To watch the debate play out in America’s news media, it would seem that the opposite of “America First” is American interventionism: a chronic penchant for leaping, to no apparent end, into wars of choice and demonstrating America’s unrivaled military power. But interventionism is not the same thing as internationalism. Conflating the two collapses the distinction between quick and decisive use of force and thoughtful engagement with the world and its problems.

In America’s “get ‘er done” transactional Weltanschauung, international disputes tend to be viewed as military challenges that are merely masquerading as political issues. In fact, they are usually the opposite, which is why the world’s most complex conflicts are rarely resolved by intervention.

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