post to UNC Press Blog, 29 June 2011
The term “isolationism” has recently sprung to public prominence thanks to a rift in the ranks of the Republican Party. Some of its leading presidential candidates are calling for a more restrained U.S. global role. They are driven in part by Tea Party doubts about big military budgets and helter-skelter intervention, in part by unchecked presidential power, and for the rest by mounting fiscal problems.
These developments have alarmed keepers of the faith such as John McCain, who have instinctively responded with charges of isolationism. From a historian’s perspective, this clash is an opportunity to be doubly perverse—not only to reflect on a dubious term but also to direct attention to some signal virtues evident in a period in which isolationism supposedly governed U.S. policy. Read More