In our world, the truth is that being against empire -- against the transformation of the U.S. into a giant, gated, overarmed, globe-spanning version of a failed Rome is apolitical sanity, the sort of thing that could and should be embraced by left, right, and center. What we probably need in this country is a new American Anti-Imperialist League of the sort Mark Twain was involved in way back at the end of the nineteenth century in opposition to a war of suppression in the Philippines.
Why, then, are we squandering so many lives and so much treasure in a desperate effort to hold on in Iraq? Only one answer makes any sense from a Washington policymaker's point of view -- to remain the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf and thereby control the global flow of oil. This is the only interpretation that fits with the Pentagon's admission that it plans to retain at least some bases in Iraq indefinitely, no matter what sort of future government emerges in Baghdad (or whether such a government approves of our presence or not).
Let's be very clear: the pursuit of empire and success in what the President calls "the global war on terrorism" are mutually incompatible. The more we seek to dominate the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa, the more we will provoke anti-American fury and the very violent extremism with which we claim to be at war.
A retreat from empire would also force us to use oil more sparingly and this, in turn, would enable us to address another critical threat to American security: the danger of catastrophic environmental damage caused by global climate change. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, our shores are highly vulnerable to powerful hurricanes; and higher ocean temperatures, caused by global warming, are producing increasingly violent ones. Global warming is also contributing to the extreme drought and susceptibility to voracious forest fires in many areas of the American West. By reducing our petroleum consumption and relying more on ethanol, bio-diesel, wind power, solar, and other domestically-produced, alternative sources of energy -- but especially by putting our money into the development of such alternatives rather than to imperial expansion around the globe -- we can, in the long run, reduce our exposure to violence abroad and to environmental catastrophe at home.
So yes, I'm a "defeatist" when it comes to imperial expansion. But I'm a hawk when it comes to overcoming terrorism, saving American lives, averting environmental collapse, and promoting core American values. This is the only truly patriotic course that any of us can espouse.
"Mine! Mine! Mine!" and "Hooray for ME and fuck you!" are not 'core American values' no matter what we're being told by rich and comfortable imperialist wingnut greedheads.