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Beware of Neo-Neo-Isolationism

Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Say what? Yes, “neo-neo-isolationism” is coming. Beware. What is that? The subtle recoil from strength and belief in who we are causes engagement to cease.

We have historically seen “isolationism” (i.e., not getting involved in the world), then “neo-isolationism” (i.e., backing out of world commitments). Now, we are headed for “throwing up our hands” and going soft, effectively withdrawing as a world leader. The tendency to shrug and garden is strong, but it is wrong.

Privately, yes, we are all exhausted by political dysfunction, constant agitation, and normalized hysteria. We have had enough “sky is falling” climate screamers, social media cons saying everything “existential,” and lefties turning everything electric, turning boys into girls and parents into terrorists.

To borrow from Ronald Reagan’s friend Barbara Stanwyck, in Christmas in Connecticut, who can blame us? “Tired of dancing to everybody else’s tune…In short, we are tired!”

Yes, we are privately justified in pulling back for mental health. But pause with me to distinguish between private sanity and expectations of public leadership.

As individuals, we need space and time, room to keep our own counsel, think critically, reflect, pray, help friends and family, and give time to those we love.

But on the world stage, those chosen to lead must lead, not wither or withdraw.

“Isolationism,” “neo-isolationism,” now going soft through “neo-neo-isolationism,” may seem an easier path; just let things go. But it is not easy. Things let go return like a boomerang and hit hard if America ignores the world.

In short, hope is not a strategy; never was. Disengagement is tantamount to letting kids play with matches and just hoping that the house does not burn down.

The risks associated with disengagement are high. From China’s isolationism after the 15th century to America’s forlorn pre-WWI and pre-WWII hope that things would work out, backing away can have dangerous consequences.

In a roiled world, we cannot now shrug and go back to gardening. If we learned from the big wars that isolationism can be fatal, we should know indulging bad actors like Iran, Russia, and China can also be fatal. The world conspires to box America out and make the oppression of liberty a new norm. We must vehemently disagree.

We are tested every day. As terrorism again raises its ugly head, from Afghanistan to Hamas and Hezbollah, we seem only half in, more interested in side issues. As China and Russia declare a “new world order” built on oppression, we sigh.

Allies in Europe and the Pacific begin to wonder if we have lost our mojo, who we are. Beyond China, Russia, and Iran, two years from now, all Americans will be prevented from going to Europe without digital pre-registration with European countries, a new twist.

So, where is all this heading? Nowhere good if left as is, but nowhere at all if we will stand up and lead, defend American ideals and ideas, get engaged, and mean it.

Yes, we all need a retreat from this whacky world, but America must stay engaged for our own sake. We are a beacon only if we shine; let our truth, faith, fortitude, history, human rights, and compass light the way to get out from under the basket. 

We cannot become a nation that “ducks and runs,” intent on pleasing and appeasing. We cannot endure leaders who fail us – run from terrorists as in Afghanistan, placate them as in Iran, invite incursions as with Russia, and indulge in happy talk with communist nations like China, Cuba, and Venezuela.

We must preserve who we are individually, while also preserving our nation’s peace by engaging with the world, drawing lines and holding them, knowing who we are, keeping our word, and understanding our role as a global leader.

We must keep our nation’s goodness center stage. That is not achieved through isolation, neo-isolation, softness or neo-neo-isolationism. Strong leadership, confidently projected, advancing ideals we know to be true produces deterrence and peace. For that reason, real engagement must not cease.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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PaulE
PaulE
7 months ago

Well RBC, I wouldn’t call it “neo-neo-isolationism” as much as I would call what we’re seeing from the Biden administration as a continuation of the pro-globalist policies of appeasement and surrender that were writ large under the Obama administration. Appeasement in the form of backing down to any and all threats, both direct and indirect, via just throwing billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars are various hot spots and hoping for the best and usually ending up with the short end of the stick. Surrender as in simply refusing to see China, Russia, Iran and others as the threats they are and continuing to cede ground to virtually all of them on a steady basis.

I’m NOT for sending American troops all around the world at the top of a hat, when most of the time our enemies can be more effectively dealt with through economic and other means. Yes, on occasion military force is needed to address certain threats or overt actions, but those are far fewer than most would expect and can offend be handled by military means other than “boots on the ground” as idiots like Senator Lindsey Graham keeps calling for all the time. There is nothing wrong with asymmetric warfare using technological means our opponents don’t possess to save American military lives from needless death and injury.

China is a problem the United States and most of western Europe created over the last 40 years by foolishly believing that the CCP would eventually give up on communism and adopt western-style capitalism and we we call democracy, if only we outsourced most of our manufacturing and other capabilities to them. An incredibly naive and stupid decision by a number of U.S. Presidents and other western world leaders. All we ended up doing was transform a starving, isolated communist regime into the second and soon to be most powerful economic and military power on the planet.

I can explain where we went wrong with Iran, Russia and North Korea, as well as a number of current hot spots around the world as well, but you get the general idea. We, the United States and several western European nations, created and fostered many of the problems we now face around the world through incredibly bad political policy decisions over the last 50 years.

I agree with you that we cannot survive under a policy of reactive duck and run, because eventually we will run out of places to retreat to as we continue to embolden and strengthen our enemies and weaken ourselves along the way. The current administration is of course both completely inept as well as corrupt, so I don’t see any improvement in our global standing as long, or someone just like them, remains in place. Your articles are always a good read.

Philip Seth Hammersley
Philip Seth Hammersley
7 months ago

WE should act based on “America First” as DJT did. We should NOT meddle in every “war” in the world if it doesn’t directly affect us! DJT acted through STRENGTH; he stood up to Xi, Putin, and the Ayatollah and still didn’t get us in a war like Biden, Obama, and Dubya!
What Senile Joey doesn’t know and has NEVER known is that enemies (bullies) value STRENGTH. If Cornpop existed, he could have told Joey that!

Sue
Sue
7 months ago

I am not willing to let go of my roots and upbringing. I will remain politically incorrect. I stand firm in the truth of the Bible, what is right and wrong. God is not dead and He will not be mocked. Boy, howdy, I don’t want to stand by any of these upstarts and their liberal and socialistic beliefs. Especially during a thunder and lightning storm.

Stukahna Sandbahr
Stukahna Sandbahr
7 months ago

HOW ABOUT TELLING THIS TO THE BONEHEADS WE ELECTED TO RUN OUR COUNTRY?!

Jeri
Jeri
7 months ago

I’m open to do whatever needs to be done. Problem, I don’t know what that is. So…rather than discuss what neo- neo- is how about a list of very specific things we can do. Please don’t include voting, we all know we need to and do vote. Will await actions I can take yet today.

Glen
Glen
7 months ago

Everything is going as planned — for the globalists NOT for the good of the American people.

Tom
Tom
7 months ago

Between the Monroe Doctrine and George Washington ” Do not get involved in foreign entanglements”!!!

Chuck
Chuck
7 months ago

These fine responsible parents provided everything for their many children–food, clothing, shelter, protection. The children entered their 20s, 30s, and even 40’s still receiving all they needed from benevolent parents. The parents got used to providing and the children got used to receiving. Both conceived this to be the only way it can work. The parents just could not bring themselves to gradually convince the children to begin getting used to providing these four things for themselves.

Steve Greenwell
Steve Greenwell
7 months ago

After the damn-fool, no-purpose, no-win, open-ended wars our state department offers has gotten this country into, why should we trust them with the next war they offer this country?

FJB
FJB
7 months ago

I for one am tired of the American taxpayer paying for Europe and other so called “allies” protection. Europe and these others are rich enough to pay for it themselves. These so called alliances are a one way street. We are THEIR allies but they are not really ours. The sole purpose of NATO is for us (the US) to protect them, at our expense. Not for them to protect us. I agree with helping Ukraine but the bill should be footed 100% by our so called European allies. We should only provide weapons etc… that the are 100% paid for by the Europeans. No more free lunches. If we send anything the Euros should have already paid for it, up front.

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