“The Empire is peace.”
If the publishing industry has played any part in the supposed recent economic revival, it can, perhaps, thank George W. Bush. The President’s foreign policy has made it possible to sell thousands of books with the words empire or imperial in the title. Indeed, it sometimes seems as if there are a dozen such books published each month. It is hard to keep count.
Of all these books, the best might still be one of the first: Andrew J. Bacevich’s American Empire from 2002, which has just been reissued in paperback. Bace-vich’s thesis is that U.S. foreign policy has had consistent goals throughout the past half-century, no matter which party was in power or what ideological fads gripped the country. The overriding goal is the pursuit of “openness,” meaning something like the free movement of goods (above all), people, and (maybe) ideas across national borders—all to the benefit of American business and political interests, of course. U.S. foreign policy, according to Bacevich, has been defined by domestic needs—chiefly, the need for markets.
For his analysis, Bacevich drew upon the work of left-wing but non-Marxist historians Charles Beard (An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution)...