View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Amidst all the talk of "Imperialism," I believe some lines are being blurred, in all likelihood unintentionally. Just as, in Medieval Europe, there was no one system called "feudalism" that completely defined its political and social structure, there are also different varieties of "imperialism," even within its prime. Different countries practiced different forms at the same time, and the same power practiced different forms at different times. In addition, Americans have embedded, deep in their political culture, a notion that we're like the Romans, a Republican power that eventually mutated into an Imperium. We neither want to be 19th-Century Europeans, or 2nd-Century Romans. It is important, therefore, that we pick the right model for what we're now engaged in, so we can avoid the pitfalls inherent in that model, and emulate its successes.

There are some similarities to all of these, but I think the closest model is the British experience in the Mideast after WWI, extending until the 1950s. It was non-colonial, administrative, in an overt effort to remake the region into a civilized place after centuries of despotism. It failed. But the world now is a very different place, and I think we have a chance to succeed in their place.

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