America's Default Foreign Policy

Humanitarian interventions have become the reflex position in Washington. But the American public is more nationalistic and more skeptical of foreign do-goodery. Could a reckoning be at hand?

Issue: September-October 2013

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S June 13 decision to send light weapons and ammunition to Syrian rebels reflects a fundamental reality in the dialectic of American foreign policy. Within this administration and indeed throughout official Washington, humanitarian interventionism is the inevitable default position for policy makers and political insiders. There is no intellectual counterweight emanating from either party that poses a significant challenge to this powerful idea that America must act to salve the wounds of humanity wherever suffering is intense and prospects for a democratic emergence are even remotely promising.

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