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Though I agree with poemless that America has always been an ideologically concerned nation, it seems to me there's a question about the scope and evolution of that concern. "Bread-and-butter issues" may be an understatement regarding pre-war political interests, but WWII was certainly the massive confirmation (in facts on the ground and in home and foreign perception) of America's place as a preponderant world power. Which in its turn enables, if not explains, the ideological themes you present as:

"Who is is "defense" candidate? "  "Which party is soft on Communism?"  "Which one can be trusted to fight international terrorism?"

In other words, America's concerns were certainly ideological, but internal (however morally universalist), at the time of the Civil War; ceased to be internal and moved into the American continental sphere with the Spanish-American War, into Europe with WWI, and finally into full-blown world power-play with WWII. It's the imperial crown that makes the difference, imho. And how well it fits. WWII was probably the high point, when it was about the right size. The fall of the Soviet Union set off a late imperial flare, a moment of hubris in which the crown seems larger and the nation's head big enough to fit it--but in fact it's slipping down sideways over one eye. (Another understatement.)

I'll stop there before giving you crown quotes from Richard II or "giant's clothes" quotes from Macbeth. All this to say that I think imperialism has to do with the subversion of American institutions of government. Imperialism having its military and its commercial-globalising sides, of course, and these united in what once could fairly be called the military-industrial complex, and is now more fairly called the Republican-crony complex.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 26th, 2006 at 08:35:33 AM EST

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