Noninterventionism vs. Isolationism

The presidential race is starting to heat up. Several prominent republicans like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have thrown their hat in the ring. There is very little to differentiate between the votes of these candidates while in congress, so it would probably be better to note where they disagree. One of the things that republicans get wrong when looking at foreign policy is mistaking isolationism for noninterventionism. I guess it’s an easy mistake to make when the popular guy always wants to bomb somebody but there is a distinct difference between the two.

Isolationism:

The belief that a country should not be involved with other countries: a policy of not making agreements or working with other countries.

This means that an isolationist country does not allow its citizens to leave and does not allow other countries in. Isolationist countries have strict anti-immigration policies. This is an extreme way for a country to do business. This does not mean that you are just against war. Being against war would be a symptom of this belief system. There are no American politicians who are isolationists. A notable isolationist country would be North Korea. Libertarian leaning politicians are the furthest thing from isolationists.

Nonintervention:

Refusal to become involved in another country’s business, problems, etc.

This means that noninterventionist countries freely trade and deal with foreign countries but do not want to get involved with local disputes when it has no direct relation to their country’s interest. This means that if a country’s civil war does not directly affect my country, then I will let that country work its own affairs out. Noninterventionists have generous immigration policies. If America was noninterventionist we would cease to be the world’s police. A notable noninterventionist country would be Sweden. Most libertarians would probably put themselves in this camp.

Interventionism:

A government policy or practice of doing things to directly influence the country’s economy or the political affairs of another country

Republicans, especially establishment Republicans, and Democrats have had political gains by getting away from noninterventionism. Becoming world police gets Republicans elected. This is the bottom line. They have done a good job using patriotism to convince country loving Americans that we need to bomb places that have no direct impact or threat to America. President Clinton, Bush and Obama have used the military much more than previous presidents. War was pretty cool for a while, especially when Democrats did it. A notable interventionist country is America.

The tide is changing. The people, especially young people, are getting blood weary. War weary. Republicans are moving toward libertarianism which is decidedly noninterventionist. This is where you will find the differences between the Republican candidates. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, the probable Republican frontrunners, voted the same way over 90% of the time, but they have very different ideas regarding foreign policy. Rand Paul is a noninterventionist and Ted Cruz is a definite interventionist. It’s doubtful that foreign policy will dictate the winner of the Republican nomination, but something has to differentiate the two.

Just remember when you hear people throw around the term “isolationist”, what they really mean is “noninterventionist”. What they really, really mean is “they won’t tell other countries what they should do!” This is a tactic designed to shame people into war. This is a tactic to paint anyone who won’t, “put boots on the ground”, as unpatriotic, even when the “ground” is nowhere near America and no threat exists to our sovereignty that would require “boots”.

Being noninterventionist does not mean that one country will not help another one. It does mean that one country should respect the sovereignty of other nations, even when those countries may seem crazy. If a trade partner or ally is being invaded by a crazy country and asks for help a noninterventionist may decide to help, even if there is no direct benefit other than the trade partnership or alliance. An isolationist would not even know it was happening and an interventionist would not abide a crazy country invading a partner and would bomb the crazy country without being asked.

Ask yourself, “Which of these best describes me?” Remember your answer, you may need it in the future.

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