Henry Luce coined the phrase “The American Century” as an expression of the militant economic globalism that has characterized American policy from the days of William McKinley. Luce, the publisher of Time and Fortune, was the child of missionaries in China—a product, in other words, of American religious and cultural globalism. It is no small irony that this preacher’s kid was the chief spokesman for a global movement which, in its mature phase, has emerged as the principal enemy of the Christian faith.

The approach to Christianity taken by the postmodern, post-civilized, and post-Christian American regime is a seamless garment: At home, the federal government bans prayer in school, enforces multiculturalism in the universities, and encourages the immigration of non-Christian religious minorities who begin agitating against Christian symbols the day they arrive; abroad, the regime refuses to defend Christians from the genocide inflicted by Muslims in the Sudan, while in the Balkans it has waged a ruthless and inhumane war against the Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia. The inhumanity of NATO’s air campaign against villages, heating plants, and television stations reveals, even in the absence of other evidence, the anti-Christian hatred that animates the Washington regime. The destruction of Christianity in the Balkans, from this perspective, is only the first step toward the eventual goal, which Voltaire summed in his personal motto, “écraser l’infame.”

Henry Luce was a devotee of the truly American religion of progress and profits, and after World War II his magazines reinvented a United States that was strangely detached from the realities of American life. His vision of America as one vast YMCA youth camp—albeit the youth had nuclear weapons—was about as realistic as the images projected by his contemporary and rival, Walt Disney.

Tailoring his message to patterns laid down by his country’s political leaders, Luce did not believe that objective reporting was possible, much less desirable. Today, Luce’s successors in the media play the same game on a vastly bigger stage, and corporate America has merged the visions of Time-Warner-NBC and Disney-CNN-ABC into a global ministry of fear.

Luce did not invent the American Empire; he only shilled for it. His American Century began in the Philippines 100 years ago, when the American regime refined the policies and techniques discovered in the Civil War. For 100 years, American globalists have pursued their aims, checked occasionally by the will of ordinary people—populists and progressives, America Firsters and peaceniks—people who, until recently, could not be fooled all of the time. That was before CNN.

The oldest and best form of American imperialism is the commercial expansion advocated by Republicans—McKinley, Taft, Hoover, and Eisenhower—who warned against the military-industrial complex. Although all of these free-traders were occasionally willing to back up the politics of self-interest with gunboats, they preferred to rely, whenever possible, on dollar diplomacy. McKinley had no hesitation about establishing American economic hegemony in Cuba and the Philippines, but he had to be dragged into war.

Free trade, these Babbitts believed, could be the route to market penetration around the globe, and one of the early slogans of commercial imperialists was the “Open Door.” Sometimes, however, the door had to be kicked in by the Marines. As one spokesman for American industry put it 100 years ago, “One way of opening up a market is to conquer it.” This is what Bill Clinton meant when he justified his attack on Yugoslavia on the grounds that we need a stable Europe as a market for American goods.

The second strain is represented by the military imperialists: the two Roosevelts, neoconservative hawks like Jeane Kirkpatrick, and our hormonally challenged secretary of state. One hundred years ago, they put their trust in the Navy and gradually switched to advocating reliance on airpower: The common thread is a concern with long-range power and a desire to minimize risks to our troops. They want the United States to be the international cop or, increasingly, mercenary rent-a-cop hiring out to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey.

Some day soon, we shall see NATO troops putting down the rebellious Kurds in Turkey—just a few months ago, the Turkish army was bombing the “rebel strongholds” and pursuing the Kurds into Iraq. Of course, it will take a few months to switch gears, to go from talking about the democratic right to secede to reaffirming our historical commitment to preserving sovereignty, but considering how quickly the American and British media switched principles on secession in the Balkans—yes to Croatia and Bosnia, no to the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs, yes to the Kosovo Albanians — it should not be much of a stretch either for the journalists or their readers, whose brains have been so pithed by TV that they are almost as stupid as Peter Jennings and Jim Lehrer.

The third strain is represented by sentimental imperialists, exemplified by Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter, who sugarcoated America’s global mission with the language of democracy, progress, human rights—an approach that justifies even more dangerous adventurism than the rent-a-cop militarism of George Bush.

Even the most tough-minded Americans are suckers for a messianic appeal; it must have something to do with the Puritan legacy. Even bluff old Bill McKinley, in declaring war on the people of the Philippines, a war that would cost the lives of more than 200,000 civilians, proclaimed the aim of our military administration was “to win the confidence, respect, and affection of the inhabitants . . . by assuring them . . . that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of a free people, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.”

In even more unctuous tones. Bill Clinton insists that he is not making war on the Serbian people, only on Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, however, is still alive — so, for that matter, is Saddam Hussein—but thousands of Serbian and Albanian civilians are dead and many more thousands injured. When our missiles hit the homes of peasants and kill a dozen civilians, we say it is an unfortunate accident or that the Serbs blew up their own houses.

When Bill Clinton tells the world that “this is about our values,” I wonder what values he means: The slaughter of the innocent? An addiction to lying? Adultery? Rape (a word forbidden in Washington out of consideration for the President’s personal difficulties)?

There is, of course, a convergence of interests in these three strains: Bringing human rights to China means exporting pop commercial culture, which degrades the peasantry to the level of ours and forces them into the global marketplace of jeans and Cokes and McDonald’s, while the militarists get to sell the most sensitive technology—or give it away in return for bribe—which thus alarms the right-wing paranoids in Middle America and gets them ready for all-out war, if necessary, with China.

The new American globalism has a logic of its own, one based on universal free trade, which destroys local economies; open immigration for non-Europeans and non-Christians, who can be used to undermine a civilization that is both Christian and European; and universal human rights, which are the pretext for world government.

Applied to Kosovo, this approach means giving unqualified support to the Muslim immigrants who were brought in by Turks for the express purpose of driving out and subjugating the Christian Serbs—a policy continued by German Nazis and Tito’s communists. Now that these tactics have enabled them to constitute a majority, they are to be rewarded for over 100 years of terrorism. The object is to force any historic religious community to give way to the multicultural jurisdiction of the NATO empire, which is revolted by the Serbs’ attachment to Kosovo as a sacred place, hallowed by ancient churches and by the blood of heroes and Christian martyrs.

American imperialism did not begin overnight, and its progress is not the result of a cynical conspiracy. It was inevitable that European settlers would conquer the continent and perhaps tragically fated that they would then apply the lessons they had learned to the rest of the world. The three formative experiences were the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and above all the Spanish-American War, and the techniques of manipulation and propaganda used in those conflicts are being applied —to the nth degree—in the NATO attack on Yugoslavia.

In the Spanish-American War, the propagandists first set up the contrast between the evil Spaniards and the virtuous natives, but when the Filipino natives wanted to liberate themselves and establish their own government, another metaphor was adopted, this one from the Indian Wars: hostiles and friendlies. In the Philippines, the press worked overtime railing against the primitive culture and savage behavior of the natives, which justified a thorough treatment. General Howling Jake Smith ordered his men to kill anyone who resisted—including women and children—along with all combatants, whom he defined as any male often years or more. He received his nickname when he told his officers to turn an entire island into a howling wilderness.

To persuade small-town American boys to risk their lives for a chance to butcher Filipinos or Serbs, you need a symbolic incident. The conflict with Mexico gave us a real massacre at the Alamo, but ever since we have found a series of phony events: the firing on Ft. Sumter, which Lincoln confessed was a set-up; the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which never took place. The sinking of the battleship Maine, which the Spaniards did not blow up in Havana Harbor, is the perfect parallel to the media-created massacres in Sarajevo. Ever)’ night on NATO TV, we are shown hour after hour of footage of weary Albanian refugees and a few minutes—if that—of the people killed by the bombing. In the world of Disney-CNN, real atrocities are buried under layers of faked incidents and commercial sentimentalism.

The media are obviously the key. As William Randolph Hearst cabled his reporter in Cuba (who had said he could find no war going on): “You furnish the pictures; I’ll furnish the war.” Every petty conflict becomes a mobilization of the press and the intellectual classes in a progressive struggle against fascism and inhumanity and the unending series of Hitlers and holocausts.

Anyone who has studied the examples of the Roman and British Empires will find the rhetoric familiar. Julius Caesar plundered his way across Gaul, always on the pretext that he was defending Rome’s Gallic allies, first from the Germans and then from each other. A century and a half later, Tacitus, himself a member of the Roman imperial aristocracy, put this summation of Roman policy in the mouth of a British rebel: “They make a desert, and they call it peace.” With the advantages of a classical education, America’s British allies dubbed the NATO plan for Kosovo “Operation Agricola” in honor of the Roman general whose conquest of Britain had inspired his son-in-law Tacitus’s characterization of the Roman Empire.

None of this would be possible without the eager complicit)’ of the press, which has been conscripted into military service. Teddy Roosevelt was shocked by newspapermen who looked upon their profession as just another job and insisted that they “are just as much public servants as are the men in government service themselves.” It is a cozy relationship between government and the press, symbolized by the relationship between Jamie Rubin and Christiane Amanpour.

In the Kosovo conflict, whose purpose has never been defined (or, rather, has been defined once too often), people like Sen, John McCain are saying, in essence, that they do not know why we are bombing Yugoslavia but now that we are, we must send in ground troops to maintain the credibility of NATO, and more than one presidential candidate thinks he can crawl into the White House over the bodies of dead Serbian civilians. Even critics of the Clinton-Blair bombing have constantly reiterated their “support for the Commander in Chief”—a phrase that will someday be viewed as the English translation of “We were only following orders.”

At the beginning of the century, when Uncle Sam was conquering the Philippines, his cousin John Bull was mopping up the Boers. Winston Churchill advised the Americans to be as ruthless in pursuit of their empire as the English were in South Africa. But the Boer War was actually the beginning of the end for the British Empire, as many patriotic Englishmen (like G.K. Chesterton) recoiled in horror from the brutality of imperial conquest.

Unfortunately, the United States did not learn its lesson in the Philippines. Badly checked in Southeast Asia, we believed we had learned the lesson of Vietnam—to leave complex and inscrutable foreign conflicts to the locals—but in the 1980’s, a new exuberance began to manifest itself in Central America, for example, where shadowy representatives of the administration and the CIA played war games that cost the lives of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and Salvadorans. When our allies murdered several Jesuit priests, a sinister American diplomat named William Walker covered up the evidence and helped prepare the official lie given to the American people, and it was that same William Walker who conveniently discovered the Racak massacre of 45 Albanian civilians and gave Bill Clinton his excuse for a war. That massacre, however, never took place, as our readers know.

Racak takes it place alongside of other phony incidents —the sinking of the Maine and the Reichstag Fire. And when NATO has finished with the Serbs, it can discover the persecution of the helpless Chechyns in Russia or, better still, the persecuted Albanians in Northern Greece—an area explicitly claimed by Albanian-American spokesmen.

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton look on the conquest of Serbia as the beginning of a NATO world-empire; I rather think it is America’s Boer War, the beginning of the end for a country that was once a great republic and is now a lousy empire.