The Romance of Empire

George W. Bush laments that his advanced age doesn't let him participate in his own screw-ups:

"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."
"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

Need we note that when Bush had an actual opportunity to put his life on the line in a war, he chose to avoid doing so? The guy who sent me the link observed the connection between these sentiments and the point about Bush-style democracy-promotion as the return of Victorian imperialism -- shot through with daffy romanticism about dashing off to exotic lands to take up the white man's burden. The idea isn't to identify policies that are effective at boosting the prospects for democratic reform; instead, the idea is to identify policies that are pleasurable to the egos of the politicians and opinion-leaders who frame them.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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