Isolationism! Get your isolationism! 2.05.2006

In an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Bacevich asks some questions: What isolationism?
IN HIS STATE of the Union address on Tuesday, President Bush worked himself into a lather about the dangers of "retreating within our borders." His speech bulged with ominous references to ostensibly resurgent isolationists hankering to "tie our hands" and leave "an assaulted world to fend for itself." Turning inward, the president cautioned, would provide "false comfort" because isolationism inevitably "ends in danger and decline."

But who exactly are these isolationists eager to pull up the drawbridges? What party do they control? What influential journals of opinion do they publish? Who are their leaders? Which foundations bankroll this isolationist cause?

These questions are asked in the rhetorical, since the author is quite convinced that the isolationist impulse doesn't exist.

Except that it does: One only needs to look at Buchanan to find that ol' isolationist impulse, alive and well--not in the Democratic Party, but in the Republican. Democratic anti-war folks are of the belief that American power is somehow evil. But in the Republican Party, the anti-war folks are against Bush's wars because they believe that America should determine its footprint abroad based on its own objectives, and not in reaction to folks overseas. Buchanan is highly suspictious of foreign culture and foreign religious beliefs, and so when we get ourselves involved overseas, we do so at our own pearl--so we must do so on our own terms.

The term "isolationism" has always been used as a perjorative, going back to World War I, and exemplified by the "America First Committee" founded before our involvement in World War II.

Undoubtedly Mr. Bacevich is unfamiliar with those who preach isolationism just as he is probably personally unfamiliar with anyone who voted for Bush. It's clear Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University is singularly unable to do Google search: he illustrates two data points in United States history which he claims characterizes two dimensions of our foreign policy--both which predate the rising isolationist impulse that occured around the time of Woodrow Wilson.

It's especially ironic, given that Mr. Bacevich's own prescription as to how we should deal with our current foreign policy is--well, to use the prejorative term, "isolationist":
Can America be America absent Wilsonian ideals? Perhaps not. But an America intoxicated with its self-assigned mission of salvation while disregarding prudential considerations will court exhaustion, both moral and material. Our present circumstances may not dictate a full retreat. But they do require a revived appreciation of what we can and cannot do.

posted by William Woody at 12:11 AM

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A moderate conservative living in the left coast, surrounded by the sureal, wonders if there is a sane life living amongst those who have lost touch with reality.

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