No, not American empire. Yet, because of Iraq, certain issues having to do "democratization" have come up, as they should, and are going to be discussed more poignantly than ever before. This article by Theodore Dalrymple in the latest issue of The City Journal might be a good place to start. He tries to show that even with the best intentions, the British in Africa had a very bad effect on the native countries and thei government. Here is just a paragraph:
"In fact, it was the imposition of the European model of the nation-state upon Africa, for which it was peculiarly unsuited, that caused so many disasters. With no loyalty to the nation, but only to the tribe or family, those who control the state can see it only as an object and instrument of exploitation. Gaining political power is the only way ambitious people see to achieving the immeasurably higher standard of living that the colonialists dangled in front of their faces for so long. Given the natural wickedness of human beings, the lengths to which they are prepared to go to achieve power—along with their followers, who expect to share in the spoils—are limitless. The winner-take-all aspect of Africa’s political life is what makes it more than usually vicious."
An English blogger, Ian Murray has a couple of thoughtful paragraphs on this issue; he disagrees with Dalrymple. He includes in the discussion thoughts from Niall Fergusons book, Empire. I recommend a look. Thoughtful.