The world needs a bigger American empire

Husbanding our power in an effort to slow America’s decline in a post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan world would mean avoiding debilitating land entanglements and focusing instead on being more of an offshore balancer: that is, lurking with our air and sea forces over the horizon, intervening only when outrages are committed that unquestionably threaten our allies and world order in general. While this may be in America’s interest, the very signaling of such an aloof intention may encourage regional bullies, given that rogue regimes are the organizing principles for some pivotal parts of the world…

Looming over all of this is the densely crowded global map. Across Eurasia, rural populations have given way to megacities prone to incitement by mass media and to destruction by environmental catastrophe. Lumbering, hard-to-deploy armies are being replaced with overlapping ballistic missile ranges that demonstrate the delivery capabilities of weapons of mass destruction. New technologies make everything affect everything else at a faster and more lethal rate than ever before. The free flow of information, as the WikiLeaks scandal makes clear, and the miniaturization of weaponry, as the terrorist bombings in Pakistani cities make clear, work against the rise and sustenance of imperial orders…

Americans rightly lack an imperial mentality. But lessening our engagement with the world would have devastating consequences for humanity. The disruptions we witness today are but a taste of what is to come should our country flinch from its international responsibilities.