Sunday, February 09, 2003

I was talking with my Mom about US vs China. In China, naturally, US is seen as having imperialist aspirations to dominate more and more of the world -- to have US-approved regimes worldwide. That led to a discussion of how US is damned if it does, damned if it doesn't, because worldwide criticism of US doesn't seem to depend on what US does. America is either aggressive or isolationist. Isolationism is mostly thought of as a phenomenon from between the two world wars, but not uniquely.
  • Remember there was some fear Bush would be isolationist?
    Oh, I thought you meant some band. The Taliban in Afghanistan! Absolutely. Represssive. --GW Bush
    European scholars tsk'ed at the 2000 election and its lack of foreign policy issues (although this particular paper goes on to explain that the American people are not as isolationist as the American Congress and foreign media believe). Stephen Brooks marked "neo-isolationism", which he explained rather as public indifference rather than an active desire to disengage, from the end of the Vietnam War.
  • Remember right after September 11, 2001? Newspaper articles were published about the fear that this would push US into a new isolationism.

  • Remember the World Criminal Court? In 1998 European media characterized the US as isolationist, pure and simple -- over the World Criminal Court issue as well as treaties such as land mine restrictions.
  • Just a few years earlier, in 1995, Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot were pushing isolationism.

Both "isolationist" and "imperialist" are code for "the US is not consulting our opinion". One is applied to action, one to non-action, but what really stings is to be ignored.

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