Believe it or not, there are actually some Republicans out there besides Pat Buchanan who think that maybe an American empire isn't such a good idea.
An unusual manifesto is circulating through the e-mail boxes of prominent Washingtonians from an ad hoc group calling itself the "Committee for the Republic." Its five sponsors include conservative C. Boyden Gray, a White House lawyer in the first Bush administration; Chas. W. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The manifesto is a work in progress, its authors say. But the goal is clear: to educate Americans about the dangers of empire. . . .Just when you think the Republican Party is irreformable, it turns out there are a few populists in it after all.
"The American Revolution was a nationalist revolt against the British Empire," the draft manifesto argues. "Our country was born as a defiant rejection of the legitimacy of imperialism." Citing the lessons of the classics, it argues that the "inevitable cost of empire" is a loss of political and economic freedom at home. "Domestic liberty is the first casualty of adventurist foreign policy."
While the draft was written before the latest flap over bad intelligence used in the State of the Union address, it also argues: "To justify the high cost of maintaining rule over foreign territories and peoples, leaders are left with no choice but to deceive the people."