L'Amérique est-elle un empire ?

Il y a trente ans, la gauche radicale utilisait le terme d'« empire américain » à la manière d'une épithète. Aujourd'hui, ce même terme est sorti du placard : les analystes de gauche comme de droite l'utilisent maintenant pour expliquer, si ce n'est guider, la politique étrangère américaine.

La métaphore de l'empire est séduisante à plus d'un titre. L'armée américaine a une portée mondiale, possède des bases à travers tout le globe, et des commandements régionaux qui agissent parfois comme des proconsuls. L'anglais est devenu la langue des échanges comme le fut le latin par le passé. L'économie américaine est la première économie mondiale et la culture américaine agit comme un aimant. Pourtant, il est faux de confondre la primauté avec l'empire.

Les États-Unis ne forment certainement pas un empire à la manière habituelle par laquelle nous pensons les empires européens des 19ème et 20ème siècles, car la caractéristique essentielle de cet impérialisme était le pouvoir politique. Bien qu'il existe des relations inégales entre les États-Unis et certains pays moins puissants qui peuvent conduire à une certaine exploitation, le terme d'« impérialisme » n'est pas seulement inexact mais aussi trompeur en l'absence de contrôle politique formel.

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