Former CIA bin Laden unit chief Michael Scheuer explains to readers that Donald Trump, so far, has been a non-interventionist.
No political figure of any prominence in U.S. history has ever called for an isolationist foreign policy. Why? Because we are a trading nation and so must be involved in commerce in all areas of the world, as well as in joint scientific endeavors, banking relationships, and dozens of other dealings that are part of being a nation-state existing in a world of nation-states. As Pat Buchanan once said, the term “isolationist” has been used, since the 1930s, as a slur by those upper-class and foreign-owned Americans who want the United States to intervene in other peoples’ wars in the name of democracy and freedom, as well as by malignant foreigners — Britain and France in the late 1930s, Israel, NATO, and the EU today — who want us to intervene in the wars they have started or want to fight, and, in essence, fight their wars, pay for them, and then clean up the postwar mess. Since 1945, the adjective “isolationist” also has been used to identify Americans opposed to U.S. intervention in wars that are none of the republic’s concern as pro-communists, America-haters, and anti-Semites. The term “America First”, of course, is used for the same vile purpose.
For the Founders, non-intervention simply meant that (a) America would deal amicably with other nations on any number of issues, save for those nations that chose to attack or tried to subvert the republic, and (b) would never become involved in foreign wars that posed no threat to the United States, even if one or more of the nations involved in such irrelevant-to-America wars was thought to be a friend of the United States.
Because they knew history and human nature better than any current U.S. politician, and because they also knew that history always repeats itself, the Founders believed that war brought death, deep debt and high taxes, internal divisions, and the tyranny that is the inevitable product of the war-engendered growth of excessive executive power.
They believed these results would occur even in wars that America had to fight because they were life-or-death struggles for the republic’s existence; that is, necessary wars. Naturally enough, then, the Founders were confident that involving America in other peoples’ wars that were irrelevant to U.S. national security would be a gross stupidity that would unjustifiably impose on Americans the unending grief resident in the host of plagues just mentioned. For the Founders, wars were undertaken only for matters that meant life or death for the republic.
Trump, so far, has been a non-interventionist, which, he has made clear, means neither isolationism nor pacifism.
Whether in 1790 or 2016, the Founders’ non-interventionist foreign policy fits the United States and the American people like a glove, one that can ensure its survival, sovereignty, independence, and to the greatest possible extent in this war-loving world, its peace. For now, Trump has it precisely right. More power to him.