The Founding Fathers of our great nation, the United States of America are some of the most intelligent thinkers America has ever known. They envisioned the future of our country and acted accordingly. Their Constitution, which was applicable in the 1700s, is still followed nearly 250 years later. They envisioned a country run by an elected leader, with two houses or representation to ensure equal representation. Such a system is still used to great effect. They gave rights to the American people, rights that would not be seen in most monarchies of the time. Yet these rights endured and are followed today. Rights that many other countries took example from and implemented in their own societies. The foundation of our country was built upon the policies of the Founding Fathers. Domestic, Social, and Economic policies are still followed today, although not to the same extent as in the 1700s, but there is a clear link between American policies in the 21st century and American policies in the 18th century.
Yet the policy that has been dramatically changed, the dogma that the founders of our country followed in all their wisdom, but we do not today, is foreign policy. American foreign policy of the 18th century was that of non-interventionism. We followed this ideology for quite some time, up until the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt in which he changed our policy from non-interventionist to interventionist, from reactive to proactive. Our country changed our policy, and not for the better. By changing from a reactive government to a proactive government on foreign policy, our country has turned into an international target, painted for our aggressive and unnecessary actions that have negatively affected us and hurt us in more ways than one.
To understand the negative effects of our current foreign policy, the concept for blowback must be understood. Blowback is generally defined as unintended consequences of an action or situation. After Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, America has had an increase in blowback situation. By involving ourselves in more conflicts it is only natural that American suffers more blowbacks. The concept may seem complex, how one action leads to a response that mediates another action and another response. An endless cycle essentially. To put it simply, look at the most significant blowbacks of our involvement in other countries, one of the most profound being Pearl Harbor. Although it can be argued that the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian port in support of the German campaign, that argument is illogical. The Japanese would never attack a neutral country as large and powerful as America and risk bringing them into the war thus tipping the scales in favor of the allies. The only logical solution was that America was in fact hurting Japan in some way, which would facilitate a response on the part of the Japanese in the form of a bombing run. Such an event did occur.
The US in 1941 imposed an oil embargo on Japan that immediately threatened to cripple Japan’s economy and stifle their military campaign. So the Japanese attacked as their last resort. Another example of blowback is the atrocious attack on September 11th 2001. Although there are a multitude of reasons the terrorist attack occurred. One stands out, US Foreign Policy in the Middle East and their support for Israel. Our involvement in Israel and our support for that country initiated Osama Bin Laden’s hate for the United States (wherein he published a document entitled Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of Two Holy Places). Bin Laden’s critique of America had never been cultural, as propaganda would wish the public to believe.
His hate stems from American involvement in his cultural and national affairs, it stems from American support of Israel over the Middle East, as a result result, the 9/11 terrorists plot formed (Paul). These two blatant examples of American involvement in foreign affairs have led to deleterious affects on the US. Though these events may seem extreme, there are many other examples, Al Qaeda, Able Danger, Afia Siddiqui, Bojinka Plot, Bosnian War, World War I, World War II, and many more (Paul). The policy of American has at best been practical over ethical. An interventionist foreign policy has always been ethical over practical. It is time we focus on the problems are home, the debt, the corruption, the social issues and not concern ourselves with the conflicts of the world as much as we do as to protect ourselves from its consequences that we may not be prepared to deal with.
This proposal of a reactive foreign policy does not appeal to many due to its radical intentions that would not apply in the current world. Many enthusiastic Republicans would label this policy as one of an isolationist. They fear America would revert to the policies they had adopted during the periods between the World Wars. During Ron Paul’s (a well renowned libertarian political figure) campaigns for presidency, he advocated the elimination of foreign aid to all countries, including Israel. This proposal infuriated supporters of this foreign aid and American influence throughout the world. The Wall Street Journal’s official conservative (neoconservative) blogger accused Senator Paul of being a “proponent of a neo-isolationist foreign policy” (Hawkins) Doug Bandow, a libertarian writer for Forbes Online was called an outright Isolationist, not a neo-isolationist, but an isolationist in general for his advocacy for significant cuts in defense in order to restore a fiscal balance (Bandow). America has become so involved in word affairs that anything less than billions in aid and nearly 200,000 America troops in over 150 countries would be considered neo-isolationist.
This fear of neo-isolationism that would be the aftermath of a non-interventionist policy is irrational and unnecessary, all one has to do is understand the true intentions of such a policy before labeling it as isolationist. To understand the misuse of isolationism, isolationism must be defined. The world isolationism has isolation in it. The concept of isolation is to have nothing to do with another entity. In terms of foreign affairs, that includes refusal for trade, immigration, talks with other nations, and absolutely no military conflict whatsoever. But the libertarian platform does not condone these policies. In fact, libertarians support immigration and free trade as well as diplomatic interaction between nations. The only similarity between isolationism and non-interventionist policy is the anti-war stance, but not to the extent that isolationist would argue. Isolationist would argue for no war, no involvement in any way.
The non-interventionist policy justifies war for self-defense purposes. This means that America would not become involved in unnecessary overseas wars such as those in the Middle East and other military conflicts and political conflicts, but if need be and America is directly threatened then they would have the right to intervene. After disproving the argument that non-interventionist policy is synonymous with isolationism, the opposition to non-interventionist policy will argue that the US needs to take up an interventionist policy in order to promote safety throughout the world.
They will argue that the US involvement in the Middle East has stopped genocide, that it has brought safety to the citizens and stability to the area. In fact, pro-interventionist David Matas, a respected legal counselor, said this on interventionist versus non-interventionist, “When there is incitement to genocide, the international community should act immediately and not wait for genocide to happen” (Matas). Pro-interventionist argument is made up of the fallacy that America is meant to be a world police force. That it is in the interest of the stability of the world that America should intervene in foreign affairs in order to stabilize and protect the civilian and world population. This ideology is in fact hypocritical.
The notion that America can actually decrease conflict and violence by intervening in other countries is misleading. A perfect example is again, our involvement in the Middle East. Suicide bombings have always been thought of as a strategy of Islamic fundamentalist. The promise of instant access to paradise through the killing of infidels was initially thought to have explained these suicide bombings, but Professor Robert Pape, an expert on suicide terrorism has other explanations. In his book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism he documents 462 suicide terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2004. Through his research and the numbers, Pape concluded that religious factors were often not used as the primary motivation for these attacks. According to Pape, the strongest motivation for this type of terrorism is the desire to, “compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory the terrorist view as their homeland.” To prove his statement, follow the numbers Pape uses. Between 1995 and 2004 a total of two-thirds of all attacks by al Qaeda came from countries in which the US was stationed.
While al Qaeda terrorists are twice as likely to hail from radical Islamic states, they are ten times as likely to hail from countries in which US troops are stationed. Before 2003, before the US invasion, Iraq had never had a suicide attack in its entire history. There have been hundreds of these attacks during US occupation. In the four-year span from 1982 to 1986 there were 41 suicide terrorist attacks in Lebanon. After the US and France had left the country, these attacks ceased. This decrease in suicide bombings, Pape claims, is that radical Islamist could no long inspire potential suicide terrorist, regardless of their beliefs (Paul). Using this documented numbers, it is clear that US involvement has increased terrorist activity recently. Through our foreign policy, local groups have risen and taken up violent tactics. These local radical groups have gained influence. US troops motivated them to inspire other locals to take up their cause, to increase in violent in killings. This foreign policy has allowed for a destabilization of the region by allowing terrorist groups to sprout and insight violent action, the opposite of what interventionist argue American intervention would solve.
A non-interventionist foreign policy is the best course for America to take. In all the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, we have taken up a policy that negates their intention. This policy had led to unintended consequences that have harmed the world. September 11th, World War I, World War II, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and more are just a few examples of how intervention has had consequences much worse than anyone could have predicted. Yet advocates for an interventionist policy argue that intervention will help save lives. The body account of all the attacks caused by sentiment against countries will never amount to the civilians that may have been saved through intervention. An interventionist policy will never be the right path, it will continually harm the world and lead to consequences that can push the world back rather than help it move forward.
Bandow, Doug. “Who’s an Isolationist?.” Forbes. 14 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. Hawkins, William. “Bandow’s False Flag Budget Debate .”American Thinker. American Thinker, 27 2012. Web. Web. 10 Nov. 2012. Matas, David. “Debate: Non-interventionism.” 24 2010. International Debate Education Association, Online Posting to Debatepedia. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. Paul, Ron. The Revolution: A Manifesto. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2008. Print.