“How to Hide an Empire”: Daniel Immerwahr on the History of the Greater United States

“How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.” That’s the title of a new book examining a part of the U.S. that is often overlooked: the nation’s overseas territories from Puerto Rico to Guam, former territories like the Philippines, and its hundreds of military bases scattered across the globe. We speak with the book’s author, Daniel Immerwahr, who writes, “At various times, the inhabitants of the U.S. Empire have been shot, shelled, starved, interned, dispossessed, tortured and experimented on. What they haven’t been, by and large, is seen.” Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

Former British Soldier Charged With Murder in ‘Bloody Sunday’ Massacre

The soldier, identified only as Soldier F, was on Thursday charged by prosecutors in Northern Ireland with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder for his alleged role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Londonderry.

Thirteen civilians were killed when British Army paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march in Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, also known as Derry, in one of the bloodiest and most-contested episodes of the sectarian conflict known as the Troubles.

Yet news of the prosecution was met with dismay in London, where many lawmakers are deeply uncomfortable at the idea that former military and police personnel face the threat of legal action for alleged offenses committed decades ago in the heat of the conflict.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the government will pay Soldier F’s legal costs and pledged reforms to ensure former soldiers aren’t “unfairly treated” in investigations into Troubles-era deaths. The government has yet to publish firm proposals but ideas floated include a statute of limitations to limit prosecutions.

“Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution,” he said.

The charges represent the culmination of a fresh police investigation into Bloody Sunday triggered by a 12-year inquiry into the events of Jan. 30, 1972, that in 2010 concluded the victims posed no threat and the killings were unjustified.

The inquiry overturned an earlier report that had cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing and blamed the march’s organizers.

What happened on Bloody Sunday boosted support for the Irish Republican Army and intensified hostility toward the British military, deepening the violent conflict of the years that followed, the 2010 inquiry concluded. It called the events of that day “a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron, in office at the time the inquiry published its conclusions, apologized to the victims’ families.

In the latest investigation, the actions of 16 other soldiers and two IRA members were also revisited but prosecutors said a lack of evidence meant no other charges were brought.

Soldier F has been charged with the murder of James Wray, 22, and William McKinney, 26, prosecutors said, and the attempted murder of four others wounded by gunfire.

In successive probes, Soldier F and others testified that they shot at people in possession of bombs or firearms, claims roundly rejected by the inquiry.

At a press conference in Londonderry, relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday expressed disappointment no other prosecutions were brought, though they welcomed the charges against Soldier F for the deaths of Mr. Wray and Mr. McKinney after their long campaign for justice.

“Their victory is our victory,” said John Kelly, whose brother Michael also died on Bloody Sunday.