Isolationism or Nationalism

by Justin Raimondo

The builders of a "New World Order" may have their little disagreements: left-wing internationalists want to redistribute America's wealth to the Third World and worship at the shrine of the UN, while their "right-wing" counterparts of the neo-conservative variety, call for global intervention under our own flag. But on one issue they are united: all agree that nationalism, of whatever hue, is the enemy and must be utterly crushed. The only exception to this rule seems to be a sudden enthusiasm, in such places as the UN and the higher reaches of the Clinton Administration, for the heretofore obscure cause of Bosnian nationalism. But it turns out that this is not really an exception. Bosnia has never been and is not now in any sense a nation. Thus the government of this mythical country, which American boys (and now women) may die for, is an unstable coalition "government" with a revolving presidency based on the old Yugoslav model--and is even now unraveling in a similar manner.

Serbian nationalism, Croatian nationalism, Ukrainian nationalism, Iraqi nationalism, German nationalism, all are condemned by the Powers That Be as the potential instruments of a new Hitlerism, guilty of "ethnic cleansing" and worse.

But what they really fear and despise most of all is the native variety, good old-fashioned American nationalism. They fear it so much that they refuse to call it by its right name. Instead, they have dredged up the ancient epithet "isolationist," a coined word with a cloudy meaning. The sound of it is archaic, as if the wisdom of George Washington's Farewell Address injunction against "entangling alliances" were as outmoded as his powdered wig.

We are "isolationist" troglodytes--but what, then, are they? The anti-"isolationist" campaign, first unleashed against Pat Buchanan and reaffirmed by George Bush in his last major speech, is a smokescreen meant to obscure the one forbidden word. As that stalwart of the Old Right, the editor and writer Garet Garrett, put it in 1943:

. . . the word in place of isolationism that would make sense is nationalism. Why is the right word avoided?

The explanation must be that the wrong one, for what it is intended to do, is the perfect political word. Since isolationism cannot be defined, those who attack it are not obliged to define themselves. What are they? Anti-isolationists? But if you cannot say what isolationism is neither can you say what anti-isolationism is, whereas nationalism, being definite, has a positive antithesis. One who attacks nationalism is an internationalist.

The use of the obscurity created by the false word is to conceal something. The thing to be concealed is the identity of what is speaking.

Internationalism is speaking.

It has a right to speak, as itself and for itself; but that right entails a moral obligation to say what it means and to use true words.

Today, internationalism is speaking openly, often, and loudly in its own name. The United Nations, the great peacekeeper, has taken over the business of warmaking, with every major conflict, from the Gulf war to Somalia to Bosnia, operating under its auspices. It is a time when a UN Secretary General with two identical first names can demand that all U.S. troops in Somalia and Bosnia be placed under UN command--and U.S. officials are obliged to negotiate a "compromise." But what is being compromised here, as the Joint chiefs look on nervously?

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