places, there is no compelling reason to go there or send troopsrnthere or assume commitments there or spend money there, butrnwe are going anyway because we have the power to do it and wernwant to exercise that power.” That kind of honesty would indeedrnbe a far cry from Vergil or Kipling, but at least we would bernadmitting what we are doing.rnOf course, we do not make such admissions for two reasons.rnFirst, other nations would not like it if the United States openlyrnacknowledged it was assuming a global imperial role withoutrnthe window dressing of humanitarianism and altruism; and,rnsecondly, because the American people would not like to hearrnthat this is what they are being asked to support. Americans,rneven after a century of “internationalism,” “interventionism,”rnand crusades against one global villain after another, still do notrnwant to assume the price of empire, still do not willingly sendrnout the best they breed or bind their sons (and now theirrndaughters) to exile without being told that there is some goodrnreason for doing so. To our imperialist friends, this reluctancernto send our sons to die in someone else’s wars, or refusal tornspend our taxes on war, foreign aid, and the whole vast bureaucracyrnthat administers the imperial system, is narrowly selfish,rnbut the fact is that there are few better reasons to resist imperialismrnthan what are called “narrowly selfish” ones.rnYet if not wanting to be killed in someone else’s war or notrnwanting to spend your money on it are not sufficiently persuasivernreasons for resisting imperialism, there are others, and all ofrnthem, the ultimate price tags of empire, can be summarized inrnthe rule that the rise of empire abroad invariably means the declinernof self-government at home. There are several dimensionsrnto the inverse relationship between empire and self-government,rnand the rest of what I have to say today will make thernrelationship clear.rnHow is it, then, that the rise of empire results in the declinernof self-government, and why is the inverse relationship betweenrnself-government and empire true? First, self-government or republicanrngovernment necessarily rests on an ideal of civic independence,rnon the idea as well as the reality that the citizens ofrna republic are self-sufficient, that they govern themselves personallyrnand morally as well as politically. The self-sufficiency,rnthe civic independence, of the citizens of a republic, the idearnthat the citizens should support themselves economically,rnshould be able to defend themselves, educate themselves, andrndiscipline themselves, is closely connected to the idea of publicrnvirtue, as historian Forrest McDonald explains in his book onrnthe formation of the Constitution, Novus Ordo Seclorum:rnPublic virtue entailed firmness, courage, endurance, industry,rnfrugal living, strength, and above all, unremittingrndevotion to the weal of the public’s corporate self, therncommunity of virtuous men. It was at once individualisticrnand communal: individualistic in that no member ofrnthe public could be dependent upon any other and stillrnbe reckoned a member of the public; communal in thatrnevery man gave himself totally to the good of the publicrnas a whole. If public virtue declined, the republic declined,rnand if it declined too far, the republic died.rnNow it should be seen at once that this essential characteristicrnof a republic, the independence or autonomy of its citizens,rnruns counter to what an empire requires. Alexis de Toequeville,rncommenting in a famous passage of his Democracy in America,rngrasped the contradiction, although he expressed it in terms ofrnthe tension between the needs of foreign affairs (what he calledrn”foreign politics”) and the characteristics of a democracy.rnForeign politics demand scarcely any of those qualitiesrnwhich are peculiar to a democracy; they require, on therncontrary, the perfect use of almost all those in which it isrndeficient… a democracy can only with great difficultyrnregulate the details of an important undertaking, perseverernin a fixed design, and work out its execution in spiternof various obstacles. It cannot combine its measures withrnsecrecy or await their consequences with patience.rnThese arc qualities which more especially belong to anrnindividual or an aristocracy; and they are precisely thernqualities by which a nation, like an individual, attains arndominant position.rnTocquevillc’s passage sounds as though he was faulting democracy,rnand probably he was, but the incapacity of “democracy” tornsucceed at “foreign politics” is one of the former’s virtues. It isrnindeed difficult to discipline a self-governing people into “perseveringrnin a fixed design” having to do with foreign affairs, forrnthe simple reason that the people are going to have betterrnthings to do—to raise their children, earn their livings, and attendrnto their own complicated and serious business and responsibilities.rnA self-governing people is simply too busy, as arnrule, with the concerns of self-government to take much interestrnin other peoples’ business. Moreover, those who wish tornpersevere in foreign designs are unlikely in a republic to havernsufficient power to make the people go along with them, norrncan they, in a free society, induce the people to shut up aboutrnwhat they are up to long enough to keep it or its managementrnsecret. A self-governing people generally abhors secrecy in governmentrnand rightly distrusts it.rnThe only way, then, in which those intent upon “fixed designs”rnin foreign affairs, especially in the expansion of theirrnpower over other peoples, can succeed is by diminishing therndegree of self-government in their own society. They mustrnpersuade the self-governing people that there is too much selfgovernmentrngoing around, that the people themselves simplyrnare not smart enough or well-informed enough to deservernmuch say in such complicated matters as foreign policy, andrnthat, just as war is too important to be left to the generals, sornforeign affairs is just too important to be left to the people.rnThis, of course, is precisely what the State Department and thernforeign policy establishment in this country have been telling usrnever since World War I and continue to tell us today. We hearrnit every time politicians and bureaucrats invoke “national security”rnto avoid telling us what they have been up to or are planningrnto do, and every time an American President intones thatrn”politics stop at the water’s edge.” Of course, politics do notrnstop at the water’s edge, unless we as a people are willing to surrenderrna vast amount of control over what the government doesrnin military, foreign, economic, and intelligence affairs.rnEmpire, in other words, or even a government to which foreignrnintervention is continuously important, requires centralizationrn—centralization of authority, decision-making, andrndiscussion—and sooner or later the effort to institutionalizernsuch centralization leads to the decline of self-government,rnwhich requires the decentralization that accompanies civic independence.rnMoreover, empire requires not only centralization of author-rn)UNE 1997/15rnrnrn