On Foreign Policy, Pt. 2: Neo-Isolationist

Ron PaulEditors Note: See here for part 1 of this series and here for the conclusion.

Neo-isolationism, also called non-interventionism, is the other major foreign policy philosophy prevalent among the right, though it also holds a number of adherents on the left. Interestingly, it is important not for the number of supporters, but for the amount of attention called to it in recent years, with the rising popularity of that new dynasty of underdogs in American politics known as the Paul family. This ideology is diametrically opposed to the subject of my previous post, neo-conservative foreign policy.

Neo-isolationism is, essentially, the understanding that the United States should not take any action against another nation unless the actual physical territorial sovereignty of the United States is actually imposed upon. In other words, the US military shall never act offensively. Ron Paul, perhaps the most famous modern adherent, has championed the cause of closing every foreign US military base, leaving NATO, and withdrawing from the UN.

Where the neo-con would default to aggressive military action and nation-building when convenient if a situation abroad arose, the neo-isolationist wouldn’t even bat an eye.

The issue with neo-isolationism is its simplistic shortsightedness that ultimately makes the country less secure, thus failing the constitutional prerogative of providing for the common defense.

For example, it has been said by neo-isolationists that America could be defended by a few submarines, that nobody would dare attack us. It sounds reasonable, right? The US Navy has the power to blow any country to kingdom come at any moment that they choose. No nation would willingly choose to commit suicide by nuke if it knew that that was the clear outcome if it attacked the United States.

The problem is that the last time America was attacked, it wasn’t by a conventional army from a specific country. It was attacked by 19 men who had been through flight school in the US and had spent the years leading up to the event living in third-world countries in the Middle East with state-sponsorship.

Logistically, removing American military bases from around the world would severely hamper any effort to deter or respond to attacks. This hurts our national defense.

A few ballistic missile submarines couldn’t have done anything to stop a hijacking, thus additional defensive measures are obviously in order for the government to fulfill its role in society.

In neo-isolationism’s defense, it does do several good things. Removing the United States from membership in the United Nations and NATO would go a long way to prevent Americans from being forced to die for causes that had nothing at all to do with the actual defense of their country. This is just.

However, the extremes to which this philosophy goes to remove America’s military presence from the globe would make our country less secure. To a certain extent, simply waiting for attacks to happen accepts their possibility. That doesn’t sound like a reasonable defense, just a way to save money.

Thus, in the end, neither foreign policy option available to the right really does what makes sense. Either Republicans are responsible for endless wars in remote areas of the world that waste massive amounts of time, money, lives, and political capital or conservatives adopt a complete hands-off strategy that severely limits our ability to prevent and respond to attacks. There must be a different way, and there is. The third and final post in this series will demonstrate a foreign policy that avoids the pitfalls of each strategy, and retains the best only the best parts.

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