My distinguished colleague Jeff Lord was kind enough to answer my question of when the Monroe Doctrine was used to justify regime change, preventive war, and direct intervention in the internal affairs of the region’s countries. You may notice that his examples of interventions that more or less fit this description come after the founding generation.
Citing mostly 20th century interventions to establish what the Founding Fathers thought about foreign policy is like trying to enlist the Founders’ support for large federal welfare programs by invoking the Constitution’s General Welfare clause and then citing the actual policies of FDR and LBJ. But not all these interventions are identical. Does anybody really believe that all uses of military force are created equal or that the United States has zero interests outside its borders? Even Ron Paul voted to send U.S. troops after bin Laden in Afghanistan. Nor have I heard anyone claim that interventions in Latin America can’t have “blowback,” or, to use a less loaded term favored by first-generation neoconservatives when discussing domestic policy, unintended consequences.
There would be many fewer wars, of course, if political leaders would call upon the diplomatic skills of our friend Roger Kaplan, who took up some of these questions earlier.
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