empire and analogies

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

A snippet from Joshua Micah Marshall’s essay Power Rangers in The New Yorker. A worthy read:

In this latest turn of neoconservative thought, the trappings of optimism and the hopeful talk of a liberal-democratic domino effect have been abandoned. Where Ferguson is all cool confidence, Perle and Frum are fire and foreboding. Theirs are not policies that would lead to the end of evil; they might well, in the long run, lead to the end of empire.

Hard-liners like Perle and Frum would do well to remember that America began as an empire, formally and officially. It wasnt our empire, of course; it was Britains. And the story of how Britain lost its first empire may be more instructive for Americans today than how Britain found itself without its second. Americans like to flatter themselves that the seeds of independence were planted with the first spades into the earth of Massachusetts and Virginia. In fact, during the century before the Revolution, Britains North American colonies were, by most measures, becoming more Anglicized, more firmly tied to Britains monarchy and trade. (The archetype of American homespun virtues, Ben Franklin, spent much of his life trying to make a name in London and find a place for himself in the British establishment.) Britain lost its North American empire through a common mistake: it misunderstood the nature of its power. In particular, it confused the power it had on paperits claims to sovereignty and dominionwith the nature of the control it exercised on the coast of North America.

Neocons, empire, I’m more interested in how Marshall frames his argument concerning “vision” behind decisions and action on national scales. Big time important for Blake and others after the dominant revolutions in the late 1700s.Important now, hell yeah. National perception is a tricky issue. Question: How would we respond to another country running a base on our soil? Would we find this odd or wonderful? This is a rhetorical question.


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