by Howard Zinn and Tom Engelhardt
"......We can hardly ask for a more candid, blunter declaration of imperial design. It has been echoed in recent years by the intellectual handmaidens of the Bush administration, but with assurances that the motive of this "influence" is benign, that the "purposes" – whether in Luce's formulation or more recent ones – are noble, that this is an "imperialism lite." As George Bush said in his second inaugural address: "Spreading liberty around the world… is the calling of our time." The New York Times called that speech "striking for its idealism."
The American Empire has always been a bipartisan project – Democrats and Republicans have taken turns extending it, extolling it, justifying it. President Woodrow Wilson told graduates of the Naval Academy in 1914 (the year he bombarded Mexico) that the U.S. used "her Navy and her Army … as the instruments of civilization, not as the instruments of aggression." And Bill Clinton, in 1992, told West Point graduates: "The values you learned here … will be able to spread throughout the country and throughout the world."
For the people of the United States, and indeed for people all over the world, those claims sooner or later are revealed to be false. The rhetoric, often persuasive on first hearing, soon becomes overwhelmed by horrors that can no longer be concealed: the bloody corpses of Iraq, the torn limbs of American GIs, the millions of families driven from their homes – in the Middle East and in the Mississippi Delta.
Have not the justifications for empire, embedded in our culture, assaulting our good sense – that war is necessary for security, that expansion is fundamental to civilization – begun to lose their hold on our minds? Have we reached a point in history where we are ready to embrace a new way of living in the world, expanding not our military power, but our humanity? "