4 January 2008

Isolationism v. Noninterventionism

On a radio show this afternoon, the host, in reviewing the Iowa caucus results, repeatedly referred to candidate Ron Paul as isolationist (in fact, one such utterance tarred him a “angry libertarian isolationist”. The charge is a smear, and an intellectually dishonest one at that. Whatever one’s thoughts are concerning the desirability and viability of Representative Paul’s presidential aspirations, his stance on foreign policy is more aptly termed non-interventionism.

In the United States, non-interventionism has often been confused with isolationism. Critics of non-interventionism frequently add to this confusion by describing prominent non-interventionists as isolationists. However, true isolationism combines a non-interventionist foreign policy with protectionism (economic nationalism) and strict border controls to prevent international travel and cultural exchange. The majority non-interventionists in the United States reject protectionism in favor of free trade, international travel, and cultural exchange.

Ron Paul believes in “free trade, international travel and cultural exchange”? He’s voted against granting presidential powers to carry out elective wars justified by deceptive means (not just Iraq, either). His political opponents tag him “isolationist” because he is in opposition to military meddling in other nations. Paul believes that a nation should be treated like it wishes to be treated by its neighbors — how would Americans feel about a foreign nation launching unmanned missile armed drones on our shores? Or unleashing spooks to bag and hood an unwitting citizen simply by executive degree.

Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address in 1801, lays out the proper role of government in this regard:

…it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none

According to the neoconservative Republican frontrunners, if you’re not in favor of preemptive military strikes of nations that pose no threat to the United States, you’re an isolationist!

Ron Paul, as do a majority of Americans, believes the illegal, immoral invasion of a country that did not attack the United States was wrong. That, despite military industrial complex cheerleaders like John McCain and the other Republican presidential frontrunners, does not make one an isolationist. Ron Paul, pledges to uphold the Constitution, as instructed by the nation’s founding fathers.

Here is Ron Paul discussing the matter.

In viewing that clip, it doesn’t appear to me that Ron Paul is “angry” either.

You might disagree with the principle of noninterventionism. But please don’t erroneously call it “isolationism”, else you are engaging in name calling and resorting to twisted pretzel logic tactics.

But that may be the neoconservative bias — they rally for wars they themselves (or their children) do not wish to fight. They weep not at the annihilation of the innocent, and accept the tag of “collateral damage” with a shrug. They care not over constitutional erosion and cheer for unitary executive doctrine that essential crowns the president as king. They excite over banning the IRS and willingly burdening future generations for the war machine machinations indebtedness.