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I was struck while reading Paul Gigot’s Opinion piece, “The Return of the Isolationist Republicans“, with the realization that I recognize myself and do not think I am wrong.
He lays out his premise with typical skill:
What is most striking is how much this isolationism of the right resembles the traditional isolationism of the left. Isolationists in the Vietnam era argued that America wasn’t good enough for the world. We were baby killers and imperialists. This is the view of today’s pro-Hamas left.
As Charles Krauthammer pointed out 20 years ago, the conservative isolationism that flourished in the 1930s argued the opposite—that America was too good for the world. Our republican values shouldn’t be tarnished by the bloody intrigues of Europe or Asia. But the new isolationists on the right now agree with the left that the U.S. doesn’t deserve to lead the world. They say we are too degraded culturally and too weak fiscally to play the role we did during the Cold War. They say we are too woke and too broke.
Yes, we are. My youthful enthusiasm for spreading the “American Way” to improve the world was based on my belief that our ideals as a nation and capitalist markets were better than the alternative. I am not a “my nation, right or wrong” kind of guy. When we are in the right, we should try to spread the wealth and principles to people less well off. When we are lost and looking for ways to right the ship, we should not be proselytizing our fads through the force of markets.
I have a few years to go before I will have lived half my life in this century, and it doesn’t seem much of an improvement. Cell phones are tiny and powerful, and I can use them to summon a bag of birdseed or a muffler to my doorstep. At the same time, we haven’t passed a federal budget this century and declarations of war have given way to a limit on how many days a President can attack a random country before he has to give a speech before Congress.
This “perfect war” in Ukraine is a sad harbinger of things to come. We now fight wars with other people’s lives, using accumulations of weapons long paid for (requiring new contracts to replenish!), financed by dilution of the global money supply. Everyone wins! Except for the Ukrainians, suckers relying on Social Security or 401(k)s, and any manufacturing companies remaining in Europe.
I am now an Isolationist Republican.Published in