The Imperialism of Economic Nationalism, 1890–1913

18 February 2014

In this essay, research associate Marc Palen debunks the common laissez-faire myth surrounding turn-of-the-century American foreign relations, allowing for a reconceptualisation of American imperialism from 1890 to 1913. The Republican Party, the party of protectionism, found itself riven by internal disagreements over the future of the protectionist system and US imperial expansion. From within Republican protectionist ranks arose a progressive wing that increasingly looked beyond the home market for the country’s growing American agricultural and manufacturing surpluses. They did so against staunch anti-imperial opposition not only from American free-trade independents, but also from the Republican Party’s isolationist home-market protectionists, who yet feared or disdained foreign markets and colonial acquisitions. These progressive Republican proponents of empire combined coercive trade reciprocity with protectionism—an expansive closed door—and worked hard to extend American imperial power through informal means of high tariff walls, closed US-controlled markets, and retaliatory reciprocity if possible, by formal annexation and military interventionism when necessary. The American Empire thus arose owing to the imperialism of economic nationalism, not the imperialism of free trade. Read more

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Adam Smith as advocate of empire

11 February 2014

In this article for The Historical Journal, research associate Marc Palen examines how The Wealth of Nations (1776) was transformed into an amorphous text regarding the imperial question throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Adam Smith had left behind an ambiguous legacy on the subject of empire: a legacy that left long-term effects upon subsequent British imperial debates. In his chapter on colonies, Smith had proposed both a scheme for the gradual devolution of the British empire and a theoretical scheme for imperial federation. In response to the growing global popularity of protectionism and imperial expansionism, the rapid development of new tools of globalisation, and the frequent onset of economic downturns throughout the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, turn-of-the-century proponents of British imperial federation formed into a formidable opposition to England’s prevailing free trade orthodoxy — Cobdenism — a free trade ideology which famously expanded upon the anti-imperial dimensions of The Wealth of Nations. Ironically, at the turn of the century many advocates for imperial federation also turned to Smith for their intellectual inspiration. Adam Smith thus became an advocate of empire, and his advocacy left an indelible intellectual mark upon the burgeoning British imperial crisis. Read article

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Australia's relations with China in turbulence

25 January 2014

Relations between the new Australian government and China got off to a rocky start, writes Centre visiting professor Linda Jakobson. In this essay for the Asan Forum, she focuses on relations between the two countries, saying that Australia’s political relationship with China is far less developed than its economic relationship. China is not merely an economic power but also a crucial political and security actor in the region, Jakobson argues, and underdeveloped political and strategic relations between Canberra and Beijing weaken Australia’s ability to exert influence regionally. Australia risks being viewed by China’s leaders merely as a provider of resources and a subordinate member in the alliance with the United States. Read article

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The 2013 United States Studies Centre - World Press Institute Fellowship Report

12 December 2013

Chief business correspondent for SKY News Business Carson Scott reports on the rigorous program of interviews, study, and reporting that spanned ten cities including New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Scott is the 2013 recipient of the US Studies Centre's Media Fellowship, in partnership with the World Press Institute. Read report

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In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism

9 September 2013

In the Interest of Others develops a new theory of organisational leadership and governance to explain why some organisations expand their scope of action in ways that do not benefit their members directly. John Ahlquist and Margaret Levi document eighty years of such activism by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in the United States and the Waterside Workers Federation in Australia. They systematically compare the ILWU and WWF to the Teamsters and the International Longshoremen's Association, two American transport industry labour unions that actively discouraged the pursuit of political causes unrelated to their own economic interests. Read more

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Disruptive Education: Technology-Enabled Universities

1 August 2013

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are leading the greatest upheaval in university education since the advent of the printing press according to a new report co-authored by chief operating officer and research associate at the Centre Dr Sean Gallagher, together with the Dean of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales, Professor Geoffrey Garrett. Read report

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Book Review: China, the United States, and Global Order

31 July 2013

David R. Howell reviews Rosemary Foot and Andrew Walter's book China, the United States, and Global Order for the July issue of China Journal. Read review

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2012 Annual Report

30 April 2013

Read about the Centre's 2012 achievements in our Annual Report. Read report

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The Logic of Interoperability: Australia's Acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

30 April 2013

Although Australia has sent its own forces to fight alongside the US in every major American conflict since the Great War, it worries that this level of loyalty might not always be reciprocated. Australia has therefore maintained a position of self-reliance in all of its defence decisions. Using the F-35 program as an example, Dr Adam Lockyer argues that this logic of interoperability is becoming increasingly untenable. Read article

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Can Nations Succeed?

3 April 2013

Professor Margaret Levi writes that we are in an era of Big Books, books with a magisterial sweep of the history of the world. All share the desire to explain why some countries flourish, why some start and stall on the path to development, and why others seem never to find the path at all. In sociology, Big Books date back at least to Karl Marx and Max Weber. Their publication has been more or less regular ever since, and their authors tend to elaborate the sort of grand and general theories that have come under increasing attack in recent decades, given methodological advances that have transformed analytic tastes. Read article

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Barack Obama preparing for Asia tour

Gordon Flake, founding CEO of the Centre's sister institution, the Perth USAsia Centre, discusses what the President will be seeking to achieve on his upcoming visit to Asia.


Generating renewable energy

Chief executive of the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Centre guest Dan Arvizu discusses the future of renewable transportation fuels and the new push for energy productivity.

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