Imperialism

Jon Chait writes up The Weekly Standard and jingoism, noting the classic 19th century British pub song that gave us the term: “We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do, We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too.”

You sort of assume the Standard wouldn’t go out of its way to conjure up these sorts of associations. But then I read headlines like this, and I wonder if one of their editors is subtly trying to undermine the whole Kristol project.

“This” would be Thomas Donnelly’s article titled “Ready, Willing, and Able: We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too.”

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As with Chait’s other writing on this theme, I agree with him, but I’m surprised he’s only just now picking up on this. Key segments of the world of neoconservative thinking have been quite upfront about their desire to rehabilitate classical imperialism. This sometimes takes on a trivial form, as in Jonathan Last’s “Case for the Empire” Standard article praising Darth Vader and slamming the Rebel Alliance. At other times, however, it’s deadly serious, as in Max Boot’s 2003 Financial Times op-ed “Washington Needs a Colonial Office” that the Standard reprinted online. Or, of course, Boot’s October 2001 “The Case for American Empire: The most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role.”

And, of course, to underline the point that Boot isn’t being merely ironic here, Boot even wrote a book called The Savage Wars of Peace, explicitly linking his thinking to Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden”. Alternatively, you get up-is-downism like Richard Just’s efforts to argue that the real imperialism is a refusal to go to invade Sudan or Stanley Kurtz’s view that Edward Said is an imperialist.