Isolationism rests on the assumption that no region of the world outside of the Western Hemisphere is of vital strategic importance to the United States. Isolationists do not argue that America has no interests in the wider world, just that they are not important enough to justify deploying military force to defend them. They are fully in favor of engaging with the rest of the world economically as well as diplomatically, but they view all foreign wars as unnecessary.
-John Mearsheimer, from America Unhinged
Although renowned political scientist John Mearsheimer does not consider himself to be an isolationist -- a term which has acquired a negative connotation since WWII -- his definition is illuminating as much for clarifying what the term does not mean as for what it does. As Mearsheimer makes plain, isolationism does not constitute a lack of constructive engagement with the outside world, but a judicious engagement that eschews military action outside of defending the homeland.
At a time when Washington is experiencing the hubris of imperial overreach and the prospect of the eventual collapse that history shows is the inevitable endgame of all empires, it is time for concerned Americans across the political spectrum to begin to seriously consider what a new paradigm and policy platform representing sanity might look like.
It is in the US's long term interests (as well as the rest of the world's) to have stability. The bare minimum for stability is a lack of war. As science writer John Horgan concluded in his bookThe End of War in which he undertook a scientific analysis of war via the study of history, anthropology, psychology and sociology, the old adage about justice being a prerequisite for peace is wrong. It is peace that is necessary for justice to take root. The violent, chaotic and wasteful conditions of modern war are not conducive to the pursuit of justice or human development.
Most Americans do not share the Neoliberal, Neoconservative, or Responsibility to Protect club's messianic vision of an America that needs to recreate the world to fit some bastardized idea of imperial "democracy" that requires a Year Zero program to destroy the social, cultural and political foundations of target countries (see Iraq, Libya, and Syria).
The restoration of our democratic republic and the revitalization of our economy and society are intimately connected to pulling out of the militarist/imperialist projects that are killing our country, along with the casualties it is responsible for around the world.
It has been recently estimated by physician's groups that deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from the US War on Terror (USWOT) are 1.3 million at the conservative end.
The predictable blowback from friends and family members of those decapitated and blown apart by drone strikes and indiscriminate bombings, as well as shootings by soldiers whose psyches have been warped by immersion in the hellhole of counter-insurgency wars that are unwinnable, should give all Americans serious pause in terms of rational problem-solving toward the goal of increasing the conditions for peace and stability.
The casualties from the physicians' groups does not even count the thousands dead in the Libyan civil war, precipitated by the US/NATO toppling of the Qadaffi government -- a stable, secular government that had attained the highest standard of living in all of Africa -- or our attempts to similarly support nihilistic jihadists who want to topple the Assad regime in Syria and the killing frenzy that has resulted in that country.
Other historians and political scientists, going further back in the American Empire's reign, have estimated 20 -- 30 million people have perished as a result of Washington's covert operations and overt military interventions that have occurred almost continuously since 1945.
Take a moment to let that really sink in. Each of those 20 to 30 million was a living, breathing person who -- like you and me -- had hopes, dreams, fears and other people who loved them.
With this track record, is it any wonder that the world views the US as the biggest threat to world peace by a wide margin?
The Refuge of the Morally and Intellectually Bankrupt
The US needs to take the lead on de-militarizing and using the freed up focus and resources to begin engineering a soft landing for the inevitable imperial/economic decline that we are already experiencing. By any rational measure, our interventions have been disasters, creating more problems than they solve. There is a reason why we are known in other parts of the world as "The Empire of Chaos." We use our military to relentlessly kill and destroy because our political leaders no longer have the will or imagination to build something constructive. Militarism is the refuge of the morally and intellectually bankrupt.
With a Pentagon budget that comprises 54% of the discretionary budget -- not counting the black budget expenditures of intelligence agencies estimated at an additional $52 billion annually -- this is 4% more than 1990 levels -- the time at which the late expert on the military industrial complex, Seymour Melman, made the following observation:
The American ruling class, by 1990, has become a state/corporate managerial entity. Together they control the military-industrial complex".The war economy, in the service of extending the decision power and wealth of America's state and corporate managers, has been consuming the US civilian infrastructure. Roads, bridges, the water supply, waste disposal systems, housing, medical care facilities, schools are in disrepair from coast to coast.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).