There are three extant strains of thought when it comes to American empire. These are:
1. The Marxian notion of global capitalist hegemony
2. The realpolitik view of sole superpower
3. The utopian concept of world democratic revolution
The “empire” for which Ben Shapiro and his neocon compatriots call is this third sort. It has its origins in Woodrow Wilson’s concept of worldly paradise through correct political structure and rests on the notion that the quasi-democratic system of majoritarian representation in a centralized state is superior to every other form of government, including genuine democracy. Based on this faith, the democratic supremacist finds justification for ignoring national sovereignty, cultural tradition, self-determination and anything else that happens to bar this progress towards global utopia.
This view is inherently globalist, which is why Wilson was a strong advocate for the League of Nations and why American neocons are surprisingly – to conservatives – friendly towards the United Nations. To the world democratic revolutionaries, the idea that Americans should be solely concerned with American rights and American citizens, not with Iraqis, Yemenis or Papua South Guineans, is archaic and bordering on immoral, for they see everyone as global citizens with the concomitant global rights. This is why the UN – a centralized global quasi-democratic institution – is seen as a primary ally by the utopians, who hope to reform its flaws and take advantage of its strengths to further their visions of strictly limited world democracy.
The “freedom” espoused by the utopians should never be confused with the unalienable freedoms that are the American birthright, however. It is no accident that despite the fact that they speak of an American empire, the quasi-democratic systems that result from American military invasions and occupations are inevitably free of the not only the checks and balances of the American Constitution, but also a good part of the American Bill of Rights. I have not perused the Iraqi Constitution, but I would bet that it bears far more similarity to the UN Declaration of Human Rights than to the U.S. Constitution and the American Bill of Rights. For example, there is almost no chance that the right to bear arms is included despite the fact that Iraqis have suffered under a despotic government for decades.
The reason that advocates of utopian empire are inherent traitors to the United States and enemies of its Constitution is because without respect for national sovereignty and self-determination, the United States itself has no raison d’etre. The protections of its constitution are nil and its unalienable rights are void if they are in conflict with the wishes of the utopians. In the same way that neither the Serbs nor the Kurds are permitted the right of self-determination under this utopian scheme, Americans are denied the very rights that they are supposed to be guaranteed. This utopian veto over individual rights is how Shapiro can justify the “temporary sacrifice” of civil liberties in a war predicted to last decades, even though there is no possible way that these sacrifices will aid the war effort and there are other, less oppressive means of addressing the supposed risks.
And because it offers the promise of freedom while delivering its opposite, the neocon’s utopian concept of empire is doomed to failure by its inherent inconsistencies. The World Democratic Revolution is no more tenable than the World Communist Revolution, and like its intellectual parent, will eventually collapse into totalitarian tyranny. The particular danger for the United States is that following the tradition of imperial overstretch, its abuse as the utopians’ primary weapon will cause the remnants of its constitutional system to break down as well.