Bush's delusions of empire
Eric Hobsbawm writes of the Bush administration's vision of empire
in light of earlier episodes of imperialism.
"The British empire had a British, not a universal, purpose, although
naturally its propagandists also found more altruistic motives. So the
abolition of the slave trade was used to justify British naval power,
as human rights today are often used to justify US military power. On
the other hand the US, like revolutionary France and revolutionary
Russia, is a great power based on a universalist revolution - and therefore
on the belief that the rest of the world should follow its example, or
even that it should help liberate the rest of the world. Few things are
more dangerous than empires pursuing their own interest in the belief
that they are doing humanity a favour.
The cold war turned the US into the hegemon of the western world.
However, this was as the head of an alliance. In a way, Europe then
recognised the logic of a US world empire, whereas today the US government
is reacting to the fact that the US empire and its goals are no longer
genuinely accepted. In fact the present US policy is more unpopular than
the policy of any other US government has ever been, and probably than
that of any other great power has ever been."
Hobsbawm's piece, orginally published in Le Monde, can be found in
The Guardian version here.