Will the United States of America go the way of Rome, Byzantium, and Egypt―those empires which collapsed and are known to us only through the history books?
In 1787 the Founding Fathers created a political system which has worked tolerably well, some say brilliantly, for over one hundred and fifty years. But is it adequate for the new America that came into being after World War II―America the world power with interests and entanglements in every continent? Gerald W. Johnson argues that it can be made to work if we put our minds to it.
Johnson looks to the Constitution, studying the men who conceived it and searching in their work for the key to our survival. He finds that key in the Constitution's faith in the people, in the "common man" who has proved his ability to make sensible judgments, when he has the facts. The people must demand that the goals of American democracy, as embodied in the Preamble to the Constitution, be now applied as faithfully to those outside the boundaries of the United States as to those at home. He sees the possibility, no more than that, of Empire without Imperialist exploitation.
Johnson scrutinizes the Marshall Plan; U.S. involvement in Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Dominican Republic; U.S. attitudes toward the Soviet Union. He notes that in the past, imperial power was based upon military superiority. He says that nuclear weapons have made this dependence obsolete, that the United States must seeks and find its future security through economic strength and wily statecraft. The new Imperialism―the only one that can endure, says Johnson―must operate for "the benefit of the imperial power and
of the tributaries."
As government of the U.S. grows bigger, more unwieldly and unresponsive, each concerned citizen must take the power which is rightfully his, study the facts (and demand them if they are not freely given), and make his own decisions in the spirit of the Founding Fathers. If "we, the people" do not shoulder our responsibilities now, he believes the United States is doomed to ostracism by the world community, and eventual decline.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.