Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Isolation vs. Non-intervention

Those conservatives who oppose Ron Paul's bid for presidency tend to do so because of his foreign policy.  The word "isolationism" is bandied about rather loosely.  To borrow a phrase from Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

The detractors accuse Mr. Paul of wanting to isolate the United States, to stop having anything to do with the rest of the world, to withdraw our entire world presence to within our borders, and "go dark", supporting ourselves and our way of life, and the rest of the world be damned.  That is isolationism.

There is another concept, which actually comprises Mr. Paul's (and my) actual stance: Non-Intervention.

What is Non-Intervention?  It is maintaining trade and diplomatic relations with the world, to further our national interests, while remaining free of entangling alliances and military action, as much as possible.  If we maintain a standing army, we keep it at home to secure our own borders.  We maintain peace through strong defense and being "good neighbors".  Non-Intervention is just that: not intervening in the affairs of others.

The warmongers would portray non-interventionists as isolationists, who want to become the weird guy in the house on the dead end of the street, who never comes out and never talks to anybody.  If he does come out, it's only to yell at the kids to get off his lawn.

That is far from an accurate picture.  We are currently acting like the neighborhood mafia don, with the idea that the world is our territory, we run the show, and if you don't fall in line, we're gonna break your fingers and/or blow out your kneecaps.  Non-interventionists just want to be good neighbors.

We want to stop being the bully of the world.  We want to be well-adjusted adults, trading and talking with our neighbors, and at the same time maintaining our own sovereignty.  The use of military force should be a last resort, entered into reluctantly (although decisively), with clear goals, and a clear declaration of war.  It should be ended as soon as possible.

Our platform is one of vigorous trade and open diplomacy, avoiding entangling alliances, in the fashion of old Byzantium, with military force available and decisive, but used only when absolutely no other option remains.

This is not isolationism.  This is non-interventionism.  Hopefully, you can now stop confusing the two.


  1. How does non-intervention work in the real world?

    You write: If we maintain a standing army, we keep it at home to secure our own borders

    So there is some discussion amongst non-interventionists as to whether or not the U.S. would keep a standing army?

    Would I be correct in assuming that “standing army” is a metaphor for all branches of the U.S. military?

    Does that mean no power projection b y the U.S. naval fleet in the Pacific or Persian Gulf?

    Does that mean no forward military bases in Korea, Germany, etc?

    What does this mean for the countries that the U.S. has guaranteed their protection?

    What happens if some country, say Iran, decides to block the Strait of Hormuz? Keep in mind that even the threat of a blockade would send the oil markets sky-rocketing and the U.S. and world economy into a free fall.

    One way the U.S. keeps the peace is via its military power projection throughout the world.

    To think that the greatest power in the world would simply walk away from its position is unthinkable. Especially since it would endanger its national security and economic stability.

  2. @Anonymous:
    Excellent questions all. Thanks for contributing! :)

    I have responded with a follow-up post, here:



Hi! Feel free to comment. However, I was getting posts from different Anonymous people, and it's difficult to know who is who so I can keep the conversation straight in my head. So I'm requesting that you please bear with my weakness, and identify yourself. Even if you want to use a different name than your real name -- that's fine. But give yourself a handle for me, please. :) Thanks...