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Embodying the American Century: The Long-Lasting U.S. Military Presence in Europe and the Case of Schinnen

In: International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity
Author:
Dario Fazzi
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Scholars have interpreted the American global web of military bases as both outposts of empire and beacons of freedom. In Europe, in particular, U.S. military deployment has been quite exceptional: since the end of World War II, American bases have mushroomed and grown steadily all over the continent. Originally meant to keep Western Europe from totalitarianism, embed it in a system of collective, transatlantic security, and tie it firmly to the free market and capitalism, U.S. bases in Europe eventually projected and embodied the American century. Focusing on the case of an American base installed in the Dutch village of Schinnen, this article shows that American military outposts in Europe have constantly disseminated the American way of life in a number of ways: they have affected the local economy, generated cross-cultural encounters and deeply impacted the surrounding environment. Taking into account the positive as well as negative dynamics set into motion by the American military presence in Schinnen, this article invites further inquiry into the relationship between the centre of the American empire and its periphery, and puts the historical and historiographical viability of the American century to the test.

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