire, scholars began producing new critical works on empire.85 The writer and editor Tom Engelhardt published critical views in his newsletter TomDispatch86 and his book series The American Empire Project.87 John Lewis Gaddis, a historian who received a National Humanities Medal from President Bush, said in an interview with The New York Times that the United States had always been an empire. “Empire is as American as apple pie,” he remarked,88 using the very same language that Williams had used decades earlier.89 The growing body of work caught the attention of former State Department official James Rubin, who noted that President Bush “appears to have spawned a brand new field of academic inquiry, what might be called American Empire studies.”90

  • 91 McMahon, “The Republic as Empire”; Ninkovich, “The United States and Imperialism”; MacDonald, “Th (...)
  • 92 MacDonald, “Those Who Forget Historiography.”
  • 93 Kramer, “Power and Connection.”

24 As discussion of American empire returned to the mainstream of American political discourse, some scholars began taking a closer look at the historiography. Their work, which documented the long history of academic work on American empire, disproved Rubin’s impression that American empire studies was a new field of study.91 “Those Who Forget Historiography Are Doomed to Republish It” (2009), Paul MacDonald warned in the title of his review.92 In a landmark essay titled “Power and Connection” (2011), Paul Kramer provided a sweeping overview of the literature, confirming the long and sustained engagement of scholars with American empire and imperialism. Kramer outlined an imperial historiography that dated back to the late nineteenth century. Scholars have long employed “the imperial” as a tool of analysis, he found. His research uncovered what he called “two broad clusters” in the literature, with those being the scholarship of the Wisconsin School and the work of American studies scholars. Perhaps more than any other work, Kramer’s review confirmed the long history of scholarship on American empire. “The imperial has long been a useful concept in work that attempts to situate the United States in global history, and it continues to be so, as demonstrated by a wealth of emerging scholarship,” Kramer noted.93

  • 94 Johnson, Blowback; Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire; Johnson, Nemesis; Chalmers Johnson, Dismantlin (...)
  • 95 Johnson, Nemesis.
  • 96 Catherine Lutz, ed., The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts (Washin (...)
  • 97 David Vine, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (New York: Met (...)
  • 98 Immerwahr, “The Greater United States”; Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire.

25 Within the emerging scholarship, scholars developed another way of conceptualizing the American empire. Focusing on the global network of U.S. military bases that circled the world, scholars of American empire began defining the United States as an empire of military bases. Chalmers Johnson popularized the notion in several works, including Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), Nemesis (2006) and Dismantling the Empire (2010).94 “The huge array of bases in Germany and Japan and their semipermanent quality are the forms of empire preferred by U.S. government planners,” Johnson asserted.95 Building on Johnson’s work, Catherine Lutz edited a collection of essays titled The Bases of Empire (2009), which featured case studies of U.S. overseas basing and resistance to it.96 In comparable work titled Base Nation (2015), David Vine estimated that the United States stationed hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers at eight hundred U.S. military bases in more than seventy countries around the world. The United States, he noted, has likely maintained “more bases in other people’s lands than any people, nation, or empire in world history.”97 Reviving the idea of a Greater United States, Daniel Immerwahr characterized U.S. military bases as essential components of the formal American empire. Both U.S. colonies and overseas military outposts, he argued, formed the basis of U.S. global power. They made the United States into what he called a “pointillist empire.”98

  • 99 Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, ed. Peter R. Mitchell and John Scho (...)
  • 100 Noam Chomsky, For Reasons of State (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973); Noam Chomsky, Deterring Demo (...)
  • 101 Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs (Cambridge: South End Press, 2000) (...)
  • 102 Noam Chomsky, Turning the Tide: U. S. Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace (...)
  • 103 Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, vol. 1, The (...)
  • 104 Chomsky and Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism; Chomsky and Herman, After (...)
  • 105 Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: Pantheon Books, 1969); Noam Chomsky (...)
  • 106 Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival; Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk, Nuclear War and Environmental Catastr (...)
  • 107 Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and (...)

26 Even with these latest innovations, however, the clearest sign of the field’s existence is the work of Noam Chomsky. Despite the fact that most professional scholars have ignored Chomsky’s scholarship on American empire, no scholar has contributed more to American empire studies than Chomsky, whose scholarship has repeatedly advanced the field.99 One of Chomsky’s main insights concerns the purpose of the American empire. His work shows that the empire functions to empower a privileged elite while deterring democracy at home and abroad. Elites oppose democracy, Chomsky warns, despite their many statements to the contrary.100 Another one of Chomsky’s insights is that the United States does not tolerate any challenges to its dominance. It wages wars of aggression, in violation of international law, typically by targeting much weaker states.101 The United States has repeatedly destroyed popular movements that have pursued alternative ways of life.102 The American empire is so powerful, Chomsky shows, that it has created a network of client states to enforce its global imperial system.103 Another key point in Chomsky’s work is that the empire seeks expansion over security. It employs state terror to achieve its expansionary objectives.104 The domestic population, Chomsky argues, is treated as an obstacle that must be marginalized and indoctrinated, often through propaganda. Both academics and the mass media play a role in creating illusions that mislead the public.105 More recently, Chomsky has warned that the empire is leading humanity toward destruction by increasing the risk of two existential threats to the planet: nuclear war and global warming. The United States, he contends, can continue seeking empire or start taking action to save the planet.106 His work gives special urgency to the task of dismantling the empire. Although Chomsky has been blunt about the challenges, he has often provided hope by emphasizing the possibilities for change. It takes no special knowledge, he insists, to understand what is happening in the world. By participating in social movements, Chomsky says, people can work together to dismantle the empire and create a better world.107

3. The Critical Diplomatic History Method

27 Fortunately, there is a pathway forward. Even as scholars of American empire face significant challenges to working with the WikiLeaks documents, especially due to the lack of institutions in the field of American empire studies, existing strands of the field provide helpful guidance. The field features strong scaffolding from scholarship that has already received widespread attention, with the work of the Wisconsin School being a key starting point. The scholars of the Wisconsin School conducted much of their research with materials that are comparable to the WikiLeaks documents, such as government records and diplomatic correspondence. Other scholars, including Nearing, Beard, and Chomsky, have produced critical works that provide additional guidance. These scholars developed methods for critically assessing recent events in world affairs to inform the public about U.S. imperial practices and reveal structures of oppression that should be dismantled. To apply their methods to the WikiLeaks documents, all that is required is recalling their work and identifying its principles. Their work forms the basis for the critical diplomatic history method.

  • 108 William Appleman Williams, “Confessions of an Intransigent Revisionist,” Socialist Revolution 3, (...)

28 The scholars of the Wisconsin School developed tools that are essential to critical diplomatic history. Their basic approach was to use U.S. government records to show how U.S. elites worked to open markets for U.S. businesses. Typically, they based their research on the personal papers of U.S. elites and the archival records of the U.S. government. Their sources included the Congressional Record and the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. For additional insights, they reviewed newspapers and business periodicals. Critics have said the Wisconsin School overlooked important additional sources, such as the archives of foreign governments and the records of nongovernmental organizations, but the Wisconsin School scholars insisted that the best way of understanding U.S. foreign policy was to focus on the views of the U.S. elites who designed and implemented policy. For Williams, it was critically important “to concentrate on why individuals or groups want power, what happens when they get it and use it for their purposes, and how they respond to changes in order to keep power.”108

  • 109 Nearing and Freeman, Dollar Diplomacy.

29 An essential work in critical diplomatic history is Nearing and Freeman’s Dollar Diplomacy (1925). In their study, Nearing and Freeman developed several key practices for the critical analysis of U.S. empire and imperialism. The first thing to note about their study is that it consists of case studies in the imperial development of the United States. Unable to write a complete history of U.S. imperialism due to the inaccessibility of many government records, Nearing and Freeman selected cases for which they could acquire sufficient source material. For each of their topics, they accumulated a large amount of primary sources. Not only did they compile extensive economic data, presenting it in maps and tables, but they also acquired access to high-level documents from both U.S. industry and the U.S. government. Their book includes an appendix of several key documents. In their analysis, Nearing and Freeman focused on elite perspectives. They critically assessed how U.S. officials used different imperial tactics to expand U.S. influence in multiple countries and regions. Finally, it should be noted that Nearing and Freeman conducted their study with the intention of revealing the extent to which the United States had implemented an imperial foreign policy. They showed how both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party had practiced “a technique of imperialism.”109

  • 110 Charles A. Beard, American Foreign Policy in the Making, 1932-1940: A Study in Responsibilities ( (...)

30 Alongside Nearing and Freeman’s study on U.S. imperialism, Charles Beard’s work on U.S. foreign policy provides important insights into how to conduct critical diplomatic history. At the time of World War II, Beard produced a two-volume series on the foreign policy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration that is exceptional for its method of analysis. His two books in the series, American Foreign Policy in the Making, 1932-1940 (1946) and President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, 1941 (1948), reviewed publicly available sources to reveal how the Roosevelt administration secretly prepared the United States for entry into World War II. Pulling information from speeches, news reports, and congressional hearings, Beard uncovered records of high-level discussions over how to maneuver Japan into firing the first shot against the United States. His work is consistent with other works of critical diplomatic history with its focus on the views and actions of U.S. officials. Beard considered the perspectives of high-level officials to be essential to understanding the making of U.S. foreign policy. Notably, Beard wrote his study to warn the public about the growing power of the executive branch. He feared that the presidency was exerting so much control over the country’s foreign policy that the people of the United States could no longer play a meaningful role in the decision-making process. Beard concluded his series with a warning that the American presidency was putting the republic at risk, just as Julius Caesar had done for Rome.110

  • 111 Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, eds., Critical Essays Edited by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and an (...)
  • 112 Noam Chomsky, “The Backroom Boys,” in For Reasons of State (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973), 3-17 (...)

31 While these works remain foundational to critical diplomatic history, scholars will find no better starting point than the work Noam Chomsky. Driven by a moral imperative of dismantling illegitimate forms of authority, Chomsky’s scholarship on U.S. foreign policy provides the best model for how to conduct critical diplomatic history. Chomsky’s typical approach is to synthesize the findings of critical scholarship with news reports and documents in the public domain for the purpose of exposing the violent structures and practices of U.S. imperialism. A notable example is “The Backroom Boys” (1973), his critical analysis of the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret study of the War in Vietnam that was leaked to the press in 1971 and published with his help.111 In his essay, Chomsky critically evaluated the Pentagon Papers to present multiple findings about the U.S. role in the war. He detailed how the United States had waged a war of aggression against Vietnam. His analysis highlighted the economic and strategic factors that guided U.S. policy during the initial stages of the war. Chomsky revealed that U.S. officials feared that Vietnam would become a successful independent country and a model to others. His research showed that U.S. leaders were not concerned about the impact of the war on the Vietnamese people. Chomsky emphasized the extent to which the United States was destroying Vietnam and its environment. One of his main findings was that U.S. officials were willing to violate international law. “The Pentagon Papers provide documentary evidence of a conspiracy to use force in international affairs in violation of law,” he noted. Among his large body of work, Chomsky’s essay on the Pentagon Papers is exemplary for its critical analysis of elite American views and actions. It is path-breaking in its use of leaked material.112

32 With these few key works in mind, it is easy to identify a method of analysis for the WikiLeaks documents. The basic principles are clear and straightforward. The critical diplomatic history method begins with case studies for which there is sufficient source material for exposing the violent structures and operations of American empire. Scholars can use case studies to empower anti-war movements, just as Chomsky did with his critical examination of the Pentagon Papers. In some cases, the WikiLeaks documents provide a strong enough basis for research. Another key aspect of the method is its use of sources in the public domain. Scholars can critically examine public archives to challenge establishment narratives and create openings for social movements to dismantle structures of oppression, just as past practitioners of critical diplomatic history have done. A large amount of material is easily accessible in the public domain, including transcripts of speeches, interviews, and congressional hearings. An additional feature of the method is its potential to strengthen the tools that scholars are already using to critically assess American empire. With scholars of American empire continuing to uncover transimperial formations, scholars who employ the critical diplomatic history method can reveal additional aspects of these transimperial structures. They can use the WikiLeaks cables to identify interrelated components that should be dismantled. Finally, and perhaps most important, the method serves the important purpose of informing the public about U.S. imperial practices. While documents such as the WikiLeaks files are important to scholarly inquiries, it is crucial that scholars use them in ways that empower social movements, create possibilities for dismantling the empire, and establish pathways to a better future. In all these ways, then, scholars can pull on past works of critical scholarship to revive a longstanding form of critical analysis that is readily available for examining the WikiLeaks files. As several works of critical scholarship demonstrate, the critical diplomatic history method can be a powerful tool in movements for social justice.

4. Conclusion

  • 113 “HNN Hot Topics: Wikileaks,” History News Network, n.d., https://web.archive.org/web/201310231630 (...)
  • 114 Hansen, “Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed.”

33 When Chelsea Manning began sending secret documents to WikiLeaks in early 2010, she set in motion a series of events that provided scholars of American empire with a rare opportunity to review huge archives of secret government information from the very recent past. As initial reports in the news media confirmed, the WikiLeaks files chronicled the secret ways in which the U.S. military and U.S. diplomatic corps operated across much of the world. Although many scholars were quick to identify limitations to these documents, such as their pro-U.S. bias, their predilection for elite U.S. perspectives, and their focus on the daily activities of U.S. soldiers and diplomats,113 there is no denying that the documents provide numerous revelations about the secret actions of the United States in the world. The archive of diplomatic cables shows “how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective,” as Manning described it.114 Even if the documents feature flaws and limitations, they present scholars of American empire with a special opportunity to uncover much of what U.S. imperialists try to keep hidden. What Manning sent to WikiLeaks, in short, was a massive collection of uncensored documents that exposes the secret inner workings of the global American empire.

  • 115 Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.”
  • 116 “Bradley Manning: ‘Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society,’” Democracy (...)

34 Scholars of American empire are well positioned to work with the WikiLeaks documents. By using the critical diplomatic history method, scholars of American empire can work with the files to inform the public about the secret structures and operations of American empire. Past works by influential scholars provide models of critical scholarship. Beard, Chomsky, Nearing, and the Wisconsin School demonstrated that official records are crucial for revealing the secret workings of empire. New scholarship can build on their work to show what U.S. imperialists are still trying to keep hidden. “Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions,” Chomsky has explained. A privileged few have “the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us.”115 As long as scholars make use of these privileges, they can examine the WikiLeaks files to empower social movements that are resisting the empire and working to dismantle it. If scholars shirk their responsibilities, however, then U.S. elites will remain well positioned to continue with their ruling class task of building empire while remaining hidden behind what Manning called “the veil of national security and classified information.”116

35 Scholars of American empire who practice critical diplomatic history can make important contributions to the field of American empire studies. Although the field has not been formalized, it would be greatly enriched by new investigations into the WikiLeaks documents. Scholars can study the documents to reconsider their longstanding questions about the American empire. One key question concerns the nature of the empire. If scholars of American empire hope to advance their field, then they must provide a working definition of American empire. More generally, scholars can use the WikiLeaks cables to uncover what U.S. imperialists have planned for the empire and the world. News reports and my own scholarship indicate that there is still much to learn about events that concern but are not limited to: colonialism, class relations, client states, economic forces, geopolitical planning, state terror, imperial grand strategy, wars of aggression, the power of big business, the techniques of American imperialism, the openings of doors to new markets, the relationship between capitalism and imperialism, American hegemony in a capitalist world system, the global network of U.S. military bases, the relationship between culture and empire, the imperial tropes that rationalize empire, the persistence of patriarchy, the problem of the color line, the idea of empire being a way of life, the consequences of the empire for the world, the ways in which the multitudes resist, the possibilities for dismantling the empire, and the ongoing efforts to create a better world. Scholars of American empire have been examining these issues for over a century, and there is no doubt that today’s generation of scholars can gain new insights from the hundreds of thousands of documents that Manning sent to WikiLeaks.

  • 117 Charlie Savage and Elian Peltier, “Biden Justice Dept. Asks British Court to Approve Extradition (...)

36 Of course, major challenges remain. Scholars who work with the WikiLeaks documents will be wading into several controversies while opening themselves to criticisms. For starters, scholars will have to come to terms with the controversial nature of WikiLeaks. It is likely the case that scholars are feeling significant pressure to ignore the WikiLeaks documents. The administration of President Joseph Biden has moved forward with efforts to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, despite opposition from press freedom groups and major news organizations.117 At the same time, scholars may encounter arguments that they should have begun working with the WikiLeaks documents much sooner. After all, some journalists withstood government pressures to help make 2010 the year of WikiLeaks. Scholars of American empire can be fairly criticized for not making the 2010s the decade of WikiLeaks. A greater challenge will come from institutions. All critical scholars must grapple with institutional factors that largely determine who receives the time and resources to conduct research. When considering the question of why so many scholars of American empire have not incorporated the documents into their research, institutional factors are paramount. Scholars of American empire face the challenge of developing an institutionally supported method of working with leaked information that exposes the views and actions of U.S. imperialists. An informal field of American empire studies may provide a makeshift home for critical scholarship, but scholars of American empire will not receive the same kinds of institutional support as their peers in other fields.

37 As we are well on our way into a new decade, I believe that there remain significant opportunities for scholars of American empire to work with the WikiLeaks documents. This paper shows that an existing method is available for examining them. By identifying the critical diplomatic history method for the field of American empire studies, I have tried to clear a pathway for scholars of American empire to incorporate the documents into their research. Scholars who employ the critical diplomatic history method will be joining an ongoing effort to lift the veil of secrecy on the empire in the world. While it remains important for scholars to continue with their efforts to identify the ways in which the multitudes participate in transnational networks of resistance, more work must be done to understand how the empire continues to function in the face of this constant resistance. Rather than shifting the scholarship away from transimperial approaches, however, the critical diplomatic history method provides scholars with an additional tool in movements against empire. Works that employ the critical diplomatic history method will complement scholarship that seeks to identify structures of oppression with the goal of dismantling them. It is my hope that the critical diplomatic history method in the field of American empire studies will reveal hidden ways in which the empire operates, thereby creating new possibilities for inhibiting imperial violence, dismantling the empire, and building a better world.

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Notes

1 Chelsea Manning, “Bradley Manning’s Personal Statement to Court Martial: Full Text,” Guardian, March 1, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/01/bradley-manning-wikileaks-statement-full-text; Matthew Shaer, “The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning,” New York Times Magazine, June 12, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/magazine/the-long-lonely-road-of-chelsea-manning.html; Chelsea Manning, Readme.Txt: A Memoir (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022).

2 Manning, “Bradley Manning’s Personal Statement.”

3 Evan Hansen, “Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed,” Wired, July 13, 2011, http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/07/manning-lamo-logs/.

4 Elisabeth Bumiller, “Video Shows U.S. Killing of Reuters Employees,” New York Times, April 6, 2010, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/middleeast/06baghdad.html.

5 “The War Logs,” New York Times, n.d., https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/war-logs.html.

6 Nick Davies and David Leigh, “Afghanistan War Logs: Massive Leak of Secret Files Exposes Truth of Occupation,” Guardian, July 25, 2010, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jul/25/afghanistan-war-logs-military-leaks; David Leigh, “Iraq War Logs Reveal 15,000 Previously Unlisted Civilian Deaths,” Guardian, October 22, 2010, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/22/true-civilian-body-count-iraq; Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew W. Lehren, “A Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths in Iraq,” New York Times, October 23, 2010, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/23/world/middleeast/23casualties.html.

7 “State’s Secrets,” New York Times, n.d., https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/statessecrets.html.

8 “WikiLeaks Embassy Cables: The Key Points at a Glance,” Guardian, November 29, 2010, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-embassy-cables-key-points.

9 “The Guantánamo Files,” New York Times, n.d., https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/guantanamo-files/index.html.

10 Glenn Greenwald, “What WikiLeaks Revealed to the World in 2010,” Salon, December 24, 2010, https://www.salon.com/2010/12/24/wikileaks_23/.

11 Yochai Benkler, “A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate,” Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review 46, no. 2 (2011): 311-97; Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, and Patrick McCurdy, eds., Beyond WikiLeaks: Implications for the Future of Communications, Journalism and Society (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

12 Gabriel J. Michael, “Who’s Afraid of WikiLeaks? Missed Opportunities in Political Science Research: Who’s Afraid of WikiLeaks?,” Review of Policy Research 32, no. 2 (2015): 175-99, https://doi.org/10.1111/ropr.12120; John O’Loughlin, “The Perils of Self-Censorship in Academic Research in a WikiLeaks World,” Journal of Global Security Studies 1, no. 4 (2016): 337-45, https://doi.org/10.1093/jogss/ogw011; Philip Garnett and Sarah M. Hughes, “Obfuscated Democracy? Chelsea Manning and the Politics of Knowledge Curation,” Political Geography 68 (2019): 23-33, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2018.11.001.

13 Paul A. Kramer, “Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World,” The American Historical Review 116, no. 5 (2011): 1348-91, https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr.116.5.1348.

14 The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire (London: Verso, 2015); Timothy M. Gill, “An Aperture into US Global Empire: Methodological Pursuits after the Cablegate Release,” Journal of Globalization Studies 8, no. 2 (2018): 14–26; Edward Hunt, “The WikiLeaks Cables: How the United States Exploits the World, in Detail, from an Internal Perspective, 2001-2010,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 30, no. 1 (2019): 70-98, https://doi.org/10.1080/09592296.2019.1557416; David H. Price, “How Others See Us: Anthropologists, WikiLeaks, and the Vertical Slice,” Public Anthropologist 3, no. 2 (2021): 253-76, https://doi.org/10.1163/25891715-bja10027.

15 Timothy Garton Ash, “US Embassy Cables: A Banquet of Secrets,” Guardian, November 28, 2010, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/nov/28/wikileaks-diplomacy-us-media-war.

16 William B. McAllister et al., Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2015), https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus-history.

17 The WikiLeaks Files.

18 Eric Lipton, “Don’t Look, Don’t Read: Government Warns Its Workers Away From WikiLeaks Documents,” New York Times, December 5, 2010, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/world/05restrict.html; Emanuella Grinberg, “Will Reading WikiLeaks Cost Students Jobs with the Federal Government?,” CNN, December 8, 2010, https://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/12/08/wikileaks.students/index.html.

19 Erez Manela, “The United States in the World,” in American History Now, ed. Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011), 201-20.

20 Kristin L. Hoganson and Jay Sexton, eds., Crossing Empires: Taking U.S. History into Transimperial Terrain (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020).

21 Patricia Nelson Limerick, “The Startling Ability of Culture to Bring Critical Inquiry to a Halt,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 24, 1997; Marilyn B. Young, “The Age of Global Power,” in Rethinking American History in a Global Age, ed. Thomas Bender (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 274-94.

22 Hunt, “The WikiLeaks Cables.”

23 Noam Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” New York Review of Books, February 23, 1967.

24 Kramer, “Power and Connection.”

25 Edward P. Crapol, “Coming to Terms with Empire: The Historiography of Late-Nineteenth-Century American Foreign Relations,” Diplomatic History 16, no. 4 (1992): 573-98, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7709.1992.tb00632.x.

26 Robert J. McMahon, “The Republic as Empire: American Foreign Policy in the ‘American Century,’” in Perspectives on Modern America: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century, ed. Harvard Sitkoff (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 80–100; Frank Ninkovich, “The United States and Imperialism,” in A Companion to American Foreign Relations, ed. Robert D. Schulzinger (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 79-102; Ian Tyrrell, “Empire in American History,” in Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State, ed. Alfred W. McCoy and Francisco A. Scarano (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2009), 541-56; Kramer, “Power and Connection”; James G. Morgan, Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2014).

27 Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease, eds., Cultures of United States Imperialism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993); Brian T. Edwards and Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, eds., Globalizing American Studies (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010); Winfried Fluck, Donald E. Pease, and John Carlos Rowe, eds., Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies (Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 2011).

28 Alfred W. McCoy, Francisco A. Scarano, and Courtney Johnson, “On the Tropic of Cancer: Transitions and Transformations in the U.S. Imperial State,” in Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State, ed. Alfred W. McCoy and Francisco A. Scarano (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2009), 3-33.

29 Catherine Lutz, “Empire Is in the Details,” American Ethnologist 33, no. 4 (2006): 593-611, https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.2006.33.4.593; Carole McGranahan and John F. Collins, eds., Ethnographies of U.S. Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018).

30 Julian Go, “The ‘New’ Sociology of Empire and Colonialism: The ‘New’ Sociology of Empire and Colonialism,” Sociology Compass 3, no. 5 (2009): 775-88, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00232.x; Julian Go, Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires, 1688 to the Present (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

31 Paul K. MacDonald, “Those Who Forget Historiography Are Doomed to Republish It: Empire, Imperialism and Contemporary Debates about American Power,” Review of International Studies 35, no. 1 (2009): 45-67, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210509008328.

32 Wesley Renfro and Dominic Alessio, “Empire?,” European Journal of American Studies 15, no. 2 (2020), https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.15946.

33 R. W. Van Alstyne, The Rising American Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960); Bradford Perkins, The Creation of a Republican Empire, 1776-1865, vol. 1, The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); William Earl Weeks, Dimensions of the Early American Empire, 1754-1865, vol. 1, The New Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

34 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, 1787, https://guides.loc.gov/federalist-papers/full-text.

35 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2014).

36 Carl F. Klinck, ed., Tecumseh: Fact and Fiction in Early Records (Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1961).

37 H. H., A Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government’s Dealings with Some of the Indian Tribes (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1881).

38 Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995).

39 Frederick J. Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1893 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894), 197-227.

40 Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, 4 vols., Presidential Edition (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900).

41 James C. Fernald, The Imperial Republic (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1898).

42 Charles Morris, The Greater Republic: A New History of the United States (New York: Western W. Wilson, 1899); Charles Morris, Our Island Empire: A Hand-Book of Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippine Islands (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1899).

43 Daniel Immerwahr, “The Greater United States: Territory and Empire in U.S. History,” Diplomatic History 40, no. 3 (2016): 373-91, https://doi.org/10.1093/dh/dhw009; Daniel Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019).

44 Brooks Adams, The New Empire (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1902).

45 W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, “The Present Outlook for the Dark Races of Mankind,” A. M. E. Church Review 17, no. 2 (1900): 95-110.

46 W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, “The Souls of White Folk,” in Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920), 29-52.

47 Scott Nearing, The American Empire (New York: The Rand School of Social Science, 1921).

48 Scott Nearing, The Making of a Radical: A Political Autobiography (New York: Harper & Row, 1972); Stephen J. Whitfield, Scott Nearing: Apostle of American Radicalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974); John A. Saltmarsh, Scott Nearing: An Intellectual Biography (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991).

49 Scott Nearing and Joseph Freeman, Dollar Diplomacy: A Study in American Imperialism (New York: B. W. Huebsch and the Viking Press, 1925).

50 Scott Nearing, The Twilight of Empire: An Economic Interpretation of Imperialist Cycles (New York: The Vanguard Press, 1930).

51 Scott Nearing, The Tragedy of Empire (New York: Island Press, 1945).

52 Whitfield, Scott Nearing.

53 Nearing, The Making of a Radical.

54 Ellen Churchill Semple, American History and Its Geographic Conditions (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1903).

55 H. J. Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4 (1904): 421-37; H. J. Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction (London: Constable and Company Ltd., 1919); H. J. Mackinder, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace,” Foreign Affairs 21, no. 4 (1943): 595-605, https://doi.org/10.2307/20029780.

56 Nicholas John Spykman, The Geography of the Peace, ed. Helen R. Nicholl (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944).

57 Robert Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015).

58 Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948).

59 John Bellamy Foster, “The New Geopolitics of Empire,” Monthly Review 57, no. 8 (2006): 1-18, https://doi.org/10.14452/MR-057-08-2006-01_1; Alfred W. McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017); Alfred W. McCoy, To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2021).

60 Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”; Charles A. Beard, The Idea of National Interest: An Analytical Study in American Foreign Policy (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1934); Charles A. Beard, The Open Door at Home: A Trial Philosophy of National Interest (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1934).

61 Morgan, Into New Territory.

62 William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1959).

63 William Appleman Williams, The Contours of American History (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1961).

64 William Appleman Williams, The Roots of the Modern American Empire: A Study of the Growth and Shaping of Social Consciousness in a Marketplace Society (New York: Random House, 1969).

65 William Appleman Williams, Empire as a Way of Life: An Essay on the Causes and Character of America’s Present Predicament Along With a Few Thoughts About an Alternative (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980).

66 Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860-1898 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1963).

67 Lloyd C. Gardner, Economic Aspects of New Deal Diplomacy (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1964).

68 Thomas J. McCormick, China Market: America’s Quest for Informal Empire, 1893-1901 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967).

69 Lloyd C. Gardner, Walter F. LaFeber, and Thomas J. McCormick, Creation of the American Empire: U.S. Diplomatic History (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1973).

70 Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945 (New York: Random House, 1968); Gabriel Kolko, The Roots of American Foreign Policy: An Analysis of Power and Purpose (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969); Joyce Kolko and Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1954 (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).

71 Kolko, The Politics of War.

72 Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 16, no. 4 (1974): 387-415, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417500007520; Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004).

73 William S. Borden, The Pacific Alliance: United States Foreign Economic Policy and Japanese Trade Recovery, 1947-1955 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1984); Bruce Cumings, “Trilateralism and the New World Order,” World Policy Journal 8, no. 2 (1991): 195-222; Bruce Cumings, “The Wicked Witch of the West Is Dead. Long Live the Wicked Witch of the East,” in The End of the Cold War: Its Meanings and Implications, ed. Michael Hogan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 87-101; Bruce Cumings, “‘Revising Postrevisionism,’ or, The Poverty of Theory in Diplomatic History,” Diplomatic History 17, no. 4 (1993): 539-70, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7709.1993.tb00599.x.

74 “Responses to Charles S. Maier, ‘Marking Time: The Historiography of International Relations,’” Diplomatic History 5, no. 4 (1981): 353-82, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7709.1981.tb00788.x.

75 Thomas McCormick, “‘Every System Needs a Center Sometimes’: An Essay on Hegemony and Modern American Foreign Policy,” in Redefining the Past: Essays in Diplomatic History in Honor of William Appleman Williams, ed. Lloyd C. Gardner (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1986), 195-220; Thomas J. McCormick, “World Systems,” The Journal of American History 77, no. 1 (1990): 125-32, https://doi.org/10.2307/2078644.

76 Thomas J. McCormick, America’s Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).

77 Kaplan and Pease, Cultures of United States Imperialism.

78 Amy Kaplan, “‘Left Alone with America’: The Absence of Empire in the Study of American Culture,” in Cultures of United States Imperialism, ed. Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease, New Americanists (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 3-21.

79 Thomas E. Ricks, “Empire or Not? A Quiet Debate Over U.S. Role,” Washington Post, August 21, 2001, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/08/21/empire-or-not-a-quiet-debate-over-us-role/d57204a6-d3b9-4330-b1ce-44e8bdd5b410/.

80 Patrick E. Tyler, “In Washington, a Struggle to Define the Next Fight,” New York Times, December 2, 2001, https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/02/weekinreview/the-world-in-washington-a-struggle-to-define-the-next-fight.html; Kevin Baker, “American Imperialism, Embraced,” New York Times Magazine, December 9, 2001, https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/magazine/the-year-in-ideas-a-to-z-american-imperialism-embraced.html; Emily Eakin, “All Roads Lead To D.C.,” New York Times, March 31, 2002, https://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/31/weekinreview/ideas-trends-all-roads-lead-to-dc.html; Dan Morgan, “A Debate Over U.S. ‘Empire’ Builds in Unexpected Circles,” Washington Post, August 10, 2003, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2003/08/10/a-debate-over-us-empire-builds-in-unexpected-circles/44a9d970-99ef-4a11-bf57-8bc9d68a834d/.

81 Ron Suskind, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/faith-certainty-and-the-presidency-of-george-w-bush.html.

82 Richard N. Haass, “Imperial America,” Brookings Institution, November 11, 2000, https://web.archive.org/web/20011120024500/http://www.brookings.edu/views/articles/haass/2000imperial.htm; Thomas Donnelly, “The Past as Prologue: An Imperial Manual,” Foreign Affairs 81, no. 4 (2002): 165-70, https://doi.org/10.2307/20033249; Dimitri K. Simes, “America’s Imperial Dilemma,” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 6 (2003): 91–102, https://doi.org/10.2307/20033759.

83 Max Boot, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 2002); Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004); Robert D. Kaplan, Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground (New York: Random House, 2005).

84 Max Boot, “The Case for American Empire,” Weekly Standard, October 15, 2001, https://web.archive.org/web/20011008200005/http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/000/318qpvmc.asp; Michael Ignatieff, “The American Empire,” New York Times Magazine, January 5, 2003, https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/05/magazine/the-american-empire-the-burden.html; Niall Ferguson, “The Empire Slinks Back,” New York Times Magazine, April 27, 2003, https://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/27/magazine/the-empire-slinks-back.html; Robert D. Kaplan, “Supremacy by Stealth,” Atlantic, August 2003, https://web.archive.org/web/20031223110755/http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/07/kaplan.htm.

85 Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2000); Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002); Andrew J. Bacevich, ed., The Imperial Tense: Prospects and Problems of American Empire (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003); Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003); David Harvey, The New Imperialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, eds., The New Imperial Challenge, vol. 40, Socialist Register (London: Merlin Press, 2003); Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, eds., The Empire Reloaded, vol. 41, Socialist Register (London: Merlin Press, 2004); John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney, eds., Pox Americana: Exposing the American Empire (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004); Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004); Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire (Cambridge: South End Press, 2004); Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005); Lloyd C. Gardner and Marilyn B. Young, eds., The New American Empire: A 21st Century Teach-in on U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: The New Press, 2005); Phyllis Bennis, Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power (Northampton: Olive Branch Press, 2006); John Bellamy Foster, Naked Imperialism: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2006); Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006).

86 “TomDispatch,” n.d., https://tomdispatch.com/; Tom Engelhardt, ed., The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (London: Verso, 2008).

87 “The American Empire Project,” n.d., https://americanempireproject.com/.

88 “Kill the Empire! (Or Not),” New York Times, July 25, 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/books/kill-the-empire-or-not.html.

89 William Appleman Williams, “Rise of an American World Power Complex,” in Struggle Against History: U.S. Foreign Policy in an Age of Revolution, ed. Neal D. Houghton (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968), 1-19.

90 James Rubin, “Base Motives,” Guardian, May 8, 2004, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/may/08/highereducation.usa.

91 McMahon, “The Republic as Empire”; Ninkovich, “The United States and Imperialism”; MacDonald, “Those Who Forget Historiography”; Tyrrell, “Empire in American History”; Kramer, “Power and Connection”; Morgan, Into New Territory.

92 MacDonald, “Those Who Forget Historiography.”

93 Kramer, “Power and Connection.”

94 Johnson, Blowback; Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire; Johnson, Nemesis; Chalmers Johnson, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010).

95 Johnson, Nemesis.

96 Catherine Lutz, ed., The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts (Washington Square: New York University Press, 2009).

97 David Vine, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2015).

98 Immerwahr, “The Greater United States”; Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire.

99 Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, ed. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel (New York: New Press, 2002); Noam Chomsky, The Essential Chomsky, ed. Anthony Arnove (New York: New Press, 2008).

100 Noam Chomsky, For Reasons of State (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973); Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (New York: Verso, 1991); Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues (Boston: South End Press, 1993); Noam Chomsky, World Orders, Old and New (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994); Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999).

101 Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs (Cambridge: South End Press, 2000); Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival; Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006).

102 Noam Chomsky, Turning the Tide: U. S. Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace (Boston: South End Press, 1985).

103 Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, vol. 1, The Political Economy of Human Rights (Boston: South End Press, 1979); Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the Reconstruction of Imperial Ideology, vol. 2, The Political Economy of Human Rights (Boston: South End Press, 1979).

104 Chomsky and Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism; Chomsky and Herman, After the Cataclysm; Noam Chomsky, Pirates & Emperors: International Terrorism in the Real World (New York: Claremont Research & Publications, 1986); Noam Chomsky, The Culture of Terrorism (Boston: South End Press, 1988); Noam Chomsky, 9-11 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002).

105 Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: Pantheon Books, 1969); Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1989); Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988).

106 Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival; Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk, Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2013).

107 Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013).

108 William Appleman Williams, “Confessions of an Intransigent Revisionist,” Socialist Revolution 3, no. 5 (1973): 87-98.

109 Nearing and Freeman, Dollar Diplomacy.

110 Charles A. Beard, American Foreign Policy in the Making, 1932-1940: A Study in Responsibilities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1946); Charles A. Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, 1941: A Study in Appearances and Realities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948).

111 Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, eds., Critical Essays Edited by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and an Index to Volumes One-Four, vol. 5, The Pentagon Papers: The Senator Gravel Edition (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972).

112 Noam Chomsky, “The Backroom Boys,” in For Reasons of State (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973), 3-171.

113 “HNN Hot Topics: Wikileaks,” History News Network, n.d., https://web.archive.org/web/20131023163044/www.hnn.us/article/132855.

114 Hansen, “Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed.”

115 Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.”

116 “Bradley Manning: ‘Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society,’” Democracy Now!, August 22, 2013, https://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/22/bradley_manning_sometimes_you_have_to.

117 Charlie Savage and Elian Peltier, “Biden Justice Dept. Asks British Court to Approve Extradition of Julian Assange,” New York Times, February 12, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/12/us/politics/julian-assange-extradition.html; Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor, and Michael Isikoff, “Kidnapping, Assassination and a London Shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s Secret War Plans against WikiLeaks,” Yahoo News, September 26, 2021, https://news.yahoo.com/kidnapping-assassination-and-a-london-shoot-out-inside-the-ci-as-secret-war-plans-against-wiki-leaks-090057786.html; Salvador Rizzo, “New York Times, Other Media Call for Assange Charges to Be Dropped,” Washington Post, November 28, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/11/28/new-york-times-assange-prosecution/.

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References

Electronic reference

Edward Hunt, Whither WikiLeaks? The Case for the Critical Diplomatic History Method in American Empire StudiesEuropean journal of American studies [Online], 19-2 | 2024, Online since 07 June 2024, connection on 23 July 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ejas/21825

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About the author

Edward Hunt

Edward Hunt is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Regis College. He has taught at Babson College, Stonehill College, Worcester State University, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, and the College of William & Mary. He received his PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary. He writes about war and empire for independent news media.

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