DR. AHMED: The United States, Andrea, is a giant. Today, it is the only superpower. You must remember the psychology of the world. Whether you like it ... don't like it ... I know Americans are very, sometimes, taken aback, - But we are not imperialists ... We want to be left alone... It is like Britain a hundred years ago. The sun never set on the British empire. Everything that happened in Tehran or Kabul or Delhi, people said, was organized by the British. And the British being slightly more subtle in terms of diplomacy (I won't make any other comparisons) ... but being slightly more subtle, would allow that rumor to go, because they would say, - If people think we are omnipotent, it's not such a bad thing after all. Perhaps we were behind that big fire in the bazaar. Perhaps we weren't. But it created the myth of the British empire straddling the world. Now, you being forthright Americans, you kicked them out. And that was that. But the rest of the world was stuck with them for a hundred years. It's a similar situation. The United States of America today is the superpower.
Excerpt from a program with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University from an interview on June 22, 2006.