Sunday, October 5, 2014

Two Kinds of Isolationists

George Kennan, in his diaries:
. . . there are two kinds of isolationist: those who hold the outside world too unimportant or wholly wicked and therefore not worth bothering about, and those who distrust the ability of the United States Government, so constituted and inspired as it is, to involve itself to any useful effect in most foreign situations. I . . . belong to the latter school.
Certainly how I feet about our Middle Eastern interventions right now.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I think a more helpful breakdown might be to employ terms like "insulation" and "non-intervention".

The first kind of "isolationist" described here wishes to insulate themselves from outside influences - to make themselves insular, "island-like", and cut off from the outside world. Their viewpoint is that the outside world is corrupting and damaging, and so they try to quarantine themselves and prevent "infection" by values or thoughts beyond their own. They wish to live in a bubble, and hope fervently that it will somehow magically not pop.

The other kind of "isolationist" is not really an isolationist. They don't want to keep the rest of the world away - in fact they may be quite cosmopolitan and globalized. They merely are against the notion of interfering in affairs outside of our own. They are "non-interventionist", rather than "isolationist".