According to ABC News, 2008 presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may have recently called his moderate-right credentials into question. "McCain has tapped a controversial academic to be a member of his virtual 'kitchen cabinet,'" ABCNews.com noted. That academic -- Niall Ferguson of Harvard University -- is, according to David Weigel of Reason magazine, a "foaming-at-the-mouth 'national greatness conservative.'" This academic has presented, according to Priyamvada Gopal of Cambridge University in Britain, an "aggressive rewriting of history, driven by the messianic fantasies of the American right."
Who is this dastardly intellectual twisting the liberal media's beloved "Maverick" McCain into a burgeoning Caesar? Ferguson is a prominent historian who believes that the British Empire brought a great deal of good to the world through its colonialism. More controversially, he believes that America is an empire. "It is an empire in denial," Ferguson writes in his book "Empire." "Perhaps the reality is that the Americans have taken [the role of the old British Empire] without yet facing the fact that an empire comes with it."
Ferguson's statements seem almost tautological. In economic and military terms, America is clearly an empire. Yet those on the left shy away from the idea of an American empire, uncomfortable with the dictatorial and colonialist connotations of the term. Few members of the right think America's global dominance is a bad thing, and those who do, like Pat Buchanan or the old-style libertarians, are hardly in the mainstream. The American left, however, believes that as American power grows, so too does global hardship. Conservative foreign policy philosophy can be summed up with the phrase, "What is good for America is good for the world." Liberal foreign policy philosophy can be summed up with the phrase, "Shut up, you ethnocentrist bigot!"