I’m fond of saying that the 21st century has not yet quite begun yet, that we are essentially still stuck in a “long 20th century” and all that implies for politics (chief among the implications is dwindling enthusiasm for either major party, as they reflect fewer and fewer Americans’ dreams, hopes, and anxieties). Foreign policy and especially U.S. military interventions have been an almost unbroken string of unmitigated disasters since 9/11. We need to start thinking of different ways of approaching the world, including our longtime arch-nemesis Russia and exactly what America’s role in the world can and should be. It’s proving very hard for conventional right- and left-wingers to do so, partly because they use supposedly abstract principles mostly as a means only of securing short-term political advantage. Hence, conservatives were mostly aghast that President Obama dare relax restrictions against Cuba, as if our embargo would suddenly start working in its sixth decade. And liberals, who became increasingly antagonistic to George W. Bush’s war machine over time, are now vastly disturbed when the U.S. sits out Syria or Crimea and cheered the utterly indefensible intervention in Libya.

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