Military adventurism has long appealed to western politicians – even those who say they will not meddle in others’ affairs
Joe Biden declares an end to “an era of major military operations to remake other countries”. A president’s job, he says, is to protect and defend the “fundamental national security interest of the United States of America”. That does not include trying to construct new nations in foreign states.
Quite so. But Biden isn’t the first president to make such claims. Each of his recent predecessors won power as non-interventionists, but tried to hold on to it by waging war. Bill Clinton said America’s mission abroad was “not about fighting a war”, it was about bringing people to the peace table. He ended up bombing Iraq and Yugoslavia. At first, George Bush agreed with Clinton’s sentiment. On coming to office, Bush’s aide, Condoleezza Rice, emphasised his opposition to foreign adventures. “We don’t need to have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten,” she told the media. Yet the Bush doctrine had soon proclaimed an American crusade for “the expansion of freedom in all the world … with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny”.
Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist