Josh Rogin reports that Joe Lieberman will be joining a new project at the American Enterprise Institute:
AEI announced Monday that Lieberman will join Kyl as co-chair of the American Internationalism Project, a new effort to be housed inside AEI’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. Kyl joined AEI as a fellow earlier this month. Lieberman is not joining AEI in a formal sense, but he will be a leader of this project, which will be coordinated by AEI research fellow Phillip Lohaus.
“The impetus for the project was an overall feeling of creeping isolationism in an era of fiscal austerity,” Lohaus told The Cable. “There’s a sense that the feeling that America is a force for good in the world is losing traction. This project is an attempt to redefine the conversation as America as a force for good.”
If I were interested in promoting the idea that “America is a force for good in the world,” I think Kyl and Lieberman would be among my last choices. Before he retired from the Senate, Kyl’s last major effort in the Senate was leading the strange campaign to try to derail New START, which he tried to defeat over the objections of the military and virtually the entire national security establishment. Lieberman spent a large part of his final term in the Senate agitating for escalating ongoing wars and starting new ones in at least two countries. Kyl and Lieberman are the sorts of internationalists that give internationalism a very bad name, so naturally they are the ones AEI wants to have in charge of the new project. I don’t buy the argument that there is a “rise of neo-isolationism in Washington.” “Isolationism” has no meaning except as a slur, and neither does “neo-isolationism,” so the new project seems to have been created to combat a fantasy. All that this new project is likely to do is to identify “American internationalism” with some of its worst and least credible supporters, which in turn should make things much easier for critics and opponents of “American diplomatic, economic, and military leadership in the world.”
If “the feeling that America is a force for good in the world is losing traction,” hegemonists and interventionists might want to consider that their routine abuse of that idea to justify their unpopular policies is one of the leading causes. When they talk about America as a force for good in the world, many Americans hear them saying that America should use force overseas on the pretext that it will do some good. The selection of Kyl and Lieberman as the co-chairs of this project sends a clear message that this is exactly what they mean.