Speaking of the New Republic, this is a must-read. (I know it's considered declasse in the liberal blogosphere to link to TNR these days, but as aggravating as that publication can be, it does often feature worthwhile reporting.)
Roberts's raw imperialism informs the advice he offers Bush today. For one, he urges Bush to adopt a supreme imperial indifference to public opinion. He counsels that "there can be no greater test of statesmanship than sticking to unpopular but correct policies." The real threat isn't abroad, but at home, among domestic critics. Roberts writes, "The greatest danger to [the British and, by extension, the American] continued imperium came not from declared enemies without, but rather from vociferous enemies within their own society."Don't miss the bare-knuckle follow-up exchange between Roberts and Hari, in which the former claims that were the article published in a British journal, it would result in a libel suit. Hari, for his part, gives no ground. At any rate, the dispute focuses on details, leaving unchallenged the issue that the President has embraced the advice of a self-described "extremely right-wing" imperialist, who calls for harsh and unapologetic repression abroad, no matter how much opposition it engenders here at home.
In this Bushian history, democratic debate--especially in wartime--is a sign of weakness to be suppressed. "Contrary to the received view of the Vietnam War, the United States was never defeated in the field of battle," he writes. It was Walter Cronkite, not Ho Chi Minh, who was the true menace: "Some of the media was indeed a prime enemy of the conflict." Self-criticism is only ever interpreted in these histories as "self-hatred," which he says is "an abiding defect in the English-speaking peoples, and for some reason especially strong in Americans." It can only sap the "willpower" of any empire.
It doesn't appear to occur to Roberts that the British or U.S. empires could simply hit up against a limit to their power. Could there be a worse adviser for George W. Bush right now? Roberts's advice is a vicious imperial anachronism: Target civilians, introduce mass internment, don't worry about whether people hate you, bear down on dissent because it will sap the empire's willpower, ignore your critics because they're just jealous, and--above all--keep on fighting and you'll prevail.