Every day, it seems, American imperialism is on display, in Afghanistan one day, Syria the next, and the Korean Peninsula the day after.
Support for this misconduct has long been characteristic of Wilsonian progressives, but, sadly, conservatives have also come to embrace empire.
Many, if not most, conservatives today don't even know that their kind once staunchly opposed imperialism and interventionism, and would resist its latest mutations: “regime change” and “nation building.”
So it's well past time for a reminder of why American conservatives should oppose empire:
1. Allegiance to the Constitution
Conservatives love the Constitution and despise the leftist interpretation of it. Yet, where is the Constitutional authorization for American imperialism, making the US military the informant, policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner, and undertaker? It does not exist.
2. Emulation of the Founding Fathers
Conservatives love the Founders. Yet, some of the most revered of them were leery of foreign entanglements and urged their posterity to eschew them. But modern American conservatives have completely bought into one entangling alliance after another: NATO, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, just to name a few.
3. Disdain for Government Intervention at Home
Conservatives are quick to point out the ineffectiveness of government intrusion in the US economy and the evils of government intervention in the private affairs of peaceful citizens. But many today apparently have no ideological or moral opposition to that very same government endlessly intruding in the affairs of nation after nation and people after people all across the world.
4. Contempt for Big Government
5. The Lesson of History
The history of empire is one of eventual decline and collapse. Most relevant to this discussion is the Roman Empire. Has America learned? The ever-expanding warfare/welfare state demonstrates that it has not.
So what will it be? A more modest national identity and a more sustainable government, or the glory and perils of empire?