Yet I have to take a shot at it for "Quasi-isolationism." The paper raises increasing quasi-isolationism as a key feature of the world that Canada must grapple with. What is quasi-isolationism?
It is more of a desire to not intervene in every situation in the world from a political or moral basis as it felt compelled to in the past and that trend of not intervening is directly a result of the last decade and the will to not become entangled in a specific region’s problems for years as it was in Afghanistan and Iraq. p. 19Is that quasi-isolationism? Or is that restraint? Or could we call it ... normal US foreign policy? That is, the US, in its post WWII history, tended not to be involved in two major wars at once. US foreign policy has always been selective, choosing some places to place greater attention and even effort, and others not so much.
The new normal may just be the old normal. Sure, budget cuts (hey, the US is making the tough decisions that the Conservatives are too weak to face) will limit what the US can do, but perhaps the two wars and the semi-war (Libya) with the domestically toxic outcomes (Benghazi) have taught the U.S., or at least President Obama, something kind of important: humility. Intervention is more than just expensive--it is really hard. We don't know what we are going to get from the Afghanistan experience, and Iraq, well, oy. Libya did produce regime change with minimal effort, but with minimal effort comes just a wee bit of chaos. Syria? One of the reasons why so many outsiders are reluctant is that the past 13 years or so have taught us that force has limited utility.
Aye, there is the rub. Force has limited utility, so perhaps the American realization that only and always using a hammer might not be the best way to approach problems. The US is hardly disengaged from the Mideast, with a diplomatic effort towards Iran, Kerry trying diplomacy with Israel and Palestine, and, yes, even continued diplomatic efforts towards Syria.
So, I have to push back a bit and suggest that a U.S. (and other Western countries) that is just a wee bit more humble might not be a bad thing for Canada. It certainly is a good thing for Americans. It certainly is no relation to the isolationism that our grandparents knew.