Away from Endless War

Can the U.S. move toward vigorous diplomacy in pursuit of peace?



An interesting New York Times op-ed (Feb. 24) by Stephen Wertheim titled “America Is Not ‘Back.’ And Americans Should Not Want It to Be” actually relates some generally unspoken facts of recent U.S. foreign policy. Wertheim says that despite Trump’s description of himself as “militaristic,” he didn’t start any new foreign wars. Obama, on the other hand, while “frequently resisting calls for intervention, failed to get through his first term without launching a disastrous military escapade.” Further, Obama “expanded and streamlined perpetual warmaking via drones and special forces across the greater Middle East.”

Since the article is an op-ed, Wertheim — an historian of American foreign policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft — lays out the facts in order to make his case, which is:

America’s version of “liberal internationalism” — code for global military dominance exercised on behalf of liberal values — remains the primary source of decades of foreign policy disaster. Unless Mr. Biden challenges the very premise, he will repeat the same mistakes, now in a more competitive world.

Wertheim calls out past mistakes (“sins of commission”) and the added problem of “investing military might with self-righteous moralism.” He also conveys a sense of hope that Biden will break with the “pre-Trump status quo” — a hope I cannot share, as Biden and his personnel are all D.C. swamp creatures — and he takes a few extra jabs at Trump, as one would expect in the Times. But it is refreshing to know that a few facts have appeared in front of a few eyeballs in our centers of power.

The Quincy Institute, for which the abovementioned writer works, is a relatively new think tank. Its mission statement says it “promotes ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” Its introductory webpage ( begins, “The foreign policy of the United States has become detached from any defensible conception of U.S. interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind.” Hard not to like that!

A link to the Times article (although it may end up behind a paywall):

A link to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft:


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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