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The Problem With Isolationism

What sort of entanglements?  source

Is there really a choice?

“We have enough of our own problems, forget the rest of the world. Our country comes first.”

Sure. Everywhere always has problems. Nowhere is perfect. Domestic problems should take some sort of precedent or else tackling global problems becomes more difficult and less necessary.

But are you not forgetting, there is no such thing as a purely domestic problem? Come on, how can a problem in one county, at least a serious one, not be the concern of the rest of the world? This is the first issue I have with neo-isolationists.

With who?

Well the only hardline isolationists now are the fat, cowboy-hat-wearing oil tycoon Texan’s type, who are thankfully a dying breed. Neither am I referring to those who are opposed to military intervention, there are more than legitimate qualms with this. In fact, I think Western airstrikes in Syria are hopelessly futile and actually counter-productive. There is also real problems with aid as much of it often squandered by nepotistic war lords and little is done to improve the underlying infrastructure.

But at least with these concerns comes a true desire to help. My problem is with those who denounce any involvement. You know, the type who snort at the idea of intervention in a different country and then rant on about immigration and refugees. Well here are three good reasons why we can’t just hide away on our quaint little island.

Don’t worry, none of them are morally based because clearly that blindingly obvious justification is lost on most neo-isolationists.



Syrian Refugee Camp source

Syrian Refugee Camp

The fallout of distant conflict inevitably trickles its way down into our comfortable world. The amount of refugees fleeing to the West is set to reach a twenty year high. But hey, don’t listen to me, let’s see what, Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has to say!

The international community needs to prepare their populations for the reality that in the absence of solutions to conflict more and more people are going to need refuge and care in the coming months and years.

There are over three million refugees from the Syrian civil alone. Answer me this, where do they go? Don’t worry, most will be too poor to make it out of the squalid refugee camps, and well going home ain’t an option. So some will make there way to more peaceful lands, where they are safe. That’s pretty understandable isn’t it?

Hopefully I’ve warmed your heart enough to accept that maybe something should have been done to stop the utterly needless destruction of millions of homes, but also remember immigration has very similar causes.

Economic Prosperity

Money.  source


A new prosperous country means new markets. New trading partners. New wealth. Maybe solid green stacks of paper is the only thing that matters to you. Whatever, I’m not one to judge, but don’t forget, there is a whole ocean of potential markets, labour and resource out there, but they are too hard to access because of instability and dire infrastructure.

Imagine if everyone in Nigerian could afford an iPhone. Interested yet Mr. Cook? Well maybe make a product that doesn’t bend, then get back to me.

Think of development like an investment. If done right, managed well, you will reap some serious dividends. But don’t get carried away with exploitative business practices. There are enough of those in developing countries. They actually cripple development and keep a population suppressed and impoverished. Essentially, it is in every country’s interest to ensure another country doesn’t have masses of it’s population living in desperate poverty. Even with morality aside.

Climate change

Poor Polar Bear source

Poor Polar Bear

It’s real. No question. No debate. Something needs to be done. But how is that possible if the current collection of nation states are so introvert and skeptical of the rest that cooperation becomes impossible. I mean look at that polar bear. The poor bastard will have to swim for the rest of its life when all land is consumed by an untameable ocean.

Only joking, polar bears are excellent swimmers. In all seriousness though, if we are serious about preserving our planet and reducing pollution – thus ensuring our very existence, trivial as it is – then our outlook on the world needs to be much more inclusive and cooperative.

I’m not asking for much here. Just a slight change in attitude. When there is some dire crisis that needs confronting, be sure not to instantly think of your country. Think of the long term consequences of inaction and apathy. I can guarantee they will come back to haunt you. And we will all be left with any even bigger mess.

About Dean Forrester

Dean Forrester is the Editor-in-Chief of The International Citizen. An International Politics graduate from King's College London, with an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, he is interested in international affairs and development.
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