By Dr. Scott Duryea, Associate Professor, School of Security and Global Studies, American Military University
Non-interventionism is a foreign policy strategy that seeks to minimize the use of direct military force against other nations, while maintaining diplomatic ties. It is a strategy that the American Founders recommended, but has largely been ignored. The corporate media and scholars alike often confuse non-interventionism in American foreign policy with isolationism, which is often associated with anti-diplomacy, minimal trade with other nations, and a focus solely on the homeland, without regard to international happenings and global governance. However, that’s not an accurate representation of the principles of non-interventionism.
Non-interventionism respects the importance of national defense, humanitarian causes, interdependent trade and cooperation, and international norms while firmly denouncing interventionism strategies that have polarized nations and led to conflicts such as the Cold War and, most especially, the post-9/11 Wars on Terror.
Discussions about enacting non-interventionism policies were the primary focus of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s annual conference, which took place in August. This conference hosted an impressive lineup of bi-partisan scholars, politicians, and popular commentators to speak in opposition to the current warfare state that emerged at the beginning of the Cold War. From this conference, there were three main themes that are worth highlighting:
1. The Need to Dismantle NATO
The first main theme was a discussion on the counterintuitive, destructive nature of the continued existence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Arguably, the aim of NATO during the Cold War was to contain the Soviet threat from further expansion. One of the speakers, David Stockman, former U.S. Representative and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, argued that NATO expansion eastward since the early 1990s has only provoked potential Russian aggression and led Europe into an easily avoidable security dilemma. In addition, NATO, he claimed, is merely an European arm of the American warfare state that enables increased extraction of public resources for private gain by the military industrial complex and prevents European countries from developing their own foreign policies and deterrent measures. NATO has outlived its usefulness and created security challenges where there should be none.
2. Our Warfare Approach is Extremely Expensive
Current and future American taxpayers are undertaking an incredible financial burden in support of the American empire and its hegemony. Annually, veterans affairs expenses, military outlays, and warfare contracting costs more than $1 trillion. In addition, among the benefactors of this enormous expense are contractors who exist purely for government largess. In order to acquire huge military contracts, firms such as Halliburton, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and others recruit top public officials from the White House, Capitol Hill, and the Pentagon for post-career, high-paying positions. The Wars on Terror have cost Americans nearly $6 trillion. How much of that money has gone into the pockets of the politically connected in and around Washington, D.C., purely to manufacture war? That the richest counties in the country circle D.C. is no coincidence.
3. A Shift to Non-interventionism Policies IS Possible
A change to non-interventionism strategies is possible during the Trump administration. During the conference, Fox News contributor Colonel Douglas MacGregor pointed out that President Trump’s instincts regarding the overstretched military presence around the world are accurate. But, he surrounds himself with people who disagree with him and have vested interests in maintaining the status quo. He questions the reason for troops being in Japan, Syria, and Europe. MacGregor insists that the Trump administration can make important changes in the next 14 months to guarantee reelection by doing the following four things:
- Leave Afghanistan. The President can achieve this goal with the stroke of a pen.
- Sign an end-of-war declaration with North Korea and South Korea. This act will remove the threat of war breaking out on the Korean peninsula, calming tensions with China who does not want war in the region.
- Talk with the Iranians! Find out what Iran’s security concerns in the region are. MacGregor argued that the real threat to Israel in the region is not Iran. Rather, it is Turkey as Erdogan has established an extremist, Sunni regime that threatens the Golan Heights.
- End sanctions against Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran. These policies only harm civilians, inciting hatred for the United States and creating potential blowback down the road.
These four measures would increase American soft power around the world, improve national security at home, and fulfill Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
The themes and recommendations that emerged during this conference reflect a policy strategy that American statesmen today have forgotten: diplomacy first and war second. Non-interventionism stands by that dictum not just for moral proselytizing; it also creates the fewest enemies. The American unipolar moment is dead, as MacGregor put it, and it is time to bring the troops home.
About the Author: Scott Duryea, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Security and Global Studies at American Military University, teaching courses in international relations, security studies, and research methods. He holds a doctoral degree in international studies from Old Dominion University. To contact the author, send an email to IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.