The 112th Congress should recognize that
The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible."
— Washington, Farewell Address (1796) [Washington’s emphasis]
I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one] which ought to shape its administration,…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.
— Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801)
Foreign policy in our world today is dominated by three religions:
Exposing the True Isolationists by Ron Paul
From Advocates for Self-Government:
"Isolationism" has many negatives. For decades in America, "isolationism" has been a smear word. In many circles it is associated with hostility towards foreign nations and cultures, nativism, and ignorance.
And in fact, many U.S. isolationists in the past weren't just for political non-intervention. They wanted to restrict trade and travel. To build a "wall" around America, creating a so-called "Fortress America." Some even felt America should be totally self-sufficient: trading with no one.
None of that, of course, has anything to do with libertarian foreign policy views. Libertarians favor free trade, the freedom to travel, diplomacy, and lively and ongoing cultural interaction with people worldwide.
A far better word for this is "non-intervention." Libertarians are "non-interventionists."
That's still a clumsy word, unfortunately, and it is better understood when coupled with a short description of what it means, such as I gave two paragraphs ago.
It's also sometimes helpful to describe this as "America's original foreign policy" or "the Founder's foreign policy," and to quote the classic Jefferson line: "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none."
Some wit once said that the difference between "isolationists" and "non-interventionists" is that the former are hermits, while the latter are gentlemen.
Ron Paul has put it very well: "Non-interventionism is not isolationism. Non-intervention simply means America does not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations. It does not mean that we isolate ourselves; on the contrary, our founders advocated open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations."
Finally, it is sometimes useful to point out that the current U.S. foreign policy of endless intervention in the affairs of other nations, U.S. troops and military bases in almost every nation, sanctions, trade barriers, travel restrictions, and aid to tyrants and dictators is increasingly isolating America from the rest of the world. In this sense, the true "isolationists" actually are the interventionists.
When someone labels libertarians as isolationists, they are knowingly or unknowingly smearing us and misrepresenting our views. This should be corrected, in a friendly and persuasive way, so our true ideas can be understood and embraced.
To call Jefferson, Washington, or Ron Paul an "isolationist" is uninformed or deliberately misleading. And there is great irony here. If a candidate believes it's good policy to overthrow foreign governments by bombing thousands of innocent non-combatant civilians and replacing the secular regime with an Islamic theocracy, and then imposing tariffs and protectionist sanctions on nations that oppose U.S. nation-building, cutting off trade, cutting off travel, and in numerous other ways isolating Americans from these nations and their people, their commerce, and their culture, he is not called an "isolationist."
more on "isolationism"
- American Foreign Policy Hasn't Changed in 25 Years, Harry Browne, October 20, 1976
- Beware of these Fallacies in Bush-Gore Debates, Harry Browne, October 11, 2000
Brute Force Doesn't Solve Conflicts, Harry Browne, December 6, 2001
- Foreign Policy for America, a (from The Great Libertarian Offer)
Ignorance Is Dangerous, Harry Browne, January 17, 2002
- Is It Loony to Want You to be Free?, Harry Browne, May 18, 2000
- Isn't It Time for the Truth?, Harry Browne, November 13, 2001
- Making the World Safe for Politicians, Harry Browne, February 22, 1998
- Murdering for Morality, Harry Browne, June 3, 1999
- Myths of World War II, the, Harry Browne, March 25, 2002
- Peace Amendment, the (a proposed foreign policy Constitutional amendment)
- The Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace Continues
- President's First Day in Office, the, Harry Browne, December 1, 2000
- This Just In: Bin Laden Wins the War in Afghanistan, Harry Browne, March 14, 2002
- Top 10 Reasons to Get the U.S. out of Yugoslavia,Harry Browne, May 3, 1999
- Truth about the Republican & Democratic Parties, the, Harry Browne, March 23, 1999
- Was the Gulf War a Just War?, Harry Browne, February 20, 1991
- What Can We Do About Terrorism? — Part I, Harry Browne, October 4, 2001
- What Can We Do About Terrorism? — Part II, Harry Browne, October 15, 2001
- What Can We Do About Terrorism? — Part III, Harry Browne, October 31, 2001
- What Has 'Victory' Achieved?, Harry Browne, January 10, 2002
- What Is War? (from Why Government Doesn't Work)
What Kind of Century Will This Be?, Harry Browne, January 3, 2002
- When Will We Learn? — Part I, Harry Browne, September 12, 2001
- When Will We Learn? — Part II, Harry Browne, September 14, 2001
- When Will We Learn? — Part III, Harry Browne, September 17, 2001
- When Will We Learn? — Part IV, Harry Browne, September 19, 2001
- Who Gave the OK on Kosovo?, Harry Browne, July 6, 1999
News and Views
- The Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul, ch. 2 (audiobook)
- A Foreign Policy of Freedom: 'Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship' by Ron Paul
- Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson
- Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer
- The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War by Andrew J. Bacevich
- The Old Right and War:
- Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism by Bill Kauffman
- Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement by Justin Raimondo
- The Betrayal of the American Right by Murray N. Rothbard; online here
- Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism by Ronald Radosh
- Other Important Books:
- Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson
- Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer
- The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson
- Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert A. Pape
- American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy by Andrew J. Bacevich
- The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by Andrew J. Bacevich
- War Is a Racket by Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler; online here
- The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War and the Rise of the Messianic Nation by Richard Gamble
- The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories, ed. John V. Denson
- We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing From 1812 to Now by Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
- Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy by Murray N. Rothbard; online here
- "Our Own Strength Against Us: The War on Terror as a Self-Inflicted Disaster" (.pdf) by Ian S. Lustick
- "What Do the Terrorists Want?" (.pdf) by James L. Payne
- Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio has featured some of the most important intellectuals, journalists, and political figures of our day, and its archive is a treasure trove of knowledge. Scott suggests the following as some of his best and most informative interviews. Access his full archive, subscribe to his podcast, and listen live from 12:00pm-2:00pm Eastern.
- Michael Scheuer, 22-year CIA veteran, former head of the agency's Osama bin Laden unit,
and author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
Robert Pape, author, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
- Chalmers Johnson, author and professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego
- Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and columnist, The American Conservative
- Ron Paul on Terrorism and more
- Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent
- John Cusack, actor, on his film War, Inc.
- Jim Powell, author, Wilson's War
- Ron Paul on Iraq and Afghanistan
- Chris Hedges, author, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
- Carah Ong, Iran Policy Analyst, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector
- Larry Velvel, dean, Massachusetts School of Law
- Gareth Porter, reporter, IPS News
The Economics of Foreign Policy
- "The Trillion-Dollar Defense Budget Is Already Here" by Robert Higgs
- "The Neglected Costs of the Warfare State" (.pdf) by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
- "Military Spending / Gross Domestic Product = Nonsense for Budget Policymaking" (.pdf) by Robert Higgs
- "Military-Economic Fascism: How Business Corrupts Government, and Vice Versa" by Robert Higgs
- "Do We Need to go to War for Oil?" (.pdf) by David R. Henderson
- Audio and Video:
- "The Myth of War Prosperity" by Robert Higgs
- "Taxation, Inflation, and War" by Joseph T. Salerno (video here)
- "War and Inflation: The Monetary Process and Implications" by Joseph T. Salerno
- "War and the Money Machine" by Joseph T. Salerno
- Depression, War, and Cold War by Robert Higgs
- Pentagon Capitalism by Seymour Melman
next: Foreign Policy