The Best Are Not the Brightest

Some years ago, in a discussion with the late Joe Sobran about the motivations of those managing our vastly overstretched empire, I pointed out that, for certain strata of the bureaucracy (the people who meet with E.U. officials in Brussels and attend cocktail parties in Georgetown, for example), as well as think-tank warriors theorizing about battles they will never fight themselves, empire can be great fun.  For our ruling class, detached as it has become from the country whose interests it pretends to defend, managing a vast empire is loaded with opportunities for travel, career advancement, and a sense of superiority to a rabble concerned with mundane problems like crime, schools, employment, or filling potholes.  And yours truly should not have left out the lower echelons of the vast machinery of empire—the foot soldiers of the bureaucracy, who can play at being Lawrence of Arabia or James Bond, whichever suits their fancy, never questioning what the endgame is or why the game is being played at all.  The game is an end in itself, providing escape for the seasoned player from those common, everyday chores (family, church, community) that fail to stimulate the interest of rootless and detached people whose personalities have been shaped by a smarmy and nihilistic culture of cheap irony and smug sarcasm.

But there is something else driving imperial expansion, something veteran...

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