Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Irwin Steltzer - not an isolationist by any stretch - thinks the next administration will be forced to adopt a more isolationist policy.
There is an inclination to have our country see to its own interests, and let the rest of the world inherit the whirlwind that is the consequence of the anti-Americanism so rampant during the Bush years. Enough Americans to make politicians take notice are humming a new national tune, Milton Kellem's 'Got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now', made famous in 1956 by, of all groups, Patience and Prudence.

The new president, therefore, will be under terrific pressure to devote the nation's military and security resources to the construction of Fortress America. If European governments can't finance their own defence, as indigenous Muslim populations turn multiculturalism into a bad joke, and a newly aggressive Russia exerts pressure on EU foreign and domestic policy, well, that's their problem. They wanted to be rid of American influence, and we are prepared to oblige. They will just have to handle any of those 'events, dear boy, events' that Harold Macmillan so feared, and the 'unknown unknowns' that the much-maligned Donald Rumsfeld warned about. When those crises burst upon the European and world scenes, frantic calls to the White House are likely to produce 'Dial 1 if you never defamed the US, otherwise hang up'.

… The candidate that can tap into this neo-isolationism, who will speak softly and carry a big stick (cf. Teddy Roosevelt), but only for use when American interests — narrowly defined — are threatened, who will make certain that the world does not tread on us (cf. ‘Don’t Tread on Me’, the motto on the famous 1775 Gadsden naval flag first unfurled in battle against the British navy, and revived after 11 September), who will spend millions for defence but not one cent for tribute or the defence of former allies, will tap into the updated, 2008 version of the nation’s glorious history. His wife will be picking the drapes for the White House in January of 2009, unless her husband is revisiting the scene of past triumphs.
I think there's something to what Steltzer's saying here, but I'm not sure it's going to be quite that radical a shift. However, I was surprised by how anti-China Hillary Clinton was the other day. I can easily see how populist protectionism and neo-isolationism can have a good 2008.