October 15 Lecture
global system of power < change over time, USA began as independent state, minor player in IS,
insignificant colony of Britain, that rose to major power at end 19 century, end of ww2 one of
two major powers, collapse of SU left USA in the position as a global hegemon. Some argue US
remain unrivaled, for the future. Looking at military, centrality of US economy in IS, comparing
that to rivals. Rise of China- likelihood of challenging dominance.. numerous observers argue
that they won’t rival, due to domestic problems, internal problems (lack of development in
western regions), military (tiny compared to USA). not in a position to project power globally.
Others argue: USA far more vulnerable, large military, but poorly designed for challenges. Okay
to challenge China or Russia, but challenges like Afghanistan, Iraq- best questionable victories.
Afghanistan- unlikely it will achieve all of its goals, allied itself with the government which most
afghans don’t think is legitimate. Insurgency, pulled out the counter-insurgency, though studies
suggest counter-insurgency can succeed, but you need a legitimate government as a partner. This
is missing in Vietnam, like in Afghanistan – corrupt government, affecting the popularity of the
Taliban, and the ability to control its allies. Equips with lots of technology, but these weapons
are irrelevant in the conflicts they face. The USA is facing economic problem, hard to maintain
Some argue the rise of USA is positive, tradition of hegemonic stability: in order for wars to be
avoided, it helps to have a single power that is dominant, militarily and economically. The long
period of relative peace, which prevailed through the 19 century, was by British Empire. British
hegemony never reached the American hegemony, but was sufficient to damping conflicts. The
decline of British in 20 century, of rising Japan, Germany, USA challengers, resulted in
ww1/ww2. Absence of British hegemony, after ww1 USA turned to isolation instead of trying to
take Britain’s place left room for war again.
Context of US history, Rise of USA in global system as key player < need to understand these
things. Need to recognize USA emerged as a key player due to colonial expansion of western
period in the period of the discovery of America’s in 1492, many argue this is the beginning of
colonialism. First contact with western hemisphere, changed the world a) agricultural revolution
in Western Europe, transformed food culture. Nature of colonialism > Emmanuel Wallenstein,
founder of world system theory: key step in bringing the world into world system. Prior it was
separate, interacted indirectly, influencing indirectly. Did not conform to what systems are
referred to (something where everything connects and is changed/influenced by each other). This
time was indirect influence, no effect of Chinas economy changing on Europe. This changed
after colonialism. Colonialism was a search for regions weak enough to dominate and rich
enough to exploit. Search of these resources led to shorten supply lines to the western root
(brought Columbus to Americas). Spain and Portugal was important to finding Far East, wasn’t
easy for Europeans to dominate. Africa- rich enough to exploit, developing slave trade, but faced th
obstacles. Health: most Europeans couldn’t resist the diseases, kept them out till 19 century.
When Columbus discovered it, hit jackpot. Found regions with wealth- gold, and weak enough to
be conquered. Advantage they had was the European’s were dirtier, how they lived. Disease
resistance due to this, large cities, cities would have disappeared if they didn’t have population
changing from rural to cities, city was run with horses, bad sewage systems, Europeans slowly
developed disease resistance. Some early reports, contrast from other reports, large cities, in
south/north America. Reason myth prevailed, 80-90% were dead, due to disease that were
introduced by Europeans (small pox, measles). Collapse of civilizations, Central America, Peru
etc. resulted in power struggles, who were easy for Europeans to arm one side against the other.
First reasons for colonization: quest for gold and silver, signs of wealth, western European
countries looted south/central America of these goods. In Western Europe, it didn’t benefit
Spain, Portugal, had too much gold, needed goods that were produced other places, the industrial
revolution that brought Textile Industry from Britain. (materials used for clothing, sales).
Portugal/ Spain had merchants looking for Textile, created a putting out system: make use of
individual peasants to produce textile on their own, but they didn’t have skills to do so. Had raw
materials than get the peasants to clean it, took it to another one to spin it, another house to put it
together. You couldn’t teach a peasant to make clothes, but you could teach them a technic for
one way to make it. an untrained peasant can do it, maybe a machine can.. started machinery to
industrial revolution. What this unleashed was the chain reaction of industrial relation- more
pressure to make more things, more supplies, replacements, led to search for new materials like
cotton, which led Britain to colonize. Had French look in Britain if they didn’t duplicate, they
would be outdone, so they started to copy. Each case, industrial revolution, this required raw
materials from around the world, their output much greater, needed foreign markets to sell these
US part of western colonial expansion, less directly under control of Spain and Portugal wasn’t
any supply of gold and silver, little interest in exploiting. This means Britain and France got
more control over NA.
James Town, Virginia > in search for gold, found fertile soil and wood, settlements in Virginia
became planation economies: producing goods in enormous demand in Western Europe –
tobacco, cotton, sugar. Local supplies of natives weren’t culturally inclined to accept domination.
Only idea was importation of African slaves.
Settlement in Massachusetts: couldn’t grow tobacco, sugar, in northern part of the state.
Attractive for groups to escape oppression in Western Europe (Henry getting divorced split
religious groups) number of splinter groups, undesirable tried to escape. Pureatin < group, tried
to make independent communities, not completely under British authority, Brits liked them
settling there, out of their hair. Traded with them, tea etc. Americans often view American Revolution as a clear break with colonialism, in one way it was
a) rejection of British authority of these territories. But it wasn’t, same groups that dominated the
economy/societies remained in place after the revolution was over. Was a rebellion (revolution
replaces one ruling elite with another). American Revolution was not a rejection of colonialism,
but a rejection of their position in that European expansion. Saw them as violation of their rights,
dominate players in revolution. The Americans had to figure out ways to make average person
to the revolution (not just property owners).
Political elites in America, not interested in democracy, but it was necessary to reach their goals
(being equal to British not under th