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I agree with Greg Grandin on W.A. Williams's view of the US. I also agree with Schlesinger in describing Williams as pro-communist. I need not comment on Williams's criticism of the USSR, as I am unaware of any.

John M Howison

Bogata, TX

Jul 7 2009 - 1:14pm

Web Letter

One of my favorite books is Imperialism, by J.A. Hobson, who was also a contributor to The Nation. I read him long before I read The Nation. It was, and I think, still is, the standard work on the subject of imperialism. I read Hobson about the same time that I read Williams. While Hobson's perspective was British, his conclusions fit many imperial powers that were active as he wrote his book. As political and economic descendants of the British empire, I found his comments relevant to American history . But they would also be relevant to other countries imperial ventures. "Original Sin" has no borders.

Madison's "Extend the sphere" comment was not related to the territorial expansion of what would become the United States but was part of the Federalist Paper (No. 10, p.57) and his argument for the Constitution and uniting the states into one larger nation. The point he was making was that small groups could more easily control small states, but differing opinions in large nations would mitigate against this tendency.

I believe that Washington's Farewell Address warning against entangling alliances would give a fuller appreciation of his foreign policy views.

While Hamilton had run a trading company as a teenager, his major concern was not trade but creating an independent internal US market and developing an industrial base behind trade barriers (tariffs). See his "Report on Manufactures," available on the web.

Wilson "self-determination" comment did not mean the US would intervene to make people free! It meant nations and individuals had the right to self-determination, but they would have to do it themselves. Wilson had no interest in imperial adventures because we had just experienced a bloody Philippine Insurrection that resulted from the Spanish-American War. He turned down mandates in the Middle East after WWI.

The atomic bomb was dropped after Roosevelt's death. After Hitler was defeated, he wanted the Soviet Union to declare war on Japan. The Japanese were tough, and we needed all the help we could get!

History is not a straight line, and there are no single reasons for a series of historical events. Inconvenient nuances keep creeping into historical theories.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Jul 2 2009 - 5:47pm

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