America and the Blowback Rule

America and the Blowback Rule

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell used to talk about the Pottery Barn Rule: If you break something, such as a foreign government, you’ve bought it. He was referring to places like Iraq and Libya, where we intervened and left behind chaos.

Unfortunately, on Mr. Powell’s watch, and in many other administrations going back to Teddy Roosevelt, the United States was a heavy-handed force that left dozens of poor and disorganized countries in a shambles.

This is what I call the Blowback Rule. It leaves us to deal with unintended consequences of our legacy of intervention.

Today, Americans and our allies from Latin America to the Middle East to Asia are struggling and dying...