Dear Editor:

In demonstrating that “Americans do not hunger for territory,” Marc A. Thiessen quotes the following from an “enthralling” 2004 Krauthammer lecture (“On Charles Krauthammer, my friend, mentor, and lodestar,” June 13): “We like it here. We like our McDonald’s. We like our football….We’ve got the Grand Canyon and Graceland.…And if that’s not enough, we’ve got Vegas — which is a facsimile of everything.” This reads like a standup routine I was performing the same year, as I was ra-ra, gung-ho for Bush, Cheney, Rice and that whole country-club conservative lot. Today I’m embarrassed.

To dismiss American empire which, even if unconventional, doles out reward and punishment to countries that do or don’t play ball (as opposed to live and let live), such that even Czechs find their government answering to Washington’s preferences and demands more than to its citizenry’s, is a copout. This is without mentioning our “democracy-spreading” that’s decimated Christian populations throughout the globe.

Thiessen paraphrases Krauthammer saying, “We are not an imperial power,” which echoes Dick Cheney’s words that I once cheered: “We are not an expansionist state.” At the time, I was still able to compartmentalize our violent dismantling of Yugoslavia as an American aberration — something that could happen only under an amoral president like Bill Clinton. I didn’t know it had started with Bush I, or that it would be consummated under Bush II. And now we’ve set our sights on non-Soviet Russia, which for two decades did try to play ball but was shut out, confirming that the Balkan prequel was no aberration.

In the early days of our courtship, my husband and I bonded over a (still) brilliant 1990 Krauthammer article he had on his wall. What a disillusioning two decades it’s been, as all the Krauthammers, Cheneys, Kristols, and their acolytes are exposed as destructive frauds.