By Anthony J. Constantini The American Conservative
Recent Republican primary elections have made one thing clear: The future of Republican foreign policy is based on the world as it is, not as one wishes it to be. This may seem like an obvious concept to many normal Americans, but for decades successive administrations made policy based on what they wished reality would be instead of on reality as it was. Bill Clinton desired to “enlarge” the democratic sphere of influence, and in 2000, political scientist Kenneth Waltz wrote that he expected “the United States [would soon] take measures to enhance democracy around the world” and that the “task, one fears, will be taken up by the American military with some enthusiasm.”
He was correct, as any reader of The American Conservative knows. What followed was a series of wars of ideals, overseen by presidents from both parties. The initial invasion of Afghanistan under George W. Bush was clearly a result of 9/11, but the following 20-year occupation was bent on building a liberal democracy in a place which did not want one. The Iraq War was built just as much upon the spread of democracy as it was on finding weapons of mass destruction, and there has never been a real indication that Iraqis were desperate for democracy any more than Afghans were. When Barack Obama followed Bush into the presidency, he failed to truly repudiate the Bush Doctrine and continued a policy of interventions based on ideals in Syria and Libya—both of which proved disastrous.