More on VDH

I wanted to expand a little bit on this post. There is a strong isolationist streak among Americans. From George Washington’s exhortation to avoid entangling alliances to the rise of Ron Paul, there is revealed the general preference of Americans to leave the rest of the world to solve its own problems. Some of the lure of the US to our ancestors was the desire to leave those problems behind.

A few years ago, I received an email from an acquaintance. It was one of those that had been forwarded a million times and I believe this person just sent it to everyone in the address book. Essentially, it advocated pulling all of our troops out of everywhere and closing the doors to anything coming in or going out. I couldn’t take it so I had to reply.

I stated that it would be nice to leave the rest of the world to its own devices. Unfortunately, the world needs some adult supervision and we’re the only grown-ups around. We tried to retreat from the world once, in the 1930’s, and the results weren’t too pretty.

Western Europe is currently in the longest continuous period of peace since approximately the time of the Neanderthals. Why? Because the US military has been there to enforce the peace. One unintended consequence of this is that now these countries are utterly incapable of even protecting themselves, much less projecting force to deal with problems beyond their borders. So who is going to deter the various thugs, tyrants, and despots of the world? Certainly not the Europeans. NATO? Please, without the US, NATO is incapable of anything. The UN? Ha! Ask the people of Darfur and Srebrenica about the UN. There is no one but the US.

It is only the promise of the US to intervene that keeps China from invading Taiwan. Although the South Koreans are probably capable of defending themselves now, for most of the last 55 years only the US could deter the North. Were the US to pull out of Europe you could substitute Poland, Ukraine, possibly even Germany and France for Georgia. Until very recently piracy was a major problem for international trade. Why is it not such a large issue now? Because of the presence of the US Navy patrolling the world’s shipping lanes.

If the US were to withdraw from the international stage, the results would be catastrophic. Granted, not many people advocate this drastic isolationism. But it may not take that. We need not retreat from the world, we only need to be unwilling or unable to act.

Hanson’s outlook is pretty bleak. But the reality is that he may be an optimist.


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