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Non-intervention is not isolationism

By Scott Tibbs, July 2, 2014

With the prominence of Rand Paul, following in the footsteps of his father, a number of Republicans (especially Dick Cheney and John McCain) are bemoaning the rising tide of "isolationism" in the Republican Party. Cheney, McCain and other interventionists should study Merriam-Webster's definition of isolationism:

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

There are and have always been arguments in our nation, between the two major political parties and even within those political parties, about the extent to which these United States should intervene militarily around the world. It should not be surprising that those debates over the appropriate use of military force are continuing, especially as the nation is weary after almost thirteen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But questioning whether it is a good idea to get involved in various placed around the world is not in and of itself an isolationist stance - and both Cheney and McCain know it. It is dishonest to proclaim that opposition to military interventionism is isolationism, and such arguments are also not serious. I have not seen alleged "isolationists" arguing that we should not have diplomatic relations or economic trade with other nations, or that we should retreat inside our borders and have no interaction with the rest of the world.

By dishonestly throwing the word isolationist around as if no one is capable of looking it up in a paper or online dictionary, interventionists discredit themselves and do a disservice to the American people. There is plenty of room to debate whether a specific military intervention is necessary to protect our national security interest, whether another strategery would be more effective in accomplishing our goal, or whether military intervention would actually be counterproductive or even dangerous in the long term. Let's have those debates, without the dishonest rhetoric.