Boot Camp for the World
Why is a Russian-born American calling for his country to recognize its imperialism?
September 18, 2003
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."
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."
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."
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."
Are you concerned about that?
"It’s true that acting ‘unilaterally’ increases distrust of U.S. power."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.’"
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."