Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Isolationism vs. Non-interventionism

Tom Woods describes it perfectly in this interview…
Brian Saint-Paul: In the realm of foreign policy, what's the difference between isolationism and non-interventionism? The terms are often used interchangeably -- and incorrectly -- in the current presidential race.

Thomas E. Woods Jr.: An isolationist -- if words have any meaning at all -- is someone who wants to isolate the country from interaction with the rest of the world. We're not talking simply about disengagement from foreign conflicts but also drastically reducing our trade relations around the world -- and perhaps, initiating trade wars. So the real isolationist is someone who wants the military budget limited to what's required to defend the country, but who also wants national self sufficiency and isn't interested in diplomatic engagement.

When you put it that way, very few people would qualify as isolationists. We should remember that the term itself wasn't actually invented by those critical of U.S. foreign policy. The term 'isolationist' was actually invented by their opponents to smear them in the 1930s, and frankly, I can't think of anybody who would take a totally isolationist view.

Saint-Paul: So the Founders were not isolationists?

Woods: No, they were in favor of non-interventionism, which is a different thing. Non-interventionism means that while we do want to isolate the country from foreign conflicts, we don't want to roll up into a ball and sit in the corner. Non-interventionists don't want to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries and we don't want to get involved in wars that are none of our business. And we want to define what is our business in a reasonable, non-insane kind of way. After all, not everything in the world is our business.
Yes...Despite what many may think, not everything is our business.

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