The Telegraph splashes on grave news of a celebrity marriage on the rocks... no, not Posh'n'Becks, but Bush'n'Blair. According to Michael Rubin, formerly of the Coalition Provisional Authority, there are fundamental divisions between British and American officials over how to run Iraq.

Translating out of Rubin's doublespeak, it seems the split runs down the faultline between old-fashioned British imperialism and postmodern American imperialism. The latter is a good deal more ideological – all that blah about "democracy" and "freedom" – something that the Brits apparently don't get.

Spookily enough, this very conflict has played out on the comment pages of the Telegraph in the past few days. On Saturday, the conservative historian Niall Ferguson argued that the US had failed to learn the lessons of Britain's failure to colonise Iraq in the 1920s.

On Wednesday, the paper's sharpest neocon ideologue Mark Steyn shot back. The US had learned the lessons of Britain's failure, he said, which is precisely why the aim is to "liberate" Iraq rather than colonise it.

The argument here – curiously paralleling one on the left – is whether the US/UK action in Iraq "officially" counts as imperialism. Ferguson thinks it does (and he approves, in line with his role as an apologist for empire). Steyn, in contrast, insists on sticking to the letter of the neoconservative script.

It'll be interesting to see how this fissure develops as the two behemoth ideological formations struggle to concoct some sense out of unfolding events in Iraq.