Funnily enough even the Daily Telegraph seems less than enthusiastic given this revealing piece:
America is still fighting against an evil empire
By Adam Nicolson
I spent most of the warm March evening in 1986 when Ronald Reagan started bombing the Libyans in the Gulf of Sirte (the first act, as we can now realise, of this long American war on terrorism) talking to - and, to be honest, gazing at - Miss Teen Texas 1985.
I can't, sadly, remember the rest of her name, but I do remember those few hours as one of the most revelatory of my life. Don't ask how I came to be there, but Miss Teen and I (was it Genevieve? or Penelope? Penny? Pony? Madeleine? Dolores? Patsy, maybe . . . the mists of time) had both been invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion West, Hugh Hefner's lovely Tudor-Breton-GothicCotswold-Pugin-Art Deco Jacuzzi-zoo-grotto-manoir and five-acre estate in the Holmby Hills just outside Hollywood.
The dress instructions had been "chic casual" and so I put on a new pair of socks and came in blue shirt and blue trousers. No one else did. The girls, including Genevieve, wore nearly nothing.
I remember that night as the apotheosis of the revealed American bosom, an endless, dreamlike display of New World fantasy, no airbrushing needed, no digital enhancement required, only an endlessly smiling parade of these marvellous and slightly distant figures culled and gathered from the housing projects and farmlands of a continent.
None of them, I think, can have been over 25 and none of the other men there, Hollywood powerbrokers, wet cigars in sucking lips, big loose shirts over big loose bodies, was under 60.
Hef himself wafted through in his purple pyjamas - he'd had a stroke the year before and was said to be feeling a little "piano" - and told me as he passed how "vurry pleased" he was that I was there, which was nice. It was a momentary snapshot of the American dream, and of course I drank it in.
Naturally, Miss Teen and I discussed geopolitics on a sofa (we did drift past some other things: she told me that Hef wanted her to take her clothes off for the magazine; she didn't think she would; not for that money anyway. Of course not, I said. What an idea. $40,000? Laughable).
She described to me how Libyans had been responsible the previous April for blowing up a Berlin disco in which American soldiers had been killed. Letting loose the navy jets was simply retaliation, self-defence, looking after our own. Of course it was, I said. I would have done it myself.
There wasn't a person in the room, dressed or undressed, who didn't think it a fine thing that was happening over there. Patsy was right there with her boys. That's right, I said. The military campaign ran on, sporadically, through that spring as I drove my Pontiac Catalina convertible, bench seats 7ft wide, eight miles per gallon, up through the great cowboy states of the Rockies.
To my own amazement, and through the fug of a love affair with the American West, I came to think for those few months that knocking hell out of some Libyans was a fine thing, too. Perhaps it was just the afterglow of that evening with incomparable Miss Teen. She had been so interesting about everything that, as you can imagine, to continue the conversation, I had offered to accompany her home.
As we were waiting for one of the bellhops to bring my car to the front door, one of the Hollywood Big Men drew me aside. "Are you going home with that girl?" "I was thinking of giving her a lift." "Well, let me tell you one thing, son: it is much, much better in life to act the shepherd than the ram." Shepherding it was, but perhaps through sheer proximity, I became somehow Americanised that evening.
It was a kind of madness. One had only to look around the wonders of Playboy Mansion West, or the lovely ranches in Montana, or the delicious restaurants in San Francisco, to see what heaven on earth the Americans had made for themselves and were offering the world. Of course they had the right to defend themselves from the unpredictable, vicious and unprincipled people who wanted to destroy the goodness they had enshrined.
America envelops both Americans and the sort of temporary, passing American that I had become in a warm and self-confirming blanket of its own vision of the world. That vision is shaped by some powerful myths and, as Niall Ferguson has written in his fascinating new history of the British empire, there is one idea that lies at the root of them all: "The struggle for liberty against an evil empire," Ferguson has written, "is America's creation myth."
George III's Britain, 1940s Japan, the Soviet bloc and George W Bush's "axis of evil" have all played the same role: the big and threatening force against which America defines itself, not as a global power, but as the land of the free and the home of the brave, whose only concern is to prevent others eroding those liberties. Since long before September 11, it has seen itself, in other words, as essentially on the defensive.
This frame of mind is different from the mentality that has created other global empires. Roman, Spanish, Dutch, French and British empires were all driven by the instinct to acquire and to rule.
But the Americans do not now and have rarely in the past wanted to acquire an empire. They think of themselves as the people who fight against empires. All they want is a free market and freedom from threat, not endless expensive colonies to administer.
Ironically, of course, that attitude, combined with financial strength of an unprecedented kind and an annual $300 billion defence budget, gets you an empire by default. And that is the situation we now have: a world superpower with no real desire to rule the world, but only an enormous and unstoppable capacity to erase those by whom it chooses to feel threatened. Miss Teen, wherever you are, can we talk again?