Actually, while I agree with your thesis, I’d like you to flesh it out. What are the new “values and features” of empire?
I think that a nation exists for its own people. But an empire exists to pursue foreign wars in an ever expanding quest for more power. Nations don't fight unless their own homeland is threatened. Empires keep fighting to keep pushing outwards and keep expanding the domain of their influence, in an endless cycle of foreign adventurism.
I think that America's founding fathers came up with an excellent framework to build a harmonious and prosperous nation. But as that nation naturally prospered and grew, then at some point it came under the sway of those who wanted to harness that success and use it to build an empire.
I think Woodrow Wilson was an example of a president who sought to involve America in wars in Europe, and he even high-handedly suppressed domestic criticism of his over-ambitious policies. Wilson's intervention in WW1 led to the very lopsided Treaty of Versailles, which created so much resentment and grievance in Germany that it later led to the rise of Hitler and his Third Reich. Had Wilson not played his negative role, then there might not have been a WW2.
Another example would be Theodore Roosevelt, who supported Japanese militarism because he wanted the Japanese to fight the Russians and tie them down in the Far East, This again helped endanger the Pacific and led to WW2. In a sense, Imperial Japan were forerunners of the Afghan jihadists, who were the product of a later foreign policy era stunt.
Kennedy naively jumped into Vietnam, and Johnson continued the quagmire even further.
Nixon and Kissinger got out of Vietnam, but decided to tilt the US toward China, in the hopes that they could use China to contain the Soviet Union on its eastern flank. But this policy has continued even beyond the breakup of the Soviet Union, and has now resulted in a very powerful China which can now exert its hegemony over the Asia-Pacific, and even potentially become a global hegemon and world's biggest supwerpower. Yet to this day, Henry Kissinger insists that the solution to this predicament is for the US to kowtow even further to China - even after China's role in the origins of the COVID pandemic.
Carter and Brzezinski sought to cultivate jihadists to likewise bleed the Soviet Union, and we can see that this ultimately culminated in 9-11, and America's longest overseas war in Afghanistan.
Carter lost Iran, and Reagan supported Saddam to hammer Iran. Saddam then later got out of control, and Bush then hammered Iraq.
Clinton & Albright did their part in going into the Balkans and taking sides in that civil war, creating an unstable arrangement that can't last, and could potentially provoke yet another major war. They also tried to shove Israelis & Palestinians into a shotgun wedding which soon broke down, resulting in the intifada.
After 9-11 happened, Bush Jr, egged on by discontented factions of the aforementioned peace breakdown, used 9-11 as a pretext to destroy Iraq even worse, because he was upset that Saddam had outlasted his dad in power.
Obama was more hands-on on domestic policy and more hands-off on foreign policy. Domestically, he was like a tail wagging the dog, seeking to build up govt power to redistribute wealth as he saw fit. On foreign policy, he let the various special interest lobbies have their way, just like Clinton did.
Trump actually tamped down on some of America's overreaching foreign engagements, but he antagonized the special interest lobbies who sought to invert the narrative against him, by claiming he was a warmonger.
Biden is now the ultimate shill, both senile and pliable, with all of his party's special interest lobbies running amok right under his blind gaze, with him either not seeing or not caring. They're running the show, and he's just the front-man, the puppet on the throne.
You may remember this old nursery rhyme song:
As the end of the song shows, the cycle of stuntsmanship is unsustainable.