By Peter W. Dickson
January 6, 2007
During his State of the Union speech last year, President Bush puzzled many pundits with his frequent references to the lure of isolationism and its dangers.
No one at the time wondered or asked if this warning meant that Bush had some personal premonition of defeat in the Middle East. Surely it was strange for a man so confident then (and even until very recently) to raise the specter of isolationism – an impulse which has deep historical roots in American psyche since the nation was founded more than two centuries ago.
To discourage a pendulum swing in favor of greater withdrawal from the world, prominent neoconservatives and their allies within the Republican Party have sneered at the Baker-Hamilton report as providing political cover for defeatists who wish to sell out Iraq or otherwise capitulate to terrorist groups and nation-states that lend support to them such as Iran. Realists whether liberal or more conservative, such as Brent Scowcroft, are compared to Neville Chamberlain in a grossly misleading historical analogy.
Beyond this, the prominent neoconservative Robert Kagan in a Washington Post op-ed item entitled “Our Messianic Impulse” insisted that expansionism has always been the “dominant strain” in the nation’s character and should remain so no matter what happens in Iraq.