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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Between Responsible and Irresponsible Isolationism

There is one fundamental element that is absolutely necessary for an isolationist foreign policy. Isolation. Isolationism without physical isolation is as much good as belligerence without an army to back it up.

American isolationism might have been feasible during WW1 when its neighbors were either friendly or no threat, there was no danger from the Pacific and a fleet crossing the Atlantic seemed unlikely. Though it wasn't so unlikely even then.

As far back as 1897 and long before any American involvement in Europe, Operational Plan Three called for shelling New York and seizing parts of Virginia, as a staging base for attacks on Washington and Baltimore. Plans were drawn up in Germany for the occupation of Boston and Philadelphia.

Vice-Admiral August Thomsen wrote, "At the moment every thinking German officer is occupied with the consequences of a belligerent conflict between Germany and the United States of America."

No American politician was thinking the same thing. America had not intervened in any European wars and had no interest in Germany. But that didn't matter. The Kasier wanted to seize parts of the hemisphere and that meant breaking the dominant power in the region. America's weak fleet made it seem like an easy target.

That is the most important part of the equation that isolationists fail to include in their calculations. Regardless of our foreign policy, we are still a target. Whatever our calculations are, potential enemies may have calculations entirely different from our own. They don't just react to what we do, they have their own plans and agendas. Passivity isn't a defense for the ostrich or for a nation.

In 1900 while America slept, German diplomats were scouting Cape Cod and Provincetown as support bases for an attack on Boston. And the Germans weren't alone. In the early 20th century there were British plans for an assault on New England. But Germany's failure to formulate an alliance with other European powers against the United States led to the abandonment of Operational Plan Three.

When Charles Lindbergh ridiculed the idea of a foreign attack on America, such an attack was less than a year away, but variations of it had been planned by European powers for a good deal longer than that. Terrorist attacks by foreign agents were a now forgotten reality during WW1, including the Black Tom explosion which severely damaged the Statue of Liberty, the Vanceboro bridge bombing, and in an early form of biological warfare a laboratory in Chevy Chase was working on anthrax and glanders cultures to be used on horses.

With the jet plane and the intercontinental ballistic missile, isolationism became completely unworkable without strong deterrence. Even if the United States had chosen to abandon Europe, it would still have needed massive nuclear missile stockpiles, a sizable fleet and military, and a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction just to pursue a policy of isolationism. And had the USSR managed to make even deeper inroads in South America, the United States would have been forced to either push it out or increase the size of its forces to compensate for the loss of a buffer zone against preemptive attacks.

It's not impossible to have an isolationist foreign policy today, to cut any alliances with the rest of the world. But there's a fundamental difference between a responsible and an irresponsible isolationist policy. A responsible isolationist policy recognizes that we have enemies who will act regardless of what we do and prepares against the possibility of war without actively seeking it out.

An irresponsible isolationist foreign policy however acts as if we have no enemies and that any talk that we have enemies is a conspiracy to bring us into a war. It accepts every bit of enemy propaganda as gospel and assumes that if we just "stop bothering them", they'll "stop bothering us". It assumes that the enemy is entirely motivated by our actions, that any conflict we are in is the result of our foreign policy and that isolationism will avert any such conflicts.

This is the version of isolationism that you hear in the Republican debates from Ron Paul. It's the version that Americans heard back in the 1930's from Lindbergh. Rather than recognizing that a military buildup is an important deterrent to war, it attacks military buildups as provocative. It assumes that the only possible reason why we might be attacked are foreign entanglements and if we just tuck our heads in then there will be no conflict.

The absurdity of this approach when it comes to the current clash of civilizations with Islam is obvious enough. This isn't a conflict that dates back from 1991 or 1948 or even the First Barbary War in 1805. It's a war that predates the United States and modern day Europe. It is a conflict that goes back over a thousand years to the decline and fall of the eastern remains of the Roman Empire and the rise of Islam as a militant unification ideology to fill that void.

American foreign policy can't turn back the clock on that history. It can affect events in the present day, but it can't undo the roots of a conflict that it has inherited. American foreign policy had a good deal to do with the rise of Islamic states built on petrodollars, but isolationism is certainly not going to make them go away. Certainly not Ron Paul's brand of isolationism which pretends that there is nothing wrong with Islam that can't be fixed with an American isolationist foreign policy.

During the last debate, Ron Paul asked why they're bombing us and not Sweden or Switzerland. The answer is very simple. You only bomb people who resist. Stockholm is 20 percent Muslim. Muslim terrorists operate out of Sweden, including a top Al-Qaeda leader, but they don't need to attack a territory that they're already on the way to ruling through natural demographics.

44 percent of Europe's population is over 45. Under 34 percent is under 30. Meanwhile half of European Muslims are under 30. The math isn't very hard to do. The only countries that need to be targeted by Muslim terrorists are those which have a high enough birth rate that demographics alone won't do the trick.

The First World country with the highest birth rate is Israel. It's also the country most targeted by Muslim terrorists. The First World country with the second highest birth rate is the United States. It is the country second most targeted by terrorists. The next major countries on the list are France and the UK. There's a term for this sort of thing. It's demographic suppression and political intimidation.

Back in the 19th century the Kasier hoped that shelling Manhattan and seizing a few cities would bring the United States to the negotiating table. Japan thought that bombing Pearl Harbor would accomplish the same thing. But while Tojo was wrong, the House of Saud was correct. September 11 brought the United States to the negotiating table with Islam. Muslims have been granted special privileges and their immigration rate has increased. That's one path to an eventual demographic domination.

Islamic attacks against the United States may emerge from various micro-events, but the macro-event from which they originate is the shared history of the Western world and the ongoing conflict between the Muslim world and the West. Some isolationists may act as if the United States can break with European history through assertion alone. It cannot. Like it or not it shares a common history and a common culture. America derives from Europe, and whether Americans recognize it or not, the rest of the world does. To Islam, America is not an island, it is another outpost of an enemy civilization that must be subdued so that the way of Mohammed will triumph around the world.

Ron Paul type isolationists fail to distinguish between the proximate causes of war and the ultimate causes of war. A proximate cause of war may be a ship that has wandered into the wrong area which may have been caused by a trade dispute which may have been caused by debts which may have been caused by growing militarism and greed for land. But none of those are truly the ultimate cause of war. The ultimate cause of war is the incompatibility of two systems and two civilizations within the same space.

Technological development means that the old boundaries are all but gone. Immigration means that the enemy population is already here. The rise of Islam means that war is inevitable, all that remains are the details, which battle, on what terms and in what form, and the larger detail of who will win.

Rationalism isolationism accepts that war may be inevitable but chooses to meet it on our terms. Irrational isolationism, which often carries with it defeatist and treasonous overtones, accepts the enemy's justifications for the conflicts and assumes that if we modify our behavior accordingly that there will be no need for war.

"Si vis pacem, para bellum," was a rule that the old Romans knew. If you would have peace, prepare for war. The emblem of the Strategic Air Command was an olive branch and thunderbolt held in a mailed fist. Its motto was "Peace is Our Profession". The SAC kept the peace through the threat of war. Only an isolationism that understands the meaning of that motto can be successful.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually they bombed Sweden (Sweden suicide bomber: Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly)
And Kaddafi threatened Jihad against Switzerland.

Edward Cline said...

A terrific rebuke for Ron Paul, Daniel. And a great history lesson concerning Germany's military plans to subdue the U.S. in the 19th century. I might mention the Zimmerman Telegram here, too, the German incident that was supposed to start a war between Mexico and the U.S. to divert American military resources from the Europoean war.

John C. Barile said...

Ron Paul is a tiresome sideshow; a troglodytic throwback; a kook.

HermitLion said...

This article is a good, common sense case against the isolationist dogma.

Of course, when one deals with dogma, one has to acknowledge that those who follow it are usually a lost cause, whose wishful thinking and raging emotions easily cloud reason.

However, for anyone who isn't a Ron Paul zealot, it is important to explain why his propaganda is plain wrong.
I believe that, "A responsible isolationist policy recognizes that we have enemies who will act regardless of what we do and prepares against the possibility of war without actively seeking it out", present a simple, clear, and effective retort in this case.

Anonymous said...

Another 'enemy-of-my-enemy' load of hooey.

Why don't you come right out and admit it: "I don't like Ron Paul because he won't use government to forcibly take money from people in the US - to give to Israel."

Or, "I don't like Ron Paul because he won't use the U.S. military to fight Israel's battles for them - by forcibly taking money from U.S. taxpayers (at gunpoint if they balk, as always)."

That would be closer to the truth. Oh, and while you're at it, then please explain how Israel's "right of return" automatically for racial reasons gives many (you too?) a de-facto dual passport. You know, in the interests of full disclosure. Toda.

- Caleb D. Perro

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Another Paultard who trots out the usual talking points without bothering to read the article

"Why don't you come right out and admit it: "I don't like Ron Paul because he won't use government to forcibly take money from people in the US - to give to Israel."

I'm opposed to foreign aid and think it should end.

"I don't like Ron Paul because he won't use the U.S. military to fight Israel's battles for them "

The US military doesn't fight Israel's battles, it fights Saudi Arabia's battles.

And if you're going to waste time on dual loyalty charges, Ron Paul is a secessionist. That means he doesn't even have a single loyalty.

Good bye now.

Linda Rivera said...

To Caleb D Perro,
We should not give a single dollar to any nation or organization. America has severe financial problems. On 9/11, THOUSANDS of Palestinian Authority Muslims CELEBRATED with great joy the cruel murders of our cherished 3,000. PA Muslims danced in the streets, passed out sweets and fired into the air. Some Muslims celebrated in America and around the world. We will not forget.
It is terrible and immoral that Americans are forced via their tax dollars to support PA Muslims who HATE us and celebrate the murders of our 3,000.

Kyra Nelson said...

"Paultards"! You Go Knish

Linda Rivera said...

To Caleb D. Perro

Little Israel is so incredibly tiny, it's hard to find on a map.

Are 56 Muslim nations not enough for you?

Edward Cline said...

When you think about it, Ron Paul would be a worse president, and a far more dangerous one, than either Carter, the Bushes, Clinton, or Obama. He would completely disarm this country, on the premise that our being able to defend ourselves would be offensive to our enemies. He’d do it “on principle.” And once he’d done that, all the barbarian hordes would swoop down on us from every quarter, undeterred by any military defense, not worried by the least retaliation (Paul’s premise would be that retaliation would only anger our enemies more). Of course, that’s Obama’s secret wish, not articulated. But Paul has articulated it. And, oh, yes, I agree with Daniel. We should end all foreign aid. American foreign aid only perpetuates foreign poverty. That’s a rather simple observation to make.

HermitLion said...

'Foreign aid' (AKA bribe), when used wisely, is a cheaper alternative to the use of force in order to influence the power balance structure of the world.

The issue isn't morality, but US interests, so the question should be, "is the current spending of money on foreign players beneficial to American interests, or detrimental to them?"
I believe you would find that far too much funding is thrown away on enemies that would never become allies - and vice versa.

Thus, when a demagogue like R.Paul talks about saving money and troops, his irresponsible policies, if ever pursued, would actually result in a loss of both.

It is fortunate for him that the world is full of halfwits in need of identity, who are willing to swallow this nonsense, but the true power of his words is that he offers change.
In times of desperation, more are willing to follow a false prophet, if only for the hope that he would make their lives better.

Sounds like a familiar scenario?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Paul's core appeal is to paranoid elements on the left and the right, conspiracists, neo-nazis, the usual type obsessed with bankers, the cia and the freemasons

HermitLion said...

Indeed, but I've seen some Americans (and Israelis) online, who were clueless about what stands behinds his false words, and thought perhaps the guy actually has a good point or two.

Unless, of course, they were all cyber-clones made by his followers. One can never be certain.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

The Paulestinians are good at selling him to anyone, and they impersonate members of target groups, but they can't answer any difficult questions.

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