A NOTE on The GREAT WAR
and the Century of American Empire

Morley Evans ©December 2004

v 1.0.3

The American Empire didn't begin yesterday, or last year:

Ignoring the Crimean War (for now), the only major war of the 19th century (taken as being the century from 1814 and the Congress of Vienna, which ended the Napoleonic Wars, to 1914 and the outbreak of the Great War) was the American civil war.* More Americans were killed in the Civil War (up to 700,000 without counting civilian casualties) than have been killed in all other American wars combined! It is said that Lincoln saved the Union. What he saved was the American Empire, which really got rolling when Wilson entered the Great War in 1917. The Great War (1914-1918) spelled the end of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian, Chinese, French and British Empires and marks the beginning of the Century of the American Empire — the 20th Century. The Great War created the prime rivals of the American Empire in the 20th century too, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Empire of Japan and the People’s Republic of China would follow them.

The “Peace” which was originally called an armistice, though it was really unconditional surrender, led directly to the Second World War, the Cold War, and to the imbroglio we see in the Middle East today, with the American Empire up to its neck in everything, everywhere. Far from being simple “honest brokers”, American imperialists were more than part of the problem! And far from being something new, the imperial impulse has animated American policy, both domestic and foreign, from the beginning, regardless of who controlled the government.

With the War of 1812, the American Empire was involved even in the Napoleonic Wars (1796 to 1814), which were world wars in themselves. As an ally of Napoleon against the British, the United States would find Napoleon agreeable to selling Louisiana when they made him an offer, launching the continental empire we see today: Spain would lose Florida. Mexicans would lose half of their country. Canadians would do fine, after Confederation in 1867. American Indian resistance would be crushed. Most Americans would go on to believe that empires were a thing of a bygone age, not suspecting Washington of running its own empire, with their money and their blood.

 

* The Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) was a serious blow to French pride, ending the rule of Napoleon III, and launching the German Empire, but it was not a bloodbath like the American civil war.