Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are You an Interventionist?

I'm hearing and reading these "interventionist" versus "isolationist" labels being thrown around again and it bugs me.  I've always thought the terms themselves a bit too sloppily and hazily defined to be genuinely helpful.  As a result, I find they're more often used as handy epithets than they are anything useful.  Moreover, the "versus" that is typically placed between them, I believe just confuses the issue.

First, if an "interventionist" is simply someone who is at least unafraid of his country's engagement with the world at large, then I suspect we're all interventionists.  And, if an "isolationsist" is no more than someone who worries about the nature, size, and scope of his country's involvement with that same world, then I maintain we're all isolationists as well.

If I may, I'd like to suggest that we're all both "interventionists" and "isolationists", more or less, not either/or.  And the more or less is what matters most as it depends very much on the issue at hand, as well as the context that describes it.

So, if you were to ask me if I was an interventionist?  My answer would be, "Of course I am, we all are, and, with respect to the issue at hand, if you can convince me that our country's interests are involved, that there's a reasonable chance of success, that the costs are not prohibitive, that we have the necessary resources and the political will to see it through, then I'll be even more of one.  If you can't, then less so."

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