United States Foreign Policy: Isolationism vs Interventionism

Last updated: March 8, 2019

Should the US use its considerable power and influence to engage with, and perhaps shape, the global community - or should it focus only on its own domestic issues, needs and security?

United States Foreign Policy: Isolationism vs Interventionism
Yes because...

Foreign policy is always either immoral or doomed to failure. If the US seeks to negotiate with rog...

Foreign policy is always either immoral or doomed to failure. If the US seeks to negotiate with rogue states like Iran or North Korea, it only gives legitimacy and support to their controlling, murderous and corrupt regimes. If it seeks a military solution it risks military disasters like Vietnam, or undermining the stability of entire regions (as with the Iraq conflict). There is no international solution to these problems. American based systems such as domestic missile defence and nuclear deterrence are the best options to stop threats to America.
No because...
Missile defense is a perfect example of a system which is strengthened by international cooperation (such as the current US plans to place radar stations in Europe). Also, cooperation in alliances can lead to better deterrence (see the example of NATO). More generally, it is too gloomy to say foreign policy cannot work. There are still major problems, yes, but globally the world is becoming increasingly less violent, and wars are increasingly rare. This is almost entirely a result of increased political and economic cooperation and integration through organisations such as the UN, EU, G20 and WTO.

United States Foreign Policy: Isolationism vs Interventionism
Yes because...

The primary responsibility of a state is to its own people. American citizens are the ones who fund...

The primary responsibility of a state is to its own people. American citizens are the ones who fund the American state, work to make it successful, and often give their lives in its defense. For the USA to put the interests of other people in front of theirs is a betrayal of this loyalty. Also in global terms, the world system works best when all states take care of their own people. No country or international organisation can look after every human in the world – and it would mean anarchy and disaster if they tried to. A system of nation states is the best and most secure way to provide for humanity, and this system works best when states each focus on supporting their own populations.
No because...
If the US really did just focus on its own soil this would certainly demand that it gave up many of its foreign resources and business interests, which would hardly help support the ‘American way of life’. And while nationality might be important, surely ‘humanity’ runs even deeper? Would the US really uphold its own principles of freedom and justice if it closed its eyes to ethnic cleansing, war crimes or even another holocaust? How can we even use words like ‘responsibility’ if we ignore these things? The very idea is wrong and disturbing.

United States Foreign Policy: Isolationism vs Interventionism
Yes because...

If the US stopped getting into conflicts abroad, it could put more emphasis on its own defence. Its...

If the US stopped getting into conflicts abroad, it could put more emphasis on its own defence. Its armies and troops can be brought home to defend its own borders and cities - rather than fighting and dying in unwinnable foreign wars. American citizens and troops would be safer if the US government put all of its focus on its own security, rather than foreign affairs. The US can more than support itself with essentials such as food and fuel and it can secure everything else it needs through trade.
No because...
There are still many global issues (including terrorism) which cannot be prevented even with huge armies or forces. Soldiers also cannot prevent climate change, the spread of diseases, flows of refugees or the production and transport of illegal drugs. To deal with these issues, the US must work with the whole international community, so that it can help create joint agreements to tackle these problems wherever they come from. It is also a mistake to think America can largely support itself in fuel and other essentials. Trade is vital to Americans’ present standard of living, and that means trade routes and trading partners also need protecting.

United States Foreign Policy: Isolationism vs Interventionism
Yes because...

The problems in Afghanistan show exactly why the US should not get involved in foreign affairs. We ...

The problems in Afghanistan show exactly why the US should not get involved in foreign affairs. We should remember that one of the main reasons Al-Qaeda attacked the US from Afghanistan in the first place was because it objected to American troops being present in many Islamic countries. If the US stopped its foreign intervention there would be none of this 'blowback' in the first place, and it would be more secure.
No because...
It is unrealistic to say that the US could just stop intervening abroad. Firstly, the issue of terrorism would not go away if they US brought its forces home. It would allow America’s enemies to once again set up bases in foreign countries, and to find state backers for their plots. The goals of Al-Qaeda are the destruction of America - not just stopping its intervention in Islamic countries. If the US did isolate itself, it would give terrorist groups total freedom to grow and plan attacks.

United States Foreign Policy: Isolationism vs Interventionism
Yes because...

The US is the world's only remaining 'superpower'. It is not just more powerful than other nations,...

The US is the world's only remaining 'superpower'. It is not just more powerful than other nations, but is in a class all of its own. For example, the US spends not only the most on its military - but actually more than the whole of the rest of the world put together. America does not need partners and allies to protect itself - and it shouldn't weaken itself by having to compromise and follow the rules and demands of these other nations.
No because...
The US may well have very large and advanced armed forces, but this does not mean it has the power to do anything it wants. Look at cases like Afghanistan today, where for all its military might, the US cannot control the comparatively weak Taliban forces. What the US needs here is better intelligence, political influence and local support. These are exactly the kinds of things it can only get from allies and partnerships with other countries.


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Emily

Yeas because, Foreign policy is sometimes either not realistic a failure. If the US seeks to talk with other states like Iran or North Korea, it only gives little time to the people, and corrupt things. If it seeks a military solution it risks military disasters like Vietnam, or undermining the stability of entire regions There is no international solution to these problems. American based systems such as domestic missile defence and nuclear deterrence are the best options to stop threats to America.





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