Date Awarded

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Charles McGovern

Committee Member

Hiroshi Kitamura

Committee Member

Scott Nelson

Committee Member

Hannah Rosen


In the field of diplomatic history, scholars have debated how the United States has played an imperial role in the world. Although diplomatic historians have presented many different interpretations, they have never agreed on the defining aspects of U.S. imperialism. My dissertation intervenes in the debate by reviewing how the United States functioned as an imperial power at the start of the twenty-first century. In my dissertation, I make use of a wide array of publicly available sources, including the public remarks of U.S. officials, the public records of the U.S. government, and the diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, to describe how the United States enforced a global system of imperial order. Specifically, I argue that officials in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama began the twenty-first century by implementing an imperial grand strategy to keep the international system organized around a dominant center and a subordinate periphery in a global structure of imperialism. By showing that officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations kept each region of the world integrated into a global structure of imperialism, my dissertation intervenes in one of the key debates in diplomatic history to define how the United States functioned as an empire.



© The Author