Should American be more isolationist or internationalist? Why?Should American be more isolationist or internationalist? Why?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't see how we can be "involved in the world as much as possible in order to resolve problems in a way suitable to us" and then not provide a way to make sure those issues remain resolved (ie through policing the situation).  Either we pull out or we don't.  I tend to agree with Jefferson who said we should be more isolationist.  We do have a moral obligation to help others, but we've got lots of people right here in our own country who need help.  We have HUGE problems right here in our own government, moral issues in all areas of our country (politicians, celebrities, school officials, dirty cops, etc.), abuse is rampant, and children are starving in our own cities.  We have turned our backs on what is right and the Ten Commandments that our Founding Fathers stood firm upon as they wrote the Constitution which, by the way, our elected officials in Washington D.C. are ignoring. 

I'm all for letting the world fend for itself a little while we clean up our own messes here at home. 

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that because of the United States' condition right now economically that we need to focus on isolationism--at least for a while. This might seem radical to some because of the global society in which we currently live, but we simply don't have the resources (human or material) to continue providing assistance every time another country needs it. Do we have a moral obligation to help others? Yes, but what happens when we literally no longer have the means to do so? Similarly, if the United States were not so involved internationally, what would other countries do when they face natural disasters or other crises? Would our isolationism spawn more self-reliance and innovation around the world?  Perhaps.

To read more about this idea of isolationism worldwide (not just in the United States), you might read "Lifeboat Ethics" by Garret Hardin. A good opposing view to Hardin's essay is "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" by Peter Singer.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with amy-lepore on this one.  We can't espouse freedom for all and be the champion of the downtrodden around the world yet be unwilling to put our money (and troops) where our mouth is, so to speak.  We've probably been overly aggressive in our reach, but at least we're doing something--unlike so many countries which do nothing but take when they're capable of sustaining themselves.  We've trained the world too well--it knows we'll help when no one else will.  That being said, I'd like us to stay home for a bit and take care of our own business.  It's like the emergency plan on a plane--if the oxygen bags come down, put your own on first so you'll be alive to help others. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I share other editors' feelings that America really should try to be isolationist when it comes to their military policy. Certainly America is a huge nation and I would have thought that there would be enough issues to keep everyone busy in America itself, rather than in the rest of the world. This is not to say that America should not have a role world-wide, but certainly I can name any number of issues in the States right now that urgently require attention. I guess you need a balance between looking after your own problems and thinking about your role on the world's stage.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, would like to see the U.S. be a little more isolationist in terms of military policy and, when needed, allow U.S. forces under U.N. command to police the areas and issues that need it. I would argue that much of the angst that exists in the world against the west and specifically the U.S. is the result in our over-participation in such events. Unfortunately, our unwillingness to continue such efforts will likely exacerbate those feelings in the short term but I just see how our current approach is sustainable in the long term.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, the US should be more internationalist in nonmilitary ways and more isolationist militarily.

I think that we really need to be involved in the world as much as we can be.  We need to try to be involved in solving the world's issues so that they can be solved in ways that are acceptable to us.

But that does not mean that we should try to use military means to "police" the world.  This really hurts us in my opinion because it depletes our resources and it makes us the focus of people's anger.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I dont know that we truly have the option to decide between the two any more.  We no longer have the finances to fund the world's largest military, or two wars, or a massive navy and bases around the globe.  At some point, fiscal reality will force us back towards isolationism.  Not completely, mind you, as we'll still be heavily involved in world trade regardless, and our energy needs have to be satisfied by imports in the near term.  But the days of American interventionism on American terms are, in my opinion, over.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is extremely difficult for the U.S. or any other superpower to practice isolationism, if only because of the interconnect global economy. With the internet and international finance providing constant interaction among nations, even if the American leadership in our government desired a more isolationist approach to foreign policy, simple economics would prevent more than lip service to the idea.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All we had to do was listen to George Washington.  He warned, "Be wary of foreign entanglements."  This country had enough natural resources, enough land, enough of everything if it had only exerted some control over the greedy.  In many ways, it does not benefit the U.S. to be the policeman of the world; mostly, it costs money.


bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with Pohnpei's post that we should concentrate on a more isolationist policy when it comes to military involvement overseas. Our role as the world's policeman is one created entirely by our political leaders, and it's one that most of the world would like to see reduced dramatically.