Knowing When To Stop,

Andrew Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Among foreign policy mandarins in present-day Washington, “spheres of influence” have become anathema. Prior generations of U.S. policymakers thought otherwise. Indeed, no great power in recent history has pursued the concept more assertively, albeit with mixed results. To pretend that spheres of influence are alien to the American tradition of statecraft is to engage in self-deception. […]

In fact, the United States has historically shown considerable skill in creating and policing spheres of influence. It has done so not out of devotion to abstract principle, but for entirely pragmatic reasons: as a means to construct and uphold situations favorable to the United States. On that score, the Monroe Doctrine (1823) and its Roosevelt Corollary (1904), rate as Exhibits A and B.

Well, that was long ago, some might reply. Devoted more than ever to promoting freedom and democracy, Washington just doesn’t do things that way anymore. By extension, neither should Moscow, Beijing, or anyone else be permitted to do so. Läs arikel