The National Review is Serious: Obama is a ‘Neo-Isolationist’


Victor Davis Hanson’s latest piece at The National Review can only be described as delusional.

Hanson makes the argument that Obama’s foreign policy is “neo-isolationist” – whatever that means. Most Republicans are still unable to restrain from hurling the “isolationist” epithet toward anyone who questions America’s constant militarism in every corner of planet, but Hanson has gone ahead and popped a pretentious “neo” at the front there, without much indication of what that’s supposed to mean.

Consider how convoluted the argument has to be in order to justify the neo-isolationist label. Hanson says Obama “led from behind” in Libya – where the Obama administration picked sides in a civil war, serving as an air force for unaccountable Islamist rebel militias – “only to leave the mess that followed to warring Islamist tribes.” Ah, so intervening militarily to unseat a government we had previously been sending foreign aid to qualifies as “neo-isolationism” because Obama refused to forcibly set up an pro-American government, train a new military force, and squash any domestic opposition?

Hanson then criticizes Obama’s policy towards Egypt because the new regime is “lectur[ing] us that any reduction in our ample foreign aid will result in a far worse alternative.” Ah, so providing $2 billion in foreign aid plus more in military aid every single year to Cairo in order to maintain American military, economic, and political preeminence in the Middle East and “keep the Americans in, the Chinese and Russians out, the Iranians down, and the Israelis safe” qualifies as “neo-isolationism”? What part of the word “isolationism” is at all relevant here?

Obama’s policy toward Egypt has not changed fundamentally from what US policy has been since WWII, so Hanson must be claiming that America has always had a “neo-isolationist” approach. Right-wing hawks are so helplessly upset that America’s favorite Arab tyrant, Mubarak, is gone that they just flail around baseless criticisms of Egypt until their heads cool.

Although “Obama, in one term, may have expanded targeted assassinations by drones tenfold over the tally of the eight-year Bush presidency,” Hanson writes, it’s still a “neo-isolationist” policy because Obama drops bombs in a secret, unaccountable war as a “substitute for the deployment of US ground troops.”

And in Afghanistan, where the US remains involved in a war doomed to fail thanks to a Bush-like military surge Obama implemented in 2009 – yeah that’s “neo-isolationist” too.

And of course since Obama hasn’t invaded and occupied Syria that makes him a “neo-isolationist.” Never mind the fact that the US has funded and trained a select group of Syrian rebels while helping Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey send lethal aid to the rest, despite ties to al-Qaeda groups. Obama has also put troops into Jordan and ordered the CIA back into Iraq to aid Baghdad’s security forces in stemming the flow of AQI fighters into Syria.

And because Obama “fail[ed] to support the hundreds of thousands of Iranian protesters in the spring of 2009,” in what neo-conservatives absurdly believe would have magically turned into a popular overthrow of the regime in Tehran, he’s a “neo-isolationist.” Again, disregard the fact that Obama has heaped the most comprehensive set of sanctions on the Iranian economy since the genocidal ones in Iraq killed a million people. Forget that the Obama administration launched the first ever large-scale cyber-attack on Iran with the Stuxnet virus. Brush aside our support for Israel, even as Tel Aviv orchestrated terrorist attacks on Iranian scientists with the help of militants who were on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations until last year. Forget the US surveillance drones hovering over Iran, too. All this as US intelligence continues to maintain that Tehran is not developing nuclear weapons.

Then there are all the interventionist policies Obama has been pursuing that aren’t mentioned in Hanson’s piece, like the aggressive military surge in Asia-Pacific aimed at containing China’s rise despite it not posing any threat to Americans. Or how about Obama’s Reagan-like policies in Honduras, where Washington is supporting a brutal regime that came to power in a military coup and infiltrating the country with commando-style drug enforcement agents who train Honduran death squads to kill suspects in the failed drug war.

That’s not interventionism. It’s “neo-isolationism.”

As Robert Golan-Vilella writes at The National Interest, “That label doesn’t apply even if one grants Hanson all of his other criticisms of Obama—on Syria, Iran, defense spending and so on. It only begins to make sense if your default assumption is that the United States can and should be intervening everywhere, all the time.”

38 thoughts on “The National Review is Serious: Obama is a ‘Neo-Isolationist’”

  1. One downside of the sheer size, scope and wealth of the American political establishment is that it disposes of enough wealth to pay people like Hanson to create entirely imaginary worlds — and actually live in them. To grab the prefix he's using and repurpose it, he is a poster boy for neo-solipsism.

  2. Surprise, Victor Davis Hanson, still a racist moron. Dog bites man, John. Dog bites man.

  3. "the United States can and should be intervening everywhere, all the time.”

    Be careful, you've stumbled upon the CIA's internal mission statement (which is classified).

  4. Sigh…

    Every 2 to 3 months or so AW.C carts out its obligatory 'bash Obama' "article" which usually takes the form of straw man arguments against the inane talking points of some "neocon" idiot who is also 'bashing Obama', but for completely different reasons…

    Without getting too much into it, this is all part of a larger inane domestic political theater which is completely devoid of any substance, much less 'solutions'…

    There are real issues right now people!!! The stakes couldn't be higher…RIGHT NOW!!!

    Brahimi MUST GO!!!

  5. Hanson wrote of Rumsfeld that he was: "a rare sort of secretary of the caliber of George Marshall" and a "proud and honest-speaking visionary" whose "hard work and insight are bringing us ever closer to victory" He also said in 2007, "We really need to start doing some things beyond talking, and if that is going into Iranian airspace, or buzzing Iranians, or even starting to forget where the border is and taking out some of these training camps, we need to do that and send a message, because they’re a paper tiger. They really are." Obviously, Hanson is a smug, obnoxious neocon tool. His idol is Donald Kagan, father of Robert, who is married to Victoria Nuland. Need we say more?

    1. The above are all of a piece, just a sliding continuum of revolving doors between govt, the MIC, and think-tank punditry. Sadly, the most stupid can only be We, the People, fooled in most cases by the two-party sham, the potemkin democracy and rhetorical window-dressing, and our abject failure/refusal to recognize and respond to the fact that each of the Washington gangs serve the same global imperial hegemonic interests.

    2. As a non-American, I stopped wondering a long ago. They're all nauseating morons. All three groups are at war with everyone and everything, even with elementary logic. What I wonder is, where are Americans ?

  6. Look: Obama is not socialist, nor he is isolationist, nor his domestic or international politics referring to anything other then following the same path as Bush, Clinton, and Bush again and etc. look into history for last 30 or so years.., every president have increased the pentagon budget by billions, every president had a war under his name, every president have increased the surveillance budget, every president been manipulating the meaning of democracy.., that's what he dose.., he is manipulating anything and everything that is out there.., he wants you to believe by playing you, he wants you to believe that he is Dr. Martin Luther king so he is mimicking the man without being the man, now he wants you to believe that he is isolationist.., a Neo one presented by AIPAC.

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  9. constant militarism in every corner of planet, but Hanson has gone ahead and popped a pretentious “neo” at the front there, without much indication of what that’s supposed to mean. magic store

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