What Imperialism, Exactly?

I’m baffled by those who refer to our recent actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and the coming action in Iraq, as “imperialism.”
Take, for instance, Bill Keller in the Times today (as pointed to by Mr. Sullivan): he refers to those who favor an aggressive foreign policy as “the cheerleaders of the new imperialism”.
Most certainly a thing that makes me go “Hmmmmm.”
Iraq as a nation didn’t materialize out of the sand, you know. And America bears more than a little responsibility for establishing the conditions that left Afghanistan such a basket-case that the Taliban appeared to be an improvement (briefly).
Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic, but doesn’t the “new imperialism” look a hell of a lot like fixing the damage done by the old, actual imperialism of Britain and (to a lesser degree) the United States?
Why in the world are military actions designed to get rid of the lousy governments that resulted, in whole or in part, from pre- and post-WWII Anglo-American machinations and replace them with actual democracies regarded as a “new imperialism”?
It’s anti-imperialism, quite literally. Or, in less political terms: it’s called cleaning up your own mess.
You’d think those on the liberal side of the political chasm, who quite rightly condemned many of the actions that led to these governments coming into existence in the first place, would be cheering it on. But that would require accepting that America might actually be acting as a force for good in the world — and that is a concept that today’s Left can’t seem to accept, even for a moment.
Rather a pity, because here’s a news flash: if we aren’t the good guys, then there just plain aren’t any…
PS – See, that was almost actually interesting blogging, wasn’t it? Heck, I’m tryin’ here, throw me a bone