PRAGUE: Many Americans seem overwhelmed by the feeling that, because the Soviet Empire collapsed, the dangers of war can be crossed off the list of potential risks. America, they say, should pay attention to its own problems, and should not get involved in a world where its attempts to do good are rewarded with ingratitude.
Isolationism has a long tradition in America; it returns in fits and differing forms. Never in modern times, however, has isolationism protected America from danger; instead it delays engagement when conflagrations are ablaze. Eventually, America pays a thousand times more for its initial lack of interest than it would have paid had it become engaged at the outset of crisis or, better yet, even before. Americans pay for short-sightedness not only in larger expenditures, but with lives wasted unnecessarily.