Isolationism is a policy that could be successfully implemented by a country today.
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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...;.
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.
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Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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