I learned in History class about all kinds of empires, and the motives that were said to drive them--British colonialism and trading, Chinese nationalism, the Spanish quest for gold. Some of these empires were more harsh, and some were kinder, but none were said to conquer other nations primarily for their own good. All were selfish.
America? We've done terrible things, too, as we've gone from isolationist Republic with a lot of farmland to worldwide empire with territory around the globe. We now have hundreds of overseas military bases, with a military presence of more than 1,000 soldiers in over a dozen countries, and we spend more on our military than the next ten countries combined. Some say that blowback from our involvement in the Cold War has led to resentment in countries where our forceful anti-Communist policies made life worse for people--particularly in Afghanistan.
But the fact is, when our leaders sent soldiers into Iraq and Afghanistan, our leaders spoke of liberating the people from oppressive leaders. They spoke of leaving voluntarily as soon as a legitimate authority could keep the peace, as soon as the country was no longer a threat to our security. And then they got criticized when they didn't leave fast enough.
Machiavelli is rolling in his grave. Doesn't America know that the proper thing is to conquer other countries permanently, to add them to the ever-growing power of the greatest country on earth? (I'm being sarcastic.) We're very different from the imperialism of earlier empires.
Of course, it'd be nice to go back to George Washington's advice to not get entangled in stupid wars at all. I'd like that. But I have to admit, America has been more respectful and less selfish than any other world power in history.
And that is something to be proud of.