In the northern Virginia suburbs, two institutions charged with implementing US policy abroad in the second half of the twentieth century—the Defense Department and the CIA—built and occupied the two largest office buildings in the country during and after World War II. They also built a social world; a space of transnational interracial intimacy, violence, and memory; an alternate migration pathway; and a home front where the US empire became an embodied event and a lived, managerial problem. In northern Virginia, what appeared in the formal capital in Washington as “foreign policy” or “diplomatic history” took on its shadow identity as the enduring imperial project so frequently disavowed in American public discourse. The United States did not just have empire, but imperialists. They lived in the covert capital.
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