Why Americans secretly love the idea of imperialist empires

Why Americans secretly love the idea of imperialist empires

As ISIS expands, and Iran’s fortunes eclipse those of our quote-unquote Arab allies, some military historians and analysts with a not-so-progressive view of history have ruffled feathers by warning that imperialism is back.

As Robert Kaplan recently claimed, imperialism is the only form of rule that really works across large parts of the globe. Rare and unreliable exceptions aside, he says, the alternative to imperialism is anarchy, just as we’re seeing in Libya and Yemen today. “Totalitarianism was the only answer to the end of Western imperialism in these artificial states,” he surmises, “and totalitarianism’s collapse is now the root cause of Middle East chaos.”

This line of thinking has drawn howls of anger because the question it summons is so blunt: If we can’t beat imperialism, shouldn’t we join it?

Sure, after a raft of Bush- and Obama-led military misadventures, it might seem rather crazy to try rallying America around another imperialistic crusade. Unfortunately, it’s not that crazy at all. Though we’ll never warm up to old-style imperialism, many Americans still have an intense hunger for a newfangled kind of empire.

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