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Universal nation

Americans are genuinely shocked by the idea that they are an imperial power

By Jedediah Purdy   November 2001

The United States, it is said, has been violently inducted into membership of the rest of the world. Some commentators have noted with satisfaction that at last US decision-makers will appreciate the experience of-depending on their sympathies-Israelis, Belgraders, Nicaraguans or the residents of Baghdad. Kinder commentators reflected that terrorism is a fact of life in Britain, India, Turkey and elsewhere and that Americans would have had to lose the illusion of invulnerability sooner or later-if not so suddenly and horribly. But the response to the attacks was just as much a reminder that Americans are not alone in believing themselves…

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