The Italians are rightly proud of Ancient Rome, the French revere the Napoleonic First Empire, the Portuguese esteem Prince Henry the Navigator as highly as the Austrians do Emperor Charles V, or the Spanish King Philip II. You won’t find a Russian who denigrates Peter or Catherine the Great, any more than a Greek who despises the Athens of Pericles. In Uzbekistan the highest order of chivalry is the Order of Temur, named after their all-conquering hero Tamerlaine, and—despite decades of official disapproval—Mongolians still toast the memory of the great Genghis Khan. Indeed, there is no country or race that is expected to feel guilty about the moment their empire occupied the limelight of History—except of course the English-speaking peoples.

For us, the fact that first the British and then the American hegemonies have held global sway since the Industrial Revolution...

 
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