But one important difference between the peace progressives and today’s right-wing defense skeptics is that the peace progressives were committed internationalists who believed in things like the Washington Naval Treaty, the Kellog-Briand Pact, and other multilateral arms control and conflict prevention efforts.
Ah, yes, the committed internationalists in the Coolidge administration. Indeed, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover were internationalists in the broad sense that they wanted to cultivate good relations with other states and negotiate international treaties. None of those Presidents was exactly clamoring for American entry into the League of Nations, but that did not stop them from involvement in international affairs. Arguably no one was more of a “committed internationalist” prior to Wilson than Grover Cleveland, who was also probably the most staunchly anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist President since Monroe. Cleveland was a great believer in arbitration as a means of settling international disputes. His addresses to Congress are remarkable for their inclusion of international disputes and subjects that had only the most indirect connection to the United States. He was also firmly against empire-building, and even in his most irresponsible moment when he flirted with entering into a conflict with Britain over the Venezuelan boundary with Guyana he believed he was defending the anti-colonialist legacy of the Monroe Doctrine.
If you want to call Cleveland an internationalist, I suspect you would find that most so-called right-wing “defense” skeptics also consider themselves to be “internationalists” in the same mold. Cleveland, like the peace progressives Yglesias mentions, showed that it was possible to be internationally engaged without abandoning our traditional neutrality, and they show that American neutrality is a necessary part of this sort of internationalism. In the unlikely event that liberal internationalists begin espousing an America First foreign policy, perhaps they will find a more receptive audience on the right for certain proposals for strengthening international law.