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What if: a new US isolationism?

Discussion in 'Strategy & Tactics' started by swerve, Feb 22, 2010.

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  1. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    Imagine this:

    It's early 2013. The new US president has affirmed that her campaign promises to disengage the USA from the rest of the world as far as possible will be carried out. Her policies will be -
    America first! We keep our military secrets. Nobody gets our best technology.
    No free lunches! You get US protection only if it's worthwhile for the USA - and you'd better make sure it's worthwhile. We don't do aid (though private citizens can give away what they like). We'll sell you weapons, but only on a strictly commercial basis, like any other goods, & not our best stuff. That we keep to ourselves.
    Strong fences make good neighbours. You don't meddle with us, we don't meddle with you. We don't care what you do internally. Just keep it to yourself.
    Speak softly & carry a big stick. As above. But if you do meddle with us, expect biiig trouble.
    Keep danger at a distance. Neighbouring countries will not suffer US interference in their affairs, as long as they do not undertake any hostile actions. Allowing a foreign military presence on their soil will be considered to be a hostile action. Fortifying their borders is hostile. As a quid pro quo, the USA will guarantee their borders against any external threat. Internal threats are their own business.

    With the support of the large majority in her favour in Congress, the president is confident that her main foreign policy aims can be completed by the end of her first term. The USA will be out of NATO, the UN (except for some agencies), the WTO (except for technical aspects), etc. Apart from the purely technical & functional, such as those setting standards, the USA will not participate in international bodies. Relations with other countries will be conducted on a bilateral basis. The USA will not make any open-ended commitments to defend anyone. Anyone who seeks US military assistance should expect to have to pay its costs, & be able to justify it in terms of benefit to the USA.

    Current arrangements will be maintained only until they can be ended in an orderly fashion. Military bases on foreign soil will be maintained only where they are considered of strategic importance. Strenuous attempts will be made to ensure that any such bases are isolated from local civilians, preferably on islands with no or few inhabitants. It is expected that most foreign bases will be closed.

    Countries in North America & around the Caribbean will be considered to be neighbours. They will be given preferential access to the US market (especially for energy . . . ) & military guarantees, as long as they behave. Not behaving is not recommended.

    What would be the likely consequences of such a change in US policy? Who would boost their armed forces, who would seek to buy US favour (& how much success would they have), who would seek to realign their alliances, who would seek to take advantage of the withdrawal of the USA to extend their influence?
     
  2. Waylander

    Waylander Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I think there is a fundamental problem with this.
    The US of the 21st century is so dependent on trade, imports and foreign investments that IMO it is not possible for them to disengage so completely from the rest of the world.

    With this in mind I doubt that any possible US government could resist the idea of meddling in the affairs of some foreign countries in order to protect it's interests. There are just too many areas in the world where events have a huge influence on the US, even if the US doesn't want to get influenced by them.

    But for the sake of of the discussion lets assume it still happens.
    I expect the WEU to fully take over the NATO role in europe. Defense spending in some EU countries may rise due to this.
    The big questionmark in this is the future role of the UK. While I expect countries like Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, etc. to go the european way the UK might still try to land in the US camp. But the huge trade connections the UK has with the rest of europe might make it difficult for the UK to avoid going the european way.

    Africa and he middle east is fair game for everyone with Israel getting into a scary position.
    Without US support they will defenitely not be able to keep their armed forces at the same level of size and quality. Even if they don't want they might very well need to get into the WEU in order to secure their situation.

    There isn't going to be an ongoing advance of the WEU into eastern europe as it is the case with NATO these days. The EU is going to try to stay on good terms with Russia.

    In Asia Taiwan is fair game for China to grap.
    There will be more room for China to bully other countries in the area if they want to. On the other hand some countries in the area might very well seek closer relationships with China.

    Japan is going to go the nationalistic and active way as they no longer have the luxury of living under the US defense umbrella.
    Just imagine the armed forces of Japan if they go from the current 1% to 3% spending. They might even try to get their own nuclear weapons but I have no idea if they can overcome the oublic sentiments against them.

    Brazil is going to proceed on it's way to become the most important regional and a big worldwide player but I imagine without extraordinary military adventures.
     
  3. LancasterBomber

    LancasterBomber Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    IMO the following could eventuate:

    China may seek to immediately exploit the absence of US international influence.

    Pakistan could very well implode (certainly politically).

    Israel would likely be forced to make better compromises in the middle east or start their own war to dictate preferred outcomes.

    Australia may be forced to increase defence budget significantly (or re-strategise with the Brits/SKorea and Japan re: Pacific)

    I am not sure the EU would be particularly fussed (but I havent given it a lot of thought).

    There would be a huge vacuum in the defence procurement market. The Brits, Germans, French, Spanish and Russians would all sell a lot more military widgets I presume.

    Globally there could be a massive expansion in defence budgets due the sheer degree of volatility as we re-evaluate security risks. Some of which will be justified some due to knee jerk insecurity.

    As an added bonus can they stop sending us 'American Idol"? I hate that show. :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  4. eddism

    eddism New Member

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    The John Birch society suggested this back in the 70's. Also, all of the North American Continent would be unified. Including Canada, Mexico, and the Panama Canal. It was and still is a direction that lays in waiting.

    I don't know what the psyche of the average public person would be if North Amercia united. I think there would be great alart at first. And great relief would follow.

    As for isolationism, the world would eat itself without the presence of the US. World war would certainly follow. And all will be in nuclear ruin in the aftermath. No other way will end the next world war.
     
  5. LancasterBomber

    LancasterBomber Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I can confirm to you that the above words are indeed garbage (at least in their present 'absolute' terms).

    There may well be a significant reshuffle of national priorities for many sovereignties and a general tendency to an increase in the probability of conflicts in particular regions. There may well be a palpable increase in the volatility of the global security environment (particularly near term 10-20yrs) trending long term towards a level of "sovereignty threat" not dissimilar to that which exists today.

    To suggest the world 'has no future' without US interdiction on global matters is patently absurd.

    The point that is worth making is that their presence/influence is (broadly) welcomed, their ideals are respected and they should remain a 'balancing' force of nature (for want of a better term).
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  6. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Didn't we have a thread with a similar premise a year or two ago?
     
  7. curious

    curious New Member

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    I would like to modify your premise slightly. I think the US should disengage militarily but engage on a much largeer scale economically and developmentally.

    It is absolutely in the best interests of the United States for the undeveloped and underdeveloped worlds to join the developed world. We get more customers for our products when that happens.

    I'm not talking about give away programs where we send money to corrupt dictators who then stash it in Swiss bank accounts (Mugabe anyone?). I'm talking about projects run by Americans, employing Americans to give an undeveloped/underdeveloped country some desparately needed capability.

    For example, the West Bank buys the majority of its power from Israel. The West Bank is in a perfect place for solar thermal power generation. The US should buld an electricity infrastructure for the West Bank around solar thermal power generation. For a price or a quid pro quo that is in our best interests.

    The Congo has a similar problem, the Congo has virtually no energy infrastructure so criminal gangs control vast areas illegally logging old growth forest and making charcoal. The criminal gangs can then challenge the government militarily and the US gives military aid to the Congo govenrment. It would be so much better if we helped them build an energy infrastructure and eliminate the market for charcoal. Better for us, better for them.

    Lack of electricity places a tremendous financial burden on low income families. They have to buy candles for light and wood or charcoal for cooking / heating. Development of electrical infrastructure is one of the key factors in lifting undeveloped areas out o ftheir persistent poverty.

    I think a prerequisite for disengaging militarily is for the US to become self sufficient in energy. Without this self sufficiency there are too many places in the world where the continuing flow of energy resources is deemed an overriding "interest" of the US.

    We also would have to develop the means and the willigness to make the consequences of other countries messing with us so horrific that they would not consider it without their citizens asking "seriously, are you politicians on crack?".

    The US should get out of not just the U.N. and NATO but the IMF, the World Bank and the Import Export bank as well. And we should abrogate any trade agreements which are not in our best interest (China, anyone?). If we want to help other countries develop economically then we can do it directly without wasting money on international bureaucrats.
     
  8. eddism

    eddism New Member

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    I'm can't go this road. But, perhaps the world should be left behind. Let them learn what the price of freedom costs. In economical terms: we would take a huge increase in the cost of goods and services. But, there again, Amercia needs to get back to the basics. And not rely on foreign products at reduced pricing. Learn to work the jobs of our fore-fathers.

    I have Army and Marine recruiters stop in my store from time to time. They say there is a huge waiting list of young men and wemon wanting to wear the uniform. Ive asked how many of the men want special forces. They say all of them what special forces. I'm not sure what that means. But it might signal that they are eager to go to battle.

    Now, with all that eagerness available. Why become isolated as a nation and end a young persons dream to serve our country abroad.