alk of U.S. imperialism, long marginalized as a
rhetorical excess of the “old Left,” has made a
mainstream comeback over the past few years. It has
been brought back into fashion not by critics of im-
perialism, but by those who strongly believe that the
United States has an imperial right and obligation to
act as global guarantor not only of its own interests
but also of the interests of the entire global commu-
nity. The world’s strongest “market democracy,” this
sentiment holds, has the ability, the authority, and,
above all, the responsibility to forcefully promote the
spread of democratic institutions, private investment,
and a secure and stable world order.
While this imperial sentiment had been growing
since the Clinton era, it bloomed after the attacks of
9/11, especially in neoconservative circles, and many
felt called upon to celebrate its “coming out of the
closet.”1 Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council
on Foreign Relations, commented that while many
opted for euphemisms in describing the U.S. role in
the world, he preferred “the more forthright if also
more controversial term American Empire . . . sort
of like the way some gays embrace the ‘queer’ label.”
fred rosen
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