There has always been a certain dissonance at play with America’s response to imperialism. While the United States routinely criticized European power land grabs around the world during the 19th and 20th century, as long as Europe stayed out of the Western hemisphere, Americans did not meddle. With the coming of the Cold War, however, America found itself awkwardly confronted by a necessity: while they rejected imperialism they also feared the expansion of communism. Consequently, the liberation of European colonies, while desirable at the level of principle, proved practically difficult as many were ripe for communist intervention. National security and national principles existed in an uneasy tension.
In the aftermath of that dicey and often contradictory time, it remains fashionable among members of the left to excoriate European imperialism and America’s complicity with it. The irony is that left wing attacks upon America’s past actions miss the fact that the left itself propagates a cultural imperialism in the developing world.