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No, Cameron Isn’t an “Isolationist” or “Little Englander”

A timely reminder that isolationist is a completely meaningless word in contemporary debates.

Max Boot’s offers some of his trademark “analysis” in the wake of the British general election:

Cameron is vastly better on domestic policy than Miliband but he is not that different on foreign policy. Far from pursuing a Churchillian or Thacherite foreign policy, he is a Randian—as in Rand Paul, not the Rand Corp. or Ayn Rand. Or, as he would have been known in the 19th century, he is a “Little Englander”—Britain’s version of isolationists [bold mine-DL].

Boot’s post is useful as a timely reminder that isolationist is a completely meaningless word in contemporary debates. If Cameron is being called a “Little Englander,” that phrase also has no meaning. It should also serve as yet another warning that reality is usually close to the opposite of what Boot says it is. Notably, there are two words that never appear in the post, and those are Iraq and Libya. Those two wars alone show that Cameron is anything but an “isolationist” or a “Little Englander.” Nothing could better demonstrate that these labels are just slurs used by hard-line ideologues.

On the contrary, he has favored virtually every foreign intervention of the last twenty years. When was a front-bench member of the opposition under Blair, he supported the invasion of Iraq and continued supporting it all along. As far as I know, Cameron has never repudiated his support for the war. As prime minister, Cameron not only joined in the Libyan war, but was one of two European leaders most responsible for making the intervention happen. (Miliband backed the Libyan war all the way, too, which should be enough to show that calling him an isolationist is equally stupid.) The Syria episode in 2013 was proof of how much of an interventionist Cameron really is. Had it not been for the enormous unpopularity of intervention in Syria, Cameron would have pressed ahead with it. The Syria debate showed how out of touch with most people in Britain Cameron was on foreign policy. As for the comparison with Paul, that is another bit of nonsense. Paul opposed all of the wars that Cameron supported, started, or wanted to start. The idea that they have similar foreign policy views is utterly divorced from reality.

P.S. The one party that might reasonably described as “Little Englander” is UKIP, which Cameron opposes and whose foreign policy he rejects. Cameron is clearly on the side of interventionists in these debates.