When I scanned the front page of the local paper here in St. Paul, Minnesota, something stuck out to me (and no it was not the headline about the devastating loss the Vikings suffered last night). An article written by Rick Montgomery titled Poll: More Americans want U.S. to ‘mind its own business’ immediately grabbed my attention, especially the sub-title “Rising isolationism highest in people younger than 30.”
Of all of Ron Paul’s views, his non-interventionist foreign policy was the hardest for me to grasp. This was partly due to the natural complexity of the issue, but also my own lack of knowledge surrounding the topic. I read Paul’s “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” and was enlightened about some of the more intricate aspects of Paul’s views. He raises some great points and offers an argument that runs so against our current foreign policy that it is hard for an average American to grasp: our foreign policy has made us less safe and more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
What I read in Montgomery’s article was impressive:
To one poll question, roughly half of Americans agreed that the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally” and let others get along on their own. To another question, 44 percent said “we should go our own way” and not worry whether other nations disagree.
Both questions are vague and mean different things to different people, the pollsters concede. But when asked similar questions in 1964, not even one in five Americans thought going it alone or staying out were good ideas.
In reality we have had the same foreign policy for the better part of the last century. Following the intervention of World War I, our nation has arguably (and rightly) been labeled the most interventionist nation in the world. With over 700 permanent military bases in over 100 nations how can an outsider view us as anything but an empire? This policy has been largely unchanged from Kennedy to Reagan and Clinton to Obama.
The juggernaut that is the Military Industrial Complex as well as the stake that many interests have in our foreign policy, it hardly should be surprising that our foreign policy will be the hardest policy to change. Many view it as only an issue of Iraq and Afghanistan; if you are anti-war you simply want these wars ended. In reality it is a much more complex and expansive system that is not keen on change.
Besides Montgomery’s use of “isolationist” instead of “non-interventionist,” his article poses a question whose answer could spark a revolution: Is the American Public ready for true change when it comes to U.S. foreign policy? The fact that roughly half that were polled believe the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally” is at the very least encouraging and at best a sign of things to come.