Paul D. Miller, associate director at the University of Texas-Austin’s Clements Center for National Security, spoke at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation to discuss his book, American Power and Liberal Order: A Conservative Internationalist Grand Strategy. Americans, and historians in general, “overthink” and “overlearn” the past and apply those interpretations of history lessons to the present, he argued
“The problem in trying to learn lessons from history… We have a tendency to overlearn from history and swing the pendulum too far” in the other direction,” Miller said. Rand Paul, he avers, exemplifies this tendency. Similarly, President Obama, said Miller, speaks like a liberal interventionist but, “when you look at his deeds…you see the instincts for restraint” come through. For example, President Obama’s withdrawal of American troops from Iraq came at a time when negotiations would have kept them there for a longer time period.
“Liberal internationalists adopt a naïve approach to how things get done in the world,” said Miller. He continued, “Liberal internationalists put a tremendous amount of faith in treaties, diplomacy and institutions and I think that’s misguided.” Liberal internationalists invest “too much in these tools” such as diplomacy and treaties, and “they tend to be more Messianic in foreign policy.”
His proposal is “conservative internationalism,” which was first coined by former Reagan administration official Henry Nau, and would echo the policies of Ronald Reagan. “Armed diplomacy is an effective tool” to deal with the world, Miller said.