Holmes is at pains to point out that he does not endorse “policing the world” or “launching military interventions willy-nilly”—it’s just that there are no actual U.S. wars he opposes, and the “guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy” should be that “America stands for liberty for all.” [bold mine-DL] He seems to hope that the reader will not recognize the echo of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address in that phrasing.
It is easy enough to make a general statement that one doesn’t want to police the world, but as Logan suggests this usually falls apart as soon as the discussion moves to specific cases. If someone insists that the U.S. must “lead” or “act” in response to nine out of ten crises around the world, he is arguing that the U.S. should be the world’s policeman in practice even if he claims to dislike the concept. No one would claim to favor “launching military interventions willy-nilly,” least of all an interventionist. Interventionists believe that their support for numerous military interventions is the appropriate and responsible position (or else they probably wouldn’t be interventionists), so even when they are in favor of starting new and unnecessary wars on a regular basis they won’t accept that this is what they are actually doing.
Logan doesn’t mention it in the review, but one of Holmes’ chapter titles is “America’s weakening will to power.” As the chapter sub-headings suggest, that is intended as a complaint, as if Americans should be unhappy that their country is not sufficiently defined by the will to power. In his introductory pages, Holmes laments that “America no longer strides the globe as a great colossus.” One could point out that even at its post-WWII apogee America was not as dominant as many of us might like to imagine, and it’s also hard to take seriously that the world’s lone superpower is less powerful now than it was during the Cold War. As powerful as the American military is, America has never been “militarily all-powerful,” but then one has to wonder what this really has to do with the greatness of a nation in the first place. The real problem with this attitude is the assumption that America should and must bestride the globe in this way or lose its “mastery” over its own fate. It’s simply not true, and the belief that it is will drag the U.S. into countless conflicts that it could otherwise safely avoid.