No matter how much the moralists emphasise upon equality among the nations of the globe, the realists know well that it is merely a utopian dream of the weak. The economically, militarily or politically powerful states have always dominated the less powerful as per the terms and conditions laid down by them. When the mighty powers subjugate the weak whether directly or indirectly, it is imperialism, pure and simple. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, the world has been at the mercy of USA. Some compare America's formidable strength with the Roman Empire, which, at its zenith was two thousand miles wide and three thousand miles long whereas the US imperium envelopes 193 states including those 120 where her army operates at will. That is why, a former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger confidently asserted in 2001 that America had attained "pre-eminence not enjoyed by even the greatest of empires of the past." How the Americans have achieved their present indomitable status within two centuries of independence is an unrivalled saga that has been beautifully explained by Dr Hafeez Malik, who is a professor of Political Science at the Villanova University, in his recently published book. The US President Monroe fired the first salvo of American self-confidence in 1823 when he warned the European powers that any attempt on their part to interfere in the American hemisphere would be resisted with force of arms. Three decades later, President Lincoln reiterated the growing strength of the American nation when he declared, "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." The message was implicit: from then on, US would not be subservient to any colonial authority, no matter howsoever powerful. This American exuberance deserved commendation: the premise being that all nations are independent to rule themselves as they deem fit. However, by 1920, the US itself, which was once a victim of European colonialism - turned into an imperial power ranking ninth in area, seventh in population but fifth in commerce. America transformed itself from being a defensive into an offensive power due to its territorial expansion in the nineteenth century. Those who mattered in government strongly felt that the vast areas from the Atlantic to the Pacific should be under their control. John O' Sullivan, the editor of Democratic Review termed this territorial hunger as the 'Manifest Destiny' of America. One by one, additional territories were acquired through fair and foul means - the underlying principle being that ends justify the means - and these included conquest, purchase and coups in foreign lands. For example while Alaska was bought from Russia at the rate of two cents an acre, the sovereignty over the Virgin Islands was acquired from Denmark for $25 million. On the other hand, the expulsion of imperial Spain from Cuba and Puerto Rico and the acquisition of Panama Canal made the US an invincible power in the Caribbean. In addition, the annexation of Hawaii was secured by engineering a coup against Queen Liliuokalani. Furthermore, Mexico was forced to cede an area of 850,000 square miles as a result of a war in 1846. The American ascendancy witnessed the decline of British Empire in the 20th century and so the US policy planners confronted three choices: either to prop up the sinking British imperialism or to ignore the issue altogether and let the world go about its business or to replace Great Britain by enforcing a world order of their liking. They opted for the third choice. In order to shape the world in their mould, there have been thirty cases of American intervention in Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia, Middle East and Southern Europe between 1945 and 1999. Even in the 21st century, the US has no intention to shrink itself. On the contrary, it intends to perpetuate its hegemony by preventing with all possible means the re-emergence of a new rival anywhere in the world. After 9/11, it has adopted a more aggressive approach whereby not only could it not be constrained in its designs by its allies or international institutions but it could also use blatant force to bring changes wherever it liked. To ensure this, it has set-up six combatant commands - CENTCOM, EUCOM, NORTHCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM and the one proposed for Africa. A quick look at her increasing defence budgets lays bare her intentions. In 1996, it was $266 billion, which equalled the combined total defence budget of the next six largest defence budgets including Russia, China, Japan, France, Britain and Germany. In 2000, it rose to $295 billion; after September 11 terrorist attacks, it jumped to $300 billion and escalated to $425 billion in 2004 due to Iraq war. In fact, there is no rationale for such a heavy defence spending because these weapons will give this world nothing but blood and tears. No saner mind can approve such imperial over-reach and no country would like to be friends with a power loaded with weapons of death and destruction to the hilt. But for some Americans such as Lt-Gen William E Odhem, who served as the Director of the National Security Agency, the US is an empire of willing members where states "struggle to join it, not to counterbalance it" because it is an ideological empire whose membership is economically advantageous to all the satellite countries. Another defender of US imperialism, the renowned scholar Michael Ignatieff wrote in the New York Times Magazine of January 5, 2003 that "America is not like empires of times past, built on colonies, conquests and the white man's burden...the 21st century imperium empire lite, a global hegemony, whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most awesome military power the world has ever known." Yet another proponent of American imperium, Richard Haas, who served as a member of the US National Security Council was less subtle when he observed that the American policy would follow "the principles of extending control informally if possible and formally if necessary...coercion and the use of force would normally be a last resort." Such comments clearly reveal two distinct strands of thought prevalent among the American intelligentsia. Either there is arrogance of power flimsily shielded behind the aura of self-righteous moralism under which only the Americans decide what is right or wrong for the whole world or there is a culture of fear that is transformed into inflated existential threats to tackle the ever growing challenges to the imperium. Those who think that the current aggressive US policies are actually the result of 9/11 attacks are recommended to read Joseph Schumpeter's Imperialism and Social Classes. This work was published almost half a century ago in 1955. That was the Cold War period completely devoid of any threat from religious fundamentalists. Even then, argues Schumpeter, there was "no corner of the known world where (America) is not alleged to be in danger or under attack. If the interests are not (American), they are those of (America's) allies; and if (America) has no allies, then allies are to be invented. When it is utterly impossible to contrive such an interest - why, then it is the national honour that has been insulted. The fight is always invested with an aura of legality. (America) is always being attacked by evil-minded people, always fighting for peace. The whole world is pervaded by a host of enemies, and it is manifestly (America's) duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs." Every empire manufactures a mantra to justify its exploitative control over other states. For the Western imperialists, the Roman Empire has been the perfect model. The Roman mantra was based upon 'pietas' - honour, piety and arms whereas the propagated mantra of the British colonists was 'the pursuit of liberty'. In 2005, US President Bush announced the American mantra in his inaugural address, as "spreading liberty around the world was the calling of our time." This mantra is used as a justification to effect regime change in those states which refuse to follow the imperial dictates. The 'liberation' of Iraq is a sad example. If this is the philosophy to rule the world, the resistance is bound to come from all the self-respecting peoples irrespective of race and religion because everybody needs a breathing space under the sun. Nobody can claim monopoly over the noble ideals of freedom, democracy and humanism and every nation has the indisputable right to chart out its course keeping in view its peculiar socio-cultural conditions. It is high time that the US should try to win the hearts and minds of people otherwise the fate of her imperium may not be much different from the great empires of the yore. However, one lesson of history is that the nations of the world do not learn any lesson from history. E-mail: