Monday, October 29, 2012

Cato Responds to WSJ's "Isolationist" Label

The Cato Institute's Daniel Ikenson, Director of Cato's Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, was not too happy with the Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) recent editorial on former Cato President Ed Crane, which said that the paper disagrees with Cato's "isolationist" foreign policy.

Said the WSJ:
We've disagreed with Cato's isolationist approach to foreign policy, but its ideas and op-eds have regularly informed readers of these pages.
Here is an excerpt from Dan Ikenson's response:
At the risk of appearing to make the perfect the enemy of the good, however, there is one characterization in the editorial that is inaccurate – the characterization of Cato’s foreign policy as “isolationist.” The editorial implies disagreement with Cato’s foreign policy prescriptions, which is presumably a reference to Cato’s opposition to the war in Iraq or Libya or Syria, or to the prospective war in Iran. After “validated,” I would characterize Cato’s positions on those matters as being in lock step with the precepts of limited, constitutional government: “non-interventionist,” in foreign policy parlance, which is a far cry from “isolationist.”
As director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at Cato, I can assure you that our unfettered advocacy of real free trade is the antithesis of isolationism. We in the trade center believe to our cores that Americans should be free to transact (as sellers, buyers, investors, workers, or collaborators in transnational production/supply chains) with whomever we choose, wherever they live. We believe that foreigners who want to work in the United States should be given green cards to do so and that foreign governments’ policies should treat Americans in the same regard. We believe that foreign investment should be welcomed almost unconditionally in the United States (the exception being the rare and narrowly-defined cases of clear threats to national security), and that Americans who want to invest their assets abroad should be free to do so without being punished through taxes and regulations or demonized by politicians for “shipping jobs overseas.”
We advocate person-to-person, business-to-business, mutually beneficial engagement between Americans and people in every country without exception and with minimal roles for governments. That is hardly an isolationist foreign policy. That is a recipe for peace and prosperity. That is part of Ed Crane’s freedom legacy.
Cato has a lot to say about "isolationism," as seen from a few examples below:

Here and here are articles by Cato Senior Fellow Doug Bandow.

Here is an article by Cato's Justin Logan and Christopher Preble.

Here is a blog post by Cato's David Boaz.

Here is Cato's Gene Healy on the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and isolationism.

A previous Think Tank Watch post on WSJ's editorialization of Ed Crane can be found here.

Ed Crane, the Co-founder of Cato, stepped down as Cato's President on October 1, 2012.  He is now President Emeritus of Cato.

John Allison, former Chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, is the new President and CEO of Cato.