The Instigator
djhk12
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
NeoConCommunist
Con (against)
Winning
4 Points

Isolationism is a policy that could be successfully implemented by a country today.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 10,377 times Debate No: 6290
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (1)

 

djhk12

Pro

Note: My argument is a position paper that I wrote in early 2008.

The dictionary defines isolationism as "The policy…of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by avoiding foreign entanglements and responsibilities." By avoiding foreign entanglements, a country may use all of its resources to build up its infrastructure and lift its people out of poverty. With all of these saved resources, taxes may be lowered. Isolationism keeps you "safe" to build your country and its economy. Hence, isolationism is a policy that could be successfully implemented by a country today.

Tuvalu, at only 26 km2 (about 16.12 mi2) is a group of about nine small islands, and is off the western coast of Australia. Tuvalu has no military, just a small police force. Another part of Tuvalu's isolationism is that they hardly trade with any other countries. It only imports about $1,000,000, and exports approximately the same amount. Most of the exports are fish and coconuts. Additionally, there is virtually no immigration to or from Tuvalu. It is protected by The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; therefore it does not need a defense or offensive force. There is no need for external trade, because Tuvalu gets its money from other things. For example, when you call a 900-phone number, it probably goes to Tuvalu. Immigration is not needed, either. No pushes (like disease) or pulls (like cities) are better than just push factors.

Japan is also a good example of isolationism. Its only disputes with other countries are its claims on small, virtually and literally, uninhabited islands. These quarrels are mostly with Russia (mainly because of the U.S.S.R.), but more or less insignificantly with other countries, namely South Korea, China, and Taiwan. Japan has an amazingly good economy, despite the fact that it is isolationist. Japan is one of the few countries in the world that exports more than it imports. Therefore, every year (based on international trade) Japan makes $56,200,000,000 ($56.2 billion) every year! The imperialist US loses $850,000,000,000 ($0.85 trillion) every year. Japan also has some of the best schools in the world and they export a lot of electronics, but these are not the only isolationist countries!

In July 1814, Prince Karl Johan of Sweden invaded Norway. Prince Karl rapidly gave up. He signed a treaty, and over 1000 years of conflicts between Sweden and Norway ended. One hundred years after this incident, Sweden still had not had any military conflicts with any other country, but then World War I erupted. Sweden remained neutral, like the United States of America. However, unlike the US, Sweden stayed out of the war for the entire war. Twenty-five years later, Hitler invaded Scandinavia. For a still unknown reason, Hitler let some countries remain neutral during World War II. Sweden was one of them. Finally, the Cold War came and went virtually without any impact on Sweden. This amazingly neutral country has been status quo for almost 200 years today: no conflicts, no sides, and overall, neutral. Their foreign policy is, "Alliance-free in peace and noninvolved in war." Obviously, in the militarism and alliances aspects of isolationism, Sweden reigns.

Therefore, Sweden's amazing neutrality has lead to her success. She has kept without conflict for almost 200 years. Tuvalu's political deals and location have made it extremely easy to remain isolationist. Her size makes it an unlikely target for isolationism and militarism. Japan's phenomenal economy and technology have led to success without imperialism by staying isolationist for thousands of years. Although all of these countries are isolationist, they have an amazingly good economy. Japan's GDP is the third best in the world, only behind the US and China. The average Japanese citizen makes about $33,100 a year. In Sweden, they make $31,600 a year. In the US, the average citizen makes $43,500. Japan and Sweden export more than they import. Tuvalu has no military, yet it still exists. There is not a big difference here. It is so bluntly obvious that isolationism can be functional in this day and age, that it is hard to comprehend how some people think that it would not work today.

Works Cited (MLA FORMAT):

Polsson, Ken. "Chronology of Sweden." Chronology of Sweden. 7 Feb. 2008. 20
Jan. 2008 <http://www.islandnet.com...;.

World Atlas. 2008. Facts On File. 20 Jan. 2008 <http://www.fofweb.com...;.
NeoConCommunist

Con

I thank my opponent for starting this debate. I will agree with you on one thing: isolationism can be an effective policy. However, in the Comments section, when we were asking you to clarify the resolution, you stated that isolationism is a plausible alternative for any country today. By stating this, you have essentially given me the benefit of only having to prove that one specific country cannot be isolationist. Because I am a self-centered American, I will argue, for the most part, about the United States. Other examples I will include are 1930s UK and Israel. It is my contention that the United States, among other countries, cannot be isolationist in the current global economic and geopolitical situation today.

First off, however, I would like to contest many of your points. For example, Tuvalu; if Tuvalu fields most of the world's 900-phone numbers, then it does actually export quite a lot for its size, and a country like Tuvalu is too small to really have a foreign policy in any meaningful sense, especially since it is protected by a much more powerful country.

Also, part of your Japanese example is wrong. "Japan's phenomenal economy and technology have led to success without imperialism by staying isolationist for thousands of years." Although it today is successfully isolationist (I will explain how later) and it was isolationist for thousands of years, its isolationism during its medieval age did not lead to prosperity. Indeed, Japan was an amazingly closed and weak country when the West arrived in the mid-19th century. With only a few ships, Matthew Perry was able to open Japan (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Japan, after opening, rapidly became an industrialized power under the Meiji Restoration, and adopted an even more heavily outwards-oriented policy, declaring and winning wars against China and Russia and acquiring its own colonies. By 1941, it was so powerful that it managed to challenge and nearly defeat the United States in the Pacific, thanks to its aggressive foreign policy, which had allowed it to gather the resources necessary to build its war machine.

But my main argument is that isolationism is impossible for certain countries. This could occur for one of three reasons: (1) the country is surrounded by hostile opponents, and only vigilance and building friendships and military agreements with other countries will guarantee continued existence (the obvious country I am referring to is Israel, which survived only due to the friendship of various nations, starting with Czechoslovakia, who shipped them arms for their Independence War, and shifting to France (Suez Crisis) and, most recently, the United States); (2) the country is in a geopolitical contest with other countries and unless they support friendly nations and factions around the world, they will lose out and shrink economically, militarily, and politically (the nations that this refers to are primarily the US, the Soviet Union, and, more recently, China), or (3) the country needs to prevent an ascendancy in strength by a potential opponent (the best example of this is 1930s-era UK and France, who failed to stop Hitler in his remarkable rebuilding of German military and political strength when they had the chance).

Many countries indeed can implement isolationism, but of the ones that you mentioned, you will note that none fit any of the above criteria and that their economic interests, whether on purpose or by accident, often coincide with countries that do fit the above criteria. This means that whenever their shared economic interests are threatened, the isolationist country can basically count on the interventionalist one to counter the threat for them. For example, Sweden, like the US, imports petroleum. If a major threat to the world's petroleum supply occured, Sweden would know that the US would handle it, and thus Sweden would not really need to do anything.

Now I will analyze my examples in greater detail:

Israel: Israel has lived, for its entire 60-year history, a precarious existence, surrounded by hostile nations such as Egypt (until 1979), Syria, Jordan (until 1979), and Iraq, not to mention the large and angry Palestinian population (especially since 1967). Only by building friendships with more powerful and established nations, such as France, the UK, and the US, who all exported advanced weapons to Israel (often on the cheap) and striking first (as with the many assassinations and operations conducted by the Mossad, and Operation Focus, the airstrike that gave Israel a decisive and quick victory against what seemed a major threat that could well have destroyed the fledgling country [http://en.wikipedia.org... ; http://en.wikipedia.org...]). Because this threat has by no means abated (now the major threat is an ascendant Iran, under Khameini and Ahmadinejad), Israel must continue to sign military protection agreements, import weapons, and launch covert strikes against important enemy targets (such as when they destroyed Saddam's nuclear plant at Osirak [http://en.wikipedia.org...]).

USA & USSR: During the Cold War, both countries were contending for world domination as the world's two superpowers. The more allies each had, the greater their military security, economic power, and political power, prompting each to aggressively fight proxy wars accross the world. If either had neglected to do so, the world would have immediately come under the domination of the other, and, no matter the benefits of saving resources through isolationism, the former would come out much worse, surrounded entirely by nations hostile to them and friendly to the other capital. Today, the US remains in a geopolitical struggle, against two traditional opponents and one weaker but more adaptable opponent: China has become and Russia remains a geopolitical powerhouse, ready to manipulate foreign events for their own gain, and Al-Quaeda and other radical groups have emerged, seeking the destruction of what they see as a decadent West symbolized by the US. The US cannot afford to simply close itself off and ignore these threats, the same as closing your eyes and burying your head in your arms will not make danger disappear.

1930s UK and France: this is a classic example of how timid foreign policy (the US was also too inwards-oriented in this period) can hurt a nation's interests. After WWI and during the worldwide depression, the UK and France turned inwards to try to solve their own problems, as Hitler's Germany (and Mussolini's Italy, to a lesser extent) rose and began an increasingly vicious programme of annexation and conquest. Although the UK and France, through the League of Nations, opposed Hitler and Mussolini, they failed to do anything forceful, resulting in the ability of Germany to pull the Blitzkrieg off, conquering France and heavily damaging the UK (the US had to come to its rescue). Had they nipped Nazi Germany in the bud, WWII might have been entirely avoided, and both countries would have been vastly better off.

Thus, we can see that although certain countries exist in conditions that allow for isolationism, it certainly cannot be implemented in every country. Countries like Israel, modern and Cold War era US and USSR/Russia, and France and Britain in the late 1930s cannot implement isolationism.
Debate Round No. 1
djhk12

Pro

djhk12 forfeited this round.
NeoConCommunist

Con

... a 5-round debate, and my opponent has notified everybody that he is leaving debate.org after the 1st round (and is thus forfeiting the rest). This gives me a lot of time to say what I need to say, which is not much. I have already rebutted his 1st round to my satisfaction. I have already stated my argument. I have already posted examples. In short, my argument is: in the current global situation, a country like the US must remain interventionalist in order to protect overseas interests, which are vital to domestic economic health, and countries like Israel need to remain interventionalist to protect their very existence. Therefore, I would like to end this debate now (I will forfeit the rest of my rounds) and consider it a 1-round debate. Thanks for reading, and vote CON.
Debate Round No. 2
djhk12

Pro

djhk12 forfeited this round.
NeoConCommunist

Con

NeoConCommunist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
djhk12

Pro

djhk12 forfeited this round.
NeoConCommunist

Con

In the interest of time, I'm posting this so that the debate doesn't wait 2 days 8 hours to be updated by forfeit.
Debate Round No. 4
djhk12

Pro

djhk12 forfeited this round.
NeoConCommunist

Con

I would only like to point out that several times in his post, my opponent makes points for me. For example, the average income statistics - the US, an interventionalist country is the highest. Also, Japan is by no means isolationist except militarily thanks to the post WWII constitution. They're called the Kyoto Accords for a reason. Other than that, I forfeit this round. Thanks for reading.
Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by djhk12 8 years ago
djhk12
I will delete my account 1 second before my argument is due. If you want to say anything you have 00 days 02 hours 47 minutes and 08 seconds.
Posted by djhk12 8 years ago
djhk12
I'm sorry. I joined because I have a vacation from school for the holidays and I thought I would have free time but I don't so please don't think bad of me but I must leave.

Goodbye to all, regretably,
djhk12
Posted by djhk12 8 years ago
djhk12
I do not doubt that, it was just long and at least I, personally, read slowly.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
djhk12 - I'm surprised any of you, unless you were seriously planning to accept the con side, actually read the whole thing, it is pretty long. My other rounds will be much shorter.

Why were you surprised?? This community is one of intelligence - well, for the most part. Of course we read arguments.
Posted by askbob 8 years ago
askbob
I was once the resolution was cleared up. Oh well
Posted by djhk12 8 years ago
djhk12
Positive as in not negative. Thank you to NeoConCommunist for accepting my debate. Please make a note of this comment as your job is to fight that isolationism is negative. (I'm surprised any of you, unless you were seriously planning to accept the con side, actually read the whole thing, it is pretty long. My other rounds will be much shorter.)
Posted by askbob 8 years ago
askbob
Ok a few more things (sorry to inquire so deeply but to refine the resolution will make it a much more interesting debate).

1. Lurk Moar simply means to linger on a site more (moar) so as to better understand that sites policies before making announcements about the site which do not reflect the site's views and or opinions.
Insulting people is a good thing, I'm not discouraging insults, by all means insult people! (not sarcasm)
2. So when you are stating positive results you mean that they would be a positive alternative to pure anarchy? My question is: Positive from what aspect. Either:
A. Positive change from what they currently have.
B. Positive change from X policy
C. Positive change from anarchy.

In short, I don't understand what you mean by "effective" and that needs to be scoped out pretty in depth so I can know what I'm trying to refute.
Posted by djhk12 8 years ago
djhk12
Also I meant to say that none of the countries mentioned are truly isolationist, but rather each show an aspect of isolationism.
Posted by djhk12 8 years ago
djhk12
First of all, sorry, I did not know. I won't do anything else to make myself a LURK MOAR or insult anyone in that manner again.

Second, when I say effectively I mean that the policy would produce positive overall results for a country, not necessarily better than what they already have, but a plausible alternative. When I say any country I mean that it would yield a positive result in Country X, meaning any country. There are some countries where isolationism is not a good idea, but that is only because they have not started with isolationism. For example if China suddenly became isolationist, that would be horrible for them (but good for democracy :)!)
Posted by askbob 8 years ago
askbob
One more question,
When you say the word "effectively" do you mean that the policy would produce positive overall results for the country vs. what they have already? Or are you just implying that the system could be set up?

When you say "any country" do you mean that in every country this policy would yield a positive result?

In regards to the comments section:

It is not your place to lecture the members of this site when you've been a member for only a day. LURK MOAR. This site is very accepting of minidebates in the comments section before and after a debate, harassment, idle jokes, etc.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
djhk12NeoConCommunistTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.