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In his 2004 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, John Kerry declared that, “We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America.” More depressing than the delivery of this avowedly isolationist line itself was the applause it received. The expression of such sentiment marked a low point in the history of the Democratic Party, whose leaders defeated Nazism, fought communist attempts to subvert democracy around the world, and generally stood for the spread of liberty abroad.

If the Democrats learned a lesson from their last presidential election defeat, however, it’s that they were not isolationist enough. In a little noticed remark earlier last month, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama expressed exactly the same sentiment as Kerry four years ago, using almost exactly the same language. Outlining his economic agenda in a speech at Raleigh, North Carolina, Obama stated that “Instead of spending $12 billion a month to rebuild Iraq, I think it's time we invested in our roads and schools and bridges and started to rebuild America.”

It would have been one thing had Obama assailed the cost of maintaining America’s military presence in Iraq. After all, he has hardly made a secret of his opposition to the war, and has criticized nearly every aspect of its execution up to and including the successful surge in forces and counterinsurgency plan executed so masterfully by General David Petraeus. But Obama’s slight last month was not directed at the cost of stationing over 100,000 armed men in Iraq – an iteration of his oft-repeated line that there is “no military solution” to the conflict there – but specifically at reconstruction aid. That’s the money that goes to building schools, health clinics, government ministries and the like. In other words, Obama believes we should stop constructing the edifices (literal and figurative) of the sort of liberal society that was impossible under the reign of Saddam Hussein. Criticizing the continuation of an effort that he believes never should have started would at least have had the virtue of being vaguely principled, as opposed to a crude expression of isolationism.

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Matthew Richer
August 12th, 2008
7:08 PM
To claim that Barack Obama, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, is an "isolationist" is nonsense. He is, in Samuel Huntington's phrase, a quintessential "Davos Man" -- a man who sees himself not as an American, but as a "citizen of the world." A President Obama will surely be pushing a globalist agenda, just as George W. Bush did.

July 25th, 2008
12:07 PM
Nancy, if the phone company routed calls today the way they did 100 years ago, they would have to employ every working-age woman in America as operators. Now, is every American female starving in the streets because she can't find a job as an operator? No, because by going to electronic switching, the technology was there which allowed cellular phones and the Internet. These technologies in turn enabled the creation of new companies and industries that absorbed all the losses suffered by not needing as many phone operators. That's the way our economy works: one door closes while another opens. Unfortunately, some Americans choose to stare at the closed door rather than look around for the open one. Free Trade is no different from what the phone company did. Sure, moving manufacturing overseas costs a lot of jobs, but it reduces costs and therefore frees up capital to be used to fund other ventures. America is not "falling apart at the seams." The credit crisis and oil prices are momentary blips which we need to get past. If you base your vote on these blips rather than the long view, you do your country a disservice. The unemployment rate in the U.S. is 5%. In Europe, that's considered a low rate, where rates are around 7% and can climb as high as 14%. Obama's policies are very socialist, very European. Vote for him and you trade your supposed inability to get health care for a very real inability to buy groceries.

Brian H
July 24th, 2008
9:07 PM
The logic of the liberal isolationist is basically that every cent which is not spent on domestic welfare entitlements is wasted. Apply that test or standard and you will have an excellent hit rate in predicting their positions. E.g., most of the comments here.

Michael Wales
July 22nd, 2008
12:07 AM
Have you ever wondered, Jamie, why you get the kinds of comments you do? Your readership fits a demographic as reliably as Obama's supporters. I wonder if you take as much offense to that.

July 20th, 2008
9:07 PM
I think you need to take his remarks in context. The reality is, that America is falling apart at the seams, not just from the credit crisis, but from health care costs for poor to upper middle class citizens, the enormity of which, would stagger the average European, and massive cuts to basic services, the oil price crisis--Yes, we neeed to maintain a presence in the outside world, but is looking after your own--to avoid chaos, riots and a total devolving of your nation, really make you an isolationist? If so, then I say, yes! Let's blinking be isolationists. America is dying on its feet, beginning with the FTA, which cost MILLIONS of Americans their jobs. And the Billions spent on an unwinnable war fought for the wrong reasons, that has put this country trillions into debt and acted as a catalyst for the present oil crisis. PLEASE let's be isolationists. Literally thousands of Americans--from children to the elderly, suffer and die every year, for no other reason then they have no money for doctors or medicines. I know. I'm one of them. You can work full time in the USA--even TWO jobs, and still go hungry. For heaven's sake--YES. I say yes, to isolationism, if that's what it takes for us to feel like human beings again!

July 18th, 2008
11:07 PM
Your naive arguments ignore the threat to our national security that has occurred due to borrowing trillions from China, Russia and Saudi Arabia in order to fund a overextended empire. Putting our country in such grave danger and shredding the 4th amendment has brought us to the financial brink. This is a tragedy for the world as America's traditional values emphasizing the importance of individual rights and private property has also been trashed. This has helped destroy the role models the developing nations need to advance. Kerchick your propaganda is sickening.

July 18th, 2008
1:07 AM
I once heard a liberal intellectual argue that the money spent in Iraq could have been better spent shoring up the levees in New Orleans. These bizarre formulations are reliable crowd-pleasers guaranteed to draw applause - as it did on this memorable occasion. But is there any reason to suppose the billions we have poured into Iraq would otherwise have been earmarked for updating American infrastructure? Dream on.

Rantly McTirade
July 17th, 2008
4:07 PM
It only took weeks for you people to destroy your credibility by printing a blast of arrogant nonsense from a sleazy little hack like 'Jamie'.Britain slides a little more into the gutter.

July 14th, 2008
9:07 PM
The American people are not 'isolationist'; they are the most generous of all peoples and Americans donate, per capita, more monies for charities and foreign aid than the entire rest of the world combined. It should be of far greater concern to this author that Barck Hussein Obama has addressed and supported, with a particularly offensive speech attacking US Immigration officials, the organization LA RAZA ("The Race"), the motto of which is: "Por La Raza, todo. Fuera La Raza, nada." (For The Race, everything. Outside The Race, nothing.) This group, and its ancillary (MECHA) are dedicated, as their Constitution states in Article II, Section 1, to "the liberation of AZTLAN meaning self-determination of our people in this occupied state and the physical liberation of our land." The "occupied state" to which they refer is the Southwest of the United States of America and their ultimate goal is La Reconquista (The Reconquest). This group calls for unrestricted immigration into America from Mexico, amnesty and financial privileges for the over 12 million ILLEGAL ALIENS and their dependants already in the US, etc. Those who are familiar with Moslem pretentions of La Reconquista of Andalusia (Spain) may find it significant that this racist entity, La Raza, has been addressed by a man, Barack Hussein Obama, who was born and raised as a Moslem and who attended a racist, false 'church' whose Vision Statement, according to its web page, is founded on the Black Liberation Theology of Dr James H Cone which was elucidated in his book, Black Theology and Black Power in 1969 as: "What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disoposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love...Black Theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy." The similarities between these two organizations, La Raza and Trinity United Church of Christ, and Obama's support of them both, are the issues which should raise concern among Americans, and Europeans who have considerable historical experience of race hatred and the delusions of an imagined superior 'race.' They should also be asking themselves why "mainstream" media is so silent and uncritical of Obama.

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