Stephen Walt — now of Harvard and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and formerly of Princeton, the University of Chicago and the Pentagon’s Institute of Defense Analyses — obviously has a blue-ribbon foreign-policy pedigree. That’s what makes his argument this week that George W. Bush and Barack Obama are fundamentally rooted in the same view of the world — and what to do about it — so interesting:
The only important intellectual difference between [Bush’s] neoconservatives and [Obama’s] liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power — and especially its military power — can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America’s right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.
Read the full thing.