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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Empire, shmempire

Andrew Sullivan persists in using the loaded word empire to describe a possible enduring U.S. military presence in Iraq. But overseas military bases, agreed to by an emerging foreign democracy, do not in themselves equal empire, at least as the term is normally understood to suggest coercion and exploitation.

It may be, as Thomas Madden argues in his interesting new book Empires of Trust: How Rome Built--and America Is Building--a New World, that the U.S. has consensual alliances reminiscent of the Roman Republic's alliances -- an "empire of trust" as opposed to an "empire of conquest" or an "empire of commerce." But there is no such nuance in Sullivan's overheated accusations.

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