I’m a little late here, but just wanted to say bravo on a really well-written piece. I certainly enjoyed it!
But I did want to voice one disagreement I have with you. I think you’re oversimplifying things a bit when you suggest that conservatives tend to take a romantic view of imperialism simply because liberals oppose it. As you yourself acknowledge, anti-colonialism “has a lot of anti-capitalist, Marxist theories attached to it.” Now you also point out that it’s possible to “detach” those theories from anti-colonialism and essentially establish an anti-colonialist doctrine with a distinct right-wing flavor. I completely agree, and I wish conservatives would try doing just that.
That being said, whenever I’m thinking about anything political, the first thing I wonder is what impact (insert idea here) will have on the next election and beyond. Now there’s obviously a segment of the Republican base that appreciates the colonialism-really-isn’t-all-that-bad platform that some Republicans espouse. So if there was a serious push to divorce conservatism from colonialism entirely, it would undoubtedly create a rift within that base. I don’t think it would be a particularly large rift at first, but there’s no way that the left wouldn’t seize on the opportunity to exploit and possibly expand that rift to try and do serious damage to the GOP. I imagine most GOP leaders are perfectly aware of this and just aren’t willing to take that risk, even if it would be both the right thing to do and help make the party stronger in the long run.
To be clear, though, I’m not suggesting that that’s a sufficient reason for conservatives not to reconsider their approach to this issue. Colonialism is, in my opinion, morally indefensible, and I’d like to see it laid to rest once and for all.
Anyways, great post! Keep up the good work!