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Tuesday, December 03, 2019


I'm not so sure it "always" slides in that direction, but fair enough. One problem is the paradox that isolationism (America First or otherwise) cannot exist in a vacuum. I.e., isolationism must exist in a context, even if its advocates purport to withdraw from that context.

Another problem is that living in the world means that no matter what you choose, you often have to side with dictators and despots. From what little I know about Russia and Ukraine, Russia seems more despotic than Ukraine, so Miller has a point there. But shift the focus a little bit, and we talk about taking something like a stance against (instead of for) China, which has its own problems with despotism.

(To be clear, I believe Trump's policy on China--and Ukraine/Russia--and most everything else--is self-contradictory, feckless, and dangerous. Also to be clear, I support initiatives in the spirit of the trans-Pacific partnership. But let's not hide that in some ways its an accommodation with a despotic regime. I support it in the hope that it protects US interests, promotes mutually advantages exchange, and perhaps, maybe, encourages something like Democracy in China. But it's an accommodation nonetheless.)

I am well aware of the "America First" movement in the second World War. And at least from Sept. 1939 to the summer of 1941, America Firsters were objectively siding mostly with despotic regimes (Germany, Soviet Union) against polities that were (UK, France) or aspired to be (Poland) liberal democracies. But after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, no matter which side you took, you were siding with one or another of a despot.

I guess my main argument is with Twitter. I know nothing about Tim Miller, and perhaps a discussion in person would reveal that he's put a lot of thought into Trumpist and America First isolationism and into all the pertaining complexities. But what we get--and what we would get if I, too, were on Twitter--are 140 characters that oversimplify very complex issues in order to take potshots at imbeciles (like Tucker Carlson). That's not much different from what I do on blog posts and blog comments.

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