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The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy

October 31, 2007

Tags U.S. HistoryWar and Foreign PolicyPolitical Theory

[This article is from chapter 8 of The Betrayal of the American Right.]

General MacArthur Receives Distinguished Service Medal from President Truman

In the realm of direct politics, it seemed clear that there was only one place for those of us not totally disillusioned with political action: the "extreme right wing" of the Republican Party. It was the extreme Right, particularly well represented in the House, and including such men as Rep. Howard H. Buffett of Omaha (Senator Taft's midwestern campaign manager in 1952), Rep. Ralph W. Gwinn of New York, Frederick C. Smith of Ohio, and H.R. Gross of Iowa (virtually the only one of the group now remaining), who were solidly isolationist and opposed to foreign wars and interventions, and roughly free-market and libertarian in domestic affairs.

They were, for example, staunchly opposed to conscription, which was put through by a coalition of liberals and what used to be called "enlightened" conservatives and internationalists. The extreme Right also included Colonel McCormick's Chicago Tribune, to which I delightedly subscribed for a while, and which continued excellent anti–Wall Street and anti-interventionist muckraking, as well as continuing articles in behalf of national liberation of the Welsh and the Scots from McCormick's hated England.

Senator Taft was the major political figure of that wing of the party, but the confusion — then and since — came from Taft's philosophical devotion to compromise as a good in itself. As a result, Taft was always compromising and "selling out" the individualist cause: the free market at home and non-intervention abroad. In the parlance of that time, then, Taft was really on the "extreme left" of the extreme right wing of the Republicans, and his surrenders of principle were constantly thrown at us by the liberals: "Why, even Senator Taft favors" federal aid to education, or defense of Chiang, or whatever.

At any rate, I quickly identified myself with the right-wing Republicans as soon as I became politically active at the end of World War II. I joined the Young Republican Club of New York, where I wrote a campaign report in 1946 attacking the OPA and price controls, and took the laissez-faire side in a series of internal debates on the future of the Republican Party. It was a lone minority position, especially among the YRs, who were largely opportunistic lawyers looking for place and patronage within the Dewey machine. (Bill Rusher, who later became publisher of National Review, was in those days a regular Dewey Republican with the YRs.)

However, my enthusiasm was unbounded when the Republicans, largely conservative, swept Congress in 1946. At last, socialism and internationalism would be rolled back. One of my first published writings was a "Hallelujah" letter that I sent to the New York World-Telegram celebrating the glorious victory. However, an evil worm soon appeared in the apple; true to his compromising nature, Bob Taft turned over the leadership of foreign policy in the Senate to the renegade isolationist Arthur Vandenberg, now a hero of the New York Times-Eastern Establishment circuit. (The bitter rumor on the Right was that Vandenberg had literally been seduced into changing his foreign policy stance by an English mistress.) It was Vandenberg, overriding the fervent opposition of the isolationist right wing of the party, who mobilized support for the launching of the Cold War, the loan to Britain, the Marshall Plan, and aid to Greece and Turkey, to take over the old British imperial role and crush the Greek revolution.

Another severe blow to the Old Right cause in the Republican Party was the nomination of Tom Dewey for the presidency in 1948, Dewey now being a representative of the Eastern Wall Street internationalist, statist, "leftish" Establishment. Dewey refused to defend the conservative record of the 80th Congress against Harry Truman's sneers at being "do-nothings" (actually, they had done far too much). I could not support Dewey for President, and was the only Northerner at Columbia to join the short-lived Students for Thurmond Club, basing my support on Thurmond's decentralist, states' rights program.

Taft and the Taftites were isolationist, and therefore far more anti-interventionist and hence anti-imperialist than Henry Wallace in the 1948 campaign. The proof of this pudding is that Wallace himself and the bulk of his Progressive Party supported our Korean imperial adventure in the name of "collective security" two years later, while the isolationist extreme-right Republicans constituted the only political opposition to the war.[1]

The most important fact to realize about the Old Right in the postwar era is that it staunchly and steadfastly opposed both American imperialism and interventionism abroad and its corollary in militarism at home. Conscription was vigorously opposed as far worse than other forms of statist regulation; for the draft, like slavery, conscripted the draftee's most precious "property" — his own person and being. Day in and day out, for example, the veteran publicist John T. Flynn, now a speaker and writer for the conservative America's Future, Inc. — a spinoff of the Committee for Constitutional Government — inveighed against militarism and the draft. And this despite his increasing support for the Cold War abroad. Even the Wall Street weekly, the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, published a lengthy attack on conscription. And Frank Chodorov, praising in his analysis a pamphlet issued by the National Council Against Conscription, wrote that "the State cannot intervene in the economic affairs of society without building up its coercive machinery, and that, after all, is militarism. Power is the correlative of politics."

In foreign policy, it was the extreme right-wing Republicans, who were particularly strong in the House of Representatives, who staunchly battled conscription, NATO, and the Truman Doctrine. Consider, for example, Omaha's Representative Howard Buffett, Senator Taft's midwestern campaign manager in 1952, one of the most "extreme" of the extremists, a man who consistently received a zero rating from such liberal raters of Congressmen as ADA and the New Republic, and whom the Nation characterized in that era as "an able young man whose ideas have tragically fossilized." I came to know Howard as a genuine, consistent, and thoughtful libertarian. Attacking the Truman Doctrine on the floor of Congress, Buffett declared:

Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns…. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.[2]

Also in 1947, Representative George Bender of Ohio, who was to be Taft's floor manager in 1952 and later Taft's successor in the Senate, kept up a drumfire of criticism of the Truman Doctrine. Attacking the corrupt Greek government and the fraudulent elections that had maintained it in power, Bender declared:

I believe that the White House program is a reaffirmation of the 19th-century belief in power politics. It is a refinement of the policy first adopted after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 designed to encircle Russia and establish a "Cordon Sanitaire" around the Soviet Union. It is a program which points to a new policy of interventionism in Europe as a corollary to our Monroe Doctrine in Southern America. Let there be no mistake about the far-reaching implications of this plan. Once we have taken the historic step of sending financial aid, military experts, and loans to Greece and Turkey, we shall be irrevocably committed to a course of action from which it will be impossible to withdraw. More and larger demands will follow. Greater needs will arise throughout the many areas of friction in the world.[3]

Bender, moreover, was one of the few Congressional defenders of Henry Wallace when Wallace spoke abroad in opposition to the Truman Doctrine. In answer to such attacks as Deweyite Representative Kenneth Keating's denunciation of Wallace for "treason," and to Winston Churchill's attacks on Wallace for voicing his opposition abroad, Bender replied that if Churchill could attempt to launch the Cold War by speaking in the United States, Wallace could certainly seek to prevent that war by speaking in Europe.

Launching an overall criticism of Truman's foreign policy in June, 1947, Bender charged:

Mr. Truman urged the Congress to authorize a program of military collaboration with all the petty and not so petty dictators of South America. Mr. Truman submitted a draft bill which would authorize the United States to take over the arming of South America on a scale far beyond that involved in the $400,000,000 handout to Greece and Turkey.

Mr. Truman continued his campaign for universal peacetime military training in the United States.

But military control at home is a part of the emerging Truman program. The Truman administration is using all its propaganda resources in an attempt to soften up the American people to accept this idea.

Yes; the Truman administration is busy in its attempt to sell the idea of military control to the people of America. And hand in hand with the propaganda campaign go secret meetings for industrial mobilization.

This is the kind of thing which is taking place behind barred doors in the Pentagon Building, about which the people of the United States learn only by accident. This is a part of the emerging Truman program — a part of the whole Truman doctrine of drawing off the resources of the United States in support of every reactionary government in the world.[4]

While Senator Taft himself waffled and compromised on foreign affairs, especially in regard to China and the support of Chiang, Representative Bender did not waver. Warning Congress of the "intense pressure" of the China Lobby in May 1947, Bender charged

that the Chinese Embassy here has had the arrogance to invade our State Department and attempt to tell our State Department that the Truman Doctrine has committed our Government and this Congress to all-out support of the present Fascist Chinese Government.[5]

Even Taft himself took a generally isolationist and anti-interventionist stance. Thus, the Senator opposed the Marshall Plan, for one reason because "granting aid to Europe would only furnish the Communists with further arguments against the 'imperialist' policy of the United States."

Furthermore, Taft declared that if the countries of Western Europe should decide to include Communists in their governments, this would be proof that competitive capitalism had not been approved in Europe, which instead was ridden with cartels and privileges. Particularly commendable was Taft's courage in refusing to be stamped by the Trumanite liberals and Republican interventionists into favoring Cold War measures in response to the Communist "takeover" in Czechoslovakia in 1948 — a "coup" which actually consisted of the resignation of rightist members of the Czech cabinet, leaving a leftist government in power. Taft stoutly denied that Russia had any plans for initiating aggression or conquering additional territory: the Russian influence, Taft pointed out, "has been predominant in Czechoslovakia since the end of the war. The Communists are merely consolidating their position in Czechoslovakia but there has been no military aggression…."

Senator Taft also opposed the Cold War creation of NATO in 1949. He warned that

the building up of a great army surrounding Russia from Norway to Turkey and Iran might produce a fear of the invasion of Russia or some of the satellite countries regarded by Russia as essential to the defense of Moscow.

NATO, Taft warned, violated the entire spirit of the UN Charter:

An undertaking by the most powerful nation in the world to arm half the world against the other half goes far beyond any 'right of collective defense if an armed attacked occurs.' It violates the whole spirit of the United Nations Charter…. The Atlantic Pact moves in exactly the opposite direction from the purposes of the charter and makes a farce of further efforts to secure international justice through law and justice. It necessarily divides the world into two armed camps…. This treaty, therefore, means inevitably an armament race, and armament races in the past have led to war.[6]

In a debate with Senator John Foster Dulles, scion of Wall Street and the Rockefeller interests, in July 1949, Taft affirmed that "I cannot vote for a treaty which, in my opinion, will do far more to bring about a third world war than it ever will to maintain the peace of the world."

Even on Asia, Taft, in January 1950, opposed the Truman policy of supplying aid to the French army in suppressing the Indo-Chinese national revolution; he also warned that he would not support any commitment to back Chiang in a war against China, and he called for the removal of Chiang, his bureaucrats, and his army of occupation on Formosa in order to permit the Formosan people a free vote on their own self-determination:

[A]s I understand it, the people of Formosa, if permitted to vote, would probably vote to set up an independent republic of Formosa…. If, at the peace conference, it is decided that Formosa be set up as an independent republic, we certainly have the means to force the Nationalists' surrender of Formosa.[7]

Furthermore, in early 1950 many internationalist Republicans joined with the isolationists to deal a severe blow to our mounting intervention in Asia — a defeat of the Truman Administration's $60 million aid bill for South Korea by one vote. It was generally agreed by the opponents that aid to the Rhee regime was a complete waste and that Korea was beyond the American defense interest. The historian Tang Tsou noted that "this was the first major setback in Congress for the administration in the field of foreign policy since the end of the war."[8]

It was only the efforts of Representative Walter Judd (R., Minnesota), veteran internationalist, former missionary in China, and leader of the China lobby in Congress, that induced the House, in a fateful shift, to reverse its decision.

The Korean War was the last great stand of the antiwar isolationism of the Old Right. This was a time when virtually the entire Old Left, with the exception of the Communist Party and of I.F. Stone, surrendered to the global mystique of the United Nations and its "collective security against aggression," and backed Truman's imperialist aggression in that war. The fact that the UN was and has continued to be a tool of the United States was scarcely considered. Even Corliss Lamont supported the American stand in Korea, along with virtually the entire leadership of the Progressive Party. Only the extreme right-wing Republicans valiantly opposed the war.

Howard Buffett, for example, was convinced that the United States was largely responsible for the eruption of conflict in Korea, for he had been told by Senator Stiles Bridges (R., N.H.) that Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter, head of the CIA, had so testified in secret before the Senate Armed Services Committee at the outbreak of the war. For his indiscretion in testifying, Admiral Hillenkoeter was soon fired by President Truman and was little heard from again in Washington. For the rest of his life, Buffett carried on a crusade to have Congress declassify the Hillenkoeter testimony, but without success. Buffett recalled to me with pleasure in later years that I.F. Stone had sent him a warm note, commending him for his leadership in Congress in opposing the Korean conflict. In retrospect, it is unfortunate that Howard did not follow up the Stone feeler and move to establish a Left-Right alliance against the war — although, as I have said, there was precious little Left sentiment in opposition.

Senator Taft attacked the Truman intervention in Korea; he insisted that Korea was not vital to the Untied States, that the intervention could be construed as a threat to the security of the Soviet bloc, and that the "police action" violated the UN Charter and was an unconstitutional aggrandizement of the war powers of the president. "If the President can intervene in Korea without congressional approval," Taft charged, "he can go to war in Malaya or Indonesia or Iran or South America."

In contrast, The Nation and the New Republic, which had previously been critical of the Truman Doctrine and the Cold War, now joined up with enthusiasm. These two liberal journals denounced Taft and Colonel McCormick's Chicago Tribune for joining the Communists in their "defeatism," in opposing the war. The savage campaign against Taft's re-election in 1950 was the occasion of a massive assault on Taft by organized liberalism, with the Truman Administration attacking Taft's isolationism and alleged softness toward the Soviet Union. The New Republic, in its September 4 analysis of congressional voting, hailed the Democrats for their staunchly "anti-Communist" voting record in foreign affairs (87 percent); Senator Taft, on the other hand, had only a 53 percent score for the New Republic, while such more consistent isolationists as Senator Kenneth Wherry (R., Neb.) had only a 23 percent "anti-Communist" mark. And the New Republic sourly noted the consistency of Taft's isolationism and "legalistic" devotion to non-aggression and international law:

There has historically been a working affinity between isolationists and legalists — the former attacked Roosevelt's 1941 destroyer deal as warmongering, the latter as dictatorship. There are signs that this coalition is again tightening.[9]

At the opening of the new Congress in early 1951, the isolationist forces, led by Senators Wherry and Taft, launched an attack on the war by submitting a resolution prohibiting the president from sending any troops abroad without prior approval of Congress. They attacked Truman's refusal to accept a ceasefire or to agree to peace in Korea, and warned that the United States did not have enough troops for a stalemated land war on the Asian continent. Taft also attacked the president's assertion of the right to use atomic weapons and to send troops out of the country on his own authority.

An intriguing attack on Senator Taft's foreign policy was launched by the highly influential war-liberal McGeorge Bundy. Bundy expressed worry that Taft's solid re-election victory indicated popular support for limiting the executive's power to lead the United States into conflict without congressional sanction. As Leonard Liggio puts it,

Taft's preference for negotiations rather than wastage of blood in military interventions appeared to Bundy as a failure to assert America's global leadership against Communism and as a defective attitude of doubt, mistrust, and fear towards America's national purpose in the world.[10]

Bundy declared that the normal statesman's pursuit of peace must be discarded and replaced by the power wielder who applies diplomacy and military might in a permanent struggle against world communism in limited wars alternating with limited periods of peace. Hence Bundy criticized Taft for "appeasement" in opposing the encircling of the Soviet Union by military alliances, and the intervention in Korea, and finally for Taft's willingness to compromise with Communist China in order to extricate ourselves from the Korean debacle.

Bundy also differed strongly with Taft over the latter's launching of an open debate on the Korean War. For Taft had denounced the idea of unquestioning support for the president in military adventures:

Anyone [who] dared to suggest criticism or even a thorough debate — was at once branded as an isolationist and a saboteur of unity and the bipartisan foreign policy.[11]

Bundy, in contrast, denounced the idea of any recriminations or even public questioning of the decisions of the executive policymakers, for the public merely reacted ad hoc to given situations without being committed to the policymakers' rigid conception of the national purpose.[12]

The last famous isolationist Old Right political thrust came in a Great Debate that ensued upon the heels of our crushing defeat at the hands of the Chinese in late 1950, a defeat in which the Chinese had driven the American forces out of North Korea. The Truman Administration stubbornly refused to acknowledge the new realities and to make peace in Korea on the basis of the 38th parallel, thereby condemning American troops to years of heavy casualties. In response, two well-known isolationist elder statesmen, Herbert Hoover and Joseph P. Kennedy, delivered ringing and obviously coordinated back-to-back speeches in December 1950 calling for American evacuation of Korea and an end to the war in Asia.

On December 12, former Ambassador Kennedy noted the decades-long continuity of his own isolationist antiwar stand, and declared:

From the start I had no patience with a policy that without due regard to our resources — human and material — would make commitments abroad that we could not fulfill. As Ambassador to London in 1939 I had seen the folly of this when the British made their commitment to Poland that they could not fulfill and have not yet fulfilled — a commitment that brought them into war.

I naturally opposed Communism, but said if portions of Europe or Asia were to go Communistic or even had Communism thrust upon them, we cannot stop it. Instead we must make sure of our strength and be certain not to fritter it away in battles that could not be won.

But where are we now? Beginning with intervention in the Italian elections and financial and political aid to Greece and Turkey, we have expanded our political and financial programs on an almost unbelievably wide scale. Billions have been spent in the Marshall Plan, further billions in the occupation of Berlin, Western Germany, and Japan. Military aid has been poured into Greece, Turkey, Iran, the nations of the North Atlantic Pact, French Indo-China, and now in Korea we are fighting the fourth-greatest war in our history.

What have we in return for this effort? Friends? We have far fewer friends than we had in 1945….

To engage those vast armies [of the Communist countries] on the European or Asian continent is foolhardy, but that is the direction towards which our policy has been tending.

That policy is suicidal. It has made us no foul weather friends. It has kept our armament scattered over the globe. It has picked one battlefield and threatens to pick others impossibly removed from our sources of supply. It has not contained Communism. By our methods of opposition it has solidified Communism, where otherwise Communism might have bred within itself internal dissensions. Our policy today is politically and morally a bankrupt policy.

Kennedy concluded that the only alternative was for America to abandon the entire policy of global intervention and adopt isolationism once more:

I can see no alternative other than having the courage to wash up this policy and start with the fundamentals I urged more than five years ago….

A first step in the pursuit of this policy is to get out of Korea — indeed, to get out of every point in Asia which we do not plan to hold in our own defense. Such a policy means that in the Pacific we will pick our own battlegrounds if we are forced to fight and not have them determined by political and ideological considerations that have no relationship to our own defense.

The next step in pursuit of this policy is to apply the same principle to Europe. Today it is idle to talk of being able to hold the line of the Elbe or the line of the Rhine. Why should we waste valuable resources in making such an attempt? — To pour arms and men into a Quixotic military adventure makes no sense whatever. What have we gained by staying in Berlin? Everyone knows we can be pushed out the moment the Russians choose to push us out….

The billions that we have squandered on these enterprises could have been far more effectively used in this hemisphere and on the seas that surround it….

People will say, however, that this policy will not contain Communism. Will our present policy do so? Can we possibly contain Communist Russia, if she chooses to march, by a far-flung battle line in the middle of Europe? The truth is that our only real hope is to keep Russia, if she chooses to march, on the other side of the Atlantic and make Communism much too costly for her to try to cross the seas. It may be that Europe for a decade or a generation or more will turn Communistic. But in doing so, it may break of itself as a unified force. Communism still has to prove itself to its peoples as a government that will achieve for them a better way of living. The more people that it will have to govern, the more necessary it becomes for those who govern to justify themselves to those being governed. The more peoples that are under its yoke, the greater are the possibilities of revolt. Moreover, it seems certain that Communism spread over Europe will not rest content with being governed by a handful of men in the Kremlin. Tito in Yugoslavia is already demonstrating this fact. Mao in China is not likely to take his orders from Stalin….

After this highly prophetic forecast — greatly derided at the time — of the inevitable breaking up of the international Communist monolith, Kennedy courageously added:

This policy will, of course, be criticized as appeasement. No word is more mistakenly used. Is it appeasement to withdraw from unwise commitments — and to make clear just exactly how and for what you will fight? If it is wise in our interest not to make commitments that endanger our security, and this is appeasement, then I am for appeasement. I can recall only too well the precious time bought by Chamberlain at Munich. I applauded that purchase then; I would applaud it today. Today, however, while we have avoided a Munich, we are coming perilously close to another Dunkirk. Personally, I should choose to escape the latter.

And Kennedy concluded, on the current mess in Asia and foreign affairs generally:

Half of this world will never submit to dictation by the other half. The two can only agree to live next to each other because for one to absorb the other becomes too costly.

An attitude of realism such as this is, I submit, in accord with our historic traditions. We have never wanted a part of other peoples' scrapes. Today we have them and just why, nobody quite seems to know. What business is it of ours to support French colonial policy in Indo-China or to achieve Mr. Syngman Rhee's concepts of democracy in Korea? Shall we now send the Marines into the mountains of Tibet to keep the Dalai Lama on his throne? We can do well to mind our business and interfere only where somebody threatens our business and our homes.

The policy I suggest, moreover, gives us a chance economically to keep our heads above water. For years, I have argued the necessity for not burdening ourselves with unnecessary debts. There is no surer way to destroy the basis of American enterprise than to destroy the initiative of the men who make it…. Those who recall 1932 know too easily the dangers that can arise from within when our own economic system fails to function. If we weaken it with lavish spending either on foreign nations or in foreign wars, we run the danger of precipitating another 1932 and of destroying the very system which we are trying to save.

An Atlas, whose back is bowed and whose hands are busy holding up the world, has no arms to lift to deal with his own defense. Increase his burdens and you will crush him…. This is our present posture…. The suggestions I make — would — conserve American lives for American ends, not waste them in the freezing hills of Korea or on the battle-scarred plains of Western Germany.[13]

Eight days later, Herbert Hoover backed up the Kennedy speech with one of his own on nationwide network radio. While refusing to go as far as Kennedy, and indeed attacking "appeasement" and "isolationism" and scorning fears of "Dunkirks," Hoover insisted that:

We must face the fact that to commit the sparse ground forces of the non-Communist nations into a land war against this Communist land mass would be a war without victory, a war without a successful terminal. Any attempt to make war on the Communist mass by land invasion, through the quicksands of China, India or Western Europe, is sheer folly. That would be the graveyard of millions of American boys and would end in the exhaustion of this Gibraltar of Western Civilization.[14]

It is instructive to note the reactions of organized liberalism to the Kennedy-Hoover thesis, a position supported by Senator Taft. Along with the Truman Administration and such Wall Street–oriented Republicans as Governor Dewey and John Foster Dulles, the Nation and the New Republic proceeded to red-bait these distinguished right-wing leaders. The Nation charged:

The line they are laying down for their country should set the bells ringing in the Kremlin as nothing has since the triumph of Stalingrad. Actually the line taken by Pravda is that the former President did not carry isolationism far enough.

And the New Republic summarized the isolationist position as holding that the Korean War "was the creation not of Stalin, but of Truman, just as Roosevelt, not Hitler, caused the Second World War."

And in the desire of Taft, Hoover, and Kennedy to accept Soviet offers of negotiating peace, the New Republic saw an

opposition who saw nothing alarming in Hitler's conquest of Europe (and who would clearly grab at the bait). Stalin, after raising the ante, as he did with Hitler, and sweeping over Asia, would move on until the Stalinist caucus in the Tribune tower would bring out in triumph the first Communist edition of the Chicago Tribune.

The New Republic was particularly exercised over the fact that the isolationists

condemned US participation in Korea as unconstitutional and provided that the only funds available for overseas troops shipment should be funds necessary to facilitate the extrication of US forces now in Korea.[15]

One of the people whom the New Republic was undoubtedly referring to as part of the "Stalinist caucus" at Colonel McCormick's valiantly isolationist Chicago Tribune was George Morgenstern, editorial writer for the Tribune and author of the first great, and still the basic, revisionist work on Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor: Story of a Secret War. During the Korean War, Morgenstern published a blistering article, summing up the century of American imperialism, in the right-wing Washington weekly Human Events, then open to isolationist material but having become, since the resignation of Felix Morley, a hack tabloid for the warmongering New Right. Morgenstern wrote:

At the end of the 19th century the United States began to stir with those promptings of imperialism and altruism which have worked to the mischief of so many puissant states. The sinister Spaniard provided a suitable punching bag. Two days before McKinley went to Congress with a highly misleading message which was an open invitation to war, the Spanish government had agreed to the demands for an armistice in Cuba and American mediation. There was no good reason, but there was war anyway. We wound up the war with a couple of costly dependencies, but this was enough to intoxicate the precursors of those who now swoon on very sight of the phrase "world leadership."

McKinley testified that in lonely sessions on his knees at night he had been guided to the realization that we must "uplift and civilize and Christianize" the Filipinos. He asserted that the war had brought new duties and responsibilities "which we must meet and discharge as becomes a great nation on whose growth and career from the beginning the Ruler of Nations has plainly written the high command and pledge of civilization." This sort of exalted nonsense is familiar to anyone who later attended the evangelical rationalizations of Wilson for intervening in the European war, of Roosevelt promising the millennium — of Eisenhower treasuring the "crusade in Europe" that somehow went sour, or of Truman, Stevenson, Paul Douglas, or the New York Times preaching the holy war in Korea….

An all-pervasive propaganda has established a myth of inevitability in American action: all wars were necessary, all wars were good. The burden of proof rests with those who contend that America is better off, that American security has been enhanced, and that prospects of world peace have been improved by American intervention in four wars in half a century. Intervention began with deceit by McKinley; it ends with deceit by Roosevelt and Truman.

Perhaps we would have a rational foreign policy — if Americans could be brought to realize that the first necessity is the renunciation of the lie as an instrument of foreign policy.[16]

Notes

[1] For a revisionist interpretation of Henry Wallace as internationalist, see Leonard Liggio and Ronald Radosh, "Henry A. Wallace and the Open Door," in Thomas Paterson, ed., Cold War Critics (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1971), pp. 76-113.

[2] Congressional Record, 80th Congress, First Session, March 18, 1947, p. 2217.

[3] Congressional Record, 80th Congress, First Session March 28, 1947, pp. 2831-32. See in particular Leonard P. Liggio, "Why the Futile Crusade?" Left and Right, I, 1(Spring 1965), pp. 43-44. [Available in PDF.]

[4] Congressional Record, 80th Congress, First Session, June 6, 1947, pp. 6562-63. Quoted in Liggio, "Futile Crusade," pp. 45-46.

[5] Ibid., pp. 46-47.

[6] Robert A. Taft, A Foreign Policy for Americans (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1951), pp. 89-90, 113. Quoted in Liggio, "Futile Crusade," pp. 49-50.

[7] Robert A. Taft, "'Hang On' To Formosa: Hold Until Peace Treaty with Japan Is Signed," Vital Speeches, 16, 8 (February 1, 1950), pp. 236-37. Quoted in Liggio, "Futile Crusade," p. 52.

[8] Tang Tsou, America's Failure in China, 1941-50 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), pp. 537-38. Quoted in Liggio, "Futile Crusade," p. 53.

[9] "The Hoover Line Grows," New Republic 124 (January 15, 1951), p. 7. Quoted in Liggio, "Futile Crusade," p. 57.

[10] Liggio, "Futile Crusade," p. 57.

[11] Congressional Record, 82nd Congress, 1st Session, January 5, 1951, p. 55.

[12] McGeorge Bundy, "The Private World of Robert Taft," The Reporter, December 11, 1951; Bundy, "Appeasement, Provocation, and Policy," The Reporter, January 9, 1951. See Liggio, "Futile Crusade," pp. 57-60.

[13] Joseph P. Kennedy, "Present Policy is Politically and Morally Bankrupt," Vital Speeches, XVII, 6 (January 1, 1951), pp. 170-73.

[14] Herbert Hoover, "Our National Policies in This Crisis," Vital Speeches, XVII, 6 (January 1, 1951), pp. 165-67.

[15] "Hoover's Folly," The Nation, CLXXI, 27 (December 30, 1950), p. 688; "Korea: Will China Fight the UN?", The New Republic, 123 (November 20, 1950), pp. 5-6; "Can We Save World Peace?", New Republic, 124 (January 1, 1951), p. 5 and January 15, 1951, p. 7. Cited in Liggio, "Futile Crusade," p. 56.

[16] George Morgenstern, "The Past Marches On," Human Events, April 22, 1953.

 


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