Isolationism vs. Interventionism

June 25, 2008 at 12:30 am (China, History, Idiots, International community, Russia, The United States)

One of the dangers of A Certain Past Republican Contender for the Nomination of Presidential Candidate, which to me was the worst of his offenses, was isolationism.

“Isolationism” means that a state refrains from involving itself in the affairs of other states. The opposite is called “interventionism”, which means that a state gets involved in the affairs of other states. Often, isolationism involves a foreign policy which distances the state from other states, while an interventionist foreign policy means coming close to other states (which means interacting with them, not necessarily making them do our will or controlling them or invading them).

The colonial era was the height of interventionism, and this produced practically constant warfare, strife, and upheaval, both for the colonial power and for colonized entities. This also meant constant warfare and strife with other colonial powers/states, often involving worldwide, intricate policies and conflicts.

Seeing this, and being in the colonial era (or, rather, in the colonial international state system), the Founding Fathers of The United States promoted isolationism. Well, at least with regard to other states. Expansionism with regard to the continental America was promoted and engaged in with gusto. But engaging other states was seen as very risky. They had a point: in the colonial international state system, having an interventionist policy meant engaging in colonialism and competition, with all the complexities and risks and variables such endeavors involved.

However, mainly after World War II, a new international state system evolved with The United States serving as the hegemon. (Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union emerged as the prime contender for hegemon.) The United States became the hegemon because of their interventionist policy: they began to engage the Allies and contributed significantly to the defeat of the Axis powers.

After all these years, during which The United States have assertively pursued an interventionist foreign policy, it is now impossible to adopt an isolationist foreign policy and expect to remain the hegemon. And if they’re no longer the hegemon, another will become hegemon, and they will be subject to the new hegemon’s power, rules, and the resulting new international state system. This will mean the end to American sovereignty.

Yes, an end to American sovereignty. People mistakenly assume that isolationism preserves American sovereignty but this is not true. American sovereignty is most preserved in this international state system by interventionism, for this keeps The United States on the top, and thus as hegemon, and thus able to assert their will and protect their interests with little opposition. While it is true that interventionism stretches The United States’ resources and hinders their movement because of their involvement worldwide (which means many interests can be affected by a single issue), interventionism helps them proptect their interests in ways that would not be possible under an isolationist regime.

Furthermore, what will perhaps affect The United States the most would be the change in the international state system. While we can imagine we can sustain ourselves and remain aloof, the harsh reality is that soon everything will change. And considering Russia or China might become the next hegemon, it would not look encouraging for American people or American interests. We’d be at China’s or Russia’s beck and call.

And while we may have an invincible armed services right now, how will be keep up, let alone perpetuate our military superiority, when we are no longer the economic powerhouse we are now? Globalism helps us: if we withdraw from the rest of the world, and from the world market, what will happen to capitalism, free enterprise, and other economic trends that move us forward?

As paradoxically as it may sound, interventionism is the best for American interests, to perpetuate the current international state system, and comparing an international state system under America to an international state system under any other state, would be best for humanity and progress and prosperity.

So away with isolationism. It’s stupid and will not work; it will only hurt us. What we need is responsible, shrewd interventionism.


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