ISOLATIONISM - Was it ever viable?
Can the US stop meddling in other countries?
A lot of American’s are in love with the idea of isolationism. But if you drill them down with questions they’re probably really mostly non-interventionalist. I doubt most people that preach isolationism actually understand what it looks like in practice. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to stop getting cheap products from Asia and Mexico.
During his farewell address in 1796, the United State’s first president George Washington said:
“Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.”
This speech from George Washington was a huge influence on Americans. It was not a speech of isolationism but of “non-interventionalism”. He could not have been preaching for isolationism because at the time the US was trading with Europe, the Caribbean and even China. Later there would be tons of non-interventionalist movements in the united states that cite Washington’s speech.