I know it will strike many people as odd to call the current foreign policy of the United States a form of "empire building" or "imperialism," and of course none of our leaders would ever call it that. They would prefer some such term as "peacekeeping" or "spreading democracy" or "nation-building" or "exporting capitalism," or some other euphemism. Frankly, it would be refreshing, whatever we think about imperialism in general or our current policies in particular, if someone had the integrity of Vergil, who openly acknowledged Rome's imperial mission in the sixth book of the Aeneid. As John Dryden translated the passage.
But Rome, 'tis thine alone, with awful sway.
To rule mankind and make the world obey.
Disposing peace and war thy own majestic way.
To tame the proud, the fettered slave to free—
These are imperial arts, and worthy thee.
Or to invoke the imperial mission as frankly as Rudyard Kipling did in his famous lines, "Take up the white man's burden, / Send out the best ye breed; / Go, bind your sons to exile, / To serve your captives' need." At least, if we cannot have such exhortations to conquer and subdue even as we...