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Empire lite

The case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability. America is an imperial power for a post-imperial age - but like the empires of old it faces over-extension and defeat if it does not share the burden. Even the powerful need friends and allies

By Michael Ignatieff   February 2003

In a speech to cadets at West Point in June, President Bush declared, “America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish.” Speaking to veterans at the White House in November, he said: America has “no territorial ambitions. We don’t seek an empire. Our nation is committed to freedom for ourselves and for others.”

Ever since George Washington warned against foreign entanglements, empire abroad has been seen as the republic’s permanent temptation and its potential nemesis. Yet what word but “empire” describes the awesome thing that America is becoming? It is the only nation that polices the world through…

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