Hillsdale College President, Larry Arnn, is asked, in the Dec 2011 Imprimis:
You also write: “Promotion of democracy and defense of innocents abroad should be undertaken only in keeping with the national interest.” Where do you place your views on the spectrum between Ron Paul and George W. Bush?
Arnn: I side with Thomas Jefferson when he said, “We are the friends of liberty everywhere, custodians only of our own.” Foreign affairs are prudential matters, and prudential matters are not subject to narrow rules laid out in advance. But that practical statement by Jefferson is a brilliant guide.
"Also, we have to remember that it is a very dangerous world. Churchill believed that one of the effects of technology is to make us both wealthier and more powerful. And both wealth and power can turn to destruction. The great wars of modernity have been much larger in scale than ancient wars, and equal in intensity. Churchill believed that liberal society contains in this respect and others seeds of its own destruction. It is the work of statesmen to find the cheapest possible way to defend their countries without consuming all the resources of those countries.
"I pray that Iraq is going to be a free country, and I think there is a chance of it, and I give George W. Bush credit for that. But I have been skeptical, and it is a more complicated question than many seem to understand. A senior person in the White House said to me one time, “Don’t you think the Iraqis want to be free?” And I said: “Sure they do. But have you read The Federalist Papers? Do you divine from its arguments that wanting to be free is sufficient?” As it turns out, it is hard to obtain civil and religious liberty, and it is hard to maintain it.
"But do I think we did a good thing imposing a new constitution on Japan after World War II? Sure I do. Japan did a terrible thing to us, we conquered it, and there was an opportunity in that. It would have been a false economy not to seize that opportunity. Does that mean that in every country where there is a threat to us, we won’t be perfectly safe until they are democratic? Maybe. But even so, is trying to make them democratic practicable and the most practical way to serve our security? Probably not. Again, these are matters of prudence."
Shameless repost, since it sums up my views well.