It is strange what a deep part of our culture in the United States it is to be isolated from international norms: From big issues like our lack of participation in the ICC, to little ones like our staunch refusal to adopt the metric system (the only other two countries as stubborn as us on this point are Liberia, which is a former US colony, never forget, and Burma, which apparently hasn’t changed much since the British left, and both of them use celsius like the rest of the world), the American public is taught to cherish not knowing what the rest of the world is doing, even when they’re practically all in unison on something (like condemning Israel at the UN, which the US always vetoes, a fact not mentioned by US papers like the New York Times when they get all flustered at the audacity of Russia doing the same for its pet murderous “Middle Eastern” regime).
And speaking of the UN…
How does the US government feel about the rest of the world? As is widely known, the government basically feels that whatever the rest of the world does is its business, and that other countries should be judged not by how they treat their citizens but by how subservient they are to US interests. The double standards are pretty amazing, but we can more or less say with certainty that the US government is not isolationist in its foreign policy. It is, on some level, internationalist, in that it views its own role as being within an international system, but it should be clear that this is not an egalitarian internationalism: Although the United States likes to veto things everyone else agrees on, it also likes to complain about how other countries vote. The United States does not want a democratic UN, but a UN that is useful to the United States.
Now this is hardly surprising, as “realists” in international relations are a popular theoretical camp that basically holds that states do everything they do based on their own interests through the means available to them. What IS surprising is the United States population’s view of the rest of the world. Through the way the media presents the rest of the world to us, we are basically taught to ignore the rest of the world, even as our own government is responsible for murder and repression and so on and so forth. Basically, the United States population IS isolationist. The United States population, from liberals to conservatives, is as isolationist as Ron Paul or Jill Stein (who more or less hold that the United States should deal with the rest of the world only through trade or aid, respectively), but votes for people about as isolationist as Hitler (i.e., marching troops into other countries, ignoring international law, murdering civilians, etc., etc.). In this situation, Ron Paul and Jill Stein and Hitler and Obama are all more honest with themselves than the US population is taught to be, as Hitler and Obama are of the view that they have some moral mandate to remake the world in their own image through bombs, and then they do that, while Ron Paul and Jill Stein are of the view that the US does not have that moral mandate, and therefore vote against such things. But by voting for candidates, like Bush or Obama, who make deadly decisions about the rest of the world and would never accept that other countries could do that to us, the US population either accepts that foreigners are simply less human and therefore have less agency than the US, or they are just betraying their ignorance of the US role in the world while voting for people and supporting actions in direct support of said role.
The United States population has another choice of course, they could embrace Marxist-style internationalism, following the news from around the world, participating in boycotts and protests, joint actions, etc., etc. I do support anyone who thinks they can do this, to whatever degree. But the problem is that most people I talk to get bewildered by my knowing the most basic facts about Syrian history and politics, or the Israel/Palestine “conflict,” and yet they hold very strong views on Syria and Israel/Palestine. If they have an isolationist approach to facts, how can they have an interventionist or internationalist stance on what to do with the facts? It’s a case of putting the cart before the horse, and then bombing it with a drone.
I encourage all Americans who find learning about the histories and viewpoints of exotic parts of the world, and the probable effect of US actions in said parts of the world, to be a tax on their day, to hold a fully isolationist position. It is simply more intellectually honest and politically and morally safer to support a total lack of US meddling in the affairs of countries about which you know nothing, rather than arguing with people on Facebook that you’re sure that bombings will solve the problems of a country you just heard about for the first time on the news, and which you are demonstrably less well-informed than others.
I mean… something that isn’t an obvious swipe at people I argue with on Facebook.