Is Ron Paul's foreign policy isolationist?

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Answered by: Emilie, An Expert in the Current Affairs Category
Ron Paul is a Texas Congressman who is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination for the upcoming 2012 election. He is often referred to as being a "fringe" conservative candidate, as he often disagrees with his fellow Republicans on key issues. Ron Paul's foreign policy is the issue that he tends to get the most criticism for in presidential debates and from conservative news columnists and pundits. His detractors often refer to his foreign policy views as being isolationist and suggest that he would pose a threat to national security if he were elected.



In order to answer the question as to whether Ron Paul's foreign policy principles are isolationist, it is necessary to understand exactly what the term "isolationism" means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, isolationism is: "a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations." A contemporary example of an isolationist nation is North Korea. The country has a very hostile attitude towards other nations. Aside from close ties to China, they generally refuse to trade, have diplomacy or establish alliances with any other nations. Isolationism is a term that is often used pejoratively to indicate a country's leaders are excessively distrustful of outside influences.

In order to decide whether Ron Paul's foreign policy views are isolationist, they should be judged against the definition. Dr. Paul has states that he wants to end the wars the United States are currently involved in, including Afghanistan and Libya. He also warns against engaging in war with Iran. Regarding foreign alliances, he has stated that he would end aid for Israel and other countries in the Middle East. Citing advice from the Founding Fathers, Ron Paul often refers to Thomas Jefferson's famous quote, "Commerce with all nations, alliances with none, should be our motto." Ron Paul has advocated eliminating tariffs and taxes that hinder free trade with foreign nations, and he believes that the United States should not be restricted from commerce with any nations. In summation, given Dr. Paul's own statements, his foreign policy partially correlates with the definition of isolationism. He advocates foreign economic relations but not alliances.



Because Ron Paul's foreign policy does not fully correlate with isolationism, the conclusion can be drawn that the claim that he is an isolationist is not entirely true. In his own words, he refers to his foreign policy principles as non-interventionist. This is a foreign policy of strict non-interference in the disputes and affairs of foreign countries through force, whether economic or militaristic. The only justification for war or intervention would be in the event that the national security or sovereignty of the United States were threatened, as determined by the President and Congress. Non-interventionism does advocate diplomacy and open dialogue with other nations, however, but no permanent alliances.

By studying the definitions and examples of both isolationism and non-interventionism, it can be clearly ascertained that Ron Paul's foreign policy more clearly aligns with non-interventionism. Many politicians and TV personalities have referred to the foreign policy of non-interventionism as isolationism erroneously. While the United States has held a largely non-interventionist stance historically, this is no longer so. In comparison to the militaristic decisions of presidents in the last decade, Dr. Paul's foreign policy appears to be weak and dangerous in the eyes of many. However, it is important to study history and listen to the advice of military experts in order to determine whether this is true or not.

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