America’s Growing Isolationism

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThe United States is now far less engaged in world affairs than at anytime since the end of the Cold War. The United States, despite claims by many leftists and rightists, does not really have military bases all over the world as it used to. Truth be told, the United States has military bases of over 1,000 personnel in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea. Nowhere else really. At the height of the Cold War, the United States had military bases from Southeast Asia to Latin America to the Arctic and in parts of Africa. An estimated 35 million Americans served as military personnel during the Cold War. I remember how the U.S. news media had articles, TV news reports, and radio announcements of conflicts in one part of the world or another where the United States was involved back in the 1980’s. There were regular news reports of how the United States was involved in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Angolan conflict. At the height of the Cold War, the United States had as many as 600,000 military personnel stationed in Germany alone.

This all seems to be a far cry from where we are now. Almost none of the news seems to be about what is happening anywhere else beyond the borders of the United States. We hear about the Israel-Hamas War and the Russia-Ukraine War, but that is about it. One of my closest friends named Art recently sent me a news flash about Taiwan. We both lived in Taiwan, and that is where we met. He told me that this was the first time he heard in the U.S. news media about anything dealing with Taiwan. This just shows the dearth of any information about anything other than the usual distant conflicts we hear about now. When I go to my local library, I see no books on anything except on travel throughout the United States and maybe travel to Europe or the Caribbean. I was more likely to find books on the latest Star Wars novel series than on anything happening anywhere in the world outside the United States. For Americans, the world has become a dark and unwelcome place since the defeat in the Afghanistan War in 2021. By and large, Americans have retreated into the isolationism we had been in during the 1920’s and 1930’s where the rest of the world did not matter.

Isolationism has been a good part of American history from the very beginning of this country’s existence. The early United States did not want to engage with the rest of the world, and might have been involved in the odd war here and there only for its national security. After that conflict was over, America retreated back into its borders and did not care what happened afterwards. In some ways, this has been evident in Republican political attitudes towards providing aid to Ukraine and Israel. The slight Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for months on end did not pass any legislation to provide any military aid for Ukraine and Israel because they felt no aid was needed and because they felt the money should be used in the United States. Never mind that this aid was important to U.S. security interests—the view among Republicans and a growing number of Americans is that the rest of the world does not matter. What is happening in the United States by and large is most Americans do not care what happens in the rest of the world. We are slipping back into an isolationist policy. and mindset It is simply a repeat of American history. I wonder how long this will last before we might find ourselves in another war not of our choosing?

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