Andrew Bacevich’s cover article for the new issue of the magazine is worth reading in its entirety. Not surprisingly, I endorse the priorities he proposes. Here Prof. Bacevich identifies what conservatives can and should do in the foreign policy debate:
Exposing the excesses of American militarism and the futility of the neo-imperialist impulses to which Washington has succumbed since the end of the Cold War. When it comes to foreign policy, the conservative position should promote modesty, realism, and self-sufficiency. To the maximum extent possible, Americans should “live within,” abandoning the conceit that the United States is called upon to exercise “global leadership,” which has become a euphemism for making mischief and for demanding prerogatives allowed to no other nation. Here the potential exists for conservatives to make common cause with members of the impassioned antiwar left.
In practical terms, it should go without saying that this rules out preventive war. Few things better reflect the belief that the U.S. should enjoy “prerogatives allowed to no other nation” than the idea that the U.S. has the right to attack other countries for what they might do in the future. The U.S. should also be less involved in supporting other states’ internal political opposition, which is often the very definition of “making mischief” and meddling where we aren’t wanted by most of the people in these countries. The U.S. should be reducing how much it spends to subsidize the defense of countries that can readily provide for their own defense, and it should be cutting back on the overseas commitments it already has instead of adding to them. Specifically, that would mean no more NATO expansion, no new security guarantees to other states elsewhere in the world, and a review of the existing guarantees that the U.S. has made to determine whether or not they are outdated and irrelevant to American security today. Conservatives in the U.S. should be interested in trying as much as possible to get the United States back to the position of being at least a normal major power that has no special obligations and assumes no special authority or rights.