Foreign Policy‘s James Traub argues in a New York Times op-ed:
Whatever policy the Obama administration or its successor adopts toward China, the broader East Asian region, unlike the Middle East, is filled with stable, and largely democratic, states. The United States does not have to defend liberty and justice there. Regime change, democracy promotion and nation-building will be off the table. So, for that matter, will war.
Traub traces this trend through the Clinton administration’s humanitarian interventions in the Balkans and the Bush administration’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The new Wilsonism of this period is now in decline, due to domestic and budget austerity pressures, Traub argues. The United States will rely on a range of grand strategic instruments — diplomatic, economic, informational — rather than just military force projection.
Traub’s view contrasts with National Interest‘s Nikolas Gvosdev and Ray Takeyh, who believe the new Wilsonism is on the rise. In their view, the Obama administration has simply changed its declarative reasons for intervening in Libya (but not in Syria or Bahrain).
Expect this debate to unfold — along with a parallel debate on the extent and scope of United States decline — as the 2012 election year continues . . .