It is time for a truly ethical foreign policy, based on true moral superiority. Of course, a half-century of war in Europe, followed by a half-century of peace in Europe, have entirely drained Britain’s own capacity for this sort of project. The responsibility rests with our imperial offspring, the United States. But she can take the earlier empire, which she once so rudely resiled from, as her guide.
The British empire, said Queen Victoria, existed ‘to protect the poor natives and advance civilisation’. On one level this was a practical project — the irrigation of Egypt and the Indus, the laying of railways and founding of schools. But at a deeper level the empire was a moral project. Lurid tales of imperial savagery — the dumdum bullet and the Maxim gun, and the fate of the Indian mutineers, lashed to the muzzles of fieldpieces and blown to bits to the beat of drums — rather understandably obscure the fact that the empire was essentially a humanitarian undertaking.
--Daniel Kruger in The Spectator