America Needs Independence—Not Isolation—in Troubled World

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U.S. soldiers guard a burning oil well in Iraq in 2003. Navy photo via Wikimedia Commons

By Steven J. Rubert

America has given much for its independence. It has given blood and treasure. It has fought at home and abroad. It is one of the ideals that Americans hold dear. Alarmingly, America has increasingly given up its moral standards because of its dependence on foreign resources and influence. While some view the solution to this mess as isolation from the rest of the world, I believe it is time for America to become not isolated, but independent.

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The litany of examples of America going back on its moral standards is most concerning because of the ridiculous reasons we have for doing so. Many of these examples are due to our dependence on foreign oil, specifically in the Middle East. Despite recognition by many individual states in America, Congress has failed to recognize the Armenian genocide because of the impact it would have on our relations with Turkey, a NATO member and ally in the Middle East. We have failed to acknowledge the Saudi Arabian support for terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida, the Taliban and Haqqani, because of the impact it would have on one of our only allies in the Arabian Peninsula. While the invasion of Iraq in 1991 was in response to the invasion of Kuwait, the invasion in 2003 was more reminiscent of the deposition of the government in Iran in 1953 in that it served more to protect our access to oil than as a response to an existential threat. Similarly, America has ignored human rights violations in nations with which we enjoy lucrative trade. We have failed to recognize the egregious treatment of labor in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and elsewhere because of the impact it would have on trade if we were to in any way actively oppose these inhumane labor standards.

While some would say that the best course of action would be for America to remove itself entirely from the world stage and refuse to participate in international relations, this is as ridiculous as some of the positions America has taken on that same stage in the past 50 years. Were we to remove ourselves entirely, we would lose out on sources of intelligence, allies throughout the world, trade with foreign nations which would benefit all, and a voice in international politics. While it is hopefully clear that our dependence on foreign resources and influence has forced America to do unsavory things for the benefit of our international interests, it does not necessarily follow that we must avoid all international entanglements to avoid such pitfalls. It should be just as easily seen that we can avoid said pitfalls by removing our dependence on these foreign resources and influence. If we did not require foreign oil, if we did not require trade with states which permit the 21st century analogue of slavery, indentured servitude, or the depraved depths of 19th century industrial exploitations, we could oppose injustices throughout the world without unduly harming the well-being of American citizens.

If we were truly independent, would we have to allow these things? If we didn’t need Chinese manufacturing because we had a vast American manufacturing base, would we have to permit their abuse of labor? If we had a vast American energy industry based on something abundant and renewable such as solar, wind or tides, would we permit the funding of terrorism by the Saudis? Would we have needed to invade Iraq and embroil ourselves in a decade-long war which, it seems, is not destined to end any time soon? Would we refuse to publicly acknowledge the slaughter of over one million people by a nation we consider to be an “ally” because we need to have influence in that particular region to protect our energy sources?

America was not intended to allow such actions in our name. America has not fought a civil war, two world wars, and opposed tyranny on four continents to allow it when it is convenient. America doesn’t deserve to be isolated. America deserves to be independent.

Steven J. Rubert is a San Diegan, firearms enthusiast, and student of economics. He is a board member of Moderate Majority, a local non-profit working to end partisanship.

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