The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
by Stephen Kinzer
Henry Holt and Co., 2017, 304 pp.
Toward the end of his history of the domestic conflict over U.S. overseas expansion at the close of the nineteenth century, Stephen Kinzer notes that the winners permanently changed our political lexicon. "Imperialists" became openhearted, visionary "globalists" and "internationalists." Anti-imperialists became crabby, reactionary "isolationists." As applied to the United States, the words "empire" and "imperialism" virtually disappeared.
This muddling of the language has made it easier for Americans to misunderstand just what it is that we are doing out there in the world. Thus, in late 2013, at a time when Barack Obama's foreign policy was widely criticized in the United States as too "soft," a Gallup poll of around 65,000 people in sixty-five countries showed that the United States was considered the greatest threat to world peace (Pakistan was a distant second).