This article analyses the US state-capital nexus at the heart of an American imperialism currently reaching its limits. In a first part we argue that the US state has consistently sought to promote and facilitate the global expansion of US capital, indicating a tight coupling between the two. Indeed, this so-called Open Door imperialism has been shaped and cemented by the strong ties between the foreign policy-making state apparatus and America's corporate elite. With the aid of social network analysis and biographical mapping we show how many key foreign policymakers of the past three administrations have been recruited from the ranks of US transnational capital. This nexus helps to explain how under Obama, US 'grand strategy', analysed in the second part, remains wedded to the goal of maintaining the global Open Door empire in spite of the deepening contradictions in the context of the current crisis of the US-led neoliberal order. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.