Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why We Can't Be Isolationist Right Now

Americans are pretty contradictory people when you get down to it. We complain about high gas prices while fueling up SUVs that get 15 gallons to the mile. We'll pay $5 for a cup of coffee, but complain about a $0.25 increase in ATM charges.

The same holds true of another idea that seems to be catching on in some segments of our society, isolationism. There are people who think we should pull up stakes from our foreign interests for a few years and focus on domestic issues. I can see their point to an extent, but it's shortsighted on a large scale.

We cannot be completely isolationist because we are no longer self-sufficient. Our manufacturing base is pretty much gone, and our service industry is going overseas by and large. We have to import oil because we're not drilling where we can and our alternate fuel research isn't developed yet. Much of what we buy is imported from overseas because we lack the ability to replicate their efforts, especially in the area of electronics. In short, we need other countries right now because we can't make it on our own as well as we used to. Not exactly a recipe for success for an isolationist country.

Conversely, the world needs us to be engaged on a global scale. In the big picture, America is the leader of the world on so many fronts. Medical research, economics, military research, media. The list goes on and on. If we were to cut all foreign ties and pull out, the world would cheer...until it realized how much it needs us to be involved. The UN? Sorry, but we'll be pulling out for a few years. The World Bank? No more money coming from America. Foreign governments relying on America's military might to keep order? See ya on the flip side! As much as some countries and some Leftists here would hate to admit it, America is a stabilizing force in the world. And that's what frightens them the most. The world needs us, and isolationism will create nothing but chaos.

Plus, I don't buy the premise that we have to bring everybody home to focus on domestic issues. When you think about the sheer economic power at our fingertips, it's entirely possible to be engaged globally and still act locally. What has to be done is to hold our elected officials accountable to spend the money we send them in taxes on those expenditures that will improve things at home. And while we're here, we could also take up the responsibility to keep our own backyards kept up, both literally and figuratively. Then, we could find a balance between being engaged globally and being self-sufficient enough to stand on our own when necessary.

So, I don't think being isolationist is a reality right now. It's a nice thought, but so is me being massaged by Jessica Alba, and that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

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