This post raised a question I have thought about myself: how do non-interventionists/isolationists propose to institute such policy? The United States is, at least currently, in the unenviable position of being the world’s sole financial and military superpower. The rest of the world looks to the US to lead while simultaneously awaiting overreach so it can be seen as a bully and a meddler. Should it never intervene in any situation?
Let’s leave special interests out of the equation and say the US will only act when there is a moral imperative [also leaving aside the issue of how and by whom this is determined]. Something like this might slightly undermine the justification for action:
Held for years on end without trial in a cage thousands of miles from home, he endured interrogations, indignities, and depression long enough to be cleared for release. The U.S. government kept him locked up for years longer. Despairing, he died this week, and even in death, his treatment evokes less outrage in Americans than the week’s most controversial tweets.
Legally, as a Yemeni citizen, Adnan Latif did not have the same rights as US citizens. Also from a legal standpoint, it would be worse if the US government were detaining its own citizens indefinitely without charge as it did during World War II. But this should not make it acceptable to do this to anyone unless for some reason US citizens are innately better than other people.
The US is a proud young country, one of the first [if not the first] to claim the right of national self-determination on the principle of natural human rights.
…that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.
The US also served as a model and supported other countries, particularly in the years following World War II, when several now former colonies declared independence from their imperial overlords. But then the Cold War shook this resolve as the US feared the spread of Communism [and its conspiracy to impurify our precious bodily fluids]. Did the “war on terror” further alter the US so that it no longer even believes in the natural rights of all people? Obviously, at several points along its brief history, the US did consider certain people to be sub-human, but policy under the previous and current administration can be viewed in that light as well.
This does not inspire confidence that even if somehow everyone agreed the US had a moral imperative to intervene in another part of the world, it wouldn’t completely mess up or possibly aggravate the situation. It’s a bit of a quis custodiet ipsos custodes situation. But we also tend to hear more about the huge fuck-ups, less about American troops that are stationed overseas to maintain a more passive rather than active base of operations, or for humanitarian aid. Should the US shut down all of it?
And where’s a giant squid alien when you need one?