Isolationist Sentiment in the U.S.

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Dr. Christopher McKnight Nichols
Postdoctoral Fellow in U.S. History at the University of Pennsylvania

• Specializes in American intellectual, cultural and political history from the late 19th through 20th centuries, with a focus on the progressive era and debates about the U.S. role in the world.
• Author of the forthcoming “From Empire to Isolation: Internationalism and Isolationism in American Thought”
• Co-author of “Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America's Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day”
• Frequent commentator and author of numerous articles, op-eds, reviews and essays on American foreign policy and political ideals

“ A recent Pew Poll reveals that Americans have become more isolationist and more unilateralist. For the first time in almost four decades, since the nadir of the Vietnam War, almost half of all Americans would rather 'mind [their] own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.'

“President Obama must directly respond to rising public isolationist thinking. In particular, he should note that America’s tradition of global engagement generally has been coupled with a wariness of entangling alliances. Isolationism has many merits as a mindset for evaluating and avoiding unnecessary foreign conflicts. But once involved abroad, as the U.S. is today, isolationist or go-it-alone unilaterialist thinking may discourage America from taking a leadership role in global conflicts where it could bring matters to an early resolution or otherwise ameliorate dire situations for humane as well as strategic concerns."