Is the U.S. an empire?

Question: Does America's status as the sole superpower mean it is becoming an empire?

Shashi Tharoor: No, I don’t think so. I think the U.S. has an extraordinary reach that no other country has; but empires actually go and conquer lands and rule them directly, and the U.S. has shown no particular taste for that. And the one place where it’s tried to do something analogous, Iraq, I think it’s learned bitterly the wisdom of the old French maxim of the statesman Talleyrand that the one thing you cannot do with a bear net is to sit on it. Just ruling a place by force is not going to be a way to build an empire. And I don’t see the U.S. becoming an empire.

Recorded on: 9/18/07


Tharoor believes the US does not have a particular taste for empire.