Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Editor's Comment

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Editor's Comment

Article excerpt

An American empire? Our cover story for this issue is inspired not so much by a settled view of the question as by a conviction that the debate between "multilateralists" and "unilateralists" long ago stopped being very illuminating. September 11 showed that there aren't many pure multilateralists when New York is in flames, and I haven't encountered too many unilateralists who want to pull the plug on, say, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Perhaps America is an empire. It may be merely a great power of unusual strength. Or it may be only first among equals, the powerful leader of a mighty coalition. These alternatives hardly exhaust the possibilities. The point is that how the United States sees itself ought to influence how it acts in different situations. That's why we asked five thinkers to take up the question of empire from their various perspectives.

The cover story owes a particular intellectual debt to one of those contributors, Andrew J. …

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