Republicans Freaking Out Over "Isolationism"

The long-submerged Republican civil war over foreign policy has bubbled to the surface after the second 2012 presidential debate featured lots of disturbing-for-interventionists talk about misguided and unaffordable wars and occupations. A sampling of headlines:

* Tim Pawlenty Warns GOP on Perils of Isolationism

* McCain Accuses Republicans of Isolationist Policy

* Republican Senators Blast Growing 'Isolationism' Within GOP Over Libya

* The Kucinich Republicans: The House GOP turns isolationist on Libya and war powers

* Leave Afghanistan, Lead Elsewhere: The Real Danger Is Isolationism

* With Growing Isolationism, We Need Obama to Lead Now More Than Ever

Note that this last headline came from the website of the American Enterprise Institute.

Some pushback on the I-word from Gene Healy, David Harsanyi, Jonah Goldberg, David Boaz, Doug Bandow, and Timothy P. Carney. I particularly enjoyed two responses from George Will:

"The United States is engaged in hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, the tribal region of Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. That's five wars, how many do these people want? With regard to Libya: Did Libya attack us? No. Was it about to attack us? No. Were we obliged by a treaty to get engaged in a civi war in a tribal society? No. Were American's endangered? No. Find me a reason for this."

"The reason is the humanitarian reason," Amanpour said.

"To say that people are isolationists, akin to those didn't want to resist Hitler and Japan because they don't want to prolong the folly of the involvement in Libya is preposterous," Will concluded.

And:

Disgust with this debacle has been darkly described as a recrudescence of "isolationism," as though people opposing this absurdly disproportionate and patently illegal war are akin to those who, after 1938, opposed resisting Germany and Japan. Such slovenly thinking is a byproduct of shabby behavior.

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  • SIV||

    Can we look forward to modestly positive coverage of Michelle Bachmann now?

  • MSM||

    No

  • ||

    Your hardon for her is fucking EPIC, dude. I hope it isn't a choad.

  • Ska||

    Maybe she enjoys a nice hockey puck in the box; you ever think of that smart guy?

  • ||

    Her husband can help you pray away the gay, Ska.

  • ||

    Don't get defensive about your choad, Ska. Don't get angry. It's just the way Jeebus made you.

  • Ska||

    I only get angry about it when shopping for athletic supporters and condoms.

  • Anthony Weiner||

    Use a cervical cap for a condom. That's what I do.

  • OO||

    its called a yarmulke

  • Tim||

    How many civilians do we have to kill for humanitarian purposes?

  • Barack Obama||

    Um... *cough*

  • yonemoto||

    poor. Obama quotes begin with "let me be clear".

  • In Time of War||

    For a country that prides itself on being peaceful, the US sure does love killing foreigners.

  • fish||

    We have to kill them over there lest they come here where we would still have to kill them but now there is the clean up and the media coverage and lord knows Americans shouldn't have to put up with that!~

  • OO||

    its cheaper to kill them here than there

  • ||

    Not foreigners. Muslims.

    Don't you see - if we don't kill Muslims, then they will use their Allah powers to convert the rest of the world, and then we will all be forced to pray 42 times a day, poop standing up, and use our hand as toilet paper.

    Do you want to forced to stand up when you poop? Neither do I, which is why we need to kill Muslims.

  • Anonymouse||

    What you're saying makes no fucking sense, but I'm afraid of anything that threatens my awesome and clearly superior way of life. Let's kill the muslims.

  • ||

    How many are there?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The neocons are starting to act like they feel threatened. That's a good sign as far as I'm concerned.

  • robc||

    Agreed.

  • ||

    Maybe they'll go back to the Democratic Party, where they came from.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    After 45 years of pretty much controlling the RP, I think they feel like the own the place now. They won't go quietly.

  • robc||

    After 45 years of pretty much controlling the RP

    ???

    Were there any neocons in the GOP before the 70s?

  • Tim||

    I fully agree. I'm tempted to sit out the election and let Obama win. This will force the republican party towards us as they know they will never hold office without us.

  • Tim||

    I never fully agreed with Bush's axis of evil speech. I know these countries are dangerous but does that mean we have to declare war on them?

  • ||

    I didn't agree with it because an axis is a line between two points.

    Axis = Germany, Italy

    Texas Axis = Eye-ran, Eye-raq an' North Korea. *spits*

  • West Texas||

    I have to say that my opinions have evolved a lot in this area in the past few years, for reasons that are very neatly explained in the "Empire" chapter of Ron Paul's new book. Anyone who seems to think that we can be simultaneously free at home and aggressively militaristic elsewhere around the world at the same time is either naive or hopelessly corrupt, and my money is mostly on the latter when it comes to anyone currently in government who says these things.

    Politicians want power and there is no better excuse than "war" to get it.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Don't forget to remind the more-gullible types that there is a difference between "isolationist" and "non-interventionist".

  • robc||

    Japan from 1635 to 1853, that is isolationist.

  • Surly Chef||

    Exactly. Isolationism requires restrcting the individual from voluntary contact with the outside world. How in the hell is a society of individuals who are free to engage in social interaction, commerce and travel with the outside world with little restriction "isolationist", while restrcting all of those things and prosecuting 5 wars is not?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Cohen is his normal elitist self here.

    "Staying in Afghanistan will only buttress the argument of the New Isolationists. This is the larger danger. The world needs us and will soon need us even more. China, India, Pakistan, Japan and the two Koreas are about as compatible as the Real Housewives of New York. They all either have or are capable of developing nuclear weapons. Iran is on its way. Its program could cause the Israelis to attack and it might also prompt Saudi Arabia and maybe Egypt to go nuclear. Jordan could implode and Iraq could come apart."

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Posting in all the wrong places again

  • Shorter Cohen||

    It's the White Man's Burden.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    China, India, Pakistan, Japan and the two Koreas are about as compatible as the Real Housewives of New York.

    Hurr durr, pop culture reference in politics. Isn't he clever?

  • Walter Mondale||

    Where's the beef?

    (audience recognizes pop reference and laffs)

  • yonemoto||

    Ming China, too.

    Ironically, japan being isolationist during the tokugawa era was pretty damn good, when they came out of it, they went slinging, and took down Russia and China in succession, and then were powerful enough to start building an empire and commit atrocities on the decihitler scale.

  • RyanXXX||

    And who's to blame for pushing the Japs out of their isolation?

    The fucking American Navy. I don't know why Commodore Perry isn't talked about in schools

  • Jersey Patriot||

    "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." - James Madison

  • robc||

    That James dude was pretty smart sometimes.

    We shoulda elected him president or something.

  • West Texas||

    I'm sure I've seen this one before and forgotten about it.

    Truth is, there are so many quotes by the founding fathers that so uncannily (eerily?) predict the shit we're in today...

    If only we could resurrect Madison and Jefferson and maybe John Adams for the sole purpose of slapping Obama and W. around a bit.

    And for that matter, I'd resurrect Woodrow Wilson too, just so I could kick him in the balls.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    "I'd resurrect Woodrow Wilson, just so I could kick him in the balls." This

  • ||

    And Andrew Jackson! That crazy fucker would kick have a field day kicking Fed asses...

  • Tim||

    I compare Ron Paul to a meal you may not like at first but after a few bites you begin to understand and enjoy it. I agree with RP that government should not have the power of life and death over people. War gives it that power which makes it think it has the power of life and death over others. It is sick and disgusting once you think about it. Who can rightfully say that they have the power of life and death over others without feeling they possess the proverbial 'Death Star' over the people?

  • robc||

    The people who didnt want to fight Germany and Japan in 1938 were right. There was no reason for US involvement in the war until December 1941.

    We handled it correctly.

  • robc||

    I dont often give FDR mad props, but I see very little to criticize in his handling of WW2.

    The internment camps being the big exception.

  • ||

    How about the freezing of Japanese assets in the United States on July 25, 1941 as ordered by FDR?

    That had nothing to do with the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor?

    How about the ultimatum FDR issued to the Japanese on November 26, which demanded unconditional Japanese withdrawal from China and from Indochina?

  • ||

    Agreed. We launched a financial war against Germany and Japan well before we sent our boys over there. I don't criticize it in the least. Even if Germany and Japan had no intention before of hurting the US, agressiveness from nations should be challenged. However, our current endeavors in playing ref in civil wars is an expensive and pointless endeavor.

  • In Time of War||

    Every war in history has been defensive. By every party involved.

  • ceasar||

    defensive?

  • ||

    What about the naval quasi-war with Germany in 1940-41?

  • Tim||

    The Japs (why be politically correct?) were planning Pearl Harbor for a long time. As to why, I don't know but it would seem that they were planning to attack. We had no such plans to attack them. The Japs were clearly the aggressor.

  • sevo||

    "but I see very little to criticize in his handling of WW2."

    Disagreed. We got lucky.
    He stonewalled Truman knowing full well he was at least in very bad health.
    He left all sorts of 'private' agreements of which Truman had not so much as a briefing, let alone such matters as the nuclear weapons.
    Near criminal dereliction of duty.

  • OO||

    ive read that elanore was really making the decisions most of the 2d term kinda like nancy reagan did later

  • Trespassers W||

    ive read

    lolz

  • Brett L||

    I say we declare victory in Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Libya, and Yemen and come home. (Did I leave anywhere out?)

  • ||

    Korea.

  • WTF||

    Korea

  • WTF||

    Damn your nimble fingers, TrickyVic!

  • ||

    Missed it by that much.

  • robc||

    Arent we in about 110 countries or something?

  • WTF||

    So there are still 82 without murican troops? Clearly we need to step up our game.

  • In Time of War||

    Hey now, we're not killing people in all those countries...sometimes we just rape the local girls.

  • STEVE SMITH||

    RAPE?

  • Brett L||

    I'm still unclear on whether these include Marine embassy details. I think its okay to have a squad of Marines at each embassy.

  • robc||

    True. Embassies are US territory.

  • WTF||

    But if the troops figure includes Marine embassy detachments, shouldn't the number be higher than 110?

  • Brett L||

    I'm not sure. We don't have a normal embassy in N. Korea, Cuba, or Iran, and might not in say, DPR of Congo. Also, it could be something as simple as MPs/Shore Patrol in countries where the US makes port calls. Do we need those guys there? No. Is it the same as maintaining Diego Garcia or Okinawa? No. I'd settle for shutting down the actual power projection bases and letting these little exchange/MP/embassy details be.

  • robc||

    Quick google search suggests military bases in 63 foreign countries.

    So the 110 number is probably a good estimate for troops in foreign countries outside of embassies.

  • robc||

    wikipedia says over 150 countries, not sure if that includes embassies though.

  • robc||

    Thule AFB in Greenland.

    We declare victory vs Denmark and come home!

    /We have always been at war with Denmark

  • ||

    Denmarkians can GFT.

  • ||

    The quest ion is, who do we side with if Canada and Denmark go to war over Hans Island?

    :)

  • robc||

    It gives us an opening.

    We claim neutrality and then blindside Canada when they least expect it and take everything west of Ontario.

  • Otto||

    54' 40" or fight!

  • In Time of War||

    Right, because what we really need is a huge number of people demanding free health care.

  • Brett L||

    Listen, when it turns out the nameless Lovecraftian horrors also had an Arctic base, you'll be happy we have Thule.

  • fish||

    The moon?

  • ||

    Drugs?

  • Tim||

    It does seem kind of pointless to have these bases all over the world since the threat is long over with.

  • ||

    "The reason is the humanitarian reason," Amanpour said.

    Won't someone rid us of this mooing concern troll?

  • ||

    She really is just a cocksucking TEAM BLUE whore, isn't she.

  • ||

    After all those years as an overseas, foreign correspondent, her cocksucking cred must be world class.

  • Serbians||

    We'll do it!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    We'll see what even the GOP isolationists have to say after Obama announces tonight his accelerated withdrawal from the "good" war in Afghanistan.

  • robc||

    The one war we had a legit reason for getting in and that is the one we pull out of first. Weird.

    Not that I think we still need to be in Afghanistan.

  • George Carlin's Ghost||

    Pull out? Doesn't sound manly to me - I say leave it in and get the job done!

  • ||

    Send the mormons in. We'll outnumber the Afghani's in a matter of months then.

  • Tim||

    Interesting.

  • In Time of War||

    I gather the "withdrawal" isn't supposed to be complete until 2014 or so. We've still got plenty of years of drone strikes left to keep everyone happy.

  • Sinic||

    Accelerated withdrawal?

    President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in a speech on Wednesday evening . . . Mr. Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.. . . .
    Even after all 30,000 troops are withdrawn, roughly 68,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan, twice the number as when Mr. Obama assumed office.

    Link

  • ||

    As Bush critics once pointed out, it's only withdrawing to pre-surge levels.

  • West Texas||

    I'd argue that it quit being "good" as soon as the Taliban was overthrown. We should have killed them all and then just patrolled offshore of Pakistan to swat back at them (and the Pakis too) any time they caused trouble. That whole nationbuilding shit was (and still is) wrong.

  • ||

    Since the possiblity that the Karzai kleptocracy will fall within a year of a US pullout is so very real, I confess that to my mind installing it was a waste of time to begin with.

    Better we had bombed the shit out of Taliban adminstrative installations while concentrating ground forces on locating and destroying as much of Al Quaeda as they could in three or four months and then gone having sent a serious message to them and to everone else that this is what happens to anyone who messes with the USA.

    This would have left a chastened Taliban government - vulnerable to overthrow by internal forces - instead of the resurgent one that seems poised to retake power as soon as we leave.

    I have never had a problem with the punitive expedition as a response to a real threat to our interests. It's the bleeding heart humanitarian nation building reformer ones that I can't stand.

  • tarheelpundit||

    +100

  • Warty||

    How many of those articles referred to Chamberlain and Munich? I'm gonna guess all.

  • Otto||

    "We don't believe in military invasions of nations that haven't attacked us."

    "ISOLATIONIST!!11!!!!"

  • West Texas||

    Hey, if we have shiny new aircraft carriers we gotta use them, right?

  • ||

    Maintaining bases over seas has a very low cost to benefit ratio these days. By my estimation, that the benefit used to be much higher. Bring all the troops home, reduce ground troop levels (and higher level officers) dramatically, and increase investment in tech and fast response mechanisms, and we would have a more agile, effective, and cost-efficient military.

  • robc||

    high cost to benefit ratio.

    We you want is a low c:b ratio.

  • ||

    heh...right....I'm still not awake...

  • CE||

    Recrudescence. George Will once again whips out his thesaurus.

  • robc||

    Like Buckley before him, I dont think he has to whip out the thesaurus. He just knows these words.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Cohen is his normal elitist self here.

    "Staying in Afghanistan will only buttress the argument of the New Isolationists. This is the larger danger. The world needs us and will soon need us even more. China, India, Pakistan, Japan and the two Koreas are about as compatible as the Real Housewives of New York. They all either have or are capable of developing nuclear weapons. Iran is on its way. Its program could cause the Israelis to attack and it might also prompt Saudi Arabia and maybe Egypt to go nuclear. Jordan could implode and Iraq could come apart."

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Rochetta whines "the world neeeeeds us!"

    Whether this trend can be partially attributed to skepticism about achieving success in the “war on terror” or to domestic economic turmoil, the repercussions of an isolationist streak are considerable. It would be damaging for the current public sentiment to push the U.S. to fully extricate itself from humanitarian intervention and bold policies amid the havoc of the Arab Spring. Engaging with Libya, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, etc. is necessary and fundamental, as it allows the United States to be an active participant in shaping a friendlier Middle East, in line with democratic values and stability.

  • WTF||

    [...]it allows the United States to be an active participant in shaping a friendlier Middle East[...]

    Yeah, that's working out real well.

  • ||

    It's not that our business doesn't extend past our borders, that why we have embassies. The issue is pretending that the security of other countries is our business. Global cop is not a function of the US.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The WSJ goes straight up dictator on this issue:

    "This isn't the first time that national security reality has intruded on Mr. Obama's liberal campaign fantasies, and now that he's President he has an obligation to defend the powers of his office, as well as to win the wars he begins. The White House can help Members of Congress who understand the necessity of Presidential war powers by declaring forthrightly that Mr. Obama and his legal advisers believe the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional and thus he won't abide by it."

  • West Texas||

    That is some scary shit... and usually the Journal is so good editorially.

  • Rich||

    "The White House can help Members of Congress who understand the necessity of Presidential war powers by declaring forthrightly that Mr. Obama and his legal advisers believe the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional and thus he won't abide by it."

    Careful what you ask for. The American People can help Members of Congress who understand the necessity of the rule of law by declaring forthrightly that they and their legal advisers believe the PPACA is unconstitutional and thus they won't abide by it.

  • ||

    If the WPA is unconstitutional, then the Prez has even less options on using force, except in the name of fighting terrorism. I think Congress already wrote the executive a blank check on that one.

  • ||

    The White House can help Members of Congress who understand the necessity of Presidential war powers

    Which Article of the COnstitution would those be?

    Ah, yes. "Commander in Chief". The highest ranking general, in effect. Now, unless you think a general has the authority to order his unit into war without direction from the government, the President's "war powers" don't include ordering the military into action without direction from Congress.

  • ||

    usually the Journal is so good editorially.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • West Texas||

    I knew I would step into it eventually. I always do around here. LOL

  • ||

    Oh, I dunno. Full of Beltwayitis, to be sure, and quick to toe the corporacratic line, but probably the least bad editorial page around.

  • squishua||

    It's a damn shame thay America's main political parties are dominated by the ideologies of communism (dems), world domination (republicans), and Total Statism (both).

    If the rest of the world had our values, they'd join forces and nuke us off the planet!

  • ||

    Just consider the entertainment value of an actual siege of the White House, with members of Congress lobbing chunks of rotting meat over the fence with catapults while taking fire from rooftop Secret Service snipers.

  • OO||

    ur mind is interesting. with dissection its full glory would be exposed

  • Warty||

    Speaking of isolationism, Orwell's entry today is especially interesting.

  • robc||

    Orwell has been struggling with his predictions of late and today's is no better.

    Evidently the immediate German objective is not either territory or oil, but simply to wipe out the Russian air force and thus remove a danger from their rear while they deal finally with England.

    Wow, that is wrong of epic proportions.

    The worst omen is that the Germans would probably not have attempted this unless certain that they can bring it off, and quite rapidly at that.

    And misreading the enemy.

  • robc||

    I did like his entry two days ago:

    It struck me that one minor benefit of this war is that it has broken the newspapers of their idiotic habit of making headline news out of yesterday’s weather.

  • OO||

    and misreading the calender

  • ||

    Many Conservatives talk tough about protecting American sovereignty. But when it comes to something sensible like getting out of the U.N. their spines become as brittle as pretzels.

  • scarpe Nike Store||

    is good

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