Last week I linked a couple of pieces detailing the reaction to the swift collapse of Saddam's regime in Baghdad in the Arab media. One of the more ridiculous pieces linked in the articles I linked was by Arab News managing editor John Bradley, who wrote:
- Nothing, that is, but wait for history to take its course, for Fortune’s wheel to turn as it inexorably does, crushing underneath those who once danced on top of it. But not in our lifetime. Yes, there will be more terrorism, and Osama Bin Laden — or at least his infamous voice — was heard once more yesterday, calling for suicide attacks and thus giving more easy justification, as he did on Sept. 11, to America’s imperial ambition. Thanks, Osama, you’ve done us all about as much good as George W. Bush. Both are two sides of the same coin.
- Dear Mr. Bradley,
I must say, I am perplexed by oft-repeated references to "America's imperial ambition." On one hand, I do understand the tendency to imagine that such an ambition exists... after all, every other world power in history which has had the strength the US has today has sought to extend its control over other nations, around the world in some cases.
But on the other hand, the history of the past 100 years demonstrates conclusively that the US does *not* have an imperial ambition; consider the facts: in both World Wars, the US and its allies liberated or defeated France (twice), Germany (twice), Italy, and Japan, among others. Yet in no case did the US extend its political control over those nations. Consider also more recent military actions: Grenada, Panama, Serbia, Kuwait and Iraq in '91, Afghanistan... in none of these cases did the US extend its political power over these nations in the way that an empire seeks to do.
There is no "American imperial ambition," Mr. Bradley. To claim that there is is to project the actions of past hegemons onto the US, in spite of the US's own actions in the past century.