By Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
Commentators name the U.S. an empire: sometimes a benign empire, occasionally an empire in denial, usually a damaging empire. In American Umpire, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman explores key turning issues in historical past from George Washington to Barack Obama. She demanding situations the concept that the us is an empire, and asserts as a substitute that the USA has played the position of umpire on account that 1776, compelling adherence to ideas that gently earned huge approval, although it additionally violated those ideas once in a while. through the years, prosperity unfold, wars declined in ferocity, and human lifestyles expectancy doubled around the globe. yet defense got here at a value that was once no longer shared both by way of all. the us is the world's strongest country--and one among its richest--but extra uncovered to feedback and risks than ever. Umpiring is a weighty accountability. With all eyes upon them, umpires can't win.
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They became willing to grant at least some powers to an overarching government. Interventionism across state borders, in extremis, became acceptable. Each generation became more accustomed to the arrangement. By the end of the ﬁrst century, they even spoke of themselves diﬀerently: as the United States, not these United States. The American constitutional experiment was a fork in the road. In the far future, this path led to the United Nations and the European Union. ” They recognized the importance of an umpire, ﬁrst for themselves in their domestic arrangements, and then in their international relationships.
There in 1555, after more than a thousand years of Latin orthodoxy, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V granted the principle cuius regio, eius religio (“whose region, his religion”) to the Lutheran princes of Germany. Roughly translated, this meant the faith of the ruler would prevail within his territory. It was a stunning concession to political and religious freedom for European monarchs, after centuries of papal supervision. a mer ic a n u mpir e But the temptation to squelch heresy in a neighbor’s backyard proved too strong for some to resist.
The new world system in which the United States arose, and where it was initially an anomaly, began with the Reformation. This religious cataclysm fundamentally redeﬁned the relationship among the existing Euro- to compel acquiescence pean nations, making them absolutely autonomous from one another. It led them to reject any kind of outside supervision. To understand how this happened, and its signiﬁcance for the American story, we must step back at least brieﬂy into the dim and distant past.