The base issues are liberty and freedom and a government of laws, which is precursor to same.
The objective is spreading those across the planet on the theory that people are better off with those freedoms than not. The question then is how best to do that.
Force is one method, and it worked for the West in Japan in 1945. Proselytization is another, one by which the West never has succeeded. Western Civilization – and its freedoms – only has expanded historically through use of force. That may be because of our concern for all — women and children as well as the men.
In “traditional” or pre-modern societies, strong men have the power to do whatever they like to others. In countries in which Western freedoms have not caught hold through example, it may be due to the men not being willing to give equal treatment to the less-powerful – – women, children, other tribes.
Where superior force has succeeded in advancing Western freedoms (and they are Western), the alternative of force has not been open to the men forming the (overthrown) power structure. A valid example is slavery; it was eradicated in the West due to Western Civilization’s concern for all human beings; it has never been eradicated outside the West absent Western force — the powerful like it and don’t care about the less-powerful.
The point is that there may be a good reason the rights and liberties of Western Civilization have expanded only due to force, and this reason is a respect for the less-powerful in a society.
Islam has spread greatly due to local adoption without force. This may be due to the fact that it is all about power, giving divine authority to the powerful, a religious backing for being powerful and treating the less-powerful as second-class citizens (or worse), even when there have been legal and popularly-accepted classes of citizenship, as held by Christians and Jews in the Ottoman (and earlier Islamic) empires. As Bernard Lewis has pointed out, Muslim countries today are backward because of their clergy and the thirst for power among those who already have it.
A civilization, Islam, which coalesces the force of the strong men with what is viewed as the legitimacy of divine guidance, providing the educated and ill-educated alike a rationale to enforce the wishes of the strong over the weak (the vast majority throughout all of the non-Western world) may always compete successfully in the hearts and minds category, since it panders to those already holding power. If, indeed, that is the case, Western — particularly American — values being spread through force may be the only way to reach the desired state of affairs – liberty and freedom and a government of laws.
America is the only country able to project force globally in a significant manner, yet Americans don’t want to keep or rule over foreign lands. The UN would be a hindrance in this effort and may, indeed, be standing “athwart” history, keeping its member states frozen in an out-dated mold.
We should “contain” the UN at this point to humanitarian issues. They should not be paid attention to insofar as relations between nations as they have proven themselves a hindrance to peaceful progress. They didn’t fix S. Africa, they didn’t fix the USSR, they haven’t fixed anything in the Middle East, there is no reason whatsoever to believe they can change.
Done piecemeal, which is the only reasonable way, there is every possibility that the Islamsists, the current autocratic power structures and clergy could be overthrown in a few cases by the West (Iraq, Syria, perhaps Jordan), and then the citizenry of others (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, others) could begin to rise up, re-forming Islam into a more modern civilization, perhaps even westernizing in the areas of capitalism and human rights.
From the French Revolution to the Russian revolution (the first one, not Lenin’s), this is exactly what happened in the West — people forcibly changing their governments for their assumed betterment. To not believe it could happen in Islam may be incorrect. They are backward now but have a history of excellent education, creativity, science and art.
If one accepts that Western freedoms ought not be limited to the West, that people are better off free than not, that all peoples will be better off if the world becomes richer through capitalism — which has resulted in every significant invention and discovery of the past 500 years, perhaps the best thing for the next 1000 years is a continuation of conquest by America – or perhaps by the Western democracies which alone share the rule of law — over other civilizations.
First, and perhaps only, that may mean a conquest of Islam. China is turning capitalistic and most likely will become democratic as the power of capitalism takes hold. Japan may very well be subsumed either by true capitalism, by China or by general implosion due to its tiny and declining birth rates – and then by China. East Orthodoxy is starting to become westernized as capitalism slowly takes hold in Russia; logically this will accelerate over time.