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Rule America?

Liberal elites ruined Britain as a hyperpower. Could America meet the same fate?

12:00 AM, Oct 21, 2005 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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The American left, too, eerily echoes its British counterparts. Consider the "Peace is Patriotic" bumper stickers; the howls of protest against the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, for fear that he might be too assertive of American values; the comparison - by Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) - of American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis and Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet gulag; the protest cries of "No blood for oil" and the left-wing fringe speculation that the endgame of George W. Bush's 9/11 fear-mongering would be to cancel elections and establish a fascist police state.

The liberal opponents of the British Empire were proved wrong, but their misplaced disillusionment was enough to sap the vitality of imperial confidence. After rising one last time to fight Nazism, the sun set on the British Empire.

Likewise, it is pleasant to believe that the crisis of confidence in today's liberal elites won't affect the outcome of our war with Islamist extremism. The greater worry concerns what happens next. Will protestations of liberal elites become mainstream diffidence about America's place in the world? Will we, too, stop believing that America stands firm, as a great force for good - and then see our place in the world diminish?

History, it turns out, can be both a comfort and a caution.

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard and a contributor to the blog Galley Slaves. This piece originally appeared in the October 9, 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer.