this millenial’s take on foreign policy

Dan Drezner has a post over at Foreign Policy asking about the view that “millenials” have of foreign policy, and whether the 9/11 attacks, the wars in Afghanistan, and the rise of China have caused people my age to become isolationist.

As one of the “millenials” that Drezner talks about in his post, I remember coming into high school on Sept. 11th, 2001, and spending the day going from classroom to classroom skipping school work and watching TV as the tragic events of that day unfolded.  I watched news footage of troops along the Euphrates while at an Ultimate Frisbee tournament with my college team in the first days of the Iraq war in 2003.  I think that Conor Friedersdorf at the Daily Dish brings up a crucial piece of my interaction with the war in his piece: the lack of a draft.

I’m almost ashamed to admit how little effect the last nine years of war have had on my life as an upper-middle class liberal white male.  I know a few people from my high school that fought in the war, including one who was killed in action in 2005. But that has never been something that I have had to worry about.  The war has entered into my life only through the media coverage, which I’ve frequently found to be bordering on (if not downright) propaganda.

I have been opposed to the war in Iraq from the start, but it’s an opposition that grows out of ideology.  It’s not based on the costs of the war to me and those around me, because those costs have been and continue to be quite low.  But the ideology that I have developed, as Drezner guesses, is very anti-interventionist.  I saw justification for the U.S.’s actions in Afghanistan, because they were a direct response to an attack on Americans.  Since then, however, I have seen the Afghanistan war fade into the background as we invaded Iraq and justified it with lies and half-truths, and now I see the same people who argued for the war in Iraq rattling their sabres for a war in Iran.  I also see those Iraq war supporters making comments like those gathered by the Daily Caller recently, where they discuss whether the war was “worth it” without EVER mentioning the fact that it was based on faulty intelligence and possibly outright deception.

Add on the detainee treatment at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, where horrible things have been done in my name, and the declining status of America around the world, and yeah, I would say I’ve become pretty isolationist.

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One Response to this millenial’s take on foreign policy

  1. Nicholas Kramer says:

    Doug –

    You’re probably going to laugh when you read this, but I’d strongly encourage to you read a copy of Pat Buchanan’s book, “A Republic, Not an Empire” ( ) – It’s a fascinating view of American history, and you may find that some of the mainstream views of Buchanan are incorrect (even if one does vehemently disagree with many of his views on certain domestic views, that doesn’t discount everything he says/writes about). Especially interesting is the background of the America First movement in WWII.

    If you want to ease into it, I would start with Ivan Eland’s excellent book “The Empire has No Clothes” ( ). Eland, a former high-ranking analysis with the non-partisan Congressional Research Service and other government bodies, gives an excellent overview of the philosophy of non-interventionism (as opposed to so-called “isolationism”, which is a slur concocted by interventionists)… I think you’d really like the sections in this book that provide arguments from both liberal and conservative perspectives on why members of each should oppose America’s foreign policy.

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