Isolationism in a world gone mad
(Government,Society)
J. B. Cannon (25 June 2009 17:28:51)
J.B. Cannon

With all the turmoil in Iran, the fighting still going on in Afghanistan, and talk of pulling out of Iraq, there are voices on the right calling for a return to isolationism. These folks say our Founding Fathers never wanted us involved in 'other people's wars'. We should be committed to commerce, trading with everyone regardless. While I can see the attraction of that viewpoint, is it really the morally correct one? Talking in the broad strokes of nations can make it difficult to evaluate. Let's bring it down to a more manageable scenario.

Say you own a corner market and your goal is to sell your wares to everyone in the neighborhood. For your own protection, you keep a gun under the counter. One day you see a fellow outside your store yelling and berating a woman, but it's none of your business. The fellow leaves her outside the store, comes in and buys a six-pack, which you gladly sell him, then leaves. The next day the scene repeats itself, and once again you sell him his beer and do nothing more. This continues for weeks, but you notice the fellow is getting more and more rough with the woman, resorting to jerking her around by the arm and shoving her against a telephone pole. People walk by, but like you, they don't want to get involved. While you could do something—after all, you have a gun—you just want to sell your wares. Conflicted, you decide to call the police and let them handle it. By the time they finally show up, he's long gone. Days pass and the pattern continues. Now you notice him slapping the woman in the face, and chaining her to the pole. Again you call the police, and luckily, they get there before the guy leaves. But despite seeing the marks on her face and chains on her wrists, all they do is give him a stern warning to stop the bad behavior. And you continue selling him his beer. The fellow's abusive behavior escalates, and finally one day you see him beating the woman with his fists. Her blood slings off his hands with each blow. You know she's already badly injured, and he's liable to kill her within minutes. What do you do?

Do you call the police again and hope they show up in time to save the woman? Knowing they probably won't, be honest with yourself. After seeing how they treated this fellow before, will the police even bother arresting this guy? So do you stay the course of leaving it to others, or do you grab your gun and make the guy stop? What, morally, is the right thing to do? Do you say it's not your responsibility and let this woman die, or do you save her life?

Now scale this back up. America, the world's lone superpower, is the shop owner. The U.N., which has proven itself time and time again of being impotent and unable (or unwilling) to stop despots and abusive leaders, is the police. Is it morally correct for us to turn a blind eye to crimes against humanity we've witnessed in this world? And do we continue to trade with despots who abuse their people?

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