You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation


Los Angeles Timesop-ed today
What liberals call isolationism when criticizing the right, they dub wisdom when describing their own policies. Conversely, when liberals go marching around the globe, it's internationalism and idealism. When conservatives do, it's imperialism and war for oil.
For example, in 2004, the New Republic's Frank Foer suggested that George Will's reservations about the war in Iraq were "hardly surprising" given the conservative movement's isolationist history. Of course, the New Republic itself had initially supported the Iraq invasion--arguably more than Will ever had. It was only when the war started to go badly that the magazine's editors turned against it. But no one would suggest--least of all the New Republic's editors--that they were retreating into isolationism.
the piece
While this backlash against the war may seem unexpected--the Bush presidency has inspired fierce loyalty from conservatives--it is hardly surprising if one looks at the movement's past. The right's skepticism of the state has long reverberated within its foreign policy. Conservatives have raised questions about the ability of the American government to spread democracy abroad, just as they have doubted its ability to deliver social welfare at home. They have long feared that wartime is like a strong fertilizer heaped on government, causing it to sprout new departments and programs that never manage to disappear once peace resumes. For most of the cold war, conservatism sublimated these doubts to pursue its overriding objective of eliminating global Communism. But with the Iraq war hitting a rough patch, this anti-interventionist tradition is suddenly poised for revival.
Isaac Chotiner