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To the contrary, in the last century, America has repeatedly sought to solve problems others have created, but which risk our own security. Left to ourselves, we would have been more than happy for the others to solve their own problems. That option, however, has not been open to us for quite some time, nor will it return in the foreseeable future, if ever.

The future of conservative national-security policy thus looks very much like its past, and, as in the past, will include considerable healthy debate among conservatives over concrete application of their principles. This is as it should be, both as sound philosophy and also because it makes for good domestic politics. The American people actually expect to be defended against international threats and adversaries, and they will undoubtedly punish any American president who does not understand and implement their strong and entirely justifiable views. That is why we may well see the future of conservative foreign policy bloom as early as 2012.

• John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the 2007 book “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad.”