April 13, 2004

Betting on liberty...

Don't miss this Steyn piece in the Telegraph, Liberty and imperialism don't mix. :

...Speaking of Hawaii, why is it a state rather than a colony? It's nowhere near the rest of America. Its flag even has the Union flag in it, just like the ensigns of all those other dots in the Pacific, such as Fiji and the Cook Islands. Yet Hawaii enjoys the same place in the American federation as New Hampshire. The framework that the Founding Fathers devised to unite a baker's dozen of small ethnically homogeneous colonies on the East Coast proved strong enough to expand across a continent and halfway round the globe to Honolulu. Had Britain in the 1880s or 1890s decided to transform its empire into a federation, it might still be in business today. Certainly, it could hardly be in worse shape than the moth-eaten façade of the Commonwealth.

The very reason that Hawaii is a state is the same reason that America makes a poor imperialist: it is uncomfortable with colonial subjects; it lacks the benevolent paternalism necessary for empire. In Iraq, they're betting not on imperialism, but on liberty. That's a long shot, given the awful passivity and fatalism of the Arab world. But it's not inherently more preposterous than the fake Hashemite kingdom imposed on Mesopotamia by Britain. America may fail. But it will be an American failure. Imperial nostalgics who wish to live vicariously will have to look elsewhere...

America is an idea, not a place. We could all pack up and move to space habitats, and still be America. And it's kind of like a franchise outfit. Newcomers like Hawaii can follow the template, open their own burger stand, and be a success..

Posted by John Weidner at April 13, 2004 8:57 PM
Weblog by John Weidner