“Isolationism is a category of foreign policies institutionalized by leaders who asserted that their nations’ best interests were best served by keeping the affairs of other countries at a distance, as well as a term used, sometimes pejoratively, in political debates. Most Isolationists believe that limiting international involvement keeps their country from being drawn into dangerous and otherwise undesirable conflicts. Some strict Isolationists believe that their country is best served by even avoiding international trade agreements or other mutual assistance pacts.
Two distinct and unrelated concepts that are occasionally erroneously categorized as Isolationism are:
- Non-interventionism – is the belief that political rulers should avoid military alliances with other nations and to avoid interfering in wars bearing no direct impact on their nation. However, most non-interventionists are supporters of free trade, travel, and support certain international agreements, unlike isolationists.
- Protectionism – Relates more often to economics, its proponents believe that there should be legal barriers in order to control trade and cultural exchange with people in other states”
“”Isolationism” is currently a somewhat controversial style of policy. Whether or not a country should be isolationist affects both its people’s living standards and the ability of its political rulers to benefit favored firms and industries.
The policy or doctrine of trying to isolate one’s country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, and generally attempting to make one’s economy entirely self-reliant; seeking to devote the entire efforts of one’s country to its own advancement, both diplomatically and economically, while remaining in a state of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements and responsibilities.“
“All the First World countries trade in a world economy, and experienced an expansion of the division of labor, which generally raised living standards. However, some characterize this as “a wage race to the bottom” in the manufacturing industries that should be curtailed by protectionism. Some argue that isolating a country from a global division of labor—i.e. employing protectionists trading policies—could be potentially helpful to the people.Free trade eliminates the economic barriers otherwise posed by geopolitical borders, such as tariffs and various taxes that would be inconvenient for both manufacturers and consumers. However, isolationism on the other hand, can preserve local jobs that would otherwise be outsourced overseas. There is no universally accepted opinion regarding isolationism, although western countries often criticise North Korea, Cuba, and other countries for pursuing isolationist policies. These countries, conversely, generally rebut that their policies are in resistance to western imperialism.”
“A member of the Tea Party movement,Rand Paul ,”an ophtalmologist with vision”, has described himself as a “constitutional conservative”. He is generally described as a libertarian, a term he both embraced and rejected during his first Senate campaign. He supports term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and the Read the Bills Act, in addition to the widespread reduction of federal spending and taxation. He has said that he favors some form of a flat tax, but has not released a detailed proposal.”
“Unlike his more stridently “non-interventionist” father Ron Paul, Rand Paul concedes a role for American armed forces abroad, including permanent foreign military bases. He has said that he blames supporters of the Iraq War and not President Obama for the growth in violence that occurred in 2014, and that any threat to the USA from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was merely conjecture. Dick Cheney, John McCain and Rick Perry have responded by calling Paul an isolationist, but Paul has pointed to opinion polls of likely GOP primary voters as support for his position. Paul also stated: “I personally believe that this group would not be in Iraq and would not be as powerful had we not been supplying their allies in the war [against Syrian Bashar al-Assad‘s government].” Paul then supported airstrikes against ISIL, but questioned the constitutionality of Obama’s unilateral actions without a clear congressional mandate. Paul has stated concerns about arms sent to Syrian rebels that wind up in unfriendly hands.“
“On social issues, Paul describes himself as “100% pro life“, believing that legal personhood begins at fertilization. In 2009 his position was to ban abortion under all circumstances. Since 2010 he has said he would allow for a doctor’s discretion in life-threatening cases such as ectopic pregnancies. Paul opposes same-sex marriage, but believes the issue should be left to the states to decide and would not support a federal ban. He has criticized mandatory minimums that have led to unreasonably harsh sentences for repeated offenders. He has highlighted the case of Timothy L. Tyler as particularly unfair. Paul does not believe in legalizing drugs like marijuana and cocaine.“
“In response to political turmoil in Ukraine in early 2014, Paul initially said that the US should remain mindful of the fact that although the Cold War is over, Russia remains a military power with long-range nuclear missiles. He said that the US should try to maintain a “respectful relationship with Russia” and avoid taking actions that the Russians might view as a provocation, such as seeking to have Ukraine join NATO or otherwise interfering in Russia’s relationship with Ukraine. Two weeks later, after the Russian parliament authorized the use of military force in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military exercises along Russia’s border with Ukraine, Paul began taking a different tone. He wrote: “Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a gross violation of that nation’s sovereignty and an affront to the international community…. Putin must be punished for violating the Budapest Memorandum, and Russia must learn that the U.S. will isolate it if it insists on acting like a rogue nation.” He said that the US and European allies could retaliate against Russia’s military aggression without any need for military action. He urged that the US impose economic sanctions on Russia and resume an effort to build defensive anti-missile installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. He also called for the US to take steps as a counterweight to Russia’s strategic influence on Europe’s oil and gas supply, such as lifting restrictions on new exploration and drilling for fossil fuels in the United States along with immediate approval of the controversial Keystone Pipeline, which he said would allow the US to ship more oil and gas to Europe if Russia attempts to cut off its own supply to Europe.”
“After Election Day, the Isolationists Will Be Back
They took cover before the vote, but let’s not kid ourselves: Americans are sick of the world.
By NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT
November 02, 2014:”
“When we wake up Wednesday morning, a lot of us will be isolationists again. All the tough election-season rhetoric about supporting U.S. troops abroad will have disappeared overnight, and many Americans can be expected to revert back to what has been a rising and unmistakable trend: For the first time in nearly three-quarters of a century—since the months before Dec. 7, 1941—many people are forthrightly embracing isolationism as an election issue. And the feeling isn’t likely to go away any time soon, despite some recent polls suggesting that more and more Americans outraged by the videotaped beheadings of two journalists have supported military action against ISIL, also known as the Islamic State. With the war against ISIL expected to last many years, the pivotal issue of the 2016 election might turn out to be not the economy or health care but whether the United States should continue as the world’s policeman, as it has since the end of World War II, or should finally come home for good.”
“Temporarily, the midterms prompted an uneasy truce between Democrats and Republicans over the extent to which the United States should intervene militarily abroad. The hastily convened U.S.-led coalition to destroy ISIL brought a rare unity across party boundaries before the election. Candidates in both parties were wary of being too critical of U.S. foreign policy while America’s pilots and special operations forces were fighting murderous terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Instead, Democrats stayed silent and Republicans switched their attentions to the president himself, accusing him of taking too little action too late, even though their own party’s reluctance to approve action against the Assad regime in Syria had confirmed their lack of appetite for returning to war in the Middle East.”
“As soon as Election Day has passed, however, the old fault lines are sure to reassert themselves, and barring some unforeseen event—like the seizure of Baghdad or an attack on the U.S. homeland—the anti-ISIL coalition is certain to fracture. The issue of American engagement in foreign problems—particularly of the military variety—divides the parties not only from each other but within their ranks in a way not seen since the Vietnam War.”
“Among many Democrats too there is a marked reluctance to become involved in more foreign wars. There has long been a pacifist strain in Democratic thinking, but President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq gave it new life, and the years Obama has spent trying to impose order in Afghanistan have only strengthened this tendency on the left. In September, 85 Democrats joined with 159 House Republicans to vote against arming Syrian rebels opposed to ISIL, bringing together the far left of the Democratic Party with libertarian Republicans in a show of solidarity rarely seen in Washington.”
“Republicans also find themselves at odds. There remain the old-school hawks, part of a pro-military, patriotic, aggressive tradition inspired by the Cold War that include veteran senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as some of the younger turks like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. But ranged against them are more and more Republicans who are busy reinvigorating what used to be the GOP’s default position, isolationism, until Franklin Roosevelt went to war after Pearl Harbor. As mainstream business-linked Republicans have given ground to Tea-Party-driven libertarians, a clearly identifiable neo-isolationist faction in the GOP has been steadily growing in influence. The war against ISIL has quieted this crowd, but only for the moment.”
“Which is not to say that any of these neo-isolationists will embrace the label. Since FDR dispatched the pre-World War II isolationists—formidable names such as Joe Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh, William Randolph Hearst, Henry Ford and Walt Disney, along with a clutch of senators who had opposed President Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations—the word “isolationist” has become toxic. But isolationism by any other name, whether “non-interventionism” or some other weasel word, amounts to much the same thing.”
“Together these new Republican non-interventionists and Democratic pacifists are converging into a powerful and enduring trend, all based on the idea that Americans of all ideological stripes are heartily fed up with war of any kind—and with good reason. The Iraq war lasted nine years—and appears to have started up again—and the last U.S. troops have only just come home from Afghanistan after fighting for 13 years at an estimated cost to American taxpayers of between $4 and $6 trillion for both the Iraq and Afghan wars.”
“Despite the expense of all that American blood and treasure, ISIL is at the gates of Baghdad and Afghanistan remains vulnerable to a return of the Taliban and dependent for its livelihood upon peddling heroin to the West. According to a recent CBS News poll, three-quarters of Americans—including 63 percent of Republicans—believe the Iraq war was “not worth it.” Now we have embarked upon a war against ISIL that, according to former CIA director Leon Panetta, will take “30 years” to win, and which many Americans don’t believe is worth it either.”
“The desire to pare down America’s expensive presence around the world—this neo-isolationism—is deep and broad, despite the recent surge of hawkish rhetoric on the campaign trail. A similar convergence between American liberals and libertarians can be seen in the opposition to another great expenditure in the defense arena: the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.”
“As a result, we are hearing language of the kind that is almost reminiscent of the “America First” movement of the late 1930s. Former libertarian congressman Ron Paul, like Charles Lindbergh and the ’30s’ isolationists, likes to invoke the words of Washington and Jefferson about avoiding “entangling foreign alliances.”
“Last November, Pew Research recorded a startling finding: More than half of Americans believed the United States should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,” the highest figure opposed to foreign intervention for at least 50 years, when the question was first asked.
In addition, 51 percent thought the United States “does too much in helping solve problems” abroad, with just 17 percent thinking it does too little and only 28 percent thinking the approach “just right.” Nearly half believed that “problems at home, including the economy, should get more attention” than intervening abroad.”
“The figures are much the same today. While Pew reports that just over a half of Americans back Obama’s anti-ISIL airstrikes, half also expressed concern that the United States “would go too far in getting involved militarily in the conflict” with ISIL. While the number now thinking the United States “should mind its own business internationally” has slipped to 39 percent, a third of Obama’s own party still think he is doing “too much” to help solve world problems. CBS News found that 30 percent of Republicans and just 15 percent of Democrats favor using ground troops to defeat ISIL.”
“Nothing reflects these changes more than the fractious debate inside the Republican Party, which once presented a unified face in support of strong defense and the projection of American power around the world. Whereas not long ago isolationism in the GOP was restricted to defunct volcanoes like the former presidential wannabe Pat Buchanan, now it is out in the open. As the libertarian Republican congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky put it, “Constituents in my district are very war weary, and I’m war weary.” There are plainly a lot of votes to be won by appearing skeptical about America’s involvement abroad. And there are votes to be had, too, from urging the Obama administration to tread warily when it comes to aiding the rebels in Syria.”
“Enter Rand Paul, now the top target of his fellow 2016 aspirants, who have sought relentlessly to paint him as weak—a line of attack usually reserved for Democrats. Paul has trimmed his sails accordingly, tacking right on Russia and ISIL as the politics of national security have shifted over the last few months.”
“Other pols, anxious not to be labeled isolationist for fear of being thought unpatriotic, send dog-whistle signals to their isolationist voters by urging sharp reductions in America’s foreign aid budget, among them Republican congressmen Steve Chabot, Ted Poe and Andy Harris. Like many, Harris couched the cutting of foreign aid in terms of reducing the deficit. “It’s time we start focusing American’s hard-earned tax dollars here at home on projects like building the Keystone XL pipeline instead of throwing them away in foreign lands,” he wrote. (Never mind that the pipeline would be built with private money.)”
“But the presidential campaign spotlight is far harsher, and Paul, who has gone further than any plausible Republican presidential candidate since the late 1930s in questioning the wisdom of any U.S. intervention abroad, will find it hard to stray too far away from his record. The Kentucky senator has advocated doing away with foreign aid altogether, and in 2011 he offered an alternative federal budget that would have cut defense spending by 30 percent. His tactical adjustments since then have been minor. Earlier this month, Paul declared that “my predisposition is to less intervention” and “there’s no point in taking military action just for the sake of it, something Washington leaders can’t seem to understand.” And even in September, after finally backing airstrikes against ISIL, he was still arguing, “It’s time to put a stop to this madness and take a good hard look at what our foreign policy has done.” He blames George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for disrupting the Middle East hornets’ nest by launching the Iraq war.”
“Paul is gambling, in effect, that the thesis of this article is right—that support for aggressive action against ISIL will fade before long, and that he will be able to point to his early skepticism while highlighting his rivals’ over-the-top hawkishness. Paul might hope to be rewarded in the 2016 Republican primaries in the same way Obama reaped the benefit of his opposition to the Iraq war when confronting the more bellicose Hillary Clinton in 2008.”
“Paul says he would like to see “any [war] strategy … presented to the American people through Congress,” but he knows that the Republican leadership in the House has persistently resisted a vote in the House that would allow its Tea Party rump to place the GOP in an unpatriotic light ahead of the midterms. A year ago, Obama called Congress’s bluff when he asked them to approve airstrikes against the Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people. Even then, the GOP-led House, aware of the public mood hostile to any more American police actions around the world, showed no interest in taking a vote on the issue.”
“The wave of revulsion created by the beheading of the two American journalists has allowed Obama to ignore new calls for a congressional vote and launch airstrikes. But it will probably not take much—a plane downed, a pilot captured—for opinion to switch, and for the neo-isolationists to come out of hiding.”
“And as soon as the midterms are out of the way, dovish Democrats and libertarian Republicans will feel free once again to express their reluctance to continue to support military action abroad. There are votes to be had for those who dare criticize the president’s war policy from the left—even while the war is going on.”
“Conservatives branded opponents of the Iraq war on the left who protested against George W. Bush’s invasion as un-American and unpatriotic. But those on the right who oppose Obama’s return to war in Iraq and Syria are likely to style themselves as strict constitutionalists. Joined by the rise of Democratic pacifists, they make up a powerful new force in American politics that will be here for a long time to come.”
“In the fall of 1937, as Roosevelt began the slow process of persuading the American people they should prepare to fight against fascism, he confided to his speechwriter, Samuel I. Rosenman, “It’s a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead and find no one there.” Barack Obama must be feeling much the same right now.”