Bill Kristol's father, Irving Kristol, had a first rate mind and is considered one of America's most important and influential intellectuals. Irving Kristol is often called the Father of neo-Conservativism, after his journey through neo-Marxism, neo-Troskyism and neo-Liberalism. Bill Kristol is also a well known intellectual in America, and his upbringing no doubt provided a comprehensive education -- an educational experience in which one values an evolving worldview based on the revelation of new information. It's highly debatable that neo-Conservativism is the best conclusion to such an evolution, but at least Irving Kristol made well thought-out arguments to defend his world-views. Given all this, it's hard to imagine that Bill Kristol lacks the historical knowledge attached to the term isolationism and the nuanced distinctions thinkers have made between isolationism and non-interventionism.
To explain, on Fox News today, in a section with Megyn Kelly and someone from Breitbart News, Bill Kristol repeatedly criticized Rand Paul for his filibuster, attributing motives to Paul that aren't true, and referred to him as an isolationist. This use of the word islolationist by Kristol is an intentional smear to marginalize Rand Paul. Kristol is dishonest when he calls Paul an isolationist. Isolationism gained its negative connotation in the early 20th century as FDR fought for a globalist US presence. The isolationists were mostly opponents of international alliances, free trade, and various international agreements that were proposed from time to time. Isolationists would prefer tariffs and protections for US trade at home. The isolationists also fought against any foreign military entanglements, but they certainly wanted to protect the US from any national threats -- however, the sine qua non of isolationism is not a rejection of foreign military entanglements -- military entanglements are only part of what makes an isolationist.
Rand Paul is a non-interventionist, not an isolationist, and even when it comes to interventions, he's no peacenik smoking a bong flashing the two fingered peace sign. In no way does Rand Paul want America to pull away from the world, to refuse involvement internationally when cooperation is helpful, to reject free trade, to oppose alliances or helpful agreements with other nations. Paul values sharing culture, technology and ideas between nations. Paul doesn't, however, value futile interventions like what has happened with Iraq and Afghanistan and Egypt and Libya and so forth. Paul has indicated he would intervene in Iran if Iran's nuclear capabilities threaten our national security, but Paul is asking for a cautious approach when it comes to deploying our troops overseas. Who can find fault with this after what we're discovering about Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya?
But aside from practical concerns, non-interventionism has been an American principle since the country's beginning, even though we quickly violated the principle shortly after becoming a union. Our sovereignty becomes at risk when we forcefully entangle ourselves in the affairs of other nations, and the unintended consequences of our interventions often do more harm than good. But the real reason is that other countries are free to deal with their own affairs, and even when we've tried to instill "democracy", it doesn't work when the people themselves aren't fighting and dying for liberty.
Yes, hindsight is 20-20, and Paul might have made similar decisions to the ones Bush made if Paul had been President when 9/11 happened. History might even show that our military responses following 9/11 saved many American lives at home, prevented further attacks, but only fools will not look back at our interventions and refuse to learn from them. For Kristol to slam Paul as a neo-Isolationist, when Kristol understands the difference between isolationism and Paul's type of non-interventionism, is petty and mean-spirited. Surely Kristol can defend his neo-Conservative ideas without resorting to such cowardly tactics as the ones he's using against Paul.