I had a conversation with somebody about Alexander the Great today--in addition to other matters regarding land disputes (to say the very least)--and I think this is a perfect summary of the argument that I was making. In short, conquerors are all dirty scumbags, but we fail to recognize those qualities in the conquerors that we're supposed to like. Alexander the Great conquered the known world to "spread civilization," Israel to "defend itself against its hostile neighbors," and United States interventions are typically attributed to the two aforementioned pretenses. However, ask a citizen of any country that isn't the U.S., Israel or Britain what motivates our foreign policy. You will probably get a different answer than you would from the mainstream media.
Even Europe considers the U.S. and Israel to be the greatest threats to world peace, although I would disagree with them in considering Israel to be a greater threat than the U.S. Perhaps it's because Israel as a state is so ideologically obsessed with expanding its borders, such that some within the government would potentially consider nuking all of Israel's enemies if it were to reach the verge of destruction. I would argue that the Samson Option is Israel's attempt at empty nuclear apocalypse rhetoric, and I would also argue that by virtue of being a U.S. client state, Israel can't be a greater threat to world peace than the U.S. Nevertheless, the poll is compelling on several levels.
Remember, condemning emperors--or even considering emperors to be worse than pirates--does not mean that you have to side with the pirates. It just means that you have learned to fit things into a proper context.