In 1967, Britain unexpectedly announced the end of what, for decades, had been a genuinely global foreign policy. In response to the depreciation of the pound sterling, expensive decolonization campaigns, and the evolving attitudes of the baby boomer generation, Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Labor government abruptly announced that his government would change course, prioritizing welfare over warfare. That would include withdrawal from all bases “East of Suez.” In response, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk complained that he “could not believe that free aspirin and false teeth were more important than Britain’s role in the world.” But the danger of such a patrician attitude to foreign policy — one that views domestic considerations as illegitimate — is that, over time, foreign policy can become seriously disconnected from the priorities of the electorate.
The failures of Iraq and Libya have been a stick that Trump, Cruz, and Sanders have used unrelentingly to beat Hillary Clinton.The failures of Iraq and Libya have been a stick that Trump, Cruz, and Sanders have used unrelentingly to beat Hillary Clinton. With nothing to parry them with, she’s simply had to take these blows, and the bruises are increasingly starting to show in the polls. In her last debate with Sanders, Clinton argued that a vote against invading Iraq in 2002 — which Sanders cast and Clinton did not — is not a plan to defeat the Islamic State now. She’s right, but this argument suffers from the fatal defect that the Islamic State would not exist in its current form were it not for these interventions.