I wrote the article below in 2011, well before Donald Trump stood the GOP Establishment on its collective ears. His statement on tariff's and NAFTA dovetail exactly with my thinking then and of course now and is one of the major reasons for my support and i suspect many in the 'rust belt" too.
Non-interventionism and its associated concept, isolationism are time honoured American concepts. They are the historic norm stretching from the Washington presidency through Jefferson, Monroe and including Woodrow Wilson who won re-election based almost entirely on the idea.
From George Washington’s Farewell Address;
"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."
Except for the two world wars, both reluctantly entered into only after being attacked, America has been isolationist. The Cold War, the Korean War, Vietnam and latterly the middle-Eastern interventions, account for only a relatively short period of American history where an interventionist/internationalist policy pervaded.
The years of protective tariffs and isolationism, were, in the main, years of peace and prosperity (the civil war excluded) the most blatant examples of interventionism, the Vietnam war and Iraq/Afghanistan wars have been periods of social dislocation, rioting, economic dislocation, and the degrading of American economic strength and standing in the world.
Open movement of American industry and job outsourcing has seen a period of high unemployment, with all the resulting social disorder and a bankrupt economy.
In what way would an ordered return to an American economy where American manufacture was encouraged to stay in America, to use American labor and to impose tariffs on junk imports bring an economy that is any way worse than the one we have which has seen America downgraded?
Would a strong commitment to stopping illegal immigration hurt or help at this critical juncture?
This is not the place to discuss the mechanism for a return to the economic policies that made America great with busy factories and full employment-those nuts and bolts details can be discussed by experts. However the broad brush concept of a return to greatness by a return to America does need to be canvassed urgently.
As part of this overview the cost of America’s overseas troop commitments needs to be considered. Does America need 350,000 troops overseas including 52,000+ in Germany? Could nine hundred billion dollars or so be cut into by cutting down a substantial number of these troop numbers overseas and using the money towards helping get the economy back on sound footing?
That the current economic policy of big government, unlimited money printing, unlimited social welfare spending, sending American jobs and manufacture orders overseas has failed is beyond dispute. A return to an historic normalcy that provided peace and prosperity may be required.
Here are statistics and an historic overview relating to the above presentation-note that isolationism is considered a progressive concept.
During the 1920s, American foreign affairs took a back seat. In addition, America tended to insulate itself in terms of trade. Tariffs were imposed on foreign goods to shield U.S. manufacturers.
America turned its back on Europe by restricting the number of immigrants permitted into the country. Until World War I, millions of people, mostly from Europe, had come to America to seek their fortune and perhaps flee poverty and persecution. Britons and Irishmen, Germans and Jews constituted the biggest groups. In 1921 the relatively liberal policy ended and quotas were introduced. By 1929 only 150,000 immigrants per year were allowed in.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the preponderance of Americans remained opposed to enmeshment in Europe's alliances and wars. Isolationism was solid in hinterland and small-town America in the Midwest and Great Plains states, and among Republicans. It claimed numerous sympathizers among Irish- and German-Americans. William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin, and George W. Norris of Nebraska were among western agrarian progressives who argued fervently against involvement. Assuming an us-versus-them stance, they castigated various eastern, urban elites for their engagement in European affairs.
The forces of the United States military are located in nearly 130 countries around the world performing a variety of duties from combat operations, to peacekeeping, to training with foreign militaries. Some of these deployments have existed for nearly 50 years, as in Japan, Germany, and South Korea, while other deployments have more recent origins such as the current occupation of Iraq.
As of January 2005, there are some 250,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen deployed in support of combat, peacekeeping, and deterrence operations. This figure does not include those forces normally present in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom or Japan unless bases at those locations are actively supporting a combat operation. Furthermore, tours of duty in these locations are routine and not considered hardship tours. If one were to include these forces the number of deployed troops worldwide would be around 350,000.
U.S. Troops Overseas
As of 31 December 2010, U.S. Armed Forces were stationed at more than 820 installations in at least 135 countries. Some of the largest contingents are the 85,600 military personnel deployed in Iraq, the 103,700 in Afghanistan, the 52,440 in Germany (see list), the 35,688 in Japan (USFJ), the 28,500 in Republic of Korea (USFK), the 9,660 in Italy, and the 9,015 in the United Kingdom respectively. These numbers change frequently due to the regular recall and deployment of units.
Altogether, 77,917 military personnel are located in Europe, 141 in the former Soviet Union, 47,236 in East Asia and the Pacific, 3,362 in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia, 1,355 in sub-Saharan Africa and 1,941 in the Western Hemisphere excepting the United States itself.
Defense Budget 2010
The United States has the largest defense budget in the world. In fiscal year 2010, the Department of Defense has a base budget of $533.8 billion. An additional $130.0 billion was requested for "Overseas Contingency Operations" in the War on Terrorism, and over the course of the year, an additional $33 billion in supplemental spending was added to Overseas Contingency Operations funding. Outside of direct Department of Defense spending, the United States spends another $218–262 billion each year on other defense-related programs, such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons maintenance, and the State Department.