Official Washington’s “tough-guy-ism” – eschewing diplomacy in favor of military force – has slammed the United States into a series of foreign-policy disasters, such as the Iraq War. But key promoters keep denouncing anyone favoring less aggression as an “isolationist,” as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
By Paul R. Pillar
Former Senators Joseph Lieberman and Jon Kyl, identified as co-chairs of the American Internationalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute, offered the other day a statement of what they mean by American internationalism. Their piece exhorts us to resist “calls from Democrats and Republicans alike for neo-isolationist policies” and instead to “accept both the burdens and the benefits of a robust internationalism.”
The image of bipartisanship is clearly important to the Republican Kyl and the Democrat-cum-independent Lieberman, the latter of whom when still in the Senate was one of the Three Amigos along with John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
The rhetoric of Lieberman and Kyl about not withdrawing from the world sounds fine as far as it goes, but it does not go very far. Their one-dimensional treatment of their subject, in which everything gets reduced to a simple but grand choice of the United States playing or not playing a major role in world affairs, is divorced from the real policy choices the nation confronts and from any distinction among the varied policy tools available to it.
A ghost from the past about which they warn — the isolationism that constituted a significant and influential current of opinion in the United States between the two world wars of the Twentieth Century — is today less of a ghost than a straw man. ...................(more)