No problem with "in principle" letting the rest of world go its own way. But where does one draw the line and use force? Not crazy about trusting the millenial nut case who runs Iran. Even less crazy about military engagement. Less still letting the Israelis and Persians go at it - but no way to prevent it if thats what they decide to do.Well, it seems to me that the government of a nation-state may legitimately use force to preserve the territorial integrity of that nation-state ... I believe that is the legitimate line to be drawn. I think where the trouble usually starts is the use of military force in the furtherance of "the national interest." The national interest (TNI) seems to me to be an amorphous, ill-defined, slippery abstraction. In a nation-state of the size and diversity of the US, there are many ideas of TNI, some of which are in direct mutual conflict. People who are employed in what is left of the domestic auto industry, for example, would have an idea of TNI with respect to tariffs on imported cars that would not correspond to TNI as seen by people who want to buy cars from among the largest range of competing manufacturers possible. TNI in the Middle East is bound to be seen very differently by Americans who are supporters of CAIR and by Americans who support AIPAC. In many cases, there are potential moral problems associated with advancing TNI by force. If TNI is served by a stable supply of crude oil at $35/barrel, how much better would TNI prosper at $0.35/barrel? Is it morally acceptable to shed blood to make that happen? The domestic safety of Americans is presumably in TNI. What if we could kill every single Muslim? Would we not very substantially decrease the probability of terrorism in the U.S. and thus advance TNI? I pause here to note that I've seen that form of the Final Solution suggested, apparently seriously, online.
I guess the real question boils down to what kind of isolationism is best? Will it be better to watch the Japanese and SoKos and Taiwan build their nukes since we may not be regarded as a dependable ally rather than maintain some sort of credible military alliance with them?
Will it be better to let the Sunni and Shia escalate their tensions to nuclear orgasm or, in some as yet unknown way, to attempt to head that off.
Power cannot be made to disappear. Seems that the question should be what is the wisest use of that power. And just what source should be used to obtain that wisdom. Unfortunately that seems to be our lot at this point in history. Someone else will have their turn after us.
"Millennial nutcase" may well be an apt description of the current Iranian strongman. In all honesty, I'm not sure it isn't an equally-apt description of the current Washington, DC strongman. Concerning trusting other nation-states that are possess, or are seeking, nuclear arms: I don't know that "trust" is really the operative concept. For half a century, the US tolerated the possession of a very large arsenal of such weapons, with advanced delivery systems, by various strongmen in the old USSR. Were they "trustworthy?" I don't think so. What we did was to maintain a credible deterrent, and avoided gratuitous provocations, and we muddled through somehow. Not an optimal arrangement, to be sure; but as you say, power can't be made to disappear. It seems to me that the same general approach might serve us well vis a vis the Japanese and various flavors of Koreans and Chinese. I would also advocate that the US announce its decision to withdraw -- say, with six months' notice -- from the various entangling alliances which have US troops perpetually stationed in Japan and Korea and Germany et infinite cetera, in order that the lives of Americans might not be intentionally left hostage to whatever foreign strongmen happen to be the least stable (Korea being, currently, a particularly egregious example).
"Isolationism" is frequently used as a perjorative term -- a smear term, really. But I embrace a kind of isolationism: the isolationism preached (sadly, not always practiced) by Washington and Jefferson. It's the kind of isolationism that features honest commerce with all, and favoritism and alliances with none.