In my May 7 post, I attempted to define the three basic schools of thought in American Foreign Policy. The three are isolationism (best manifested by economic protectionism and closed borders), noninterventionism (best manifested by free trade and diplomacy), and interventionism (best manifested by mercantilism and war). I gave some standard definitions as well as my own elaboration. At the end of the piece I asked a question. I will attempt to answer it in each of my next few pieces. The question is, Which ideology has the most in common with isolationism? Noninterventionism or interventionism?
I will start with a subject, be it commerce, conflict, immigration, or whatever, and state faithfully what the mainstream position of each camp is, contrast and compare those positions, and then, to the best of my ability, determine whether the noninterventionist position or the interventionist position is closer to isolationism. I will do all this in terms of what the policies are, as well as their consequences (intended or not), their ideological origins, and their underlying fallacies.
It is important to note that not all within each of these camps will always adhere to a specific position within their broader categorization.
Take interventionists. Some interventionists like bombing countries unilaterally. Others like to bomb countries multilaterally. Some like to bomb first, ask questions later. Others like to slap sanctions on, wait for the other side to react, and then bomb. Some like to bomb Muslims. Others like to bomb communists. Some like nukes. Others like more conventional arsenals. Heck, some don’t even like to bomb at all, ever. Why should they when there are so many other points at which they could intervene?
How about isolationists (assuming there are any)? Do they all want to slap tariffs on other nations? And if so, to “protect” certain industries, to counter some other nation’s tariff, or to prevent them from surpassing the United States in some way? Do they all want to shut the borders down completely? Or do some just want a fence with some amnesty and some deportation for those already here? And there are probably a few that don’t want a fence, just mass deportation and enforcement of laws on the books. How about that part of the 14th Amendment that grants birth right citizenship? Don’t some isolationists want to repeal that? All of this without even discussing the differences between undocumented aliens, legal residents, and illegal immigrants, which happen to all be different classes. Aren’t some isolationists able to detect these and other nuances?
And then there are the noninterventionists. They can’t really even have their own name! They are just anti-whatever interventionists are usually for, right? Rather, they are deceitful isolationists. Or so goes the conventional wisdom (an oxymoron if you ask me). And I know what else people are thinking. To them I counter: Au contraire, they most certainly are NOT all pacifists, anarchists, skinheads, and States’ Rights nutjobs!
Trust me. I know.