Throughout history, the American empire has been established and sustained through episodes of intervention - usually in the form of military might - in places like the Middle East, Latin America, and even within its own borders. The film sets forth a series of examples in support of its thesis, including incendiary actions in Guatemala in 1952, Chile in the 1970's, and the invasion of Iraq in the past decade.
In some of the instances presented in the film, the United States operates in shadow to overthrow democratically elected leaders and to replace them with figures who are more sympathetic to U.S. interests. These interests are often not in step with those of their own people.
Another area of controversy explored in the film regards the countless military bases operated by the United States all over the world. The messages received from the highest levels of governmental authority assure the people that these bases are erected and continue to operate as a means of spreading and maintaining peace throughout each region. "These bases all too often are actually increasing military tensions," claims David Vine, an anthropology professor at American University, author of Base Nation, and a key interview subject in the film. "I think it's worth considering for people in the United States how we would feel with a foreign base on our soil."
The premiere episode of an investigative series from world news organization teleSUR, The Rise of History's Biggest Empire is a compact treatment of a complex history. Nevertheless, as with all worthwhile documentary works, the film presents its provocative material in a manner that inspires valuable thought and discussion.