After the attacks of 9/11, I accepted the blowback thesis, according to which the attacks were revenge for U.S. foreign policy. This view led me to undertake an extensive study of the American empire, the very reality of which had been an embattled issue.
The American Empire
In his 2002 book American Empire, Andrew Bacevich pointed out that it had long been a “cherished American tradition [that] the United States is not and cannot be an empire.” The words “American empire” were “fighting words,” so that uttering them was an almost sure sign that the speaker was a left-wing critic of America’s foreign policy.
As Bacevich also pointed out, however, this had all recently changed, so that even right-wing commentators were freely acknowledging the existence of the American empire. As columnist Charles Krauthammer put it in 2002: “People are coming out of the closet on the word ‘empire.’”
Given this consensus about the reality of the American empire, the only remaining issue concerned its nature.