The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

The USFG should pursue a foreign policy of Military Isolationism

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/8/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 747 times Debate No: 90889
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




First round for acceptance. No new arguments or rebuttals in the final round.

Military Isolationism -- an approach to foreign policy wherein the USFG does not engage in any international military action unless it's against a direct threat to national security.


Many thanks to my opponent for this debate challenge.

I look forward to an interesting discussion! - Danielle
Debate Round No. 1


To put it succinctly, engaging in military interventionism allows us to maintain the international hegemony of the United States, which is beneficial because it preserves global stability.

== Why Global Stability Matters ==

Firstly, there's an obvious humanitarian aspect to this. There are billions of people living outside the United States, and their lives matter. Deliberately abstaining from helping them when we are perfectly capable of doing so is a moral abomination. Leaving billions of people to suffer like that is diametrically opposed to American values.

But let's say you're a sociopath and don't care about the suffering of other humans. Not a problem -- preserving global stability is also desirable from a nationalistic perspective. In today's globalized economy, the United States no longer exists inside an isolated bubble -- the livelihood of every American depends upon the stability of our trading partners. We rely on the China for manufactured goods, the Middle East for energy, Latin America for labor, India for telecommunications services, and Europe for everything in between. Almost every country in existence provides us with essential goods & services, which is why it's in our best interests to actively maintain global stability.

== Hegemony preserves Global Stability ==

From Pax Romana, to Pax Britannica, to Pax Americana, history has consistently taught us a valuable lesson in international relations -- the world is better off when it's in a state of unipolarity [1][2][3]. When a single country's military & economic power dominates that of every other country (and the power isn't being abused), everybody enjoys the benefits of international peace and economic prosperity. There are several reasons for this:

(1) Interventions are generally beneficial

Obviously, hegemonic interventions bring individual armed conflicts to an end, thereby saving millions of lives and billions of dollars worldwide. This is exceedingly evident in the case of US hegemony -- the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, 1989 Panama intervention, and 1995 Bosnia intervention are all examples of major successes on the part of the US Military [4]. Each produced major humanitarian & economic benefits by preventing rogue actors from abusing their power. In particular, the Gulf War saved the US more than $240 billion in oil imports, and the Panama intervention opened up the Panama Canal, which was a massive boon to international trade around the globe [5][6].

(2) US Hegemony deters war & promotes diplomacy

When the hegemon consistently demonstrates its capacity (and willingness) to swiftly break up fights & punish rogue actors, that has a deterrence effect on the instigation of armed conflict. The importance of this cannot be overstated. There are countless conflicts of interest between countries around the world, yet the vast majority of them don't devolve into wars -- this is primarily because the United States and its allies enforce international standards of conduct, and encourage countries to instead resolve such conflicts peacefully. If we do what my opponent is proposing, that will no longer be the case. Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine represents a failure of the US to properly exercise its hegemony -- American isolationism would cause that sort of occurrence to become commonplace, which would destroy global stability.

(3) US Hegemony promotes international trade

The spread of US geopolitical influence, in conjunction with the absence of international conflict, tends to facilitate the development of mutually beneficial trade partnerships. Not only does this do wonders for alleviating poverty & economic inequality, but it also serves as a natural deterrent to war. This is because war-time disruptions of international trade incur massive opportunity costs -- one study from the Federal Reserve shows that those opportunity costs are on the same level as the actual military costs of waging war [7][8].

The takeaway from all this is that the unipolarity created by US hegemony is absolutely beneficial.

On the other hand, whenever we witness multipolarity on the international stage, all hell breaks lose. We can look to literally the entirety of modern history as a case-study in this phenomenon -- aside from two periods of unipolarity (Pax Britannica in the 19th century, and Pax Americana after the 1980s), humanity was constantly plagued by destructive conflicts between competing global powers. The 16-17th century wars of religion, the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic wars, the World Wars, and the US/USSR proxy wars were ALL the direct result of multipolarity.

If the United States were to implement a policy of military isolationism today, the international stage would inevitably revert to multipolarity, as countries like Russia, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia start competing for power. However, this would result in *exponentially* more devastation than previous periods of multipolarity, due to the availability of WMDs and the fact that modern warfare tactics tend to incur large numbers of civilian casualties. We simply cannot afford that.

In conclusion, military isolationism prevents us from maintaining US hegemony, which would bring an end to Pax Americana, halt international economic development in its tracks, and generally decimate global stability. Everybody loses if the United States withdraws from the international stage. The resolution is resoundingly negated.




Many thanks to my opponent for beginning this debate.

I'd like to clarify that we are actually discussing isolationism vs. interventonism. Isolationism is not only being against foreign war entanglements, but also being against immigration, trade and other things that have to do with outside countries. I do not support isolationism but rather non-interventionism, which is not getting involved in other country's politics (specifically with military engagements) unless unavoidable; i.e. they are an aggressive threat to us.

Keep in mind however, that as a libertarian I am not opposed to individuals voluntarily taking up arms against oppressive regimes if they see fit. But I am against the USFG pursuing a foreign policy of military interventionism.

Re: Why Global Stability Matters

First and foremost, there is no consensus on whether or not objective morality exists. Furthermore, Con has not proven that helping those in need is necessarily a moral imperative. Some people have different standards for morality. For example, libertarians utilize the Non Aggression Principle as their singular moral criteria, and this does not call for helping others as a moral imperative. Moreover, even people with the same values can disagree on the best methods to achieve their goals. Con implies that those who do not agree with his moral standards are sociopaths, but this is a manipulative fallacy.

There is no such thing as "American values" because we all have individual values. Con will not be able to argue for a universal standard of American morals. Indeed many Americans disagree on what is righteous all the time. We have no reason to assume that helping others (even when we can) is in fact an American virtue. After all, the U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world, yet almost 47 million Americans live in poverty [1]. Many Americans vehemently believe it is not theirs or other people's moral obligation to care for the poor. Similarly many Americans cheerfully reject refugees of war (they were banned in the majority of states) who are desperately in need of our safe haven [2]. So no, we have no reason to believe that helping those in need is an American priority -- even when their lives are on the line.

Re: Hegemony Preserves Global Stability

Con writes, "When a single country's military & economic power dominates that of every other country... everybody enjoys the benefits of international peace and economic prosperity." Even if this were true, this does not prove why America has to be the country responsible for maintaining global stability. In fact Con's very own arguments and examples suggest it is NOT necessarily America's responsibility. For instance he talks about Pax Romana which refers the Roman Empire, but the U.S. was not even a country until the 1700s. Today many analysts consider China to be at the top of the world in terms of militaristic and economic strength [3]. Indeed the U.S. is indebted to China. Con must explain why the U.S. is responsible for global stability today. The U.S. has only held alleged hegemonic privileges between 1945 and 1971, yet the world has continued turning (and the U.S. has been successful) both before and since then.

1. Interventions Are Generally Beneficial

I will be responding to these contentions slightly out of order.

Con notes that interventions bring conflicts to end, thereby saving millions of lives and (allegedly) billions of dollars worldwide. He specifically references Pax Americana and the U.S. military endeavors of the 1990s. However I will use these examples to negate Con's 2nd point...

2. U.S. Hegemony Deters War and Promotes Diplomacy

According to Con, the "vast majority" of conflicts don't turn into wars -- he says this is primarily because the U.S. enforces international standards of conduct, and encourages countries to resolve conflicts peacefully. But that's a warped description of reality, and may be a blatant lie. Let's look at the so-called period of Pax Romana that Con describes.

After the Cold War, the United States emerged as the victorious and undisputed global superpower. However that didn't stop Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait, completely ignoring the new world order imposed by the dominant U.S. authority. The U.S. had to help its allies in the Persian Gulf, and followed the first Gulf War with a "dual containment" strategy that deployed troops in Iraq and Iran... and yet this military force did very little to stop another bad guy, Serbia's Slobodan Milošević, from challenging the U.S. militarily during the Yugoslavian civil war directly thereafter. Thus the U.S. had to use force in the Balkans against the Serbs. With all of its military prowess, the U.S. failed to establish peace in the Middle East, it failed to reduce Saddam Hussein's power, and it failed to reduce the Ayatollah power in Tehran. Moreover, the U.S. military prowess couldn't even prevent the rise to power of new adversaries like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in the U.S.’s geographical backyard.

"Eventually the terrorist attacks of 9/11 demonstrated that, contrary to the prevailing axiom, American military supremacy not only failed to maintain global stability, but it helped ignite new threats to its own security at home and abroad, and required the U.S. to go to war once again in long and expensive military conflicts in Afghanistan and later Iraq" [4].

Indeed the U.S. has found itself in a seemingly endless series of wars over the past two decades. Worse, the Department of Defense admits that our aggressive foreign policy has specifically worsened our position [5, 6] which existed even before 9/11 [7]. With that said, I am directly challenging Con's supposition that interventions are generally beneficial. They haven't been.

"We were told that the U.S. had to intervene to overthrow Gaddafi so that democracy and human rights could flourish, yet five years after the US-led intervention no one would argue that the country is better off. Instead of bringing Libya democracy, US intervention brought Libya ISIS. So now the US has to go back and bomb Libya some more to take care of ISIS. Will this work? No. Logic tells us you cannot do more of what caused a problem and expect it to fix the problem. As Middle East analyst Hillary Mann Leverett observed after the US attack on Libya, 'the problem is, for each one of these targeted killings, what we have seen in the data that at least two more people sign up to join” [8].

Furthermore, let's consider the economic impact of the military industrial complex. Con says that war saves us money, but that's patently false. War is incredibly expensive! U.S. tax payers are paying over 8.7 MILLION DOLLARS PER HOUR on military conflicts [9] which is absurd. Considering our insurmountable debt; the number of (American) lives lost in battle; the fact that our national security is worse and not better off; and the fact that continuous conflict and militaristic engagements have ensued despite our interventionism, thus far Con has completely failed to prove that interventionism = beneficial diplomacy.

3. U.S. Hegemony Promotes International Trade

Con is right that stability is good for the global economy. However he has not proven that trade would not be possible without a hegemonic leader, OR that the leader must be the U.S.

"In recent years, scholars have recognized some of the problems concerning the predictions of hegemonic stability theory and the trade practices of states. Whereas it had been believed that following the failure in the early 1970s of the U.S. to support important elements of the international monetary and trade regimes, international trade would soon decline, this has not happened. On the contrary, international trade not only remains strong, but is rising faster than the growth of the world's GNP... the integration of measures of both international and domestic politics appears to be more promising than hegemonic stability theory as avenue of research for explaining the continued rise in international trade" [10]. Not only is this observed in modern times, but has been throughout history [11].

I'd also like to challenge the concept of "American" prosperity vs. individual prosperity. To someone who loses a job to a foreign competitor, would they consider themselves beneficial of international trade? Probably not, because free trade benefits individuals subjectively. But I digress.

Re: Con's Conclusion

My opponent claims that U.S. military isolationism would result in the rise of another superpower, but fails to explain why this would result in "devastating" multipolarity. Why would all "hell break loose" according to Con? He claims it's because of the availability of WMDs, and the fact that modern warfare tactics tend to incur large numbers of civilian casualties. Yet this explanation is confusing -- why is Con worried about WMDs and methods of modern warfare, when he is specifically encouraging the U.S. to get involved in modern warfare?

>> General Re-Cap and Overview of Pro's Arguments <<

1. The military is responsible first and foremost for protecting our national security. Studies show aggressive foreign policy makes us LESS safe via blowback.

2. Wars have cost us trillions of dollars over the last decade and we are not arguably any safer. We cannot afford this debt.

3. The USFG is responsible for protecting the lives of its soldiers, and not subjecting them to fight to the death unless necessary.

4. War has unpredictable consequences that can escalate. In addition to the creation of new terrorist groups and hostile retaliation, military action may threaten tempermental global alliances that put us at risk.

5. U.S. citizens have no inherent obligation to help foreign citizens.

6. If U.S. citizens have a moral obligation to help others, perhaps we should start domestically.

7. We do not necessarily have a right to interfere in foreign politics.

Debate Round No. 2


kaido forfeited this round.


I'm really disappointed that Con is forfeiting this debate.

I think this is an interesting discussion. I hope we get to continue!

Please extend all my arguments for voting purposes. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 3


kaido forfeited this round.


Once again, I am truly disappointed that we didn't get to finish this discussion.

I hope my opponent accepts the challenge of continuing this debate ;)

Thank You to anyone who takes the time to read/vote.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by famousdebater 2 years ago
Fire's RFD here doesn't make sense.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago

Two questions regarding your RFD: (1) why do you think Pro didn't make offensive arguments? She literally has seven points of offense. (2) How is the BOP on Con?
Posted by Danielle 2 years ago
I'd like to accept the debate but it won't let me.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: RFD: Pro's burden is to show that the USFG should favor isolationism over interventionism in most cases. Con's arguments from "stability" and "hegemony" are both thoroughly refuted- the former because con fails the burden to prove objective morality or that societal values should be upheld, the latter because pro shows that hegemony does little to give benefits- which is substantiated with multiple historical examples, whereas con doesn't have much actual warrant. Pro's points are also weak because of the compelling response that the US doesn't need to be the "hegemonic" leader (China can be one). So all of this is outweighed by pro's offense, budget and lives of our soldiers. That and forfeit, so vote pro