Since I otherwise and largely agree with my august compeer Rob Payne regarding America's general blood boner, I hope he won't mind if I argue one point, namely that this
Nothing as cynical as the US federal government would embark upon a journey to bring so-called democracy – that sacred cow of the enlightened progressive West— to nations most Americans never heard of and know even less about.is wrong.
If you were to step into my time machine and head back to the eighties, you would probably not find yourself so skeptical of the Soviet desire to bring Soviet communism to Afghanistan. They too wanted central Asian oil, a shake in the opium trade, a foothold in the subcontinent, and a satisfying outlet for their decaying empire's last bloodhumpery, but, sure, they also wanted to recreate a society in their own image. Because we understand Soviet communism as a brutal, unjust, inequitable, etc. system, we have no problem lumping its expansion in with all the other inhuman end goals of that invading state.
Yet we--we skeptics--persist in scoffing at the idea that America has any serious interest in "promoting democracy" because, though I suspect most of us have long had trouble admitting it, even to ourselves, we still hold some notion of democracy in positive regard. Rob's phrasing admits as much: "so-called democracy." Suggesting, obviously, that it is in some manner not really the real thing.
But our democracy is the real thing; this is what democracy looks like. That it is corrupt, violent, satanic, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad . . . this is not some glitch, not some tumor metastasizing into the body politic; this is the flesh-and-bone itself; this is democracy. You look at the corrupt, violent, money-choked gangster regimes in our occupied states and say, Well, clearly we weren't serious about bringing democracy to these poor people, because look at the governments we gave them. Well, those governments look exactly like our own, only a little less refined, a little less skilled--they are not so good at the use of the subtler threats of violence, and so a little more prone, domestically at least, to actual violence.
The point I am making is that our democratic missionaries are exporting democracy as surely as Catholic Europe really did want to convert the natives. Only if you believe that that wasn't really Christianity, or that ours isn't really democracy, do you claim that our governments are too cynical, that they would never really engage in a civilizing mission. No, indeed, they are more cynical than you think. They are so cynical that they would.