Both Obama and Paul are internet-driven candidacies, crammed with small donations and hyper-enthusiastic volunteers. They are also representative of a budding and clear revival of what can only be called neo-isolationism. And they have the wind in their sails. ~Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan’s discussion of this “neo-isolationism,” if you want to call it that, has some interesting points, but I draw the line at the inclusion of Obama.  If he is an “isolationist,” the word really doesn’t mean anything anymore (not that it means much).  (It doesn’t really apply to Ron Paul, either, since he thinks the government should foster trade and diplomatic relations around the world–almost no one believes that America should actually be “isolated” from the rest of the world.)  Here is Obama a few months ago:

In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

I keep citing this quote because it expresses so well the tiresome glibness and excessive ambition of Obama.  Obama takes a view that is essentially no different from Bush’s Second Inaugural in its key assumption that American security (or freedom) is dependent on the security (or freedom) of everyone else on earth.  If it is evidence of madcap idealism and near-utopianism in Bush, it is certainly the same with Obama.  Obama is not a candidate who pledges a policy of “opting out,” as Sullivan describes it.  He pledges the exact opposite–he stresses, as a progressive internationalist would do, interdependency and the need for greater involvement abroad.  Obama would probably also argue that involvement overseas needs to be done in different ways and more often by way of international institutions than has been the case in the past few years.  Whether or not his supporters rally to him because of this or because of his opposition to the Iraq war, Obama himself does not represent anything like a “neo-isolationism.” 

Incidentally, it is hilarious to listen to standard GOP attacks on antiwar Democrats that use such words as “McGovernite” to criticise their adversaries, since there is no major Democratic candidate who espouses anything remotely like a “come home, America” platform.