clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Maureen Dowd quotes at length an Oxford professor:

"America is the empire that dare not speak its name," Niall Ferguson, the Oxford professor who wrote "Empire," told a crowd at the Council on Foreign Relations here on Monday. He believes that America is so invested in its "creation myth," breaking away from a wicked empire, that Americans will always be self-deceiving — and even self-defeating — imperialists.

"The great thing about the American empire is that so many Americans disbelieve in its existence," he said. "Ever since the annexation of Texas and invasion of the Philippines, the U.S. has systematically pursued an imperial policy.

"It's simply a suspension of disbelief by Americans. They think they're so different that when they have bases in foreign territories, it's not an empire. When they invade sovereign territory, it's not an empire."

Asked in an interview about Viceroy Jay Garner's promise that U.S. military overlords would "leave fairly rapidly," Mr. Ferguson replied: "I'm hoping he's lying. Successful empires must be based on hypocrisy. The Americans can say they're doing things in the name of freedom, liberty and apple pie. But they must build a civil society and revive the economy before they have elections.

"From 1882 until 1922, the British promised the international community 66 times that they would leave Egypt, but they never did. If they leave Iraq to its own devices, the whole thing will blow up."

Do we call ourselves an empire and base things on that? Do we really want to follow the model of the British Empire? I guess its colonies ended up the best in post-colonial times, or so goes the conventional wisdom. Still, I thought the whole point of the UN was that we wouldn't have to have empires anymore to perform the kind of useful functions that empires sometimes do, like acting as outside arbiters in territorial disputes. Wouldn't it make more sense to put some real muscle into reforming the UN? Well, this is coming from the CFR, after all.