Empire, What's it Good For?

A follow up to Darwin’s post.   I do not think that the United States is an empire, at least in the manner of past empires, and I do not wish to reopen that debate here.  I am more intrigued by the question of whether an empire has to be evil by definition.  I think it is an undeniable fact of history that, as is the case with all forms of human government, there have been evil empires, the Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union top that list, mostly good empires, the British Empire I think is the prime example, and mixed empires, the Roman and the Spanish empires come to mind.  Even a mostly good empire can be hard to live under, as the Founding Fathers and my Irish ancestors would attest, and even an evil empire will have its adherents.  Like any human institution an empire has to be judged on its record.  The best empires I think are those which bring peace and allow for trade and the exchange of ideas among different peoples.  The wisest empires understand that no human institution can last forever and help to prepare by their actions their peoples for the day when the empire will be one with Nineveh and Tyre.