I still like to think of myself as some kind of Wilsonian in foreign policy matters. But the cynicism of the Bush administration in using "democracy" as an excuse for preventive war is making that outlook seem more and more problematic. Pat Lang makes available a column by Richard Sale on conservative criticisms of Bush's Long War Doctrine.
Sale's conclusion is one of the bedrock considerations of the "realist" view of foreign policy:
America is, at bottom, only a country, not a glorious cause lying outside the stream of history. Like any other country, we have had selfish and inglorious episodes in our past; the Mexican War, the handling of the “liberated’ Philippines after the Spanish-American War and others. There certainly have been times when we have been noble, morally generous and clear thinking.
But there are have been others when we have been greedy, brutal and squalid.
No two societies are completely alike, and it is a mistake to think that the institutions, traditions, and cultures of other countries are not revered and prized by their inhabitants as much as we revere and prize our own.
The belief that each and every foreigner secretly hungers to be an American is to me one of the most ludicrous of ideas because it flatters our conceit, and, if widely believed, will prove to be a block to our moral growth as a nation.