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According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, a large majority of the public opposes U.S. intervention in Syria and only 15% say that North Korea is a threat which requires immediate action.  That's welcome news to me, given attempts by the usual hawkish interventionists to propel us into the midst of yet another war or two.

The bad news, though, is the NYT headline reporting the poll results: Poll Shows Isolationist Streak in Americans.  What bothers me about this is not just that the article by Megan Thee-Brenan in today's national edition offers no justification for the "isolationist streak" comment.  In fact, unfortunately, the same poll shows that most Americans strongly support "using unmanned aircraft or "drones" to carry out bombing attacks against suspected terrorists in foreign countries".  So if anything the poll suggests only that the public strongly favors foreign intervention as long as it's safe and cheap.

The other thing that bothers me about the NYT story, though, is the misuse of the term "isolationism".  This is a term which describes the attitude of the U.S. toward foreign action following World War I, including the U.S. refusal to join the League of Nations or to diplomatically support effort to contain Italian, German and Japanese aggression in the 1930s.  

It's too easy to forget that real opposite of the isolationism of the time would have been an active support of the League of Nations and use of its economic, diplomatic and political power to contain the aggressors before all-out war became unavoidable.  In our time, the equivalent would be the empowerment of the United Nations to act while eschewing the unilateral action promoted by conservatives of various stripes, the kind of action which has lead to disaster more than once in my lifetime.

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