What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: CyboRoZ
Those who toe their party’s line and regurgitate what the media offers as news and sound wisdom often show themselves to be politically and historically naive. In few matters is this more apparent than when dealing with foreign policy. These people I’ve described often accuse Ron Paul and like-minded “traditional conservatives” as being “isolationists”.
One such example is found in yesterday’s NPR interview with Ron Paul, when the interviewer said:
What you’ve described as an old, conservative Republican view of foreign affairs is called, in many quarters, isolationism.
Rep. Paul’s response was as follows:
Some people who would like to diminish its value call it that. I don’t call it that, because to me, it’s the opposite. It conforms with what the founders advised, and that is, yes, we don’t get involved in the entangling alliances and the internal affairs of other nations, but they strongly advocated trade and talking and travel. And now that we follow that policy with Vietnam … [the country] has Westernized; we trade with them; their president comes here, we invest in Vietnam. So we achieved in peace what we couldn’t achieve with war. But it’s a far cry from isolationism.
It has become apparent to me in recent months that far too many people throw this word “isolationism” around without understanding what they are talking about. President Benson rebuts this misinformed claim and sets the record straight:
Already, I can hear the chorus chanting “Isolationism, isolationism, he’s turning back the clock to isolationism.” How many use that word without having the slightest idea of what it really means! The so-called isolationism of the United States in past decades is a pure myth. What is isolationism? Long before the current trend of revoking our Declaration of Independence under the guise of international cooperation, American influence and trade was felt in every region of the globe. Individuals and private groups spread knowledge, business, prosperity, religion, good will and, above all, respect throughout every foreign continent. It was not necessary then for America to give up her independence to have contact and influence with other countries. It is not necessary now.
Yet, many Americans have been led to believe that our country is so strong that it can defend, feed and subsidize half the world, while at the same time believing that we are weak and “interdependent” that we cannot survive without pooling our resources and sovereignty with those we subsidize. If wanting no part of this kind of “logic” is isolationism, then it’s time we brought it back into vogue. (United States Foreign Policy, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 155)
President Benson goes on to cite a statement by Senator Robert A. Taft, a true model of conservatism, when he said:
Our traditional policy of neutrality and non-interference with other nations was based on the principle that this policy was the best way to avoid disputes with other nations and to maintain the liberty of this country without war. From the days of George Washington that has been the policy of the United States. It has never been isolationism; but it has always avoided alliances and interference in foreign quarrels as a preventive against possible war, and it has always opposed any commitment by the United States, in advance, to take any military action outside of our territory. It would leave us free to interfere or not according to whether we consider the case of sufficiently vital interest to the liberty of this country. It was the policy of the free hand. (A Foreign Policy for Americans, p. 12)
These great patriots clearly demonstrate that “isolationism” is anything but. On the contrary, it is the same example-setting, long-suffering, morally sound doctrine that should permeate all practical actions of leadership, whether by a clergyman or politician. We will rally more people to our cause of liberty through our example, reasoning, and moral leadership than through the point of a gun. Spreading democracy while destroying nations and imposing our will on others is the method of force used by the archenemy to pursue his nefarious agenda. Surely we do not want to model similar behavior?
True isolationism is a result of the political agenda we have been pursuing since the end of World War II. Spreading our empire and messing with the internal affairs of sovereign nations is what truly isolates them from American values and respect. We isolate our allies and enemies more and more by propping ourselves up as a moral authority and then imposing our will on the world through military force.
Ron Paul, the target of such hollow “isolationist” accusations, recently explained further this argument:
In their hopes to remake the world in their image, the globalist elite who run much of America’s policy-making apparatus simply further isolate our country from the rest of the world. By claiming a moral superiority that is so evidently absent when the effects of their policies are witnessed, neo-conservatives have made America seem hypocritical to many abroad.
America is now held in low esteem in many nations, not because we follow our own interests, but because the elites make claims that are not reflected in reality. They have, for example, undertaken economic sanctions in an entirely new way in recent years. When they wanted to take aim at Iraq and Iran, they imposed sanctions against those countries, but also against countries doing business with those countries. This meant we were in no position to negotiate with our adversaries, and we also could not rely on support from our allies.
To reset the debate in a way that reflects reality, it is important for us to reject the idea that the choice is between globalism and isolation. Instead we must stand firm for national sovereignty, constitutional republicanism and international cooperation. We should realize that America’s current isolation is simply a consequence of globalism gone awry.
As Tocqueville once wrote, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, then America will cease to be great.” Our foreign interventionist policies are the cause of true isolationism. Jefferson had it right when he counseled: “Peace, commerce, honest friendship with all nations, and entangling alliances with none.”