I have previously argued that the ability to ‘embrace’ its members effectively – to identify them individually and to draw a boundary around them collectively – is a key attribute of modern nation states, a fact that massively promoted the ‘revolution identificatoire’ that has characterized the development of modern state bureaucracy. Meanwhile, Emmanuelle Saada has noted that ‘the colonial setting played the role of a laboratory for the “identifying State” ’ (Saada 2003: 17). There is indeed good reason to think that this is the case; in German Southwest Africa, for example, the German government developed in the course of its domination of colonial populations a number of the techniques later applied against the Jews. Against the backdrop of recent developments, however, one wonders whether the nation state wasn’t, in turn, the ‘laboratory’ for empire itself – a new kind of empire (if that is the correct term) embodied by the post-Cold War United States.