Noah Berlatsky has written a thoughtful review of Barry Posen’s Restraint. He supplements the original argument for a new grand strategy with his argument that restraint is also more morally responsible and better-aligned with American values:
Restraint, then, is not merely a practical necessity for the United States to improve its security. It’s also an ethical duty, and a specifically American ideal. Rather than fearing America’s “decline” because we’re not able to undertake a land war in Ukraine or a third invasion of Iraq, we should welcome a world in which the U.S. does not try to solve other people’s problems by force [bold mine-DL].
One of the points that I tried to make at yesterday’s New Internationalism conference was that the U.S. could easily contribute to international stability just by refusing to wage wars for regime change. What I should have added is that the U.S. promote stability overseas by also refraining from taking it upon itself to try to “shape” political outcomes in other countries by other means as well. This goes beyond avoiding costly and unnecessary wars to recognizing that the U.S. has neither the authority nor the understanding to direct or constructively influence the affairs of other nations. There are more or less harmful kinds of interference, but the faulty hegemonist assumption from which so many other errors flow is the belief that the U.S. is supposed to take an active role in “shaping” how other nations are governed and should seek to change those governments by various means. There are always excuses available for those that would like to discard the principle of non-interference, but they can’t get away from the problem that interference of any kind in the internal affairs of other nations frequently backfires on the U.S. and ends up harming the people it is supposed to help.