The policy of isolating one’s country from military alliances or other commitments in order to avoid foreign entanglements was historically a strong sentiment in the USA. Amid modern conflicts such as the Iraq War, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict questions about isolationism remain relevant.

One columnist writes, "Isolationism is not just an aversion to war, which is an altogether healthy instinct. It is a broader reluctance to engage, to assert responsibility, to commit. Isolationism tends to be pessimistic (we will get it wrong, we will make it worse) and amoral (it is none of our business unless it threatens us directly) and inward-looking (foreign aid is a waste of money better spent at home)." He then quotes one political leader as saying, "We are not the world’s policeman, nor its judge and jury...our own needs in America are great, and they come first.”

Many praise this approach across the political spectrum, from America-first conservatives to liberal pacifists. In the case of pacifists, they tend to believe that war is wrong in all cases and that intervening would make America complicit in the war. In contrast, America-first conservatives tend to be concerned about the financial cost of funding intervention when that money could be better spent funding domestic needs.

Others think that America must be the “world's policeman” or else risk China stepping into the role and dictating a negative direction for the world. These people see intervention as necessary to protect America’s position as a world superpower and prove that we are ethical leaders. Often this view aligns with valuing democracy and traditionally American values and freedoms, and believing that other countries would be better off adopting similar values. 

For many, the distinction between isolationism and interventionism is not so clear, and they might change their mind on whether interventionism is warranted based on the specific conflict and context.