is a category of foreign policies
institutionalized by leaders who assert that nations' best interests are best served by keeping the affairs of other countries at a distance. One possible motivation for limiting international involvement is to avoid being drawn into dangerous and otherwise undesirable conflicts. There may also be a perceived benefit from avoiding international trade agreements or other mutual assistance pacts. 
Isolationism has been defined as:
A policy or doctrine of trying to isolate one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, and generally attempting to make one's economy entirely self-reliant; seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement, both diplomatically and economically, while remaining in a state of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements and responsibilities.
After Zheng He's voyages
in the 15th century, the foreign policy of the Ming dynasty
became increasingly isolationist. The Hongwu Emperor
was not the first to propose the policy to ban all maritime shipping in 1390.
The Qing dynasty
that came after the Ming dynasty often continued the Ming dynasty's isolationist policies. Wokou
, which literally translates to "Japanese pirates" or "dwarf pirates", were pirates who raided the coastlines of China, Japan, and Korea, and were one of the key primary concerns, although the maritime ban was not without some control.
From 1641 to 1853, the Tokugawa shogunate
enforced a policy which it called kaikin
. The policy prohibited foreign contact with most outside countries. The commonly held idea that Japan was entirely closed, however, is misleading. In fact, Japan maintained limited-scale trade and diplomatic relations with China
and Ryukyu Islands
, as well as the Dutch Republic
as the only Western trading partner of Japan for much of the period.
The culture of Japan developed with limited influence from the outside world and had one of the longest stretches of peace in history. During this period, Japan developed thriving cities, castle towns, increasing commodification of agriculture and domestic trade,
wage labor, increasing literacy and concomitant print culture
laying the groundwork for modernization even as the shogunate itself grew weak.
In 1863, Emperor Gojong
took the throne of the Joseon Dynasty
when he was a child. His father, Regent Heungseon Daewongun
, ruled for him until Gojong reached adulthood. During the mid-1860s he was the main proponent of isolationism and the principal instrument of the persecution of both native and foreign Catholics.
In 1814, three years after it gained its independence
on May 14, 1811, Paraguay was taken over by the dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
. During his rule which lasted from 1814 until his death in 1840, he closed Paraguay's borders and prohibited trade or any relationship between Paraguay and the outside world. The Spanish
settlers who had arrived in Paraguay just before it gained its independence were required to marry old colonists or the native Guarani
in order to create a single Paraguayan people
Francia had a particular dislike of foreigners, and those foreigners who came to Paraguay during his rule, which was very difficult, were not allowed to leave the country for the rest of their lives. An independent character, he hated European influences and the Catholic Church
and in order to try to keep foreigners at bay, he turned church courtyards into artillery parks and turned confession boxes into border sentry posts.
Some scholars, such as Robert J. Art
, believe that the United States
had an isolationist history, but other scholars dispute that by describing the United States as following a strategy of unilateralism
Robert Art makes his argument in A Grand Strategy for America
Books that have made the argument that the United States followed unilaterism instead of isolationism include Walter A. McDougall
's Promised Land, Crusader State
(1997), John Lewis Gaddis
's Surprise, Security, and the American Experience
(2004), and Bradley F. Podliska
's Acting Alone
Both sides claim policy prescriptions from George Washington's Farewell Address
as evidence for their argument.
Bear F. Braumoeller argues that even the best case for isolationism, the United States in the interwar period, has been widely misunderstood and that Americans proved willing to fight as soon as they believed a genuine threat existed.
Events during and after the Revolution related to the treaty of alliance with France, as well as difficulties arising over the neutrality policy pursued during the French revolutionary wars and the Napoleonic wars, encouraged another perspective. A desire for separateness and unilateral freedom of action merged with national pride and a sense of continental safety to foster the policy of isolation. Although the United States maintained diplomatic relations and economic contacts abroad, it sought to restrict these as narrowly as possible in order to retain its independence. The Department of State continually rejected proposals for joint cooperation, a policy made explicit in the Monroe Doctrine's emphasis on unilateral action. Not until 1863 did an American delegate attend an international conference.
Isolationism has been criticized for the lack of aiding nations with major troubles. One notable example is that of American isolationism, which Benjamin Schwartz
described as a "tragedy" inspired by Puritanism
- ^ (Sullivan, Michael P., "Isolationism." World Book Deluxe 2001. CD-ROM.)
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Last edited on 28 April 2021, at 02:26
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