Friday, May 12, 2006

Mission Improbable

Mission Improbable: "Something remarkable happened on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Commentators began to declare, in somewhat exultant tones, that America had at last become a true empire. America was of course also a benevolent empire, they insisted, but that nod to altruistic tradition could not hide their excitement that America had at last joined the greatest empires of the past.

Implicit in these giddy declarations was the assumption that empire was an exalted state of power and possibility, not so unlike Rome at its zenith. Ironically, and for a historical instant, they were right. But there is one inescapable aspect of empire that the commentators missed. Empires are weak. It is republics in contrast that are strong. The United States is a republic that has been operating like an empire, and it has suffered for it. If we look at the gold standard for empire—Rome—we can see why."

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