ABSENT A CLEAR and present danger to its national security, no ally of the United States should seek to dictate American foreign policy, especially a policy deleterious to America's pursuit of its own vital interest. Allies may try, but the United States need not humor them. Indeed, prudence dictates that states that enjoy the benefits provided by America's international leadership and directly depend upon the United States for security would understand the critical importance of not obstructing U.S. interests. Lastly, the United States should not have to accept a fair accompli that is injurious to the other relationships America cultivates to accomplish its pressing tasks.
Americans are understandably sympathetic to the national aspirations of their democratic allies. But enthusiasm for promoting the cause of other states--no matter how close or beloved--ought not to lead America's decision-makers and opinion-shapers to endorse policies that might not only harm the national interests of the United States, but severely damage the international order America has spent its blood and treasure over half a century to construct.
After all, the United States does not have the luxury to take rash or reckless risks in its foreign policy, because its actions affect the entire world. George H.W. Bush understood this clearly. When dealing with domestic and international critics alike who condemned him for not exploiting the unraveling of the USSR to radically redefine the status quo in Europe and Asia, he replied that the United States had "special responsibilities" not to take "hasty" decisions that could contribute to international instability.1