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)
True Isolationists by Ron Paul
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
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
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.
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"
Foreign Policy Hasn't Changed in 25 Years, Harry Browne, October
of these Fallacies in Bush-Gore Debates, Harry Browne, October
Force Doesn't Solve Conflicts, Harry Browne, December 6, 2001
Policy for America, a (from The Great Libertarian Offer)
Is Dangerous, Harry Browne, January 17, 2002
- Is It
Loony to Want You to be Free?, Harry Browne, May 18, 2000
It Time for the Truth?, Harry Browne, November 13, 2001
- Making the World
Safe for Politicians, Harry Browne, February 22, 1998
for Morality, Harry Browne, June 3, 1999
- Myths of
World War II, the, Harry Browne, March 25, 2002
Amendment, the (a proposed foreign policy Constitutional
- The Perpetual
War for Perpetual Peace Continues
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
10 Reasons to Get the U.S. out of Yugoslavia,Harry Browne,
May 3, 1999
about the Republican & Democratic Parties, the, Harry Browne,
March 23, 1999
- Was the Gulf War a Just War?, Harry Browne, February 20,
Can We Do About Terrorism? — Part I, Harry Browne, October 4,
Can We Do About Terrorism? — Part II, Harry Browne, October 15,
Can We Do About Terrorism? — Part III, Harry Browne, October 31,
- What Has
'Victory' Achieved?, Harry Browne, January 10, 2002
- What Is
War? (from Why Government Doesn't Work)
Kind of Century Will This Be?, Harry Browne, January 3, 2002
Will We Learn? — Part I, Harry Browne, September 12, 2001
Will We Learn? — Part II, Harry Browne, September 14, 2001
Will We Learn? — Part III, Harry Browne, September 17, 2001
Will We Learn? — Part IV, Harry Browne, September 19, 2001
Gave the OK on Kosovo?, Harry Browne, July 6, 1999
News and Views
Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul, ch. 2 (audiobook)
Foreign Policy of Freedom: 'Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship'
by Ron Paul
The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by
Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror by
New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
by Andrew J. Bacevich
- The Old Right and War:
My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and
Middle American Anti-Imperialism by Bill Kauffman
the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement
by Justin Raimondo
Betrayal of the American Right by Murray N. Rothbard;
on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism
by Ronald Radosh
- Other Important Books:
The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers
America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
by Stephen Kinzer
Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
by Chalmers Johnson
to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by
Robert A. Pape
Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy
by Andrew J. Bacevich
Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by
Andrew J. Bacevich
Is a Racket by Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler; online here
War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War and
the Rise of the Messianic Nation by Richard Gamble
Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories, ed. John V.
Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing From 1812 to
Now by Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy by Murray N.
Rothbard; online here
Own Strength Against Us: The War on Terror as a Self-Inflicted
Disaster" (.pdf) by Ian S. Lustick
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
to his podcast, and listen
live from 12:00pm-2:00pm Eastern.
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
Pape, author, Dying
to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
Johnson, author and professor emeritus of the University of
California, San Diego
Giraldi, former CIA officer and columnist, The American
Paul on Terrorism and more
Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent
Cusack, actor, on his film War, Inc.
Powell, author, Wilson's
Paul on Iraq and Afghanistan
Hedges, author, War
Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
Ong, Iran Policy Analyst, Center for Arms Control and
Ritter, former UN weapons inspector
Velvel, dean, Massachusetts School of Law
Porter, reporter, IPS News
The Economics of Foreign Policy
Trillion-Dollar Defense Budget Is Already Here" by
Neglected Costs of the Warfare State" (.pdf) by Thomas
E. Woods, Jr.
Spending / Gross Domestic Product = Nonsense for Budget
Policymaking" (.pdf) by Robert Higgs
Fascism: How Business Corrupts Government, and Vice Versa"
by Robert Higgs
We Need to go to War for Oil?" (.pdf) by David R.
- Audio and Video:
Myth of War Prosperity" by Robert Higgs
Inflation, and War" by Joseph T. Salerno (video
and Inflation: The Monetary Process and Implications"
by Joseph T. Salerno
and the Money Machine" by Joseph T. Salerno
War, and Cold War by Robert Higgs
Capitalism by Seymour Melman
next: Foreign Policy