Boot Camp for the World

Why is a Russian-born American calling for his country to recognize its imperialism?

September 18, 2003

Why is a Russian-born American calling for his country to recognize its imperialism?

Russian-born Max Boot has become a staunch proponent of a new kind of U.S. imperialism. A short while ago, Mr. Boot's viewpoints would have been suggested only behind closed doors. Now, he is at the forefront of the so-called neo-imperialism debate. Our Read my Lips feature explores Mr. Boots' views.

Mr. Boot, what is your assessment of the U.S.-led war in Iraq?

"The U.S. victory in Iraq makes the German blitzkrieg look positively incompetent by comparison."

(July 2003)

How do you believe the United States can best tackle the problems in Iraq today?

"We need to create a colonial office — fast. Of course, it cannot be called that. It needs an anodyne euphemism such as Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance."

(July 2003)

Do you have any hesitations about the evident imperial label of such policies?

"No need to run away from the label. America’s destiny is to police the world."

(August 2003)

Aren't the imperial associations potentially hurtful to the U.S. image overseas?

"Given the historical baggage that ‘imperialism’ carries, there’s no need for the U.S. government to embrace the term. But it should definitely embrace the practice."

(May 2003)

Are you concerned about that?

"It’s true that acting ‘unilaterally’ increases distrust of U.S. power."

(March 2003)

What qualifies the U.S. military to bring democracy to a country plagued by instability?

"We certainly did a pretty good job of bringing peace and democracy to regions like Germany or Japan or Italy after World War II at the tip of a bayonet."

(October 2002)

What are your recommendations to improve U.S.-led nation-building?

"The active-duty army still needs to be increased in size. Airpower, no matter how awesome, cannot police newly liberated countries — or build democratic governments."

(July 2003)

In which other ways does the U.S. military need to adjust to the new challenges?

"The army needs to tackle the task of “imperial” policing — not a popular duty, but one that is vital to safeguarding U.S. interests in the long run."

(July 2003)

How do you feel about the way the United States handled the diplomatic dispute over war with Iraq?

"Uncle Sam is not suddenly going to become as popular as Ronald McDonald."

(March 2003)

What do you ultimately think of France and Germany?

"Professional peace processors are not likely to be put off by a minor inconvenience like North Korea’s brandishing of nuclear weapons. They will just see it as one more reason to redouble efforts at “engagement” — a nicer word than ‘appeasement.’"

(October 2002)

Is the traditional policy of containment therefore hopelessly outdated?

"The only way we’ll find out that containment isn’t working might be perhaps if we see a mushroom cloud going up over Manhattan."

(October 2002)