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Who’s the Ugliest of Them All?

“Empires are not built in fits of absent-mindedness.”

—Charles A. Beard

Described by the author as a “venture in contemporary history,” American Empire is also an in-depth study of the post-Cold War foreign policies of the last three presidential administrations, all of which Andrew Bacevich believes sought to preserve and extend an American empire.  Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University, has written an insightful book, full of revealing quotations and wholly devoid of cant and naiveté.  He has no patience with those who deny the reality of empire.  “Like it or not,” he observes, “America today is Rome.”

Holding sway in not one but several regions of pivotal geopolitical importance, disdaining the legitimacy of political economic principles other than its own, declaring the existing order to be sacrosanct, asserting unquestioned military supremacy with a globally deployed force configured not for self-defense but for coercion: these are the actions of a nation engaged in the governance of empire.

Bacevich recognizes five components of American imperialism.  First, its leaders believe that the United States represents the model society of the future, to which all of mankind is destined to conform,...

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