Of course our parallels to Britain’s scaling back are far from exact. But the decade’s intervention in Iraq alone shows the idiocy and expense of social engineering in alien cultures and societies. None of this deflects the interventionists. Recent debates over Libya, and then over Syria, have summoned the same odd couple onto center stage—both liberal humanitarian interventionists and conservative neocon empire-builders stand ever ready to use killing force to chastise others.
Behind this lies, just as it did in Britain, a sense of mission civilisatrice and inflated exceptionalism. It’s all there even further back in history. All empires have succumbed to their siren call. Now it’s our turn to approach an inflection point.
This is from James Clad and Robert Manning, writing in the National Interest. I haven’t finished reading the whole thing, which is not that impressive so far, but this summary of American foreign policy as it stands on October 8 2013 is outstanding.