The legitimacy of a US-led global order has been taken for granted by many in political, diplomatic and intellectual circles in the United States and even beyond. Yet this narrative of a postwar liberal order sits uncomfortably with a long history of imperial expansion and settler-colonial practices that the US has pursued over the centuries. Host Ben Zdencanovic sits down with Aziz Rana, a scholar of US constitutionalism, race, and empire at Cornell Law School, to discuss the politics of racial and cultural hierarchy that have been integral to American engagement with the world. From the days of frontier expansion and Wilsonian internationalism to the postwar push for modernization and a ‘rules-based-order’, arguments for American primacy have been deeply informed by ideas and practices of supremacy.
How has America’s imperial stance abroad impacted its domestic politics? Is there any prospect of forging an inclusive and progressive American foreign policy? And why must a politics of anti-imperialism require an equally strong commitment to anti-authoritarianism as well? These are the questions that guide this conversation between two scholars of the US in the world.