It is pretty common to hear American academics labeling America as an “empire.” In June of 2006, for instance, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted the annual meeting of The Historical Society, the topic of which was “Globalization, Empire, and Imperialism in Historical Perspective.” A theme that appeared in the essays presented at the conference was the comparison of the United States to the various imperial regimes of world history.
The most provocative papers at the conference were provocative precisely because they challenged the prevailing view of America as an empire. Perhaps the only thing more provocative than arguing that America is not an empire is to suggest that empires can be good for humanity. This is precisely what Deepak Lal argued in his essay by holding out the possibility that empires can be a stabilizing force for good in the world (see here and here).
In my previous post, I asked whether America can be aptly labeled an empire. I argued briefly that I think there are some important differences between America and some of the more notorious empires of world history (e.g., Rome). Today, I want to ask another question. Are empires evil by definition? Or, if I may pose the question theologically, is it God’s will that empires exist? I am going to give my answer later. I would like to hear yours first.