The intervention of nations into the affairs of others is one of history’s inevitabilities. Interests collide and interlock; states want to change the conduct of others. What is interesting—and perilously relevant—is why they do it, what means they use, and how far they are prepared to go.
In American policy today, the great controversy arises not so much from the fact that we are intervening abroad as from the scale and character of our interventions. In Vietnam, in Latin America, in Western Europe, an American political intervention was well established, supported by an American public consensus, and tolerated (or even welcomed) by the greater part of the international community, long before the present policy crisis. What seems to have gone wrong is that the United States has crossed a threshold of acceptable means. The objection is to the use of war as an instrument of intervention in Vietnam, large-scale military intervention in a Caribbean political crisis, the kind of pressures we have employed to attempt to isolate France and to affect West German policy. The judgment in these cases is that our methods are disproportionate to what reasonably can be expected to be achieved....
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