Isolationism and a deep aversion to getting into "foreign entanglements" was once the favored stance of a majority of the American people. So it's worth taking a short stroll down memory lane to highlight their thinking.
Such attitudes prevailed and prevented FDR from entering on the side of Great Britain early in W.W.II until after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, more than two years after the war began in September, 1939.
Most prominently vocal in demanding isolationism during those pre-war years were the Republicans.
After the war it was Truman and the Democrats who were the internationalists, particularly with the Marshall Plan in aiding war torn Western Europe.
Then came the Korean war with Truman at the helm, the cold war with the Communist Soviet Union after they got the atomic bomb and the subsequent "Red Scare" McCarthy era that had most Americans, including now the former Republican isolationists in favor of containing the "godless" Soviets and containing Communist expansionism. This led to the "domino theory" that had Communist takeover in one country leading inevitably to neighboring countries falling under its dominion which contributed to U.S. involvement in Viet Nam.
That costly war eventually split the country politically with Republicans blaming Democrats for the defeat and isolationism now embraced by the Democrats.
By the time Ronald Reagan entered the White House in January, 1981, ending the hostage crisis in Iran, renewing a build up of defense spending against the "Evil Empire" (USSR) plus clandestine engagement in the "Contra" wars in Central America, isolationism and no engagement in foreign entanglements was hardly in Republican thinking. To them it was all about overcoming the memory of the lost Viet Nam war and America reasserting itself. To these former isolationists there was no war they didn't love capped by their early triumphalism of Bush's invading Iraq in 2003.
Come 2012, after 8 long years in Iraq, 11 years and counting in Afghanistan along with the hard recession and Americans, according to the latest polls, are once again having "isolationist sentiment", including Republicans.
A Pew Research Center poll has "2 out of 3 Americans believing the United States should be less involved with leadership changes in the Middle East". Also "Americans who believe democracy promotion abroad is crucial has dropped sharply with only 13% giving it a high priority". That's hardly a sentiment for getting involved in foreign entanglements.
Considering what the two major party candidates talked about in Monday's presidential debate, is there disconnect between them and the American people?
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