Jonah Goldberg
Recommend this article

Consider Libya. Obama pursued exactly the same policy goal -- forcible regime change -- that critics of the Iraq war routinely denounced as the heart of American imperialism. There are significant differences between the two adventures, to be sure, but at the conceptual level there's little difference at all, and neither has much to do with imperialism.

More important, for the imperialism charge to mean anything it needs to describe something larger than mere partisan policy difference. If our imperialism can be turned off and on like a light switch with the mere change of parties, then how imperialistic could we have been in the first place?

The word "regime" has been defined down in recent years to mean nothing more than presidential administrations. "What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States," Sen. John Kerry said in 2003.

Regime actually describes an entire system of government. And if the American regime is imperial only when Republicans are in power, then it's not a serious claim, it's just a convenient and partisan slander.

In many quarters of the Middle East, the war on terror is cast as a religiously inspired front for crusader-imperialism. This nonsense overlooks the fact that America has gone to war to save Muslim lives more often than any modern Muslim country has. Under Democrats and Republicans we've fought to help Muslims in Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya. We've sought the conversion of no one and -- with the exception of Kuwait -- we've never presented a bill. When asked to leave, we've done so.

To say we did these things simply for plunder and power is an insult to all Americans, particularly those who gave their lives in the process.

Recommend this article

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.