It is interesting that the topic of isolationism found it's way into the SoU address, since, as far as I know, the issue holds no ground whatsoever in the mainstream political discourse. The latter pretty much consists of left and right variants of the neocon ideology. Isolationism as an issue is left to the Libertarian and paleo-conservative movements, which are insignificant on a national level.
Having had ample exposure to Libertarian and Old Right doctrines, there was nothing in this article that stood out to me as being particularly noteworthy. In fact, I think Buchanon has penned much better articles on the same issue in the past. Obviously, some people will have encountered this material having come from a completely different direction than I have, and thus, may find it shocking and/or "radical".
I would simply like to point out, for those who are interested, that there is far more to this school of thought than that which is capable of being breached by a single article.
Here are some excellent sites for Libertarian, paleoconservative, and anti-interventionist viewpoints.
This is a very popular internet news and editorial site which, as the name would imply, is focused on foreign policy issues. It is updated around the clock with news links to events all around the world. It also runs a litany of editorial columns on a wide range of issues.
Their mission statement and self-description can be found here:
And a summary from Wikipedia.org:
[i]The site carries a variety of opinions, regularly carrying authors ranging from the Old Right to the Progressive Left, from Paul Craig Roberts and Pat Buchanan to Alexander Cockburn, and many in between. The editorial position has been staunchly libertarian with a 'big tent' message, arguing for libertarians, paleoconservatives, and the anti-war left to work together in opposition to war.
The site has consistently opposed all U.S. interventionism, from the bombing of Serbia to the present occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.[/i]
This is an editorial site for Conservative and Libertarian viewpoints founded by a prominent member of the paleo-con movement.
Lew Rockwell, founder and president of the Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala., and vice president of the Center for Libertarian Studies in Burlingame, Cal., is an opponent of the central state, its wars and its socialism.
Like antiwar.com, the site maintains a large number of running columns from a diverse set of commentators. Buchanon is one of the writers hosted on the site, and an entire library of his articles can be found in the site archives (along with those of every other site contributor). Now, I would like make a few more comments specifically related to the issues raised in this thread.
First, on protectionism vs. free trade: I haven't encountered a single source associated with free market economics who truly believes that America's current trade policy is one of "free trade". Furthermore, this is an issue where Mr. Buchanon is at odds with much of the Libertarian movement, which overwhelmingly supports completely free, unrestricted trade between nations (as a proponent of economic protectionism, he does not).
There are still a few proponents of the Old Right to be found in the modern Republican party. However, many more of them have gone Libertarian or Independant. For an elected member, I would refer you to Congressman Ron Paul, of the 14th District of Texas. He is among the many contributors to Lewrockwell.com An index of his article contributions can be found here:
Not quite. In regards to his views on protectionism and trade tariffs, he fits right in with the modern political crowd, left and right. "Free trade agreements" are a self-contradictory concept (why do you need a treaty enabling you to do something which could only be prevented by another treaty or law?)
Whenever an American president attends a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), massive rioting errupts in the country holding the meeting (and sometimes even the world over). This is because the "Free Trade Agreements" of the modern political arena are for anything but the encouragement of free trade. Free trade is, by definition, a private sector operation. When governments get involved, there is always more going on behind the scenes than is being let on publicly.
Here is a sampling of Ron Paul's take on the issue (one article out of many):
And another, excellent one by Lew Rockwell, on "Protectionism, War, and the Southern Tradition":
I'm sure that he and many of those who agree with his foreign policy stance would categorize the current neocon/interventionist school of foreign policy in precisely the same terms. After all, Libertarians and disciples of the Old Right don't draw any major distinctions between the policies of the current administration and those of Bill Clinton, who invaded Kosovo, or, for that matter, numerous other administrations which initiated foreign interventions on a global scale throughout the 20th century. The majority of these interventions remain largely unknown to the voting public.
Additionally, there is a lot more to the platform of Buchanon and the Old Right than simple isolationism. A LOT more. And even within the movement, there is a wide range of differing views. Hopefully, the links which I have provided above will serve to illustrate this.
It's always interesting when the exact same, unique conclusion can be drawn by two opposing parties over a given situation. This is the case here. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered the very statement you just made, only written by a Libertarian/non-interventionist in reference to a neocon. The significance of this, in my view, is it's poignant illustration of the fact that those in opposing political camps come to a debate not only from seperate ideological realms, but with completely different sets of information regarding current and historical events. To illustrate: the leftists obtain their news information from their own, Liberal websites, the neocons from theirs, and the same thing with those in the isolationist camp.
Too often, when disciples of seperate political factions clash on a discussion forum such as this one, the inevitable result is the widespread phenomenon known as the "Battle of Anecdotes", in which participants heatedly exchange flurries of news links with one another in order to present an "unassailable" front for their arguments. The problem is that each side has no problem finding an unlimited number of links to bolster its own front -- pretty soon the combatants are staring across at one another from the safety of their own anecdotal fortresses, confined to their own sources and unable to act freely, like the French and Germans in the trenches during WWI. Needless to say, meaningful discussion is impossible under these circumstances. At this point, the "debate" either degenerates into personal attacks or is simply forgotten about by the participants.
The nature of the world today is such that a single event can be interpretted in a way that practically anyone sees fit. A way that either bolsters or discredits any given ideology, philosophical or political platform.
In light of this reality, it is immensely useful to seperate the anecdotal from the theoretical, philosophical, and ideological in all genuine discussions. This is the form of debate which I am committed to. I will not engage in internet pissing contests of news links and anecdotes. I don't control the current news any more than I control what happened in the past. It is beyond my ability to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what transpired at a given time and place in which I was not present. However, it is not beyond my ability to formulate ideological standpoints based on events which I have experienced and apply them to secondary information sources on a hypothetical basis. This is precisely my strategy for online debating.
Coming back to the topic at hand, and in light of what I've written above, I would like to encourage people to choose a style of argument - anecdotal or ideological - and stick with it, rather than trying to have it both ways and switching styles whenever convenient. The latter only leads to flame wars and unresolved arguments. I don't think the two styles are compatable with one another. Thus, an anecdotal argument over one issue must be countered with an anecdotal response over the same issue, and the same goes for ideological arguments and their counters.
Lastly, for those who choose to argue by using anecdotes (and everyone else, too), it is always helpful to keep in mind the principle which I brought up in response to Zap Branigan's comment earlier: Nobody approaches a given topic from the same ideological standpoint or with the same set of information as anybody else. Everybody, at all times, is operating from the limited extent of his own information and viewpoints. These differences exist even when opinions on certain issues overlap. People are not Gods, and there is no "collective conscious" which intrinsically links them together intellectually. So, do not be angry or even shocked when people draw conclusions opposite to yours on a given issue. This is especially true when it comes to the realm of politics and current events, which is so befuddled with conflicting and contradictory information that it makes figuring out competing nutrition and lifting protocols seem like child's play!