Read the whole thing and come on back here. It’s a well-written, well-reasoned piece, and I can find only one fault with it: It doesn’t apply to the world we live in. But, damn, how I wish it did.
The nations of the world resent any and all attempts at saving them from themselves or each other. Idealism in our foreign policy is seen as weakness, not as magnimanity-from-strength. In a sane world, none of this would be true. In a slightly sane world, we could simply retreat into our own borders, make our money, live our lives and be happy.
But the world isn’t even slightly sane — and even were our own domestic policies pure Randian bliss, we’d still be in no position to teach the world better. Because they’d still hate us for it. If history has taught us anything, it’s that resentment is the only universal human attribute.
And, as we learned on 9/11, not even our own borders are safe.
We have a very nice (although admittedly imperfect) house in a very bad neighborhood. The gate lock can be picked, the fence can be breached, and we still have to walk to the store now and then.
So if the insurance policy is we need is amoral and pragmatic, then so be it.