Quote of the Day 2: “[T]he Term That Fits It Best Is Imperialist”

On Sept. 13, 2007, George W. Bush issued his report to the nation on the progress of “the surge” in Iraq. Echoing the British in Egypt, he promised “a reduced American presence” in Iraq, but he added ominously that “Iraqi leaders from all communities … understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic, and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship — in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops.” (Emphasis [Judis]) In other words, Iraqi leaders who owe their positions to the U.S. occupation want the Americans to stay indefinitely, and Bush is ready to oblige them, albeit with a smaller force. British Prime Minister William Gladstone insisted in 1882 that the British would not make Egypt a colony. He wanted, his private secretary recorded, “to give scope to Egypt for the Egyptians were this feasible and attainable without risk.” But that appeared too risky, and Egypt quickly became part of the British Empire. Bush, too, has insisted that the United States is not engaged in imperialism. America is not “an imperial power,” but a “liberating power,” he has declared. But Bush’s denial rings as hollow as Gladstone’s. What Bush has done in Iraq, rather than what he says he has done, is to revive an imperialist foreign policy, reminiscent of the British and French in the Middle East, and of the kind that the United States practiced briefly under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Bush’s foreign policy has been variously described as unilateralist, militarist, and hyper-nationalist. But the term that fits it best is imperialist. That’s not because it is the most incendiary term, but because it is the most historically accurate. Bush’s foreign policy was framed as an alternative to the liberal internationalist policies that Woodrow Wilson espoused and that presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton tried to put into effect as an alternative to the imperialist strategies that helped cause two world wars and even the Cold War. Bush’s foreign policy represents a return not to the simple unilateralism of 19th-century American foreign policy, but to the imperial strategy that the great powers of Europe — and, for a brief period, America, too — followed and that resulted in utter disaster.

– John B. Judis, Bush’s Neo-Imperialist War

By breaking out the dreaded ‘I’ word (in AmPros, no less!) does this mean Judis, a longtime TNR stalwart, will soon join Spackerman on Marty Peretz’s ever-growing shit list? At least Peretz still has the “sizzlingly heartbreaking” sycophancy of Jamie Kirchick to get off on. Nobody but nobody makes a cup of coffee quite like Mini-Marty.

Related: Speaking of Spackerman

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