"Neo-isolationism is the direct product of foolish globalism. ... Compared to people who thought they could run the universe, or at least the globe, I am neo-isolationist and proud of it."
Those are not the words of an old America Firster, but the declaration of that icon of the liberal establishment Walter Lippmann in 1967, a year before he endorsed Richard Nixon.
In 1968, it was Nixon urging we stay the course in Vietnam, as Sens. Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy were clamoring for retreat and swift withdrawal.
In 1972, it was Democratic nominee George McGovern who would run on the neo-isolationist slogan "Come Home, America!" and win the endorsement of the New York Times and Washington Post.
Today, neo-isolationism, bred of that "foolish globalism" of which Lippmann wrote, has made a comeback. For the first time since polling began in 1964, it is the dominant sentiment of the nation.
According to a new Pew poll, 52 percent of Americans believe "the U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own." Only 38 percent disagree.
Asked if the United States should think less in "international terms but concentrate more on our national problems," Americans agree by 80-16, or a ratio of 5-to-1.
As Max Fisher of the Washington Post writes, this sentiment manifest itself decisively in the uprising last summer against U.S. intervention in Syria. Red line or no red line, the people told Obama, we want no part of Syria's civil war. It is not our war. Obama belatedly agreed.
The roots of the new isolationism are not difficult to discern. There is, first, the end of the Cold War, the liberation of the captive nations of Europe, the dissolution of our great adversary, the Soviet Empire, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Cold War, our war, was over. Time to come home.
The Bushes and Bill Clinton said no.
So we let the New World Order crowd have its run in the yard. We invaded Panama, intervened in Haiti and Mogadishu, launched Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait, bombed Serbia for 78 days to force it to surrender its cradle province of Kosovo.
Came then the blowback of 9/11, following which we had the Afghan war to overthrow the Taliban and create a new democracy in the Hindu Kush, the invasion and occupation of Iraq to strip Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction he did not have, and the air war on Libya.
Others may celebrate the fruits of these wars but consider the costs: